Notes in the Margin: Citizen Science

By Carol Feltes We have already learned how to reach out on the worldwide web to engage the online community in joint projects and problem solving, but less so when it comes to non-virtual communities.  Citizen Science is a delightful recipe to lure unsuspecting non-scientists into engagement with science and our physical world. It is a book with a gentle approach that can appeal to all ages, and acknowledges every effort or contribution, no matter how small, has real value.  It is a book that science teachers and local government agencies, such as parks departments, should use as resource and a model.  There are plenty of great ideas for K-12 science projects, supplemental activities to classroom instruction, and it creates a foundation for lifelong interest in science and an understanding of the environment.  It is rife with ideas that communities, scout troops, families and even seniors’ groups can use to create shared experiences and real, useful, scientific data. This is “crowdsourcing”  in a delightful “analog” way!  The instructions are all here.  Get your friends together and go for a walk…make a contest out of observing the world, and life happening, all around you.  Add what you see and learn to

Notes in the Margin: The Library of the Future

By Carol Feltes (Source: Yes! Somebody “gets” it…The library of the future. The changing technological landscape is changing the way we share, process, and store information, and libraries are evolving to match this change. Tim O’Reilly’s blog  Tools for Change in Publishing (TOC) is exactly what it’s name implies, and the January 29 issue features a great post under Kat and Joe’s column Must Reads: “Bookless Bibliotechs.”   They comment on a new report that celebrates the emerging library of the 21th century – a place not of books, but of knowledge.   The study, by the Pew Research Center, can be found here (excerpt below). The internet has already had a major impact on how people find and access information, and now the rising popularity of e-books is helping transform Americans’ reading habits. In this changing landscape, public libraries are trying to adjust their services to these new realities while still serving the needs of patrons who rely on more traditional resources. In a new survey of Americans’ attitudes and expectations for public libraries, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project finds that many library patrons are eager to see libraries’ digital services expand, yet also feel

Notes in the Margin: Moonbird

By Carol Feltes For the birders among us….. Here is a good read suitable for the layman.  Moonbird  by Phillip Hoose is the story of the rufa red knot. Regional birders know that, for many migratory birds traveling the eastern flyway, areas of the New Jersey shore are important stopping places.  The red knot (subspecies rufa), a medium sized shorebird, is eagerly watched for in the spring by New Jersey birders. The Red Knot is facing severe challenges from human impacts on the environment as well as reduced food availability.  Since 1995, populations have fallen by 80%.  Moonbird examines the challenges the red knot faces around the hemisphere, and introduces us to the group of scientists and conservationists working to ameliorate the problems, and assures the future of shore birds.   These views are the work of individual authors, do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of The Rockefeller University, and are not approved or endorsed by The Rockefeller University.

Notes in the Margin: Beatrice Tinsley

By Carol Feltes Beatrice Tinsley (Wikipedia) In recent years, it has been so gratifying and interesting to see female scientists finally revealed, their contributions to knowledge noted, and the tribulations of their careers in a gender-biased bureaucracy made known. Princeton Press’s new book, Heart of Darkness: Unravelling the mysteries of the invisible universe, brings us a story of modern cosmology and many of its lesser known players, including Beatrice Tinsley.   Tinsley was so frustrated with an establishment that refused to acknowledge her own contributions to research (she was the wife of an academic), that she ultimately divorced her husband and gave him custody of the children in order to have her work recognized.   Heart of Darkness is not strictly biographical; it tells the story of the science, bringing in the people and their contributions along the way.  Tinsley is notable, because she made fundamental contributions to what we know about galaxies and the universe – and then died of cancer at age 40, the year she finally made full professor at Yale.   These views are the work of individual authors, do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of The Rockefeller University, and are not approved or

Notes in the Margin: The Best American Science and Nature Writing

By Carol Feltes At the end of each year I look forward to the new annual collections of great writing known as the “Best American Series.”  For people who don’t have enough time to indulge in a generous and interesting diversity of high quality literature during the year, choosing to read this series is a no-brainer. There are many varieties of the “Best American” series - short stories, essays, sports, travel,  etc.- but of course my favorite is “Best American Science and Nature Writing.”  Each year the series editor collects a bunch of great articles, and invites a special guest editor select the top 20 articles. This year Tim Folger, series editor and notable science writer himself, invited Dan Ariely, a behavioral psychologist at Duke, to do the honors. And he did something wonderful. This year’s volume includes a strong nod of appreciation to one of the great evolutionary biologists of the 20th century: Lynn Margulis.  Her great contribution (and at the time great controversy) was the theory of endosymbiosis, or the idea that various cell organelles originated as separate organisms.  She suggested that the cells in our bodies originated as collaborations of various free living microbial precursors, such as

Notes in the Margin: Charles Darwin

By Carol Feltes Happy Birthday Charles Darwin! Celebrate with “a little gem of a book:”  There have been so many books written about Charles Darwin, what should you recommend as an introduction to history’s most celebrated biologist? Here is the answer, Tim Berra’s Charles Darwin: The Concise Story of an Extraordinary Man. Not only is it well populated with relevant, interesting, and appealing illustrations, it is succinct while covering everything important, and it is eminently readable. Dr. Berra, ichthyologist, ecologist, and Emeritus Professor of The Ohio State University, has spent a life time studying evolution in the guise of his fishes as well as studying the great man and his life. Dr. Berra is a noted speaker on Darwin, and this book is a result of his experience developing and perfecting his lecture series. Now retired from teaching, Dr. Berra is delving even deeper into the Darwin mystique. He has a new book coming from Oxford University Press in July, 2013: Charles Darwin and his children: His other legacy.