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Posts Tagged ‘Science’


The experiment - Photo by Alastair Forbes

The experiment – Photo by Alastair Forbes

The laboratory was humming with sound. The professor flipped on the light switch and looked around the room. He went over to his desk picked up his notes. The formula he had come up with was so simple it could not possibly work. But he had to try. Scratching his head he thought to himself that there was only one way to find out. Pushing his chair away from his desk he got up and went over to the central laboratory table.

He gathered what he needed and set to work. He put it all together with the exception of the catalyst that would cause the reaction he was hoping for. He walked over to the cabinet and hunted around for the tiny vial that held the secret ingredient. Finding it he picked it up and held it up to the light. It looked good.

Going back over to the table, he grabbed an eye dropper. Carefully he opened the vial and removed a single drop of the compound. He dropped the liquid into the cup. The color changed from blue to clear and started to lift from the cup. The experiment worked. This was his latest version of flubber!
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A huge thanks goes out to Alastair Forbes for hosting Sunday Photo Fiction! Great photo Al!

I hope that you enjoyed this little bit of flash! Enjoy your Sunday and thanks for taking the time to stop by for a quick read!

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Once a year, every year since moving here to the Sierra Foothills, in the fall I have always come across a very large beetle. This year, I happened to see one while I had my camera available! Come along with me while I share with you photos of this beetle and some interesting facts!

Meet the Fimbriate Rain Beetle!

Meet the Fimbriate Rain Beetle

Meet the Fimbriate Rain Beetle

To really see the detail in these photos, click on each of the photos to enlarge it!

It is after one of the first rains that we have here in the foothills in fall that draws the male beetle up and out of the ground. He is searching for a female and only has about two hours to find and mate with her before he dies! These beetles live underground. The female, after mating, will return to her burrow, which goes down about 10 feet, where she will lay about 50 eggs in a spiral pattern at the bottom of her burrow.

It takes two months for the eggs to hatch. As grubs, they have powerful legs and jaws, which help them get through the hard packed earth to the roots of trees, shrubs and grasses, which is their source of food. Because of this, the rain beetle can be very destructive. The grubs will molt upwards of seven times and take about 13 years to reach maturity! Once they do, they do not eat and survive on the food eaten while they are grubs!

The female is a brown beetle, and the male is identified by its black wings and brown fur.

He is looking at me!

He is looking at me!

Wings

Wings

The fur on the body is more for protection from abrasion as it burrows than it is for warmth. The body temperature of this beetle can be as high as 95 degrees. Check out this fur!

Fuzzy belly

Fuzzy belly

This shot shows one of the most prominent features of this beetle: Its digging tool! This is the “V” shaped protrusion that you will see. And, those things that look like clubs coming off the face are actually antennae that are folded up!

Digging tool

Digging tool

What an amazing beetle! It is one of the largest beetles found here in the U.S.!

I hope that you enjoyed today’s post on this rarely seen beetle! Now go out and have a splendid Monday, and many thanks for stopping by to visit with me today!

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I know that I have featured this foothill critter before, but I had to share the photos I took last night. These mantis joined us during cocktail hour last night! They are such odd looking creatures! I would like to suggest that you click on the photos to isolate it, then click again so that you can see the creatures full size and really get the amazing details…Shall we take a look?

I had wandered over to the gallardia to pinch some dead heads and discovered this little gal hanging and swaying with the plant as it moved in the slight breeze!

I found you!

I found you!

What is eerie about these creatures is the way the pupil (that little black dot) follows you even when you are behind it!

I am looking at you!

I am looking at you!

We then spotted one looking at us from the railing of the deck. She looks like she is ready to pounce!

On guard!

On guard!

This one was a bit of a ham and posed for me!

How is this pose?   Do I look good?

How is this pose? Do I look good?

Getting closer to this gal, tell me if she does not look like she is saying something!

I am talking to you!

I am talking to you!

Remember that thing with the eyes? Check this one out!

So, you think I have eyes in the back of my head?

So, you think I have eyes in the back of my head?

After a while, I think she got bored with me!

I am walking away now...

I am walking away now…

I hope that you enjoyed these photos and that you at least looked at one close up photo! Now go out and have a great Wednesday! Thanks for stopping by!

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One of the things that I love about this time of year is the resurgence of the moss. In the summertime it dies back and turns brown, but at this time of year it is vibrant, soft, and incredibly green. So let’s step into my backyard to check out how beautiful this lovely moss can be! Ready?

Our first stop is in our oak grove.

The oak grove

The oak grove

So where is the moss, you ask? Let’s take a closer look, shall we? The first tree on the left in the above photo actually has a mossy base. Let’s check that out!

Go ahead, reach out and touch it!

Go ahead, reach out and touch it!

Lovely isn’t it? We have one tree in the yard that is unusual. Rumor here is that the Maidu Indians, who lived in this area, used to create markers with the trees. We think that this unusual tree is a marker. Notice how the branches come together creating a “window” in this moss covered tree!

Looking through the window

Looking through the window

Another view

Another view

Isn’t that cool?

Not only does the moss cover some of our trees but also the granite rocks.

Don't take it for granite!

Don’t take it for granite!

Isn’t that pretty? When I looked closely, I found something a bit unusual.

A rare find in the moss

A rare find in the moss

Let’s take a closer look at the moss shall we?

Moss up close

Moss up close

The long skinny things are called Calyptra. This is where the spores are that will spread the moss. This cap will fall off when ready. Here is a nice shot of them.
Calyptra

Calyptra

I hope that you enjoyed the walk into my backyard! Stay tuned for more of this amazing huge world in my little yard!

Now go and have a great Monday, and thank you for stopping by!

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This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge subject is: Beyond. The focus is on what is in the background of photos. So, off I went perusing through my thousands of photos for the right photos for this challenge. And the photos in this post take you into the beyond! Click on the photos to see the detail, and then use the back arrow to get back to the post!

I was photographing the ducks and geese in one of our local neighborhood ponds, which they dub lakes here…I caught this photo of one of the ducks, and looking into the beyond, maybe you will notice the doe and the fawn.

Ducking the issue!

Ducking the issue!

Moving on, as we approached harvest season, I took this photo in the vineyard of the spring house with grape bins ready to receive the years bounty. Looking into the beyond is a lone farm house.

In the vineyard

In the vineyard

In a valley outside Red River New Mexico, I spied the remainder of a house. All that remained was a lone chimney. Into the beyond takes us to the contrast of this photo, which are the new homes behind the chimney.

Old and new

Old and new

Continuing down the road we visit an Indian ruins. I came around a corner of a wall and discovered this doorway to the beyond…

The doorway to the beyond

The doorway to the beyond

When one travels through the painted desert, every view has range after range of amazing colors. Here is a view where the colorful hills go back layer upon layer.

Layers in the hillsides

Layers in the hillsides

Have you ever seen the Rio Grande? It goes on forever and ever, and ever! Just looking at it from the viewpoint in this photo, your eye will travel into the beyond!

The never ending Rio Grande

The never ending Rio Grande

One last photo…This photo was taken at the Tonto Natural Bridge. Which by the way, apparently is still open but had been on the chopping block for park closure. I highly recommend seeing this spot and taking the hike down to the base of the canyon. Looking under and through the arch takes us into the beyond!

Though the bridge

Though the bridge

I would have featured a photo of the Starship Enterprise, or possibly the poster from Galaxy Quest as both take one into the beyond, but I did not want to infringe on the copyrights…

May you have a wonderful Saturday! Thanks for visiting!

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We witnessed the most amazing phenomena in the sky on a recent drive back to our house. There had been some scattered clouds in the sky, nothing unusual at this time of year. When we headed up into the foothills I noticed a couple of anvil shaped clouds that could bring a possibility of thunder and lightning. As we continued up the hill the wind was moving the top of one anvil cloud on the left towards the top of the other anvil cloud on the right. The columns of both clouds were not moving at all, just the tops.

As we got closer to our destination the top of one left cloud merged with the top of the right one creating an “O” in the sky! Not having my camera with me, I used my cell phone camera to catch what is was that we were seeing so that I could share this rare sighting with you! The photos, being from a cell phone camera, are a bit grainy. Ready?

My first shot of the two clouds after they had joined

My first shot of the two clouds after they had joined

Sitting behind the Subaru dealership

Sitting behind the Subaru dealership

As we got closer to it we began to wonder if this was over our house.

Is that over our house?

Is that over our house?

We realized it probably was. Here is one last shot before we drove under the clouds.

It is!

It is!

Have you ever seen anything like this? I would love to hear about your most unusual cloud sighting!

Have a great Thursday, and thank you for visiting today! Stay tuned for my Wild Weekly Photo Challenge post on “New Beginnings!” My camera is ready and I am heading out now to see what I can find that is new in our winter landscape!  Enjoy the day!

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I am really excited to announce that I have again won the Audience Choice Award from the Let’s Be Wild website!

Wild Weekly Challenge #4 Award!

I cannot express how ecstatic this is to have won another award in such a short time, and I have all of you to thank! It makes me so happy to entertain you all with my photos! Thank you to those who commented on the Let’s Be Wild site, which is why I was chosen for this award! Here is the photo that they featured from my entry:

Steam rising

For all Editor’s Choice Winner and the honorable mentions, please go and check out the Let’s Be Wild website: Photo Challenge Winners

And congratulations Katlin to the Editor’s Choice winner! To see her lovely photos and the winning photo please visit her site: Backcountry Katlin

Again, I am honored and I thank you for all of your comments on my challenge post!

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Springtime in the Sierra Foothills is an amazing season. Trees and shrubs are leafing out, water is running down the rivers and streams and the wildflowers are blooming. For those who suffer allergies, this is a tough season to get through due to the volume of pollen in the air. I took a walk down the road with camera in hand to share with you some of the wildflowers in the area. To get a full appreciation of these blooms, you might want to click on the photo to enlarge it so that you can enjoy the detail!

Here is what I found:

Vetch

Vetch is a vine that springs up everywhere. It is a vine that twines around everything near it.

Scotch Broom

Scotch Broom is considered an invasive plant up here in the foothills. The flower on this plant resembles that of a pea. It is a shrub that gets to about 5 feet. There is a secondary variety of this shrub that is called Lena that has a red blush in the flower.

Scotch Broom – Lena

Another shrub that is blooming everywhere is a native lilac. Sprays of these flowers abounds everywhere you turn.

White wild lilac

Nothing could be more beautiful than the lupine that mass in areas.

A field of lupine

Lupine

Here and there you come upon a beautiful yellow flower called the monkey flower.

Monkey flower

We also have a native iris that is quite splendid.

Wild iris

Here is more iris with a small bell shaped flower called fairy lantern. I was unable to identify the yellow flower in this photo.

Wild iris, Fairy Lantern and an unknown yellow blossom

We also have a native azalea here that when it blooms, the shrub appears to be on fire.

Native azaleas

And wild grasses are everywhere. As the wind blows through the fields of these grasses it resembles waves on the ocean.

Unknown grass but beautiful

There are many others that are out there just waiting to bloom. Stay tuned for a visit with those gems!

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The day started bright and early. I got my post out on the Super Moon, and I started Chipotle Ribs going in the crockpot. My friend Jorge arrived right on time: 8 a.m. One photo of the garden before we start so you have an idea of the area and get a feeling for the layout of it.

Vege garden before we start

We were starting with 4 bags of steer manure and 8 bags of peat moss. We had quite a bit of newspaper, and the leaf layer leaves came from the lower part of our yard. The compost has been brewing for quite a few years and is really good soil.  My layers will be as follows:

**Newspaper
**Peat moss
**Leaves
**Peat moss
**Steer Manure
**Peat moss
**Compost

We started out by loosening the ground around the raspberries, pulling a few weeds and removing some plants for later transplanting.

Breaking ground

We decided to use the rototiller to break the ground up before we start the layers.

Rototilling the bed

As Jorge was rototilling, I followed with the rake to sort out some of the weed clumps. I removed these while Jorge finished with the rototilling.

Rototilling is done and we are good to go

Before we start the ground gets leveled.

Leveling the ground

We start with the newspapers, and overlap the sheets. The newspaper will act as weed block.  We started at the back of the garden.

Starting the layers

Once the paper was down, we hosed it so that it was soaking wet.  Next we added about a one inch layer of peat moss.  This was followed by a layer of old leaves that I took from a non-weedy area of our garden.  We followed this with another layer of peat moss, followed by steer manure, and more peat moss.

6 layers are down

Here we are finishing up the area by topping it with compost.

Final layer of compost

Once we got into a rhythm, we moved along at a pretty good clip. There is quite a bit more area as we cleared more than I ever have before.  And, I did not calculate the are as well as I thought that I had, and we had to stop for they day.

Stopping here…

We had a lovely lunch made by my husband, and figured out what I needed to get for next weekend. Here is another view from above.

View from above

It might have looked like Jorge was doing all the work, but I did stop every now and then to take photos of our progress so that I could share this experience with you!

Next week when we finish up, if I have the energy, and I must say that I am pooped today and ache in places I didn’t know could ache like it does, we will start planting! Wahoo! Stay tuned!

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In my younger days in high school, I had to literally suffer through chemistry. I had a teacher who resembled a walrus: Bald head and huge mustache. He spoke in a monotone and no, his incisors were not protruding down his face, but thinking about it now, I could draw those in and chuckle!

Walrus – Photo by DK Images

He was as dry in his lectures as an August day in the Mojave Desert. Do I remember anything I learned in his class? No. I passed with a C.

Why am I telling you this? Because if this class had been taught around the chemistry with food, it would have held my interest. All these years later, I have come to realize that there is chemistry in cooking. And, I have discovered that this is now a subject taught in colleges. Maybe it was a student of Food Chemistry that came up with the meat glue!  Anyway, the topic is worthy of a blog. Chemistry is involved in our lives in a number of ways, but the focus here is food. So here are some interesting facts that involve chemistry and food.

Cooking is all about chemical reactions. Chemistry is all about how things react. Therefore cooking is chemistry! Now let’s take a look at some of these reactions.

**If you put chopped red cabbage into a hot pan, the heat breaks down the red anthocyanin pigment in the vegetable, which causes the cabbage to change color to a blue. This reaction causes the the acids in the vegetable to turn to alkaline. To regain the color, if you add vinegar, you increase the acidity, and the color will go back to the red.

**Cooking green vegetables by dropping them into boiling water causes a unique reaction. When the tiny air cells in the vegetable hits the boiling water, they become a brighter green. Quick cooking of green vegetables keeps the green color, and the longer you cook the green vegetable, the cells break down and shrink, causing a release of acid turning your vegetable the color of canned green beans.

Canned green beans – Photo from Food.com

**All the years of fishing on the ocean has taught me one thing regarding food on a boat: Bananas are not allowed! Why? Because the bananas give off ethylene gas which causes food to spoil.  Bananas on a boat with limited space in the galley in the olden days caused a lot of spoilage of foods! Why they do not mind apples is beyond me, because apples do the same thing.  If you need an avocado ripened, put it in a brown paper bag with a banana or an apple and it will be ready to use the following day.

**Have you ever cooked a lasagne, had leftover’s and then covered it with aluminum foil to store overnight in your refrigerator? The next day, have you noticed that the surface of the foil has been eaten away where the foil touched the tomato sauce? This is a chemical reaction from the acids in the tomatoes with aluminum. Acidic vegetables and fruits react negatively with aluminum. And the aluminum can poison you. Acidic foods such as tomatoes and citrus, and do not forget pineapple, should be prepared in glass.

**Thawing frozen foods, melting butter, dissolving sugar, salting meat or fish involve chemistry. The components of each of these processes creates a chemical change in the structure of these foods.

Melting butter

**Heat, no matter what method you use, increases the speed of the molecules in the food. The greater the speed, the more the molecules collides. This leads to changes in the molecular structure of the foods, which creates different characteristics, colors, flavors and textures.   Don’t you just love chemistry?

**The Maillard Reaction: This occurs during grilling. An amino acid in the food and a reduction of sugars in the food creates new compounds, resulting in foods that are very tasty.

**Caramelization results from breaking down proteins into simple sugars creating a sweeter flavor.

**If you do not incorporate the dry ingredients equally for a cake, or a bread, you will end up with a cake or a bread that doesn’t rise properly.

**While cooking, you might prefer a wooden spoon to a metal spoon. Why? Because the metal spoon will transmit more heat, known as thermochemistry, than a wooden spoon.

**”A watched pot never boils.” You have heard that statement haven’t you? Leaving the lid off of a pot of water that you want to boil takes longer to boil, ergo the statement, as heat is lost with the lid off…You knew this already, didn’t you? Putting the lid on the pot actually lowers the boiling point. This is known as the Third Law of Gas.

A watched pot – Photo from BarefootKitchenWitch com

**Boiling causes foods to become more tender.

**Adding salt to water that you need to boil  lowers the boiling point.

**If you add too much butter or oil to a dish, you will see it pooling around the surface of what you are making. You have overrun the saturation point of what it is you are trying to create. Just another example of how chemistry works in the kitchen!

**50% of meat products and 95% of vegetable products are water. This makes an excellent growing stage for bacteria. So, a key in preservation of food is to reduce the amount of water in a food. Dehydration removes the water and creates foods that can be reconstituted later.

**Other items of chemistry in food: Carbohydrates; Lipids; Proteins; Enzymes; Vitamins; Minerals…and the list goes on.

So, if you have a child, who is suffering with chemistry, maybe you might want to take some time and take them on a trip around the kitchen!

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