Friday, June 14, 2013
Patch offers mosquito prevention tips, and the map below shows the number of West Nile cases last summer.
After a particularly tough year for the West Nile virus in 2012, Massachusetts health officials are bracing for what could be another busy summer for the mosquito-borne illness. With so many factors playing into the problem, the track of West Nile is not an easy one to predict, said Kevin Cranston, director of the Bureau of Infectious Disease for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. “We can’t pin down all of the elements that go into why one season is bad and another season is not,” Cranston said. But if this summer is similar to last summer—marked by extended periods of very hot weather—some parts of the state could see a high number of cases as occurred in 2012. To give residents a general sense of West Nile’s prevalence in …
Monday, October 15, 2012
The Orionids meteor shower promises to be a show worth watching. The best time for watching will be on Oct. 20 and 21, weather permitting.
Monday, October 15, 2012
The offspring of Halley's Comet will soon put on quite a show. Starting Monday, Earth will pass through a stream of debris from Halley's Comet, which will give us the benefit of the annual Orionids meteor shower. The meteor shower will be at its most dramatic the night of Oct. 20 until before dawn on Oct. 21. Space.com has these tips for watching: Also, NASA has this video and article about the Orionids. In Somerville, it can be difficult to get away from city lights, but here are some places that might be good options for vieiwng: If you know of another good place in or near Somerville to watch, let people know in the comments section below. Keep an eye on the weather forecast for the weekend—Oct. 20 and 21—when the shower should be at …
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
"Tufts Now" describes a long-term study into the health effects of living near the highway in Somerville and other Boston communities.
You may have heard of the CAFEH study, CAFEH being an acronym for Community Assessment of Freeway Exposure and Health. They five-year study, run by Tufts University, is looking at air quality along Interstate 93 in Somerville, Malden, Chinatown and Dorchester. Tufts Now, one of the university's publications, has a lengthy story describing the study. It offers some interesting information for Somerville residents on the topic of air quality in the city. It introduces many of the scientists and community members involved in the study, and it talks about the "ultrafine" particles, resulting from condensed exhaust gases, that exist close to highways and lead to heart disease. The article takes a look at some of Somerville's efforts to deal …
Friday, August 31, 2012
The blue moon likely won't be visible until sometime after 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, according to the Washington Post.
Enjoy the blue moon in 2012 Friday night because it won't happen again until 2015, according to a report by the Washington Post. The blue moon event occurs once every 2.7 years, according to the newspaper, and likely won't be noticeable until sometime after 6:30 p.m. Coincidentally, astronaut Neil Armstrong's service also is Friday, according to a report by the Associated Press posted on the Boston Globe website. The next blue moon occurs on July 31, 2015, according to the Post. However, there is expected to be two blue moons in 2018 when they fall within January and March, the Post reported.
Sunday, August 19, 2012
A new "fish ladder" allows herring into their favorite spawning location.
"For the first time since the Civil War, river herring (both Alewife and Blueback herring) made their way to the Upper Mystic Lake on their own." That's according to an announcement sent by the Mystic River Watershed Association. According to the association, an estimated 198,932 herring made it up the Mystic River on their own to Upper Mystic Lake in Medford, Arlington and Winchester, which is their most desirable spawning habitat. The fish used a "fish ladder" that was built into the newly renovated Mystic Lakes Dam in Arlington and Medford, the announcement says. More than 85 volunteer fish monitors observed the herring run and logged 685 observations, which allowed the Mystic River Watershed Association to estimate the total herring …
Thursday, August 16, 2012
The giant robot, designed at Artisan's Asylum, could be used in areas struck by natural disasters, and an online fundraising effort is still ongoing to make the robot even more powerful.
You may have seen news about STOMPY, a 4,000 pound, 18-foot wide, 10-foot tall, six-legged, 135 horsepower robotic spider that seats two people and was designed at Somerville's Artisan's Asylum. It's captivated readers of a variety of publications around the world, including Gizmodo Australia and PCWorld, among others. The giant ridable robot spider was designed by three instructors, a teaching assistant and 15 students at Artisan's Asylum as part of "Project Hexapod." Well, you'll be glad to know—or frightened to find out, depending on your demeanor—that STOMPY may move from design to reality. It's creators are running a Kickstarter campaign this month, originally seeking $65,000 in funding to build STOMPY. According to Gui Cavalcanti, …
Monday, August 13, 2012
Astronaut Mike Foreman will join kids in designing and building robotic arms; he'll also talk about living in space.
NASA astronaut Mike Foreman, who's been to the International Space Station, will be at Tufts University Monday to play with some LEGOS. More specifically, Foreman will be at the Tufts University Center for Engineering Education and Outreach to give a presentation on LEGOS in Space, a collaboration with LEGO and NASA "to spark children's interest in science, technology, engineering and math," according to an announcement from Tufts. In the morning, Foreman will give a presentation to kids in the program who are in 5th to 8th grade. They'll design and build a robotic arm, share designs, and then hear stories about life in space. In the afternoon, Foreman will do the same thing with kids in the program's 9th- through 12th-grade level.
Saturday, August 11, 2012
Viewers should be able to observe around 80 shooting stars per hour during this year's Perseid meteor shower. Somerville star gazers will likely need to watch online. Luckily, there's a fun option from NASA.
With heavy rain forecast for Saturday night, New England weather isn't cooperating, once again, with our urge to gaze at starts. On Saturday night, the Perseid meteor shower will amaze those who can see it, but those of us in Somerville likely won't be among them. This isn't a new phenomenon. New England's weather was also being grumpy in June during the transit of Venus. Once again, as with the transit of Venus, the Internet comes to the rescue. The meteor shower is predicted to be spectacular this year, and NASA is hosting a web cam viewing of the celestial show and a live chat with experts. The live chat takes place from 11 p.m. Saturday to 3 a.m. Sunday. Visit NASA's website to see live footage of the Perseid meteor shower from a …
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
The weather in Somerville is not cooperating, so here are some ways to watch today's rare celestial event online so you can participate vicariously.
The transit of Venus is a rare celestial event that has captured the imaginations of scientists for generations. It's an event that sent Captain James Cook around the world in 1769 to make observations from Tahiti. It's an event that won't happen again until 2117, and it's happening today, and we're in Somerville, and it's cloudy. There's no reason to let a few Somerville clouds stop you from enjoying this special astronomical occasion. Below are some ways to watch the transit of Venus online from locations around the world, and below that is some more information about the whole thing. Livescience.com has a great guide to webcasts of the event, which includes webcasts from observatories, agencies and univiersities from around the world. …
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Somerville students appear to be better off than most of their national counterparts when it comes to a quality history program. But while science standards also rank high, city test scores in science are below state averages.
A study released last week declared U.S. history education standards in the majority of states to be “mediocre to awful,” but Somerville students appear to be better off than most of their national counterparts. Science education in Somerville, however, is a more complicated matter. Every few years, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education reform think-tank, evaluates each state’s education standards—in other words, the knowledge that students are expected to acquire each academic year. The Institute’s “State of State U.S. History Standards 2011” study placed Massachusetts among the top seven states. The state and five others received an A minus for U.S. history standards. Only South Carolina earned an A. Meanwhile, Massachusetts …