After I finished my library degree, I had the privilege of living in southern Oregon for three of the most adventurous years of my life. Back then, wildfires were frequent, but they rarely turned into the monsters they can be today. Recently, the largest fire in Oregon, the Bootleg Fire, was said to be creating it’s own weather – it even spawned a firenado! This fascinating article by Wired magazine entitled Oh Good, Now there is an Outbreak of Wildfire Thunderclouds, will explain how they do that and what they mean for climate future. For more resources about wildfires, pyrocumulonimbus clouds, or other environmental research questions, please Ask a Librarian for help.
Do you remember at the beginning of the pandemic when many were saying that masks don’t protect against Covid-19? At the time, based on a long standing myth in the physics, it was thought that the virus could not be airborne because the particles were too large to remain aerosol. Last summer, a group of scientists challenged that thought which finally lead the World Health Organization and CDC to acknowledge that SARS-CoV-2 is, in fact, airborne. You can read about the origin of the myth and the research that lead to uncovering it in Wired magazine’s article, The 60-Year-Old Scientific Screwup that Helped Covid Kill. You can also read about it in this British Medical Journal editorial, Covid-19 Has Redefined Airborne Transmission or this government document Dismantling Myths on the Airborne Transmission of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). If you would like to do more research on SARS-CoV-2 or any other scientific topic, you can try one of the Moraine Valley Library’s science databases or our nursing and biological science databases. For help with this or any other research inquiries, the librarians are always happy to help. Just Ask a Librarian.
This week, I was thankfully able to receive my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine for Covid-19. I am truly grateful to all of the scientists, and production and healthcare workers that made this possible. The Covid-19 vaccines that we now have available to us are nothing short of a scientific breakthrough and are a real showcase of human achievement. This amazing piece from the New York Times, How Pfizer Makes Its Covid-19 Vaccine, explains the science behind the vaccine and looks at the testing, safety, and quality controls involved in the development and production of the vaccine.
Pfizer understood from the beginning that it was science that was going to save the world from this pandemic. They gave their scientists everything they needed, no questions asked, to get the job done. In this National Geographic video, Mission Possible: The Race for a Vaccine, you can learn about the science, development, testing, security, and production involved in getting this shot into the arms of the world.
The Moraine Valley campus is surrounded by Cook County Forest Preserves. Most of us drive by without much appreciation of the open land. The amount of work that goes into sustaining these green spaces is staggering, not only financially but also the amount of strategic planning to keep these spaces viable for future generations.
You may have recently noticed the smoke billowing out of the Preserves that surround the college. During the spring and fall, the Cook County Forest Preserve conducts a prescribed burn. This procedure “helps to stimulate the growth of native plants and hinder invasive vegetation. Simply put, native plants in this area evolve alongside periodic fires, while most invasive species introduced to this area later did not.” View this short video on A Day in the Life of a Cook County Burn Crew.
Faculty members discuss the biology, public health aspects, and the psychological factors around the Covid-19 vaccines in the United States. This panel is organized by the MVCC Library. Panel members include: Judy Corcoran, Nursing Laura Lauzen-Collins, Psychology Peter Porter, Biology The discussion is moderated by librarians Hannah Carlton and Troy Swanson.
Don’t miss our 2020 panel “Racial Health Disparities: Equity in the Light of Covid-19“
Sometimes research is funny. No, really! Using actual money and resources to study if roller coasters can help move kidney stones? Comedy GOLD.
When research, either good or bad, is funny and thought provoking it can earn an Ig Nobel Prize. Organized by the Annals of Improbable Research, ten prizes in different fields have been awarded in September every year since 1991.
Here are some highlights from the 2020 award winners:
- Psychology Prize: for devising a method to identify narcissists by examining their eyebrows
- Peace Prize: For the governments of India and Pakistan, for having their diplomats surreptitiously ring each other’s doorbells in the middle of the night, and then run away before anyone had a chance to answer the door
- Economics Prize: for trying to quantify the relationship between different countries’ national income inequality and the average amount of mouth-to-mouth kissing
- Medicine Prize: for diagnosing a long-unrecognized medical condition: Misophonia, the distress at hearing other people make chewing sounds
- Materials Science Prize: for showing that knives manufactured from frozen human feces do not work well
That last one is my personal favorite. Where would we be without this VITAL research?!?!
Here are a few of my all time favorite winners:
- Medical Prize (2018): for the medical report “Colonoscopy in the Sitting Position: Lessons Learned From Self-Colonoscopy.”
- Economics Prize (2017): for experiments to see how contact with a live crocodile affects a person’s willingness to gamble
- Psychology Prize (2016): for asking a thousand liars how often they lie, and for deciding whether to believe those answers
- Literature Prize (2012): The US Government General Accountability Office, for issuing a report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports.
- Archeology Prize (2008): for measuring how the course of history, or at least the contents of an archaeological dig site, can be scrambled by the actions of a live armadillo.
- Literature Prize (2006): for the report “Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly.”
- Peace Prize (2005): for electrically monitoring the activity of a brain cell in a locust while that locust was watching selected highlights from the movie “Star Wars.”
- Psychology Prize (2004): for demonstrating that when people pay close attention to something, it’s all too easy to overlook anything else — even a woman in a gorilla suit.
Think these are fake? They sound like clickbait, but you can check out the full list and read the original research articles yourself!
Maybe you were scrolling through a news feed today and saw some headlines about aliens on Venus, or at least this weird gas that maybe means aliens. Maybe you’re not sure what to make of that or even if it’s true.
So we’ve got this library full of reliable news sources and books just waiting to be explored. Let’s do a little SCIENCE RESEARCH!
Oh, come on, don’t you want to know about the alleged aliens? Let’s check out some different databases and see what we can find!
If we are looking for more news, maybe we should try a news database, like the New York Times. If we search “life on Venus” under news, we find another article about the research that looks at this specific gas found in the Venusian atmosphere that we know is produced on Earth by tiny microbes. The production of that gas could mean there are living microbes, like bacteria, in the Venusian clouds! ALIEN BACTERIA!
Maybe now you’ve been bit by the knowledge bug and you want know more about Venus or the other planets. Follow me down the rabbit hole of astronomy information! We’ve got some great books in our collection that you can find through our Catalog! You might find a few books that look interesting…
As for life on Venus, we may not have the answer yet, but with a little bit of research we can discover what the headlines really mean. It wasn’t that bad, was it?
Librarians are always ready to help you dig into the databases to find what you need. All you have to do is ask us!
Spring is my favorite time of year. I love all the flowers, ornamental trees, and seeing everything turn green. I find spending time in nature definitely helps lower my stress level. This year, because of the pandemic, many natural areas are closed or restricted, but there are still many open.
According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the following state parks in Northeastern Illinois remain open for limited day use: “Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State Park / North Point Marina, Chain O’ Lakes State Park, Goose Lake Prairie State Natural Area, Illinois and Michigan Canal State Trail (includes Buffalo Rock, Channahon, Gebhard Woods, and William G Stratton), Kankakee River State Park, Moraine Hills State Park, Silver Springs State Fish & Wildlife Area, Volo Bog State Natural Area.” “Parks will be open from sun-up to sundown. Guests will be allowed to engage in activities such as wildlife observation, hiking, biking, equestrian use and fishing (both from the bank and boats with a limit of two persons per boat. For additional information on recreational boating, please see guidance issued by DCEO) and mushroom hunting. All visitor centers, campgrounds, playgrounds, shelter reservations, interpretive educational programs, beaches, special events and concessions will remain closed; turkey hunting will remain suspended at state parks.” Remember to social distance and to only gather with members of your household.
Some of the Forest Preserves of Cook County are also open for day use, with restrictions that are currently in place until May 31st. “We urge you to follow social distancing guidelines and wear a mask when in the forest preserves.” They also ask that you only visit with members of your household, do not use the picnic tables, and if you need to, step off the trails to maintain 6 feet of distance from others. For more information on their restrictions and for a list of closures, please refer to the Forest Preserves of Cook County’s Covid-19 news page. You should also know that other counties may be restricting usage to residents only.
I wish I had a spring photo of the geese at Saganashkee Slough, but this one from March will have to do.
This is an important exploration of the pandemic from award winning documentary series.
Frontline: Coronavirus Pandemic
SEASON 2020: EPISODE 16
How did the U.S. become the country with the worst known coronavirus outbreak in the world? FRONTLINE investigates the American response to COVID-19 — from Washington state to Washington, D.C. — and examines what happens when politics and science collide.
Eight years ago a credit card-sized, affordable computer landed on the market, making computing and programming accessible to a wide audience. Since then, the Raspberry Pi has been a hit with scientists, hobbyists, students, and kids alike.
Take a look at these fun projects for beginners to get some inspiration!