28 August 2015

North is Not Up, Nor is South Down

North is Not Up, Nor is South Down

I can’t count the number times I’ve heard a TV weather person make a statement akin to “this line of thunderstorms will pass below New York by Thursday afternoon.” Yes, and while it’ll be sunny up top on the street, if you’re working all day in the subway, or on underground utilities, you’ll need an umbrella. Be prepared to seek safety in daylight as those storms may produce lightning and …

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28 June 2015

The World’s Beaches (Book Review)

The World's Beaches (Book Review)

For your summer reading edification, this is a wonderful book to take to the beach. Or, if you can’t make the trip, it’s a vicarious journey to beaches around the globe, and an invitation to appreciate their beauty, idiosyncracies, and vulnerability. The full title is The World’s Beaches: A Global Guide to the Science of the Shoreline by Orrin H. Pilkey, William J. Neal, Joseph T. Kelley, and J. Andrew …

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14 June 2015

Art in Science: Kubiena’s Soil Profiles in Watercolors

Art in Science: Kubiena's Soil Profiles in Watercolors

Photographs of soil profiles are often disappointing. Usually the subject is a hole in the ground where light is dim and the surrounding ground surface is light. Getting a good, representative photo of a soil profile can lead to acres of frustration. W.L. Kubiena worked as a soil morphologist in the last century and from a practical standpoint, probably only had access to black and white photography. He opted for …

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31 May 2015

Uncovering a Soil Mystery Using Micromorphology and Petrography

Uncovering a Soil Mystery Using Micromorphology and Petrography

This is the second in a series (link to 1st) about the genesis of the Success soil, which was the topic of my master’s research. This part has to do with using petrography to identify soil constituents and examine soil fabric to help understand soil forming processes in a particular case. Soil fabric consists of soil plasma and skeletal grains, which can be distinguished under magnification. W.L. Kubiena was an …

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16 March 2015

Unearthing a Soil Mystery Using Differential Solution Analysis

Unearthing a Soil Mystery Using Differential Solution Analysis

Some years ago while in graduate school at the University of New Hampshire, I was presented the opportunity by my advisor, Dr. Chris Evans, to solve a hard soil mystery resting mostly unnoticed except to those who had to work in it. Found on steeper slopes under coniferous forest, for builders, the Success series can be troublesome. It’s effort enough to dig any soil, but the Success soil is especially …

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20 November 2014

Update: American Farm Bureau Federation et al. v. EPA Oral Arguments

American Farm Bureau Federation, et al. v. EPA, Case 13-4079 oral arguments were held Tuesday (see previous post) and early indications suggest the Farm Bureau is fighting an uphill battle as it attempts to block the EPA from implementing a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program for Chesepeake Bay. The program calls for a 25% percent cut in nitrogen, 24% cut in phosphorus, and 20% reduction in sediment loads by …

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16 November 2014

American Farm Bureau Federation vs. EPA: Oral Arguments Scheduled for Tuesday

American Farm Bureau Federation vs. EPA: Oral Arguments Scheduled for Tuesday

American Farm Bureau Federation, et al. v. EPA, Case 13-4079 oral arguments are scheduled for Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia. The American Farm Bureau Federation (Farm Bureau) is suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its authority to regulate farm runoff. The issue has gained attention following this summer’s “do not drink” advisory affecting over 500,000 residents in the Toledo, Ohio …

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8 October 2014

Symphony of the Soil is a Beautiful Film Documentary

I can’t say enough about this film made by Deborah Garcia. Symphony of the Soil is available here through October 10 for free viewing. The film has wonderful macro and micro videography and a tremendous sound track. The passion these scientists providing narrative have for their subject comes through loud and clear. I try to stay away from superlatives, but can’t help it with this documentary. Watch the film. If …

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5 October 2014

FDA Fast Tracks Valley Fever Drug

FDA Fast Tracks Valley Fever Drug

Valley fever, a soil-borne disease Terra Central discussed here, is no longer an orphan disease, which means it is no longer too obscure to receive funding for a treatment or a cure. Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted fast track status to Nikkomycin Z as a “qualifying infectious disease product (QIDP) under the GAIN Act. The GAIN Act was “approved by Congress in 2012 to help provide …

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23 August 2014

Dirt Bucket Challange is a Bad Idea

Apparently, in the interest of saving water in drought-stricken California and calling attention to the crisis there, two men dumped dirt over their heads. This is a bad idea, in support of a good cause, in my view. The video has gone viral and shows a dry-land adaptation of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Soil is not only where plants grow, but is also host to many kinds of bacteria …

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