Science Surfing

  1. Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary . . .

    How does her garden grow? From fertile dirt with rusty nails, beer, and bacteria. At least according to the Exploratorium in San Francisco. Now that spring has arrived, green thumbs are itching to get out and get planting, and this hands-on science museum in California has put together a Web site for experienced and budding […]

  2. Earth

    Sense of Wonder Contest

    Rachel Carson aficionados will recognize The Sense of Wonder as the title of one of that environmentalist’s books. The Environmental Protection Agency is using that title to invite people young and old—literally and collaboratively—to explore that sense in poetry, essays, and photography. It’s inviting submissions from intergenerational teams “that best express the ‘Sense of Wonder’ […]

  3. Humans

    Sing a Song of Science

    These children’s tunes, produced in the late ’50s and early ’60s have a certain nostalgic innocence. At least some are traditional tunes given new expository lyrics. They deal with astronomy (like the “Constellation Jig”), energy (“Ultra Violet and Infra Red”), experimentation (“Vibration”), weather (“Warm Fronts, Cold Fronts”), and nature (“What Is a Mammal?” and “How […]

  4. Earth

    Floral Cues to Climate Change

    Phenology may not be a word that trips off your tongue, but it may be one you want to consider adding to your vocabulary. It has the same root as phenomena, and in fact deals with biological events linked to climate—such as bird migrations and plant germination. The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research has set […]

  5. Agriculture

    Switchgrass Science

    A native prairie grass shows promise as a substitute for corn in the production of fuel ethanol—an additive to stretch fossil-fuel resources for transportation. University of Tennessee researchers have produced a video on the science and prospects of switchgrass ethanol that is available in a 26-minute version and an abbreviated form. For those who don’t […]

  6. Humans

    One-Stop Shopping for Every Species

    On Feb. 26, the Encyclopedia of Life went live. This site hopes to become the definitive place to find information on every living species—millions and millions of them. The first extensive sets of entries will include fish and members of the potato and tomato families. But more species will be added all the time—offering basic […]

  7. Astronomy

    Urgently Wanted—Star Counters

    Through March 8, an organization known as GLOBE at Night is asking for help tallying celestial bodies in the constellation Orion. Designed as a teaching aid, this star-counting program aims to emphasize the loss-of-darkness throughout the globe, a problem which hinders ground-based astronomy. Students, families, and the general public can report their results online by […]

  8. Astronomy

    New Worlds Atlas

    Keep track of the ever-expanding list of newly discovered planets orbiting distant suns at PlanetQuest 2.0, a revamped Website developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It has images, “planet system visualizations,” movies and games that simulate interstellar exploration, and even lets you install a desktop planet counter so that your computer always displays the latest […]

  9. Earth

    Find My Valentine—or Other Places

    The federal Geographic Names Information System lists 14 sites around the nation named Valentine—Including Alta Mills, Kan., and Bedison, Mo., for which Valentine is an alternate moniker. You can search for locations that may share your name, a name associated with some holiday (like Santa Claus, Ind.), or the name of an object of your […]

  10. Marine Cloudmakers

    As bubbles in the ocean burst, they release entrained microorganisms and other marine materials. As they’re spewed into the air, these particles can serve as the basis of cloud particles. Researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego explain the phenomenon in this Jan. 8 mini-video and even speculate […]

  11. Be a Cognitive-Test Subject

    You can become an online participant in tests of how the mind uses and processes words at this several-month-old site, administered by Harvard University’s Cognition and Language Laboratory (with collaborators at other institutions). Alternatively, you can just read the results from earlier experiments. They’re quick, fun, and sometimes embarrassingly challenging. Go to:

  12. Earth

    Identifying Polluters

    Three major business schools have teamed up to map some 20,000 sources of industrial pollution. You can search for polluters in a particular region, in a designated industry, or those associated with a named company, then probe their emissions by type and quantity, look at how their pollutant trends have changed over time, and compare […]