Hack a Roach

TECHNOLOGY Researchers are turning cockroaches into smartphone-controlled cyborgs for use in search-and rescue-operations. (NOVA PBS, see the video below!) With $50, three hours, some electronics savvy, and an aversion to squeamishness, you, too, can build your own RoboRoach army! Use our resources to see other ways engineers are developing gadgets and gizmos to take over the world. Discussion Ideas According to the NOVA video, futuristic “bugbots” … Continue reading Hack a Roach

Volcanoes & Airplanes? No Way.

Alaska_locator.jpgThis last summer, I traveled to Alaska to research resource management in three distinct locations: Denali, Wrangell-St. Elias, and Kenai Fjords National Parks. Of course, the scenery was incredible (Denali (Mt. McKinley) is the tallest peak in the North America), the wildlife amazing (I saw about 3-4 bears per day) and the experience exhilarating– but when the research was over, I was ready to get back home.

Some background: Alaska’s Aleutian Islands are an extremely volcanic region, formed by the convergence of the Pacific and North American tectonic plates. In this case, the convergence is known as a subduction zone, meaning that one plate is pushed under another, usually resulting in seismic and volcanic activity.  

Cue the volcanic eruptions.

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Australia’s Shifting Climate

aus map 2.jpgThis past week, Australia has been the scene of raging brush fires that, at the time of this posting, have claimed nearly 200 lives (NPR). This number of deaths seems ludicrously high, and I have tried to mentally justify how something as simple as a brush fire could kill so many people. According to some scientists, reasons for the high death count include climate change and dwindling water resources. This is in contrast to my initial conclusions of poor emergency management and geographically isolated areas, which however, probably did exacerbate the problem.

090209-01-australia-fire_big.jpg This morning, Freya Matthews of Australia’s La Trobe University wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald that, “Saturday’s events showed us the terrifying face of climate change. The heat was devastating, even without the fire.” Matthews implies that fires such as the ones that barreled through Australia this weekend are now going to become commonplace. I can’t say that I disagree with her on this matter. Here in the United States, many climatologists and geographers have attributed the fury of Hurricane Katrina to rising oceanic temperatures. Similarly, if one takes the time to actively seek out environmental destruction stories (such as Australia’s brush fires or Hurricane Katrina, but perhaps much less publicized catastrophes like the expected extinction of salamanders), they will find that many of these disasters are theoretically caused by a rapidly changing climate.

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