Things Marie Kondo and Bacteria Have In Common

Horizontal gene transfer was first discovered in 1928, but like many topics in the science realm there is still so much to learn about it. A talk I attended recently highlighted the fact that up to 10% of bacterial DNA wasn’t originally their DNA. Bacteria have the ability to “shop around” for bacteria, adding genes that spark joy to their initial DNA. After a few generations the unuseful DNA tends to get deleted, but certain bacteria may choose to keep it. This is one way that bacteria “evolve” even though they don’t undergo meiosis (combination of an egg & sperm).

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The Nocturnal Boundary Layer

selective focus photography of tree leaves

Photo by Egor Kamelev on Pexels.com

Science calls it a phenomena. But the word “phenomena” makes it sound as though the Nocturnal Boundary Layer (NBL) is something inexplicable. In reality, we know that it is a relatively thin layer of cool air separate from the rest of the Boundary Layer which appears at night. Its creation is spurred by net radiative loss from Earth’s surface. In the unique case of the solar eclipse of 2017, the NBL appeared from the lack of sun in under a half-hour. We also know there is an effect from cooling of the air after sunset, but the Earth constantly emits longwave radiation (infrared) into the universe.

“Many interacting processes can occur within the statically stable nocturnal boundary layer: patchy sporadic turbulence, internal gravity waves, drainage flows, inertial oscillations, and nocturnal jets.”
American Meteorological Society

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Atmospheric Water Generators

Typical Atmospheric Water Generators (AWGs) don’t work well in environments with low humidity or temperature. Scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found a way to extract water from soil in the driest biome in the world- the desert. Using an air-cooled sorbent-based atmospheric water harvesting device, the research group predicted that over a quarter-liter of water could be extracted per kilogram of metal-organic framework (MOF) each day.

experimental setup

Image from supplementary documents of MIT study.

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Hello, Madison!

Map of Wisconsin from Google Earth.

The pain of waiting for an answer is over: I’ve been accepted to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to study Land Resources. The bustling capital city is located between two frequently-kayaked and very fishable lakes, Monona and Mendota. The city is sustainable in that biking and walking are the main methods of transportation, and places to eat, live, study, and be entertained are all very close to each other. A highly centralized city like Madison is a great environment for a grad student without a car, such as myself. The average apartment here rents for around $800/month but according to students, the price of living is increasing as people are discovering this secret city. Here are some pictures from the plane, a map of Wisconsin, and the view of the “West Side” from the top of the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (AOS) building at the University. Continue reading

Winter Things

At present, my friends are planning the million ways to spend their tax refunds. I’m here wondering why I decided to volunteer over winter break when I could be basking in the post-tax-refund glory. I might have started off break in bed eating pizza and binge watching all of the new shows on Netflix, but by the end I was hiking up the White Mountains of New Hampshire with visions of frostbitten toes floating around in my head. Continue reading

Grad School Purgatory

Since urban dictionary doesn’t quite spell it out for you, I will: This is when applications have been completed and sent, but there is neither an acceptance nor rejection from anyone. There is little to no knowledge of when an answer will arrive, if ever. This is grad school purgatory.

source1

Michael Scott from Giphy.com.

 

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Hubbard Brook

 

On Sunday night we arrived back at the University from our trip to Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire. There were around a hundred researchers who attended the annual conference there. And let me tell you, not a single one wasn’t in shape. The mountain was steep, with an occasional dirt path leading the way, but other times you had to bushwhack to get where you were going. Although I had no cell service or internet for miles around and people were scarce, the restaurants we ate at were pure heaven. In the picture above: Woodstock Station and Brewery, view from Shamrock Motel of the White Mountains, the lab, and view of the brook.   Continue reading