Iceberg the size of the Badlands!

Categories: Antarctic News, Antarctic Science, Antarctica | Kathleen M. Heideman | February 26, 2010

Two Huge Icebergs Let Loose Off Antarctica’s Coast : NPR.  The result 0f their collision is a new iceberg that’s approximately the size of Badlands National Park.

Antarctic Valentine

Categories: Antarctica | Kathleen M. Heideman | February 14, 2010

Natural Heart – Antactica.

Woolly Mammoth, meet Chickenosaurus!

Categories: Badlands National Park, Books, Evidence, Paleontology | Kathleen M. Heideman | February 11, 2010

I’ve been reading paleontologist Jack Horner’s new book, “How to Build a Dinosaur: Extinction doesn’t have to be forever.” His ideas emerge from his work in the Hell Creek Formation (Montana’s Badlands); Horner is convinced that we can reverse-engineer a dinosaur by tweaking the DNA in a chicken embryo. I find it is difficult to imagine a dinosaur (one reviewer of Horner’s book is dubbing it “chickenosaurus”) really existing in our world, conceptually. Will it be one giant leap forward for the dinosaur, one giant leap backward for humankind? Nature, tooth and claw….

Dreams of the fierce modern McNuggetosaurus notwithstanding, I’m starting to make a list of the places I want to see in May, when I drive out to Oregon — petroglyphs, fossil sites, even a remote spot in Wyoming where dinosaur footprints were found, preserved in siltstone! Tonight I dug out a few of my childhood dinosaur books, and scanned some of their covers. Here’s my favorite — depicting the T-Rex and the Woolly Mammoth coexisting!

Dinosaurs & Other Prehistoric AnimalsDinosaurs & Other Prehistoric Animals

Can you say anachronism?

Postscript for potential children’s book authors: dinosaurs ruled the world of the Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods — until their sudden mass extinction, which was probably triggered by a bolide hitting the earth. This is called the Cretaceous–Tertiary (or Cretaceous–Paleogene) extinction event. In many places, the “K-T boundary” is a clearly visible line in the earth’s rocks. Before K-T: dinosaurs. After K-T: no more dinosaurs. By comparison, Woolly Mammoths and their tusked evolutionary ancestors evolved AFTER the K-T extinction event….. Woolly Mammoths are found in the fossil record from about 150 thousand years ago, until perhaps 10 thousand years ago.


Categories: Badlands National Park, Factoids, Geology | Kathleen M. Heideman | February 11, 2010

I’ve been reading about geology, getting ready for my upcoming residency in the Badlands; in particular I’m pondering geodiversity — the idea that “biodiversity of an ecosystem stems from its underlying geology.”

Read more about geodiversity in New Scientist (March 20, 2004).

Word of the day: Drosscape, aka Urban Badlands

Categories: Factoids, Quotations, Simulated Nature | Kathleen M. Heideman | February 11, 2010

I just stumbled on a fascinating article from a June’07 issue of New Scientist, introducing me to the term drosscape meaning “urban badlands.”  From the perspective of urban planning and landscape architecture, drosscapes are those abandoned, abused, wasted, unplanned, chaotic &/or polluted landscapes at the farthest edge of large urban areas.  As a word, I find drosscape a bit more poetic, and broader in scope, but similar to brownfields, which I’ve long used to describe similarly spoiled areas (former industrial zones) which are generally located *within* inner cities.   The article includes this wonderful quote from Alan Berger:

“Dross is integral to the urban landscape.
The holes are part of the whole…”

Read the article:   Drosscape – New Scientist (June 4, 2007) .

How poetry is finding itself on GPS (Times Online)

Categories: Art, Evidence, GPS/GIS, Poetics, Science, Writing | Kathleen M. Heideman | February 10, 2010

In the news! The UK’s Global Poetry System project (which featured one of my contributions a few months ago) was one of the Guardian Guide’s top websites in December, and The Times featured an article by Lemn Sissay on how poetry is finding itself on our shared map:

“It ain’t where you go, it’s where you’re at. Global positioning system (GPS) is a mere five years old in the UK. Now you can locate where you are, wherever you are, whenever you want. Things move fast, and now GPS represents more than directions. GPS is “Global Poetry System” — a call to action that uses Google Maps to locate the poetry that surrounds us.”

Read the full article here: How poetry is finding itself on GPS – Times Online.


‘Living beach ball’ is giant single-cell life-form!

Categories: Antarctic Science, Evidence, Science + Research | Kathleen M. Heideman | February 3, 2010

Amazing science news of the day:  this amazing organism — Syringammina fragilissima — has been determined to be a gargantuan relative of the foraminiferans.  It is a single celled organism, encased in a fragile ball of sand-tubes!

There are still many mysteries inherent in how a single-celled form of life can demonstrate such creative, self-organizing properties.  As the article from New Scientist explains, we know almost nothing about it yet.  We don’t know how it eats, how it excretes waste, or how it reproduces.  The Syringammina appears to go through periods of building and resting and — like foraminifera — it secretes a form of glue, and gathers sediments to itself, to create the container-shelter.   Forams actually build structures with distinct/predictable shapes using different component grains, depending on their species!  I find the parallels strikingly similar (only on a much larger scale) with the foraminifera research of Dr. Sam Bowser, whose under-ice diving, foram-gathering and field-research camp I was privileged to observe first-hand at New Harbor, Antarctica.  Note:  Bowser’s extensive research on forams, including underwater footage shot at the New Harbor field camp, was featured in Werner Herzog’s recent movie Encounters at the End of the World (for anyone who wants to learn more about the odd world of forams).

I predict it’s just a matter of time until they figure out how to write poetry…

Zoologger: ‘Living beach ball’ is giant single cell – life – 03 February 2010 – New Scientist.

What’s *your* 200-YEAR PLAN?

Categories: Andrews Experimental Forest, Art, Artist Residencies, Oregon, Science + Research, Writing | Kathleen M. Heideman | February 2, 2010

I’m exited to report that I’ve been awarded an Andrews Forest Writer’s Residency for Spring 2010! My residency will take place in early May, at the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest, a research station located within the Willamette National Forest (Cascade Range, Oregon).  And yes, they really do have a 200-year plan!


H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest

Andrews Forest residencies are administered by Oregon State University’s Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature and the Written Word, which seeks to “bring together the practical wisdom of the environmental sciences, the clarity of philosophical analysis, and the creative, expressive power of the written word, to find new ways to understand and re-imagine our relation to the natural world.” Andrews Forest Residencies are awarded to writers “whose work in any genre reflects a keen awareness of the natural world and an appreciation for both scientific and literary ways of knowing.” Previous residents at Andrews Forest have included authors Alison Hawthorne Deming, Scott Russell Sanders, and Pattiann Rogers.

The National Science Foundation has designated the Andrews Experimental Forest a Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site — one of 26 LTER sites administered by the US, including research sites in the Arctic and on Antarctica, where scientists conduct research projects designed to span human generations, gathering data and insights for hundreds of years. Like the NSF’s Long-Term Ecological Research program on which it is modeled, the Long-Term Ecological Reflections project will gather a long-term record of changing creative responses to an ever-changing landscape.

For two hundred years, 2003-2203, writers-in-residence will be encouraged to visit key LTER sites in the forest, to create an ongoing log of their reflections. These writings will be gathered in permanent archives at Oregon State University. The mission of the Long-Term Ecological Reflections program is to bring together writers, humanists and scientists to create a living, growing record of how we understand the forest and the relation of people to the forest, as that understanding and that forest both change over time.