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October 28, 2022
What lives in frozen soil for 25,000 years?
In October 2022, Josephine Galipon visited Alaska to see if she could tease out genetic information from gray cylinders of permafrost — silty soil that has been frozen for at least two years, but in this case thousands.
October 23, 2022
Home insulation from wood and fungus
Robbin Garber-Slaght is a Fairbanks engineer who works for the National Renewable Energy Lab’s Cold Climate Housing Research Center. She notes that Alaskans pay more than double the national average to keep their homes warm during the winter and also pay a lot for sheets of foam insulation, which travels a long way to get here by truck and boat. She is teaming with Phillipe Amstislavski to develop insulation boards made of wood fiber bound by mycelium, the root-like tendrils of fungus.
October 15, 2022
The man who knew moose like no other
Vic Van Ballenberghe died on Sept. 22, 2022, at the age of 78. The man who knew moose better than perhaps anyone else on Earth had stood amid their knobby legs for many springs and falls in Interior Alaska. I got to join him in the field once, 11 years ago. Here is my story from that day…
October 14, 2022
Grains of Alaska made into art
Kelsey Aho works as a mapmaker for the U.S. Forest Service in Alaska. She is also an artist who collects earthen materials on her travels around the state. Throughout Alaska, Aho has gathered mineral soils — including clays when she can find them — as well as ash. She has collected from, among other places, the Denali Highway, Hartney Bay near Cordova, the Chilkat River and Murphy Dome in Fairbanks.
September 23, 2022
Alaska sand dunes hint at ancient past
Sand deposits everywhere in Alaska harken back to a time thousands of years ago when big winds blasted fine particles of glacier-ground mountain a long way. It must have been an unpleasant time to be walking around Alaska, but scientists like Mann are fascinated with what it left behind.
September 12, 2022
Where do Alaska bats spend the winter?
Jesika Reimer, a bat expert and consultant, has held in her hands little brown bats from the Northwest Territories to the Tanana River. Along with a few colleagues around Alaska, she is sharing new information about the farthest-north bat.
September 8, 2022
An attempt to de-mystify the mysterious
In this wild place where dump truck drivers once tipped load after load of gravel onto the moss to make roads and building pads, scientists rolled open an iron gate one recent Saturday afternoon. They invited in conspiracy theorists, reality-TV hosts and salmon fishermen from Chistochina to the grounds of a mysterious antenna field.
August 30, 2022
Adopt a woolly mammoth and win!
Adopt-a-mammoth will allow anyone who donates the radio-carbon dating fee of $350 to receive a digital photo of their tusk, femur or whatever mammoth part it happens to be. Scientists will then remove a collagen sample and send it to a carbon-dating lab in California. Mammoth adopters will get results on the age of their animal shortly after the scientists do.
August 15, 2022
Secrets of an ancient horse of the Yukon
The Yukon — a territory of Canada east of the Alaska border — is a great place to find the preserved remains of ancient creatures. One reason is that the immense ice sheet that covered most of North America (including Chicago and New York City) did not press down on central Yukon nor the middle of Alaska. That spared the landscape from the abrasion of millions of pounds of flowing ice.
August 5, 2022
Alaska lexicon sinks in over the years
When my little Ford pickup chugged into Alaska 36 years ago this month, I didn’t know a wheel dog from a dog salmon. You could have told me the North Slope was connected to the Panhandle by the Chain and I would have believed you…. I could have avoided that awkwardness if I had possessed the Dictionary of Alaskan English.