Write a Piem for Pi Day

Pi Pie (Lincoln County Libraries, Montana)

Sunday, March 14th is, of course Pi Day (3/14).

We’ll be celebrating by baking a pie, as you may well imagine. But there are other ways to celebrate. One is to write a piem – a poem comprising words, each of which corresponds to the successive digits in Pi. For instance:

A gift
A prize

Not a very good piem, perhaps, but as you can see each of the words does correspond to 3 1 4 1 5 9. The virtue, or vice, of this particular medium is that there really is no place to end. Your piem can be infinite. (The most recent record for calculating the value of Pi, as far as we know, extends to almost 2 trillion 700 billion digits.)

So, write a piem and bring it by the library. We’ll post all that we receive.

Published in: on March 12, 2010 at 5:52 pm  Comments (1)  

Amazon Rainforests More Resilient in Drought Than Supposed

The Amazon rain forest is not peculiarly susceptible to drought, and claims by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the World Wildlife Fund that “up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically and be replaced by savannas from even a slight reduction in rainfall” are not borne out by the evidence. But similarly, neither is a competing claim “that these forests actually thrive from drought because of more sunshine under cloudless skies typical of drought condition.” Instead, the truth is that, while they may not flourish in times of reduced rainfall, “these forests may be more tolerant of droughts than we previously thought.” So concludes a new NASA-funded study appearing in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Published in: on March 12, 2010 at 4:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

Fish Tale — It Really Was This Big

Bonnericthys, named for the Kansas family which discovered the fossil (Robert Nicholls, University of Oxford)

Scientists from as far afield as Fort Hays State University and the University of Kansas here in our own state and Oxford University in the UK have unearthed evidence that gigantic plankton-eating fishes roamed prehistoric seas during the age of the dinosaurs, and disappeared almost simultaneously with those beasts at the end of the Cretaceous period 65 million years ago.

During the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, these giant fish filled the ecological niche of such creatures as baleen whales and basking sharks. Much of the most important fossil evidence for these giants of the deep comes from layers of sedimentary rock in Kansas.

To learn more about this important new discovery, which resolves a major outstanding question about primordial ocean ecology, see Fossils Net Plankton-Eating Giant at the University of Oxford’s website. The item includes a fascinating 3-minute video on “Giant Plankton-Eating Fish” with Dr. Matt Friedman, which features the rollout illustration of the fin of one of these enormous filter-feeding fish, a fossil found right here in Kansas.

Published in: on March 12, 2010 at 2:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Titan’s Inside Outed

Saturn’s moon Titan is unquestionably one of the most interesting objects in the outer solar system, and the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn continues to contribute to our ever-increasing understanding of this fascinating cold world.

Now, in findings published in the journal Science, scientists have determined that Titan’s internal structure is radically different from that of such other icy moons as Jupiter’s Ganymede, though perhaps more similar to Jupiter’s Callisto. In Cassini Data Show Ice and Rock Mixture Inside Titan, project scientists explain that “Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, is about half ice and half rock” and that “Titan’s interior is a sorbet of ice studded with rocks that probably never heated up beyond a relatively lukewarm temperature. Only in the outermost 500 kilometers (300 miles) is Titan’s ice devoid of any rock, while ice and rock are mixed to various extents at greater depth.”

“‘To avoid separating the ice and the rock, you must avoid heating the ice too much,’ said David J. Stevenson, one of the paper’s co-authors and a professor of planetary science at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. ‘This means that Titan was built rather slowly for a moon, in perhaps around a million years or so, back soon after the formation of the solar system.’”

One remaining question: does Titan have an interior ocean hidden beneath its surface? Stay tuned.

For additional perspectives on Titan, see our earlier posts Titan & Tethys and Sunglint on Titan.

For more on the Cassini mission, visit NASA’s Cassini mission page or NASA/JPL’s Cassini website.

Titan's Interior Structure, Artist's Conception (NASA/JPL)

Published in: on March 12, 2010 at 1:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Farewell to Manzanar — Monday’s Book Discussion

Spring book discussion season kicks off again this coming Monday, March 15th at 7 pm with Farewell to Manzanar, by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston. Kim Stanley of McPherson College will lead the discussion of this true story about a spirited Japanese-American family’s survival of forced detention during the Second World War.

A handful of books remain at the circulation desk in the library, so there’s one waiting for you. It’s a quick and entertaining read, so you still have time before Monday’s discussion.

Other book discussions to follow, all sponsored by the Kansas Humanities Council, include Fences by August Wilson on March 29th, The Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle on April 12th, and The Wire-Cutters by Mollie E. Moore Davis on April 26th.

Drop by the library to learn more about these and other book discussions, and join us this coming Monday night.

Published in: on March 12, 2010 at 12:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

On Books, #28

Here’s another artistic creation from our anonymous young friend.

Published in: on March 12, 2010 at 12:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

On Books, #27

One of the library’s enthusiastic younger patrons has anonymously helped to decorate the library with artistic creations we appreciated very much. Here’s one we thought you might enjoy, too.

Published in: on March 12, 2010 at 11:45 am  Comments (1)