BLM Employees, Partners and Volunteers Brave Storms; Experience Annual NPLD Condor Release

On Saturday, September 27, the BLM, The Peregrine Fund and partners released three California condors in the BLM-managed Vermillion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona. The condors were hatched and raised as part of The Peregrine Fund’s captive breeding program at the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho.

Managing public lands for healthy ecosystems, including diverse plant communities and viable wildlife populations, is an important part of BLM’s work related to the Endangered Species Act. The California condor recovery program is an important part of BLM’s mission.  As a wildlife biologist, father and grandfather, I would like my children and grandchildren to always have this unique vulture species abundant and soaring in the skies over the Arizona Strip.

Tim Hughes, BLM Arizona State Office Threatened and Endangered Species Specialist

Recovery efforts have successfully helped the species come back from the brink of extinction when numbers fell to just 22 condors worldwide in the 1980s.  Success is due to the efforts of contributing partners, including the BLM Arizona, The Peregrine Fund, Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Kaibab National Forest and Grand Canyon National Park.

Read BLM Public Affairs Officer Rachel Tueller’s personal account of Saturday’s release, an annual National Public Lands Day event.


“Despite the looming storm and black thunder heads that eventually rolled in, Saturday’s event was a spectacular gathering of condor enthusiasts and supporters from across America and all walks of life.  They came from as far away as Troy, Michigan to Denver, Colorado and as near as Flagstaff, Arizona and Paria, Utah. As I spoke to people among the crowd, it was amazing to learn how far so many had traveled to “honor” these birds with their attendance.


Aliecia and Joshua Allen braved Saturday’s storm with their family to support their brother David Allen, a Webelo scout, who presented the colors prior to the release with troop 911.

The sky cleared long enough for us to learn about the recovery of this species from Chris Parish, biologist and Condor Reintroduction Project Director for the Peregrine Fund. Chris and Condor Program Field Manager Eddie Feltes spend their lives tending to the welfare and recovery of these birds.  As we waited for the big moment, Eddie shared, “I live and breathe condors—they don’t take days off—so if there’s an issue, I have to be there for them. We’re saving the species because their decline is primarily human caused so if we can save the species—if we can help—it’s our obligation.”


Eddie Feltes, Condor Program Field Manager, Peregrine Fund.

Just after the countdown and the opening of the gate, at 11:03 a.m. Arizona time, Eddie peered through his high powered telescope and announced to the crowd that all 3 of the condors had left the release pen across from the viewing site.

Everyone cheered!

Within minutes, a wave of excitement washed across the group as those watching through binoculars and telescopes saw all three condors rising on thermals high above the cliff ledge.


Condors soared above Vermillion Cliffs National Monument.


Among the group was a male condor known to biologists as #114, the oldest condor among those released. Eddie shared a quick story of #114 with me, noting that the 18 year old male was among the first group of condors released along the Vermilion Cliffs and has produced 4 offspring during his wild and free lifespan. It was somehow encouraging to see this old patriarch of the group there, among the newest fledglings, and then soaring with them as they spread their wings into the wild for the first time.


It seemed the weather held just long enough for a successful release. Within 20 minutes of the release, after everyone had the chance to watching the condor soar high above the site, the rain splattered the view site and quickly turned to a hard pelting rain with harsh, gusty winds that drove a happy, satisfied crowd of enthusiasts homeward.”

Check out the following social media accounts to see and learn more.

Condor photo album on Flickr
Condor video playlist on YouTube
Condor educational materials on Pinterest

And event and condor information via #CondorsOnTheRise on BLM Arizona Facebook, My Public Lands Tumblr, My Public Lands Instagram and @BLMNational Twitter.

So apparently there’s a sound that is 36 or so octaves below middle c that is so low that it kills you. The sound waves literally kill you. And this sound is only found in dark matter (for what we know). This is so cool

I love science



This is a bit future-shock …

A small consumer-level molecular scanner lets you analyze the objects around you for relevant information, from food calories or quality, medicine, nature etc … This could be the start of the Internet of Everything

The Kickstarter was launched yesterday and made it’s $200,000 goal within 24 hours - the potential for this tech is huge. Watch the video embedded below to see the potential:

Smartphones made it easy to research facts, capture images, and navigate street maps, but they haven’t brought us closer to the physical environment in which we live – until now. 

Meet SCiO. It is the world’s first affordable molecular sensor that fits in the palm of your hand. SCiO is a tiny spectrometer and allows you to get instant relevant information about the chemical make-up of just about anything around you, sent directly to your smartphone.

Out of the box, when you get your SCiO, you’ll be able to analyze food, plants, and medications.

For example, you can:

  • Get nutritional facts about different kinds of food: salad dressings, sauces, fruits, cheeses, and much more.

  • See how ripe an Avocado is, through the peel!

  • Find out the quality of your cooking oil.

  • Know the well being of your plants.

  • Analyze soil or hydroponic solutions.

  • Authenticate medications or supplements.

  • Upload and tag the spectrum of any material on Earth to our database. Even yourself !

You can find out more about the product at it’s Kickstarter page here

EDIT: There seems to be a lot of skepticism about the product (I’m not a scientist, but the idea is certainly compelling). There have been calls at Reddit calling this out, yet the company has posted addressing the concerns here

Vera Rubin (b. 1928)

When Vera Cooper Rubin told her high school physics teacher that she’d been accepted to Vassar, he said, “That’s great. As long as you stay away from science, it should be okay.”

Rubin graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1948, the only astronomy major in her class at Vassar, and went on to receive her master’s from Cornell in 1950 (after being turned away by Princeton because they did not allow women in their astronomy program) and her Ph.D. from Georgetown in 1954. Now a senior researcher at the Carnegie Institute’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Rubin is credited with proving the existence of “dark matter,” or nonluminous mass, and forever altering our notions of the universe. She did so by gathering irrefutable evidence to persuade the astronomical community that galaxies spin at a faster speed than Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation allows. As a result of this finding, astronomers conceded that the universe must be filled with more material than they can see. 

Rubin made a name for herself not only as an astronomer but also as a woman pioneer; she fought through severe criticisms of her work to eventually be elected to the National Academy of Sciences (at the time, only three women astronomers were members) and to win the highest American award in science, the National Medal of Science. Her master’s thesis, presented to a 1950 meeting of the American Astronomical Society, met with severe criticism, and her doctoral thesis was essentially ignored, though her conclusions were later validated. “Fame is fleeting,” Rubin said when she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. “My numbers mean more to me than my name. If astronomers are still using my data years from now, that’s my greatest compliment.”





Celebrating Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument’s Golden Birthday! 

The vast and austere landscape of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) offers a spectacular array of scientific and historic resources. Encompassing 1.9 million acres, the Monument was created on September 18, 1996 by presidential proclamation – the first monument entrusted to BLM management. World-class dinosaur excavations have yielded more information about ecosystem change at the end of the dinosaur era than almost any other place in the world. Among the fossil finds, paleontologists have identified dinosaurs not previously known to have inhabited this region, as well as several new species.

The vast landscapes of GSENM offers visitors a variety of recreational opportunities for a wide range of users. From the solitude of lonesome canyons to the excitement of winding rugged backways, the Monument is truly a treasure.

Plan your visit and learn more:

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM 


The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s largest and most powerful particle collider, built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). The LHC is designed to answer some of the most profound questions about the universe: What is the origin of mass? Why are we made of matter and not antimatter? What is dark matter made of? It could also provide important new clues about conditions in the very early universe, when the four forces of nature were rolled into one giant superforce.

  • For more information click: here

Credit: Michael Hirst


Dark  Matter - “The Tip of an Iceberg of Another World Unrelated to Ours

Answering the observation that the dark matter particle might not be detectable at a colloquium organized by the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago, Michael Turner, a theoretical cosmologist trained in both particle physics and astrophysics who coined the term “dark energy,” said that for 20 to 30 years, this idea that dark matter is part of a unified theory has been our Holy Grail and has led to the WIMP hypothesis and the belief that the dark matter particle is detectable. “But there’s a new generation of physicists that is saying, ‘Well, there’s an alternative view. Dark matter is actually just the tip of an iceberg of another world that is unrelated to our world. And I cannot even tell you about that world. There are no rules for that other world, at least that we know of yet.

"Ten years ago," Turner says, "I don’t think you would’ve found astronomers, cosmologists, and particle physicists all agreeing that dark matter was really important. And now, they do. And all of them believe we can solve the problem soon. It’s wonderful listening to particle physicists explain the evidence for dark matter, and vice versa –astronomers explaining WIMPs as dark matter. ”

"As cosmologists," said Rocky Kolb, who studies the application of elementary-particle physics to the very early Universe, and is the co-author with Michael Turner of The Early Universe, the standard textbook on particle physics and cosmology, “one of our jobs is to understand what the universe is made of. To a good approximation, the galaxies and other structures we see in the universe are made predominantly of dark matter. We have concluded this from a tremendous body of evidence, and now we need to discover what exactly is dark matter. The excitement now is that we are closing in on an answer, and only once in the history of humans will someone discover it. “

"Nothing in cosmology makes sense without dark matter, says Turner. "We needed it to form galaxies, stars and other structures in the Universe. And so it’s absolutely central to cosmology. We also know that none of the particles known to exist can be the dark matter particle. So it has to be a new particle of nature. Remarkably, our most conservative hypothesis right now is that the dark matter is a new form of matter – out there to be discovered and to teach us about particle physics."

"Dark matter is absolutely central to cosmology, said Turner, "and the evidence for it comes from many different measurements: the amount of deuterium produced in the big bang, the cosmic microwave background, the formation of structure in the Universe, galaxy rotation curves, gravitational lensing, and on and on."

Read More

They did it! MIT and Harvard scientists have created ‘lightsaber-like’ particles!

This sounds like a joke, but it’s not. A team of physicists were fooling around with photons when they managed to get the particles to clump together to form a molecule, one that’s unlike any other matter. And it behaves, they say, just like a light saber.

That’s right. Lasers were used to discover a new form of matter that’s straight out of a Star Wars film. Credit for the experiment goes to Harvard physics professor Mikhail Lukin and MIT physics professor Vladan Vuletic, who blasted photons through a cloud of rubidium atoms. When they sent more than one photon at once, they noticed that the particles clung to each other to form a molecule.

[more at PhysOrg]


Gypsym Addiction

For Endangered Species Day we want to highlight the dwarf bearclaw poppy, which has been a federally listed endangered species since 1979. A plant or animal is listed as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 when it is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. 

The dwarf bearclaw poppy (Arctomecon humilis), is a gypsophile or gypsum-loving plant, having a distinct preference for the gypsum rich soils found in the upper layers of the geologic Moenkopi Formation. It is endemic- or found only in a certain locality or region — to Washington County, Utah, growing at elevations between 2,600 and 3,300 feet. Today, there are only five small populations of dwarf bearclaw poppy remaining, all within a ten mile radius of St George, Utah! 

Photo: Melissa Buchmann, Recreation Intern for BLM-Utah

Dark Matter Distribution in the Abell 901/902 Supercluster

Astronomers assembled this photo by combining a visible-light image of the Abell 901/902 supercluster taken with the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope in La Silla, Chile, with a dark matter map derived from observations with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. The magenta-tinted clumps represent a map of the dark matter in the cluster. Dark matter is an invisible form of matter that accounts for most of the universe’s mass. The image shows that the supercluster galaxies lie within the clumps of dark matter.

Hubble cannot see the dark matter directly. Astronomers inferred its location by analyzing the effect of so-called weak gravitational lensing, where light from more than 60,000 galaxies behind Abell 901/902 is distorted by intervening matter within the cluster. Researchers used the observed, subtle distortion of the galaxies’ shapes to reconstruct the dark matter distribution in the supercluster.

Credit: NASA/ESA/Hubble


What can we learn from galaxies far, far away?

Galaxy clusters like this are astoundingly big, beautiful, mysterious—and also very useful. For scientists, they’re giant laboratories. They help us understand the mysteries of astrophysics, including dark matter, dark energy, and the balance of heating and cooling in the universe’s most massive objects.

Thanks for the cool pictures, NASA ;).

Watch the full talk here »

People didn’t treat me as someone with science ambitions… They treated me as someone they thought was going to mug them, or who was a shoplifter. I’d be in a department store and security would follow me. Taxis wouldn’t stop for me. And I was just glad I had something to think about other than how society was treating me…
Teachers would say ‘You should join this or that team’, not the physics club. My fuel tank had been stoked since I was nine, but it took some energy to overcome this resistance. I wondered if there was a lost generation of people who succumbed because their fuel tanks were a little smaller than mine.