I love cool projects that really show science at work, especially when they include education for kids and the general public, and the Lost Ladybug Project is one that I really like. It seems that researchers noticed that native species of ladybugs are disappearing (largely being replaced by Asian ladybugs that were introduced into North America by the USDA to combat crop pests) and nobody knows for sure what happened to them. Especially of interest is a species known as C-9 (for its nine spots), which used to be so common that it was made the state insect of New York in 1989. Unfortunately, there hadn’t really been a confirmed sighting of C. 9 ladybugs since the 1970s and a survey in 1992 could not find a single one. However, one of the big problems with field surveys is that there is always too much ground to cover and not enough people, so entomologists at Cornell University came up with the idea of the Lost Ladybug Project, which is being supported by a large grant from the NSF. Basically, the idea is to get as many people out there looking for ladybugs, and documenting the specimens they find with pictures, which are then uploaded to the Lost Ladybug website. Anyone can help, and you can get all the particulars here
(There is a simple Google Maps mashup showing the locations of some of the ladybug finds, but there is so much more they could be doing with the mapping end of this project, so I hope there are plans to improve it)
We often talk about our ever greening ways in our daily lives at the VerySpatial office, but we are still pretty much light weights. Our lack of weightiness is reinforced when I watch Discovery’s newish channel, Planet Green. Topics cover the gamut from greening your home, your meals, and to your general lifestyle. If you have access to Planet Green (channel 194 on DishNetwork) check it out and see if it gives you any ideas on greening your life.
Planet Green : Sustainable Living, Energy Conservation, Earth Day
Another great art as education/activism has apparently been going on this summer and will be continuing through the fall and into next year. The project, CoolGlobes: Hot Ideas for a Cooler Planet, is an exhibit that began in Chicago last summer (’07) that features sculpted globes, each about 5 feet in diameter which were intended to “to create awareness and provoke discussion about a potential solution to global warming”. Some of the globes are currently on display in Washington DC and San Francisco with an exhibit coming soon to San Diego and to London in 2009. If you see one of these exhibits, send us a picture of video.
If you drove anywhere of note in the US this weekend, you couldn’t help but note the uptick in gas prices yet again. If you were wondering where might be the best place to travel in the future, gasbuddy.com has a nice heat map of gas prices in the US broken down by county (there’s also a link for a Canadian version as well).
Of course if you’re just plain fed up with the whole gas price issue, you could look into immigrating to this Danish island. The island has converted itself to 100% renewable energy sources through a combination of on and off shore wind (my personal favorites!), solar, and biofuels. I’m sure you could get an electric car over there if you wanted to chuck fossil fuels completely!
If you’re not from the great mass of the middle in the US, some of these places mentioned in the news might be a bit obscure or hard to find. That’s why interactive maps like this one are so useful. If you’re curious about where the flooding is has been hitting the last few weeks, that map will help you track them. Most of the points feature an indication of historical river levels, projected levels, and current levels. A few of the points link to news items about that area. What would have been nice to see is an overlay that has the current weather forecast as well. While the map isn’t necessarily the most interactively useful, it does present a fairly accessible presentation of the data, which is always important.
EDIT: I’ve added the link. ‘Cause sometimes “multitasking” means “something doesn’t get done”.
If you’ve been following the blog for awhile now, you’ll know that I’m all over alternative energy sources. I’d love to have a wind turbine for my house. Well the good people of Rock Port, Missouri have taken up the wind power challenge and gone 100% wind energy! The press release says they use 13 million kilowatts a hear and their fancy new wind turbines put out 16 million. Here’s hoping I can get my own turbine sometime so I don’t have to feel guilty about having four computers running in my house!
What better way to learn about conservation efforts to save Africa’s few remaining mountain gorillas than playing a mobile game! Silverbackers, a free game that can be downloaded and played on any Java-capable phone with a mobile web access / data plan, lets you help save mountain gorillas as you play through its 8 levels. Silverbackers is for ages 8 and up, and I think it’s great idea to combine gaming with learning about how we can be more responsible in helping conserve our planet’s wildlife and resources.