Babies don’t wait for you to get your master’s degree. They arrive on their own schedules and change your life. Drew Arnold learned that lesson when he became a father. He also found that sleep comes in a distant third to family and education. In 2010, he began a graduate program in mechanical engineering at [...]
Category » Terra Blog
May 21, 2013
February 27, 2013
As a thinking community, we face a conundrum: Scientists uncover some of the empirical knowledge we need to save our planet and ourselves. Yet their devotion to neutrality — an unquestioned necessity in the lab — impedes their voices in the wider world.
February 26, 2013
The summer is warm and sunny in Corvallis, but my travels draw me east. Over and past the Cascades is an open land where the cold sparkling waters of a river flow north, and the sweet smell of Ponderosa pine blends with the fresh scent of lodgepole — the Deschutes National Forest. My one-person tent [...]
February 1, 2013
The journey from idea to innovation turns, twists and hits the occasional roadblock. Follow the progress of an Oregon State idea that is making the wood-products industry more sustainable. Research by wood-science professor Kaichang Li has enabled Columbia Forest Products, North America’s largest manufacturer of hardwood plywood, to switch from adhesives made with formaldehyde to [...]
January 29, 2013
Forest scientist and Oregon State University alumnus Steve Sillett studies and climbs the largest trees in the world. Since 1987, he’s climbed more than 1,000 of these arboreal giants, many of which reach heights greater than 200 feet tall and diameters upwards of 20 feet. Sillett’s study of old-growth forests — and in particular redwood [...]
January 24, 2013
I get to call myself a scientist because I’ve got a Ph.D. in oceanography, but is that a prerequisite? No. Before there were “scientists,” even “ordinary people” did science. They learned to grow crops and domesticate animals. They associated the heavens with the seasons and events on Earth. Keen insight into plant properties, animal behavior [...]
January 23, 2013
Too often, however, scientific information presented to the public and decision-makers is infused with hidden policy preferences. Such science is termed normative, and it is a corruption of the practice of good science.
December 26, 2012
Parts of the Oregon outback are a poetic juxtaposition of passionate color scattered among charred, stalagmitic trees piercing the sky above like mighty javelins. In autumn, the understory blazes in hues of red, orange and yellow — colors that light the burnt forest as if it were once again on fire.
November 27, 2012
PORTLAND – It was a nippy November day in Pioneer Courthouse Square. The city’s annual Christmas tree was going up — a giant evergreen to mark the holiday season. But that wasn’t the only super-sized object with a seasonal message. A couple of strides from the mega-tree stood a monstrous nose, a reminder that the [...]
November 15, 2012
It was a chill December day in Eugene. I was with my falconry sponsor, Christian Fox, who was there in the park with me to observe a training session. I had been training Inanna, my 3-pound red-tailed hawk for about three weeks. Chris was evaluating whether she was ready to come off the creance (a [...]
November 6, 2012
A volunteer told me later that the nocturnal octopus rarely comes out during the day.
November 2, 2012
I remember my first day at what’s called “baby field camp” in the Oregon State geology program. Outside Bishop, California, we mapped the area around a cinder cone, long since dead. I quickly learned that the hot sun is a never-ending force of nature, not to be underestimated. I drank at least a gallon of [...]
October 12, 2012
As concern about climate change has grown, nuclear energy — long a polarizing subject — has gained increasing favorability. Its low carbon footprint, reliable power supply and strong safety record convinced many critics that nuclear power should be a bigger part of our energy mix. That newfound favorability suffered a setback on March 11, 2011, [...]
September 26, 2012
Facebook may be great for cute kitty videos and baby pictures, but who knew it could play a role in science? Brian Sidlauskas, an Oregon State University fish biologist, and his team used the popular social network to advance their study of biodiversity in a South American rain forest. This video produced by Facebook, Degrees [...]
August 24, 2012
Did you ever wonder why so many people are attracted to junk food? Why ice cream, french fries and soda pop so often win out over brown rice and broccoli? It’s not actually a conspiracy by fast-food companies to bewitch people into eating things that aren’t good for them. Well, not completely. It’s largely due [...]
August 6, 2012
When he’s on Earth, Don Pettit dreams about space. But when he’s in space, he dreams about walking on Earth. “Dreams may have something to do with humans never being satisfied, which is why we go exploring in the first place,” he says. If there’s a gene for the urge to explore new worlds, Pettit [...]
July 25, 2012
“Aw, no bugs!” exclaims Betsey Miller after meticulously pouring over a wheelbarrow’s worth of decomposing leaf litter and manure. “The chickens are doing a great job, but it’s still fun for us entomologists to find insects once in a while!” A pen of praiseworthy red-ranger chickens peck away at the grass a few yards away, [...]
June 29, 2012
When land grant universities were created 150 years ago, science was already an international activity. Well before the signing of the Morrill Act in 1862, American scientists aboard six U.S. Navy vessels had circumnavigated the globe, collected thousands of plant and animal specimens and mapped parts of the Pacific Ocean from the Columbia River to [...]
May 30, 2012
At a recent meeting of the American Meteorological Society in New Orleans, I participated in a discussion of early warning systems that give the public time to take cover from tornadoes and to prepare for hurricanes. Today, we have hours or days to get out of harm’s way. Contrast that with the hurricane in Galveston, [...]
May 25, 2012
Some people take a dim view of the idea that Oregon, as well as the rest of the world, could be expected to continue warming in coming decades. They may cite March snowfall in the Willamette Valley or unpublished comparisons of mean temperatures over a given time period in specific places. Appealing as it is, [...]
May 25, 2012
Bear with me; here’s the problem. Plastic mulch — those shiny sheets spread across row upon row of veggies, strawberries and other crops — enables farmers to produce more types and greater quantities of food. It makes farming more profitable, preserves soil moisture, reduces weeds and saves on labor costs. But this type of mulch [...]
April 11, 2012
Ambling along the oaky trails at Finley Wildlife Refuge last Saturday morning — one of the first days without rain in a long, long time — my two friends and I paused at the edge of a pond along Woodpecker Loop. Just under the murky surface, several rough-skinned newts were swimming in slow motion, their [...]
March 18, 2012
James Cassidy doesn’t fit the stereotypical image of a scientist. Two star-shaped earrings dangle from his left ear. A fetching fedora is perched on top of his head. He’s swapped his white lab coat for a charcoal sports jacket. A chic checkered shirt peeks out underneath. His alert grey eyes are framed by dark glasses. [...]
March 2, 2012
For two weeks in 2011, dawn signaled the beginning of another day of fish sampling for Oregon State University professor Brian Sidlauskas and his small team of colleagues and graduate students. Their camp was wedged within a mountainous area of northern South America called the Guyana Shield.
February 21, 2012
If you like to gamble, you might think that nature is bluffing. With each passing year, it appears she is not.
February 21, 2012
Climate science is moving from “what if” to “when,” “how,” and “with what practical consequences.”
February 20, 2012
Although population growth and development will add stress to the Willamette River, environmental restoration projects are already under way.
February 20, 2012
In a rapidly changing environment that will challenge human relationships, how can we maintain a respectful and ethical culture?
February 17, 2012
I remember when I felt that the climate change workshop would go well. After a period of planning and preparation, our Oregon Sea Grant team arrived in Port Orford not knowing how the diverse community group would respond to the issue of a changing local climate when we were all actually face to face. So, [...]
February 15, 2012
It’s on the Oregon state flag and a symbol for Oregon State University: the North American beaver (Castor canadensis). But how much do you really know about these semi-aquatic mammals? Likely, not a lot. It turns out that not even scientists have a firm grasp on beaver ecology, despite the animal’s prominence in the Northwest. [...]