Liftoff! US, Russia Launch Historic One-Year Space Mission

An American astronaut and Russian cosmonaut launched into space Friday to attempt something their two countries have never done together before: a one-year mission on the International Space Station that could help one day send humans to Mars.

The epic one-year space mission launched NASA’s Scott Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko into orbit aboard a Russian Soyuz space capsule at 3:42 p.m. EDT (1942 GMT) today (March 27) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, where it was early Saturday morning local time. Also flying on the Soyuz is cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, a crewmember who will live and work aboard the orbiting outpost for about six months, the usual length of time people spend on the station.

“A year in space starts now,” NASA spokesperson Dan Huot said at launch. You can check out a video of the history-making launch as well. [The One-Year Space Mission: Full Coverage]

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The Water-Purifying Storm Drain

Some trees in the municipality have come down, which means free wood chip mulch! I am glad to finally start covering up the newspaper mulch layer around the swale.

I been picking up urban concrete waste, rocks, shells, and ceramic waste, in order to make a drainage layer in the water reservior. It’s all coming together in bits and pieces of recycled materials. As with the clay extraction project: a little bit of collection and recycling each day adds up to a lot of raw materials.

This water-collecting and filtering project has been a few months in the making: building a wood hügel, digging a swale, planting an edible tree and shrub border, planting pollinator-feeding erosion control seed mix on the berm, and planting semi-aquatic irises that filter water and hyperaccumulate pollutants like heavy metals

Once finished, this crescent-shaped drain should relieve flooded conditions on the grass plane and patio, while providing a space for the disposal of local concrete waste and broken ceramics.

In a few years, it can be mulched over and turned into a rain garden.

I based the idea on things I read while learning about landscape stormwater management, phytoremediation and phytomining: I wanted to use largely botanical, recycled, or self-harvested components to build a drain that also functions as a place to process waste, and as a habitat and source of sustenance to local wildlife. It’s modelled on a bioretention water processing/groundwater recharge cell.


A number of the drainage elements — especially shells and concrete — are also meant to catch small amounts of water, in order to provide drinking water for the beehive I am currently installing.

Seeds are germinating on the berm, so soon the whole thing will be covered in flowers, and yet again virtually unrecognisable!

The whole project has been free of cost, and made with recycled, collected, or traded materials.


Pied crow (Corvus albus)

The pied crow is a widely distributed African bird species in the crow genus. Pied crows are generally encountered in pairs or small groups, although an abundant source of food may bring large numbers of birds. All of its food is obtained from the ground such as insects and other small invertebrates, small reptiles, small mammals, young birds and eggs, grain, peanuts, carrion and any scraps of human food and fruit. It has been recorded killing and eating roosting fruit bats and is frequently seen (sometimes in huge numbers) scavenging around slaughterhouses.


photo credits: aon, wiki, wiki, gobirding

Polyester bees: Born in a plastic bag

The early March sun warms exposed soil, triggering the emergence of male polyester bees, which swarm the ground, waiting for females to dig to the surface. The half-inch bees — also known as plasterer bees — mate while rolling on the ground or while flying, joined to each other in midair.

Unlike social honeybees, polyester bees are solitary. After mating, males fly off to finish their short lives sipping from freshly opened tree blooms. Each female works alone on her own nest, a foot-and-a-half-deep tunnel as wide as a pencil, dug straight down into the ground. Eggs are laid in pockets, or brood cells, dug into the sides of the tunnel.

Every night, the female digs out a new brood cell and lines the cell with polyester secreted from her abdomen. “She spreads it on the cell wall with her paintbrush-shaped tongue,” says Suzanne W.T. Batra, a retired USDA entomologist, who began studying solitary bees in the 1960s.

 Deb Chachra in Concrete-Printing Bees And Other Living 3D Printers

A still-unknown agent — maybe something in the bee’s saliva — reacts with the polyester, causing it to harden into a flexible waterproof plastic resembling cellophane.” “During the day, the female collects nectar and pollen and packs it into the cell along with some glandular material. She lays an egg, suspended over the food, and seals the cell with more polyester. “Closes it like a zip-lock bag,” says Batra. The bee plugs the cell entrance with soil, packing it down with the tip of her abdomen before starting to dig another cell.

Some people might be alarmed to find polyester bees swarming the grounds of their property.

Fear not, says Batra. “The bees rarely sting. You’d have to sit on one to get it to sting you.” Her advice: “Wait a month and they’ll go away on their own.” By mid-April, any remaining bees will be limping about on tattered wings. They won’t be seen again until larvae go through metamorphosis and emerge late next winter.

Pollinator Conservation on Small Farms by Nancy Adamson

A native alternative to honeybees

North America has 4,000 species of bees. Many lead solitary lives similar to that of the polyester bee. “Some are much better pollinators than honeybees,” says Batra, “and native bees aren’t affected by the parasites and diseases that are killing honeybees.”

But modern agriculture, with its vast fields, pesticides and scarce natural areas, doesn’t encourage fertilization by native bees. “You would need undisturbed areas nearby,” says Batra, “so that the bees could nest and fly out to the fields to pollinate.”

Bee plastic

Unlike some synthetic plastics, bee plastic is biodegradable. Batra tested that by burying a bunch of brood-cell linings, which disintegrated after five years.

A research group at Olin College of Engineering has been studying polyester bee plastic for several years: “Bio-plastics are only in the early stages of development,” says student researcher Shannon Taylor. “Our goal is to understand [bee plastic] well enough to create something similar ourselves.”

Related: Save the Honeybee, Sterilise the Earth; Creating Insect Habitats; Beneficial Insect Habitats; Insect Hotels

#biomimicry #bees #pollinators #pollination #agriculture

The archive of the day is #germination

Click the gif to learn about the process of germination--in nature and in horticulture—including seed morphology, the soil seed bank, seed distribution by animals, seed processes like stratification and scarification, and seed dormancy strategies involving wildfires!

anonymous asked:

What is the string theory? Not in detail but the general idea? your blog is awesome btw :)

It has taken me an awfully long time to reply, so you’re probably thinking, wow this response will be amazing!

It won’t be….

I started writing a good answer, 1 paragraph, 2 paragraph, 3 paragraphs later it was nonsense and too long. I couldn’t get a good comprehensive explanation.

So you know what would be better? Michio Kaku is pretty much the man behind string theory. He made the equation, he made it popularised. 

So lets ask him! Here’s a video where he sums it up nicely in a solid 4 minutes.

One thing I will say is this:

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