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How to become a cave diver

While snorkeling the spring pools is cool (no pun intended), a more in-depth way to experience Florida’s freshwater springs is to scuba dive in them. However, entering the caves requires you to get a cave diving certification. That’s because cave diving has inherent challenges distinct from scuba diving’s own challenges. Even after you’re familiar with buoyancy control, breathing control and how to work your gear (all part of getting scuba certified), there’s much to learn about the specifics of cave diving.

18 Mar 2019

Deep Space Network

Messages from Juno and other spacecraft in the far reaches of the solar system are relayed to scientists via NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN), which was created in 1958. DSN consists of three sets of powerful radio antennae spaced about 120 degrees longitude apart around the world near Barstow, Calif., Canberra, Australia, and Madrid, Spain. The complexes are all situated in bowl-shaped terrain in semi-mountainous rural areas to minimize interference from external radio waves. As Earth rotates, at least one of the DSN antennae is pointed toward the spacecraft at all times. Communications via DSN begin and end at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the system.

11 Mar 2019

Citizen science (and art)

Juno carries a visible light camera, JunoCam, which is intended primarily to take photos that, it’s hoped, will provoke public interest in Jupiter. The images sent back are available for anyone to download and manipulate for scientific or artistic purposes. Thousands of images, both raw and manipulated, have been made available for viewing, and hundreds of citizen scientists have been engaged in the project. Scientists say they are delighted at how JunoCam has resonated and increased interest in, and understanding of, the Juno mission. See www.missionjuno.swri.edu/junocam.

11 Mar 2019

Art joins science in coral communication

Scientists are not alone in their quest to observe and understand how coral reefs change through time. Artists and researchers have been creating stunning paintings, movies and even soundscapes to examine how reefs are responding to environmental pressures. Art has the power to engage viewers in scientific inquiry when they least expect it, reaching new audiences and facilitating public awareness.

04 Mar 2019

Getting there and getting around Tibet

Tibet is a long way from most everywhere. There are no direct flights from North America, so it’s usually cheapest and most convenient to fly into a major Chinese city such as Beijing and then catch the next flight to Lhasa Gonggar Airport (LXA). Air China, Tibet Airlines, Sichuan Airlines and China Southern are among the carriers offering direct and connecting flights to Lhasa from most major Chinese cities. Sichuan Airlines and Air China also provide nonstop service from Kathmandu, Nepal. The Lhasa airport is located 65 kilometers south of the city center and takes about an hour to reach.

17 Jan 2019

Our top tips for adding storytelling to your repertoire

(from Green et al., Facets, February 2018)

  • Identify your take-home message first. Start with the end in mind.
  • Remember the shape of your story. Tracking the main character’s fortune over time moves the story forward.
  • Consider the scale and timing of your story. Cut irrelevant background, processes and methods if they don’t move the story forward in a compelling way.
  • Use vivid language. Help the reader feel like he or she is there.
  • Get feedback. Pause. Reflect. Try again. Find someone you trust to give you constructive, supportive criticism.
  • Embrace discomfort and transformation. Practice makes perfect.
08 Jan 2019

Getting There and Getting Around Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C., is served by three major airports: Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA), Dulles International Airport (IAD) and Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI). Reagan National is closest to downtown and is conveniently served by the Metro subway system. For those with window seats, flights in and out of DCA offer views of the Piedmont-Coastal Plain boundary along the Potomac River, in addition to exciting views of the National Mall. Dulles is a roughly 45-kilometer drive west of downtown D.C. in the exurbs of Northern Virginia. Window-seaters approaching IAD can spy quarries excavating rocks from the Culpeper Basin, as well as the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west. Flights to BWI, about 50 kilometers north of downtown D.C., offer views of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries draining the Coastal Plain. The airport is served by a commuter train that runs to Union Station, Washington’s downtown rail hub adjacent to the U.S. Capitol. Automobile traffic in and around the city is often heavy, and a cab or rideshare from IAD or BWI into the city can take upwards of an hour. Rail service aboard Amtrak into Union Station, which is on Metro’s Red Line, may be a convenient option for some visitors to D.C.

11 Dec 2018

Science by floats

The Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling project (SOCCOM) set out four years ago to study the Southern Ocean and its role and influence on global climate. The main mission of the project was to increase Southern Ocean observations, especially during the frigid winter months, to better understand climate change and biogeochemistry.

10 Dec 2018

Getting There & Getting Getting Around Monti Sibillini National Park

For those traveling internationally by air to Italy to visit Monti Sibillini National Park, flying into Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport (FCO) is likely the best option. Florence is another option, but Rome is closer and hosts more flights. There are several routes into the park from different directions; all the entrance points on the western side of the park are a two-and-a-half- to three-hour drive east of Rome. Bus tour services run out of Rome, but the best way to reach the park is via rental car. Rental cars are plentiful, and the good news is that, unlike driving in some parts of Italy such as around Naples or in Sicily (which is not for the faint of heart), driving in the Apennines is much more like driving in the U.S. In this part of Italy, drivers are more courteous and generally adhere to road signage and lane guidelines. All countries have driving norms that are not immediately clear to foreign drivers, however. In Italy, to avoid scorn from your fellow drivers, it’s important to remember to never pass another car on the right. Italians consider it a severe breach of driving etiquette.

14 Nov 2018

Getting There And Getting Around Rocky Mountain National Park

Denver International Airport (DEN) is the best arrival point for exploring Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), and a car is the most convenient way to see Trail Ridge Road and the park’s many other attractions. If you fly in, you can rent a vehicle at the airport and drive to Estes Park, the eastern gateway town, which is roughly 1.5 hours from the airport, or to Grand Lake at the west end of Trail Ridge, about a three-hour drive.

04 Oct 2018

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