Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Millions of women can't be wrong

Chocolate is good for you. Really. Those who ate half a bar a week had lower blood pressure, and 39% lower risk of strokes and heart attacks.
Dark chocolate is probably more effective. Goodie, I was hoping there would be a better way than just exercising more to get my blood pressure down. Hee!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sustainable Seafood

Trader Joe's announced last week that by the end of 2012 all of its seafood will originate from only sustainable sources. It joins such stores as Safeway, Whole Foods, Target, Aldi's and Wal-Mart (they are not all bad). Among other things, that means Trader Joe's has or will stop selling Chilean Seabass, Atlantic Cod, imported Mahi Mahi, Orange Roughy, farmed Tilapia, farmed Salmon, and Tuna EXCEPT Albacore and Skipjack. Add the free app from Seattle Aquarium to your iPhone so YOU know how to buy fish that are certified as sustainable to the Marine Stewardship Council.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Alaska, here I come!

I get to take a trip to Anchorage in May to deliver a fish paper. Woo-Hoo! Never been up there, about time. I will go a day early and take a day cruise around Kenai Fjord Bay to see the birds and other wildlife. So when I saw an article in Science about a huge gold and copper deposit a bit north of Bristol Bay, I looked through it with great interest. It is the usual environment vs financial interest story, with a few twists. A number of major jewelers from Tiffany to Walmart have sworn never to buy gold from Pebble Mine, should it materialize. 40 million salmon who live in the various habitats there is big $$ to the state's fishing industry, but then, so is an estimated 33 billion kg copper, 2.9 billion kg of gold and 2.2 billion kg of molybdenum big $$ to the state's mining industry. The potential conflict involves using water from the various rivers to scrub the low grade ore. Some evidence suggests that aqueous copper, at concentrations below the legal "pollutant" level, may interfere with the way salmon navigate. Not being able to swim up river means the salmon won't spawn and make more salmon. So this will be a real Hobson's choice for Alaskans, who love their fishing and mining industries equally.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Getty Center

Well, I am back in the office chair after a much needed break for a little vacation. On the way home we swung by LA (and the traffic is just as bad as I hear it is) and drove (and drove and drove) across town so we could go to the new Getty Center the next day. I had been to the Getty Villa near Malibu some years ago, and had always wanted to visit the new museum. Unfortunately for you, I could not really find any good images of the spectacularly beautiful travertine buildings, so go here and take my word for it We took the architecture tour and the garden tour. The 5-6 buildings and plazas were built as a collection on a wonderful mountain top site, and the site is well reflected in the building design. The gardens were designed as a sculpture to accent the architecture. I can't really give it justice. The museum is worth putting on your bucket list and all that traffic to visit. We have to go back. Really.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

cool blog to visit

Science has started a new series looking at blogs. The winner of the Science Prize for Online Resources in Education is On the right most panel is a Most Popular heading. Go to the Cell Size & scale and open it. You have to drag the tab on the bar, then you can scroll down to smaller and smaller stuff. Cool!

One of the scientific tools I use a lot in my job is electrophoresis. Under Virtual Labs on the left is a gel electrophoresis box. Run the demo. It's fun. I actually use this technique in an automated instrument with a disposable chip using microfluidics, but the demo is fun. I could waste a lot of time playing with this site.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge

I was in Pascagoula MS a few weeks back, which entailed a nice drive across the coast from New Orleans. After leaving my appointment, I was lured off the highway by a sign. Who knew there needed to be a refuge for them? Sandhill cranes live on wet savannas that are not good for much else - or wasn't until timber companies began buying up land in the '50's to plant pines. By 1973 with the passage of the Endangered Species act, there were less than 40 cranes, and this was the first refuge established under that law. So did I get to see a crane? Not a live one, just the stuffed ones in the exhibit. Cranes lay eggs days apart, and the first hatched chick usually kills any siblings. Now, the biologists monitor the nests and just leave one egg to hatch. The others are taken to form a captive breeding flock. For the past 30 years, offspring have been released so that there are now about 100 birds in the wild and 25 breeding pairs. Amazing. So the next time you happen to pass through Gautier MS, stop at the visitors center, check out the exhibit, and leave the nice folks there a few bucks.