Asian Carp, Again

Following up to the option of separating the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River, I mentioned that there would be an economic impact of completing such a task.  Well, come to find out the city of Chicago would need to have their waste water elimination system completely redesigned according to an article released by Michigan Radio’s Adam Allington for the Environment Report, which you can hear/read at this address:

This is just another element to add into a complex problem of invasive species and the Great Lakes.  Separating these bodies of water is a multi-billion dollar job, but the consequences could cost even more if this issue is not addressed soon.

Asian Carp and the Great Lakes

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn stated this weekend that he supports separating the Chicago waterways that connect the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River.  This action would guarantee that the invasive Asian Carp would not be able to migrate into the Great Lakes on their own.  While this has far reaching economic implications, it would be the best action we could take to prevent the invasion of these fish species into the Great Lakes.  Alternative methods of preventing an invasion are currently being explored, but the success rate would be highly unpredictable and may also impact other fish species.  Also, keep in  mind that the Chicago waterways were not naturally connected to the Great Lakes, but channels were developed to open shipping lanes to connect the Mississippi River and Great Lakes Basins.

You can read the press release here:




I am in the process of learning how to speak Spanish.  I wonder if I can possibly give myself an advantage by learning about the science behind learning a second language. Any thoughts from you?


Adios, mis amigos!

Radiation Part 2

Form the previous blog on radiation we learned what radiation is, which is energy radiating or reflecting from a source.  Now we will go into the 2 main types of radiation, which are ionizing and non-ionizing radiation.  The difference between ionizing and non-ionizing radiation is simple, but we need to take a step backwards and have a quick lesson on chemistry.  So most people are aware that the building blocks of all things are atoms.  Atoms are extremely small, but despite their small size they too are comprised of even smaller pieces.  The diagram below (which came from Weber State University in Ogden, Utah) shows you the basic parts of an atom, which are protons, neutrons, and electrons.


The center of the atom is known as the nucleus, which is made up of the protons and neutrons.  The nucleus of the atom is the most dense portion of the atom.  Surrounding the nucleus are the electrons.  Electrons are mind-blowingly smaller (in both size and mass) than protons and neutrons, but this does not mean that they are not important.  Electrons play an important role in how atoms behave and react to other atoms.

OK so what does this have to do with radiation???

Well, radiation directly impacts atoms (including those that make up our bodies).  Non-ionizing radiation carries enough energy to “excite” atoms and cause them to vibrate (in a sense).  Alternatively, ionizing radiation carries enough energy to not only cause atoms to vibrate but also has enough energy to cause electrons to be stripped away from the atom thus changing the behavior of the atom.

The next blog in this series will continue to look into radiation and chemistry because radiation impacts the world on an atomic level (which all things are made of)!

Diagram Source:

Basic information about radiation from the EPA:

Field Work

In the world of working scientists, it is very common to conduct experiments or surveys to support your hypothesis.  This is the aspect of science that many tend to overlook.  Many natural scientists (such as but not limited to: biologist, ecologists, and geologists) call these experiments “Field Work.”  This type of work involves very long days that include traveling, working long hours (12+ hour work days), and being able to adapt to equipment failures, uncooperative weather, and many other unplanned events.  Also, you must be willing to work hard and keep a positive attitude because field work is not for the weary.  While this is not a very educational blog, it is important to understand the complexities of collecting data to support or disprove your hypothesis (both supporting or disproving your ideas are equally important!!!).  I just wanted to shine some light on this subject to get a better understanding of what kind of work is involved in the world of scientific research.

What is Radiation

Radiation in the most basic sense is the act of a material releasing energy.  Think of a fire, like one in a fireplace, and how you can feel the heat coming off the flames even though you are standing some distance from the fire.  That heat you feel is reaching you by radiation.  The energy from the combustion of the wood radiates from the source of the reaction (fire is a chemical reaction, fyi) and you observe this radiation as heat on your skin.

This form of radiation (heat and light) is mostly harmless and can be observed in specific parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, more specifically, the infrared portion of the spectrum is particularly good at detecting radiating heat from objects.  The electromagnetic spectrum is simply a chart of wavelengths that light (or energy) can be emitted or measured.  Our eyes detect the visible portion of this spectrum and each color that we see is a result of reflecting (or radiating) energy that has specific wavelengths.  Here is a good chart for understand the concept of wavelengths.


Below is a link to the source of the chart and more information about radiation, but I will explain some of the information from these links in subsequent posts.

Chart Source:

More information about radiation can be found at these links, but I will be explaining the information in these links in subsequent blogs:

Nuclear Regulatory Commission: