Sunday, August 20, 2017

Which Potato?

Do you recognize all the types of these potatoes?

We all love fries and know that it come from potato. Same as any other commercial crop there are only few of them that we know. How potatoes will look like in the wild and there are many other things that we should know about this wonderful plant?

Potato (Solanum tuberosum) is one of the tuberous plants that become important food source for human all around the world. Even though nowadays we can buy potato from anywhere in the world, it’s actually originated from South America Andes; introduced to Europe in the second half of 16th century by Spanish. Today it become the forth-largest food crop in the world, following maize, wheat, and rice.

They area not just varies, but also colorful.

There are about 5,000 potato varieties worldwide. Three thousand of them can be found in Andes, most of them in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, and Colombia. Same as many other commercial plants, potatoes had cross-breed to produce resistant to diseases and pests, while there are also genetically modified varieties in the United States.

We might classify potatoes in different ways; but here one of the popular classification methods is through their important characteristics such as;

Starchy: Few types like classic Idaho or Russet are high in starch and low in moisture. They are great for boiling, baking and frying. Anyway they don’t hold their shape well, so they nor suitable for dishes like casseroles, gratins and potato salads.

Waxy: Some examples like New Potatoes, they have low starch instead creamier, firm and moist and holds its shape well after cooking, this type of potatoes suitable for roasting, boiling, casseroles and potato salads.

All-Purpose: These potatoes have medium content of starch and categorized between starchy and waxy. There are easier to use and truly multi-purpose for any dishes. One of the examples is the Yukon Gold.

Adirondack Blue - Waxy.
Adirondack Red - Waxy.
Carola - Waxy.
Fingerling - Waxy.
Idaho Russet - Starchy.
Inca Gold - Waxy.
Katahdin - Starchy.
New Potatoes - Waxy.
Purple Peruvian - All purpose.
Purple Viking - Waxy.
Red Bliss - Waxy.
Rose Gold - Waxy.
Yukon Gold - All purpose.

Since there are many other types of potatoes, we can keep on looking for many other varieties and perhaps someday we can sample the taste too. Keep on searching and share it with us if you find anything interesting about potatoes. 

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Take Part In Gathering Data For Solar Eclipse

One of the best chance to learn more about solar eclipse Ausgust 21st.

This is one of the best opportunities to get as much data as we can about solar eclipse and its effect to the life on earth. When most of us have piece of small computer help in our hand – that’s our smartphones, gathering data in larger scales become much easier.

It will be another total solar eclipse soon on August 21st. compared to the last time when the similar event occurred, the available technologies that we have unable us to do the similar things. This time, many institutions conduct their own programs in order to understand more the effect of solar eclipse that requires participation from other.

For most of the programs data collectors need to use smartphones or their computer to gathering data and upload it to their dedicated servers. Each program will require different kind of data and observers might need additional equipment such as thermometer, cameras and etc. Anyway, it can easily be done individually, all it needs now is as much data as possible to see the bigger scales impact.

Let us see the opportunity that we can learn from this event;

The map for the solar eclipse.

Life Responds

Life Responds is conducted by California Academy of Science, invites people to collect the data on observation of animals and plants behavior during the solar eclipse. All the participant requires is the plan to observe nature during the solar eclipse. It can be any form of life from the wilderness, on the backyard or even their pets and indoor plants.

During the solar eclipse some animals and plants shows different respond for the sudden changes of temperature, light and pressure. These behaviors can be their natural behaviors during night and day (but during the eclipse that actually in the daytime – are they going to change their behaviors). Some of them might and some of them will not. So we can understand more about the nature and the effect of the solar eclipse to the life on earth.

To participate in this program all you need is to download the iNaturalist app on your smart phone. On the day of the eclipse all you need to do is to observe the behavior of the life forms that you selected. To get the best result, you should select the animal or plant that might affect from this event (those with significant behaviors during day and night).

The result from Life Responds will make permanent record from the observation collected according to Rebecca Johnson the citizen science research coordinator at the CalAcademy. It also will be available for scientist and anyone else. To know more about the program click here.

GLOBE Observer app for NASA project.

GLOBE Observer

GLOBE Observer is program conducted by NASA to understand more about the impact of solar eclipse and the weather. This is very important observation and the best thing is everyone can take part in it.

During the eclipse the temperature may change together with the wind direction and clouds formation. This will impact the weather pattern for in short and longer period of time. With this program it will allow us to understand more of how the eclipse and sun impact on earth’s weather.

In order to participate in this project, participant needs to download the GLOBE Observer app. Participant also need to learn how to read the temperature from thermometer and learn more about cloud types (there’s a guide on how to learn about the clouds in the app). On the day of the eclipse, all you need to do is to recording the information about temperature every 10 minutes for 2 hours before and after the eclipse.

This is very important observation project where everyone can involve as the technology was not available in 1979. The project coordinator will be Holli Riebeek and more details about the project click here.

Eclipse Soundscapes

Another unique experiment as we rarely associate eclipse with sound. We never know how far its affect until we conducted the real measurement. More than that, this project includes sharing the experience of eclipse with blind and visually impaired people.

Same as any other experiments the Soundscapes focus on the sound of environment during the eclipse. Some animals might act if it’s already night such as crickets will emerge and sing, while birds go back to their nest. Anyway the result can be surprising as the temperature dropped and the sound will be more cleared (as the environment goes silent more sounds can be detected).

The project will be founder, Henry Winter, an astrophysicist from Harvard-Smithsonian Center of Astrophysics addressing “Our main goal in to record as much scientifically valuable information as we can”. The result later on will be shared with any other researchers.

All participant need is the Eclipse Soundscapes phone app that will detect many other elements such as location, moon position as it’s move across the sun.

All you need to do is to be away from noisy areas and get the recording 30 minutes before the eclipse and 30 minutes after the eclipse. After that you can upload the result to Eclipse Soundscapes website; for more details about this project click here.

The phases of solar eclipse.

Make sure you are using proper protection to watch the solar eclipse.

There are many other projects you can get involve in conjunction with this solar eclipse. The best thing about it is we are all can take part so the project can get enough data to come out with better result. You can search all over the web for other projects that not listed here in this article. Our small contribution can help to understand more about the life on earth for future generation.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Family of Parrot

Scarlet macaw one of the most beautiful bird in parrot family.

We all love parrot because they are colorful, beautiful and playful bird. Maybe some of us would like to keep it as a pet. Anyway with the population of parrot that decreasing in their natural habitat we need to think it through before we decide to take it out of their lovely home.

The best things you want to know about parrot that there are large species of parrot consist under the order of Psittaciformes which includes cockatoos (family Cacatuidae). Even though parrots have close relationship with human as pet since long time ago, they still suite better with their natural environment - because bird needs to fly to be bird. Anyway the captive birds show intelligent with amusing behaviors, affectionate with human and other animals and even imitative many sounds, including human speech.

Parrots are playful bird, as can be seen here in the photo.

Cockatoo, notorious with their ability to imitate human speech.

The order Psittaciformes are divided into three superfamilies: the Psittacoidea ("true" parrots), the Cacatuoidea (cockatoos), and the Strigopoidea (New Zealand parrots). Most parrot live in topical and sub-tropical region with several species can be found in temperate region in Southern Hemisphere. The large diversity of parrots is in South America and Australia.

There are 387 extent species under order Psittaciformes belonging to 87 genera with the main classification.

3 main groups;

Superfamily Psittacoidea: true parrots
  • Family Psittacidae
  • Family Psittaculidae

Superfamily Cacatuoidea: cockatoos
  • Family Cacatuidae

Superfamily Strigopoidea: New Zealand parrots
  • Family Nestoridae
  • Family Strigopidae

African grey parrot from Africa.

Golden parakeet is native to Brazil.

New Zealand kākā is one of few species in New Zealand.

From all of the species, 15 of them are already extinct and many other are listed under “Near threatened” to “Critically endangered” in the IUCN Red List categories Conservation status. So in order to ensure these species keep on survives as long as we can, we need to learn more about them and preserve as much as we can their natural habitat.

Tiny Pacific partotlet.

Red lory from Australia. 

Swift parrot another small species from Australia.

Western rosella - also from Australia.

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

New Threat To The World

Japanese fisherman with net full of jellyfish.

Maybe not many of us ever expected that the biggest threat will come from the most gentle without brain creature against human, whether we believe it or not, these notorious stinging creatures getting larger and larger every year and causing lots of damages in various ways. Sure we all know that human are the causes of this blooming jellyfish, but here we want to see what are the threat and what should we do.

The increasing of jellyfish population occurred much frequent over the years and threatens other marine life populations that become the source income for human. The fisherman in Southern Japan and South Korean are among fisherman affected badly by these jellyfish. When there are jellyfish in the net, all the fishes inside it are no longer suitable for human consumption. Anyway you can see how many jellyfish were caught in the picture below. So Japanese government keep on trying to improved the situation to help the fisherman.

Large number of jellyfish can cause many devastation in human activities.

Moon jellyfish that cause the closure of reactor in Sweden.

Box-jellyfish, one of the most venomous.

That’s only one part of the invasion problems. Some jellyfish equipped together with powerful stinger that can cause death when contact with human. These jellyfish are mostly transparent and some of them are very small to identify by swimmers. Even though not all jellyfish are harmful most of them still can cause painful stings.

One of the most dangerous jellyfish also known as box jellyfish are very small can cause death in short period of time. Box jellyfish native to Australia now had spread in many other areas in the world. These are the areas where human enjoying the beaches with their family and relatives. All we need to know jellyfish has nothing to do with human as we are not their source of foods.

Jellyfish life cycle.

Non stinger jellyfish.

There area many other species of jellyfish in the world.

In bigger scale jellyfish threat get more serious when few incidents had caused interruption in human activities. The closures of nuclear plants or power reactors caused by jellyfish invasion become more frequent all over the years. Some of the incidents include; Australia (937), Madras (1989), Philippines (1999), US Navy warships (2006), Scotland; Japan; Israel (2011) and also in Sweden (2013).

Throughout the world, scientists are trying to understand more about jellyfish not just to find an antidote for their stinger but also to learn how they grows in such large numbers. Jellyfish have different life cycle than from any other creatures. Jellyfish can stay in polyps’ stage for long time before producing the medusa (as the jellyfish that we know). So what triggering the production of the medusa and why it happens more often?

Purple-stripped jellyfish at Monterey Bay Aquarium that also studying on jellyfish,

Sea nettle jellyfish also in aquarium.

With the changes of environment caused by human activities that caused the alteration of marine population has resulted the blooming of jellyfish. The over-fishing, habitat destruction, pollution and many other activities had killed most of the creatures that prey on jellyfish. They are few other factors that increase the numbers of jellyfish, anyway if they have no prey anymore - their numbers will only get bigger.

It’s not hard to tell when the equilibrium of nature had been interrupted it will caused catastrophe. It will keep on going until the equilibrium comes to normal again. In this case, if we never restored the balance of nature - we will see some new species!

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