Saturday, February 14, 2015

Unhappy feet

I've just posted on Southern Fried Science about why we need a year of the penguin - the link to the article is here:

But if there was any doubt that penguins are awesome, here's some more photos:

Friday, February 13, 2015

Save the Ocean Bowl !

As I write this, I’m sitting in a room surrounded by a pile of graded question papers for the Chesapeake Bay Bowl, the Washington DC/Virginia/Maryland/Delaware regional competition for the National OceanScience Bowl. For those who don’t know about these competitions, they are ocean science quizzes for high school students. The competition consists of alternating multiple choice buzzer questions and more detailed written question sections. The questions for both are submitted by marine science professionals from all fields of oceanography and marine policy. And boy, are some of these questions tough ! The judges, who are experts from universities and government agencies (such as NOAA, USGS and the Navy) frequently are stumped by the questions, that some of student teams breeze through. These students can be scarily smart. The Ocean Science Bowl competitions are like the Bletchley Park of upcoming marine science students. The events are also great for the volunteers, with expert judges, undergraduate and graduate students, and naval midshipmen asking question, calculating score, running around with question sheets – it’s a great chance for networking and mentoring.

But these great events were almost committed to the trashcan of educational initiatives thanks to US Congressional budgeting.Thankfully some funding was allocated for the events, although the events are running on a shoestring. The current event is largely being sponsored by one of the local universities and run with volunteers. 

Heaven forbid that a continent surrounded by oceans... with many States whose economy depends on the marine environment... with the largest navy in the world... with an enormous amount of ocean-borne trade... should invest in promoting excellence in oceanography and marine science....!

If like me, you are bewildered why this event should get the short funding straw, this article gives some ideas about what you can do to help keep these awesome events going.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

You know nothing Jon Snow !

At the end of the the most recent Game of Thrones book (a Dance with Dragons)  there is quite a surprise ending...

I've been pondering what happens to Jon Snow... and here's my hypothesis. If you aren't up to date on the books/ just watching the TV show, don't read on, because.... SPOILERS !!!

So Jon Snow dies..., killed by the Night's Watch ... temporarily. He is brought back from death by the priestess Melisandre as the true King who will save the world. Why is this.... ? Because Jon Snow is in fact the illegitimate son of Lyanna Stark (Ned's sister) and Robert Baratheon. This effectively makes him THE rightful king and Melisandre's magic works upon him. Her visions of destiny were not in fact about Stannis, but Jon Snow.

Jon was adopted by Ned Stark as Robert was due to wed Cersei Lannister, for the good of the Kingdom, and swore himself to secrecy, keeping his vow despite the effect on his marriage. This also means that New was not unfaithful to his wife, which I always thought was out of character anyway because of his heightened sense of honor.

The fact that Jon has jet black hair like all of the Baratheon children (but unlike the Stark children)  possibly promoted him to look into the heritage of Joffrey - the suggestion that Robert's children weren't blonds immediately struck a cord with him.

Because Jon technically dies, this releases him from his vow to the Night's Watch, freeing him to become King of the North and lead armies against the white walkers.

Valar Morghulis ...!