Displaying items by tag: science

Darby Harris is going on a bike ride Saturday, Oct. 7, but how far he’ll pedal will be a mystery until he wakes up that morning.

Harris’ ride will be fueled by donations to the Western Carolina University Biology Club, with each $10 gift buying 1 mile. And, with the planned route to the top of Mount Mitchell totaling 11,000 feet of climbing, each mile will be a hard-won victory. It’s 110 miles from WCU’s Stillwell Building to the top of the highest mountain east of the Mississippi River, meaning that the Biology Club will have to raise $1,100 to get him all the way there.

By Julia Hartbarger • SCC Public Relations

A little time has passed since the Great American Solar Eclipse on Aug. 21, but the memory will always be there for myself and millions of others who were fortunate enough to witness the celestial event of a lifetime.

On Aug. 21, the day of the Great American Eclipse, 50 high-altitude weather balloon teams from across the country will launch their payloads into the air to capture live images and video from the edge of space that will go straight to NASA’s website.

A new scientific tool developed at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont will allow salamander-studying scientists to trace the amphibians’ whereabouts without ever laying eyes on one of the slimy creatures. 

“It’s kind of like a crime scene investigation thing,” said Gar Secrist, the teacher/naturalist at Tremont who led the research. “You’re looking for evidence of the salamanders that were there without ever seeing the salamanders.”

A new health sciences building at Southwestern Community College would allow an additional 288 students to prepare for in-demand health careers in Western North Carolina, and while the Jackson County Commissioners are excited about the project, paying the $19.8 million estimated price tag will be a challenge. In the 2016 master plan that first conceptualized the building, the cost was pegged at $16.3 million, but construction costs have since risen, and the county has several other major capital projects that it’s also pursuing.

Cloud cover keeps the summer morning cool as Mark Hopey makes the rounds below Cowee Mound. By 8:30 a.m., he and his two wildlife technicians have already been working at the Franklin-area site for nearly three hours, making hay while the sun doesn’t shine — or at least doesn’t shine with the heat it will gather soon. 

Hopey glances down a small trail leading to a net — higher than his head, wide as a volleyball net and strung with fine black netting — before walking on past. No birds there, but he’ll inspect it closer on the way back, just to make sure.

bookIn Lauren Grodstein’s novel The Explanation For Everything (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2013, 336 pages, $24.95), we meet Andrew Waite, a biology professor and widower living with his two young daughters in Southern New Jersey. Andrew is an evolutionist, an atheist who at the same time is haunted from time to time by his recently deceased wife, Louisa. He is a good father and a provocative teacher, but along with his wife has lost the power to connect with others. He spends a part of each day writing angry, unsent letters to the young man, now imprisoned, who killed Louisa while driving drunk.

Western North Carolina is no longer on State Geologist Ken Taylor’s schedule for this fall’s tour de hydrocarbons in North Carolina. Taylor had planned to come to WNC in September to collect rock samples from road rights-of-way to test their carbon content. That initial test would have determined whether there was any point in pursuing shale gas exploration in the region any further.

Rocky Peebler’s wearing waders and a white T-shirt as he kneels on the shore of the Oconaluftee River. His boots are dripping from a recent foray into the river, and he’s picking through the critters wriggling across the surface of the net he and his classmates have just finished dragging through the water. It might not look like it, but Rocky is at school. 

out frBy Colby Dunn • SMN Correspondent

What makes the stem of one pumpkin better than another for chunkin’? Why is one gourd so tiny, yet its neighbor so plump? What tints their hues from muted to mottled to blinding fluorescence? And will they grow up the same again and again, year after year? 

While such Seussian musings may sound like they belong more in children’s poems than scientist’s papers, they’re actually real research questions asked each year by the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville. Though admittedly, they probably phrase them a little differently. 

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