Thursday, August 27, 2015

Get the poop on ecological community

God loves community!  Check it out:

Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Origins 2015 abstracts are now online

They're a little late this year, but the Origins 2015 abstracts are now available online.  Check them out here:

2015 biology abstracts
2015 geology abstracts

You might notice me and Roger listed as editors of this year's CBS abstracts.  Joe Francis, our regular editor, had to bow out due to personal commitments, so Roger and I stepped in to complete the editing.

Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Ironic History of Evolution in the Scopes Era

My presentation from the 2015 Scopes Festival is now available online for free from Core Academy (it's also free to share on your website).

I want to acknowledge one of my primary sources: Philip Pauly's excellent 1991 article, "The Development of High School Biology: New York City, 1900-1925" (Isis 82:662-688).  There's a free PDF of the paper available at this link.

Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Pluto: the beginning

I just finished watching the NASA press conference, and here are the first high-res photos released from the Pluto/Charon system. First a close-up of Pluto, and then a full, clear shot of Charon, one of Pluto's moons.

Now I'm not a planetary scientist and therefore cannot speak with much authority, but one thing I kept wondering about was how clean the surfaces of both Pluto and Charon appeared.  I expected something more akin to the surface of the moon or Mercury, pockmarked with craters, but that's not what we got.  Instead, these bodies appeared to be "active," in other words, their surfaces appear to be quite "young."  I'll just leave you to draw your own conclusions.

What a day!  And what a view!

So when are we going back?  New Horizons 2 anyone?

Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Happy Pluto Day!

This is it!  Our first good look at Pluto should be happening right now!  If everything went according to plan, the New Horizons probe went silent last night at a little past eleven Eastern time, and it will check in again tonight at a little after nine Eastern time.  Why the silence?  New Horizons has finally reached Pluto, and it's gathering data on the dwarf planet and its moons.  The probe needs to put all its attention on the planet because it is literally moving faster than a speeding bullet!

Some of the fastest bullets come out of tank guns, and they travel around 3800 miles per hour.  New Horizons is traveling at 31,000 mph, which is almost about 8 times faster than our fastest bullets.  To put that in perspective, if New Horizons traveled as fast as a speeding bullet, it would need more than 70 years to get to Pluto.  If you wanted to drive to Pluto in your car at highway speed, it would take 4900 years of nonstop driving to get there.

New Horizons is going so fast, it will fly by Pluto's surface in a just a few minutes.  It doesn't have enough power to slow down, and Pluto's gravity is too weak to drag something going that fast into orbit.  (How weak is Pluto's gravity?  it's about 7% the gravity of earth.  So if you weigh 200 lbs here on earth, you would weigh only 14 lbs on Pluto.)  If you've ever tried to take photographs of something as you drive by on the highway, imagine that but 443 times faster.

I'll be waiting up tonight to see what happens after New Horizons checks in.  The photos won't be available right away, because it takes 4.5 hours to transmit a message from the probe to earth, and there will be a lot of data to download.  But by this time next week, we should have some really stunning views of the latest frontier in our solar system.

Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.