Where Does Your Waste Go?

From the Kansas Department of Health & Environment’s Bureau of Waste Management, three maps which graphically illustrate aspects of the state’s waste mangement process:

The first illustrates the flow of solid wastes in Kansas; the second, the remaining estimated life of major Kansas solid waste landfills; and the third, sensitive groundwater flows here in South Central Kansas.

(For further information visit the Kansas Department of Health & Environment’s Bureau of Waste Management Home Page.)

Published in: on February 26, 2010 at 4:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Copernicium – The Backstory

Centre for Heavy Ion Research

“The aim is to find the end of the periodic table.”

— Sigurd Hoffman, Centre for Heavy Ion Research

Yesterday we mentioned the official naming of element 112, Copernicium after a 14-year quest for recognition.

Today, in Element 112 Joins the Periodic Table, New Scientist reports the fascinating story behind the declaration.

Published in: on February 26, 2010 at 12:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Telephone Gambit 2

Alexander Graham Bell Speaking into Early Telephone, 1876

Comparison of Gray's Patent Application Compared with Bell's Notebook (Seth Shulman, The Telephone Gambit)

Published in: on February 25, 2010 at 6:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Telephone Gambit

“Mr. Watson, come here. I want you.”

Long an icon of American initiative and the inventive spirit, and along with Thomas Edison and a mere handful of others a paradigm of the American Inventor, Alexander Graham Bell was, to almost universal testimony, a brilliant, kind and decent man. But . . .

Inspired by the serendipitous discovery of strikingly similar illustrations in competitor Elisha Gray’s almost simultaneously submitted patent application and an entry in Alexander Graham Bell’s notebooks dated after his own patent application had been filed, author Seth Shulman has written an excellent little book exploring the intriguing question whether certain crucial features of the telephone were in fact stolen.

The Telephone Gambit: Chasing Alexander Graham Bell’s Secret doesn’t prove that Alexander Graham Bell (or someone close to him) stole the invention of the telephone from Elisha Gray. But in 216 pages of text that at times read like a detective story, Shulman does make a very strong prima facie case that it may have happened. He raises an array of powerful, compelling and well-documented arguments that an enormous and successful fraud was perpetrated. But . .

While Shulman’s book is an effective and absorbing indictment – and a very quick read, one which I strongly recommend – it isn’t final proof.

What’s the case for the defense?

If you’re interested in the history of the telephone or technology, curious about Alexander Graham Bell and his times, an aficionado of 19th century science and society or business and economics, or even a fan of historical whodunits, you’ll almost certainly enjoy this book.

(For those who are interested in further exploration, the Library of Congress retains a massive collection of the Alexander Graham Bell Family Papers. The online version alone includes “4,695 items (totaling about 51,500 images). This presentation contains correspondence, scientific notebooks, journals, blueprints, articles, and photographs documenting Bell’s invention of the telephone and his involvement in the first telephone company, his family life, his interest in the education of the deaf, and his aeronautical and other scientific research.”

Also likely to be of interest is the Public Broadcasting System’s The Telephone, with a rich array of resources relating to one of history’s most significant inventions.)

Alexander Graham Bell, 1902 (Library of Congress)

Published in: on February 25, 2010 at 5:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

It’s Elementary

This Periodic Table of the Elements (Todd Helmenstine, About Chemistry) shows Copernicium, Element 112, with what had been anticipated as its chemical symbol, Cp. Instead, the IUPAC has awarded it the symbol Cn.

Last Friday, on the 637th anniversary of Copernicus’ birth, the heaviest recognized chemical element –- Element 112 — was officially named Copernicium, with the atomic symbol Cn.

First synthesized in 1996, some 75 atoms of Copernicium have since been detected. This volatile radioactive element is 277 times heavier than hydrogen, and deteriorates into lighter elements within fractions of a second after its synthesis.

For more, see Chemical Element 112 Is Officially Named ‘Copernicium’ in Science Daily.

Published in: on February 25, 2010 at 11:58 am  Comments (2)  

Elephant Communication

Elephants at Amboselli Swamp (ElephantVoices)

The BBC News offers an interesting short video on elephant communication featuring Matt Anderson of the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research.

Published in: on February 24, 2010 at 5:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

25 Most Endangered Primates

Siau Island Tarsier -- Asia

In our immediately previous post, Primates in Peril, we noted the release of the IUCN’s new report on the world’s 25 most endangered primates.

As an alternative to reviewing the entire report, the IUCN offers this gallery of the Top 25 Most Endangered Primates, which allows you to link directly to the individual profiles of the primates. Each profile includes an illustration of the species, a two to four page summary of the prevailing state of the species, and a list of references for further research.

Published in: on February 24, 2010 at 4:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

Primates in Peril

Rondo Dwarf Galago -- Africa

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in conjunction with Conservation International, the Species Survival Commission and the International Primatological Society, has released its latest biennial report (the fifth in the series begun in 2000) on Primates in Peril: The World’s 25 Most Endangered Primates 2008-2010. This 92-page document spotlights five primate species from Madagascar, six from Africa, eleven from Asia and three from the Neotropics.

Nearly half the world’s primates are endangered – but each of these twenty-five remarkable creatures is in particularly dire straits. As the IUCN describers the situation:

“Primates are among the most persecuted of tropical species — relentlessly hunted for their meat and fur, bodies broken for dubious medicines, shot for stealing crops in fields which were once their home. All the forests of the world cannot sate the sum of human hunger: they are cut and burned, day and night, and the remnants of their grandeur will not long survive without our intervention.

“Thus no primate is entirely free from danger; but the few highlighted in this report are those whose very existence is in doubt. Each one named here is almost lost — each an entire race of beings, now reduced to a tattered remnant: two or three dozen in the worst of cases, a mere few hundred for the rest.

“From the Atlantic Forest of Brazil to the monsoon slopes of Madagascar, from the mountains of southwest China to the islands of Mentawai, these primates are caught between fading hope and hard oblivion. And if through our failure of action they should cease to exist, we will have lost our nearest companions — and a part of ourselves — from what wilderness remains in the world.”

Published in: on February 24, 2010 at 4:31 pm  Comments (1)  

Pop Reads

The Daily Beast features a slideshow of the current bestselling hardback fiction and nonfiction books in a number of large US cities. See America Reads.

Published in: on February 24, 2010 at 3:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dogged Pursuit 2

Yesterday we embarked on a brief exploration of recent advances in studies of the dog genome. Today, BBC News reports succinctly on a study appearing in the journal BioMed Central which traces a gene common to all small breeds (IGF1) to its possible origin in Middle Eastern wolves. See Small Dog Middle East Gene Link.

The abstract of the article “The IGF1 Small Dog Haplotype is Derived from Middle Eastern Gray Wolves” appears here, and the 30-page provisional document here.

On a related topic, the Journal of Biology includes an intriguing 6-page article commenting on the Middle Eastern taming of wolves in Top Dogs: Wolf Domestication and Wealth.

Update: Also see Lapdogs are Middle Eastern in New Scientist.

Published in: on February 24, 2010 at 1:05 pm  Comments (1)  

On Books, #25

In the United States alone there are now hundreds of thousands of books being published every year. To read all of them (and many are doubtless not worth reading) and keep track of all of the word usage and meanings within would require an army of erudite madmen.

— Ammon Shea

Published in: on February 24, 2010 at 12:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Just In . . .

Today’s featured addition to the reference section is the massive two-volume America’s Top-Rated Small Towns & Cities: A Statistical Handbook. It’s an absolutely invaluable source of information on the comparative quality of life in small towns and cities in the United States.

Take a random look, for example, at page 709 of Volume 1, where a certain city at 37.56 degrees north latitude, 97.35 degrees west longitude, at an elevation of 1,260 feet covers a land area of 3.509 square miles. While 22nd in population among Kansas small towns, it ranks 17th (among 72) in rate of growth from 2000 to 2008.

You’ll find that the home ownership rate in this small city is 81.7% (8th among its peers), and that 87% of its citizens age 25 or older have at least a high school diploma or GED equivalent.

There are pages of rankings for comparable towns and cities in nearly 30 relevant categories — for every state in the nation.

Want to learn more about this town and others? Visit the Haysville Community Library and check it out.

Published in: on February 24, 2010 at 10:50 am  Leave a Comment