Lunar Eclipse – watch it January 20, 2019 #sciku #haiku #lunareclipse #lunareclipse2019

Earth’s bronze shadow falls
Reveals truth to human eyes
As God tips His hand

lunar eclipse 2018

Lunar eclipse as seen from my house last year, Jan 2018

Kate Rauner

If the weather cooperates, a lunar eclipse is easy to observe (though I think media often exaggerate the color.) There are many articles – here’s one.


Juliet may save Romeo and their whole species – last chance battle with extinction #extinction #nature #environment

A related species, not quite as lonesome yet. Attribution: José Grau de Puerto Montt at en.wikipedia

Romeo, known as the world’s loneliest frog, has spent 10 years in isolation at an aquarium in Bolivia. Scientists say they have found him a Juliet after an expedition to a remote Bolivian cloud forest. BBC

I seem to be finding a number of stories on recent, current, and near extinctions lately. The loneliest frog still has hope, though I have no idea how difficult it is to breed Sehuencas water frogs in captivity. Even if scientists can fill their aquariums (aquaria?) with frogs, will there be any wild land to release them into?

Charismatic species like tigers and elephants do more than frogs to grab the public’s attention. Saving them means saving habitat, and that benefits many vulnerable species that never go viral on the internet. Good luck, Romeo and Juliet. Good luck ecosystems. Good luck Earth – because that would be good luck for us humans too.

Sciku – delightful haiku inspired by science makes you smile #haiku #sciku #poetry #poem

Do you know that sciku is a thing? And it’s growing. Check out the excellent Australian poet Michael Leach here, in the latest edition of Graviton. Here’s one of his sciku:

I smell petrichor
on the first day of summer
bittersweet odour

rain drop strikes soil

How to generate the earthy smell of petrichor

Search Twitter for #sciku for more poetry. Michael writes longer poems too. Student nerds – are your teachers perstering you to write a poem? Visit Michael for your inspiration!

Absolutely Brilliant! Anniversary of Periodic Table of the Elements, when chemistry was born #chemistry #answer #science #happyanniversary

author Kate Rauner at Atomic Museum of Albuquerque

Me! At the Atomic Museum of Albuquerque

This year marks the 150th for the Periodic Table of the Elements! I was so excited when I learned that the table isn’t just a list and that chemistry isn’t abstract at all. Not some silly thing my teacher wanted me to memorize. The periodic table explains how things work and why things work that way.

Atoms and molecules do what they do because of the shapes of their electron orbitals. The table shows the relationships among elements and reflects their actual physical shapes and energy levels. Electron configurations show recurring patterns and periodicity. It really, truly is understandable.

The organization of the periodic table can be used to derive relationships between the various element properties, and also to predict chemical properties and behaviours of undiscovered or newly synthesized elements. Wikipedia

Yes – early chemists left gaps in the table where it seemed that elements should exist, and sure enough! Those elements were later identified.

Exactly how a single anniversary is determined is debatable. Nascent scientists played around with how to display their growing knowledge of chemistry throughout the late 1800s, but Russian chemistry professor Dmitri Mendeleev came up with the best version and published in 1869.

3D representation of Periodic Table of the ElementsSince then, the periodic table has been displayed in different manners with various amounts of data added to each element’s box. I once read a book that proposed a 3D representation like a mountain range. Shoot, now I can’t find the book. But the table endurs and will continue to be used because it’s a map to how reality works. Congrats Dmitri, and Thank You.


Looking for Your Next Awesome Read? Let Me Help #scifi #sciencefiction #fantasy #bookreview #bookrecommendation

Science fiction spaceship with blue planets

Travel to my new site – click the image 🙂

My writing buddy and I have decided to do something useful with our book reviews.

If you’re tired of digging through dozens and hundreds of books searching for your next good read, let us help!
We started a site to post brief reviews of scifi and fantasy books that we enjoy, with Amazon links if you want to check them out further.
Follow us and you won’t miss each new post.

Eat Like a Martian! #Mars #NASA #recipe #space #comfortfood

Dr Proctor got as close to living on Mars as anyone can today. She served on a Mars-simulation mission as an analogue astronaut, and her special mission included food.

Food is vital for survival of course, but also provides pleasure and comfort. Even a mission that returns the astronauts to Earth will be long, sometimes terrifying, and sometimes tedious. What cup of tea would you want to curl up with at the end of the day? What flavors would you want to mash into your evening potato? What herbs would you grow in the settlement’s gardens?

It’s a fascinating topic. Test out some recipes from my scifi Mars colony here.

Another Small, Sad Loss to the World #environment #nature #extinction #SaveTheWorld

hawaiian tree snail shell

Drawing of apexfulva shell – because that’s all we get from now on.

The last known member of his species, George the Hawaiian tree snail has died.

Before reading his story, I didn’t know George existed, but I know there are many critters in trouble. Extinctions are ramping up around the planet, but Hawaii, where so many species once sheltered from competition now face an influx of outsiders, is the extinction capital of the world.

I’m sad to lose George.

He was named after a more-famous last-of-his-kind animal – Lonesome George, a Galapagos tortoise, who died in 2012. I met Lonesome George long ago on a tour of the Galapagos Islands. I’m sad about him too.

Lonesome George tortoise with his keeper

My own picture of Lonesome George with one of his keepers. I had to take a picture of a print – that’s how long ago I visited the Galapagos Islands.

There are other snails and other tortoises. If we were protecting habitats, it might not matter. Nature could recreate the Georges. But in too many places, we’re a destructive force.

Humans are part of nature. We don’t have to go away. To be pro-environment is not to be anti-human. We do have to change how we manage the land so all creatures have a home, and change is hard.

There may be another Achatinella apexfulva Hawaiian tree snail someplace on the island, but he/she (the snails were hermaphrodites) needs to be very lucky to survive.

Why am I sad? Who cares about snails and tortoises? And leopards, gorillas, sea turtles, orangutans, elephants, porpoises, tigers, rhinoceroses, the scaly pangolin, or the Asian Unicorn? Or anything with body parts used in folk medicine? Or… that’s the problem. Even if you don’t care about the rest of Creation, we’re impoverishing our own future.

There is hope. Wealthy individuals and non-profits set land aside as preserves. They buy from private parties, which is only fair.

Governments act. Without laws, a few individuals who may be selfish or desperate can destroy the world’s heritage.

It may even be possible to bring back recent extinctions with technology. But we don’t need cutting-edge genetics to save what we still have. We know what to do.