Royal Lessons for Scientific Discovery

rdeyes-2This Summer I had the chance to travel to Isle Royale (‘Royal Island’) in Lake Superior for what was a trip that would challenge me in more ways than one.  Our group, comprising 3 adults and 5 boys, drove up to Copper Harbor in the Michigan Upper Peninsula and then made the four hour ferry crossing to the Isle Royale National Park.   We spent the next 6 days hiking across the island, covering a total of 50 miles with backpacks and tents weighing us down every step of the way.

The sights were fantastic, the weather tremendous and the sheer thrill of being unreachable by text, email or phone thoroughly satisfying to say the least.  But, like any adventure of this nature, there was an element of fear that accompanied the trip.  What if anyone got hurt on the island?  How would we handle losing all our food if critters raided our camp during the night?  Might someone get seriously sick on the ferry crossing?  Had we brought enough food to keep us healthy while not overloading our back packs with unnecessary weight that would hinder our progress?  What if our portable water filters got clogged up? Continue reading “Royal Lessons for Scientific Discovery”

As Simple as Connecting the Dots: Nail Polish, Lice and Brown Mouse Lemurs

Near the house I grew up in stood a giant, sprawling Boxelder tree.  The proximity of the tree to our house meant that we had a constant, overflowing supply of boxelder bugs.  In the spring and fall these creatures would congregate to form a black and orange blanket covering the Southern wall of our house.  As kids we collected them, tying string around their middle and keeping them as pets. One fall we decided to see how many of our little friends came back the next year, so we marked them with large yellow dots of acrylic paint. To our disappointment, no bright yellow bugs appeared in the spring. Our Father suggested to us that they probably didn’t have that long of a life span; sticking their wings together with paint probably didn’t help either.

I hadn’t thought of this early foray into population tracking for years until I saw a Scienceshot on ScienceNOW Continue reading “As Simple as Connecting the Dots: Nail Polish, Lice and Brown Mouse Lemurs”