Tag Archives: science

Starry night?

 

bluemoon

A London night sky.

AS we in the northern hemisphere enter Advent and the darker days of winter, here is a thought-provoking article about light pollution, dark skies, astronomy, and being human and humble creatures. And what we miss through our obsessive use of street lighting. Read and ponder. Would the wise men have seen the Christmas star today?

hop little froglets, hop, hop, hop!

frog.pond.spawn

A message just came from the Butterflies class, who have been observing and caring for some of the frogspawn in this picture.

There are five froglets and a few tadpoles with legs! Great excitement in the classroom, but the children know the froglets and their brothers and sisters will soon be coming back to their native pond. For certain sure, more of them have survived than if they had been in the pond at the mercy of Mr Blackbird.

Thank you Butterflies class and your marvellous teacher!

A Frog for the Butterflies

frog.pond.spawn

Miss Turnstone teaches the butterflies, a reception class of 4-5 year-olds. and every year takes some spawn to school so they can watch the tadpoles develop. The frog spawn comes from her mother’s pond.

Hoping to get a photograph for them, I found myself beset with reflections wherever I squatted myself down. Having rejected my snaps altogether, I tried for just one more. This frog chose that moment to swim across the mass of eggs in the bottom of the pond, and gave us an action shot. Not great, but good enough.

The clear water in the pond suggests that it is more than good enough; there’s plenty of weed to start the tadpoles off in life, but we do need to keep a weather eye out for frost. Once the eggs are afloat we could lose a lot to freezing conditions. We’ll live in hope and be ready to help.

‘It makes it bigger.’

spoon bigger

I was dining alone with 3½ tear old Abel the other day, when he put a spoon into his glass of water. (His mother need not know about the 50 year old toy truck that helped feed him by ferrying grapes across the table.)

‘It makes it bigger’, Abel announced of his spoon in the water, so taken with this that he did not notice the photograph being taken,

‘Like your magnifying glass’, I suggested. He considered this for a moment. ‘My magnifying glass is missing.’ I feel sure he knows exactly where it is. He seems to think that things like to hide. Under the piano is a good spot.

But note the budding scientist: don’t tell him he’s wrong, when he is simply not in possession of enough facts and enough vocabulary to say more clearly what is happening. Let’s see if he can find that magnifying glass!

river.upmill.over.stones

This is the River Tame, brown with peat, passing through Uppermill, Saddleworth, last week. What looks like a weir is a set of stepping stones. I thought such things were imaginary when I was little, as they tended to appear in the sort of story books our teachers thought we should like.

Now there’s a set I can walk across any time I visit my mother.

Well, not every time, as you can see. But there is a bridge very near by, so no great hardship involved.

And yet the river has been known to rise much higher than this, when the upstream flood plain is saturated, and the rain keeps on falling. The bridge then cannot accommodate all the water that pours down; it tries to find other ways through. People get the sandbags out.

It rains a lot in Saddleworth!

So thank heaven the powers that be seem finally to have decided against covering the flood plain with concrete and buildings for a new school!

 

Designer Snail

designer snail

Working at the Glebe, working with flowers, we have ample opportunity to appreciate the little things. Like this snail, this ‘designer snail’ as Anne called it. Those stripes would make this shell a treasure if found on a Red Sea beach, but this snail was in the wrong place, eating the wrong plants …

I remember, years ago, reading an article where a science teacher was desperately trying to account for the very different shell patterns of this species in terms of Darwinian evolution; some even have no stripes at all. She seemed to be saying that they must be of some evolutionary benefit or they would not still exist.

Well, the humans at the Glebe admired the creature. But don’t tell the Jehovah’s Witnesses that we called it a designer snail!

HOLY OF HOLIES

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The Holy of Holies refers of course to the innermost chamber of the Temple in Jerusalem – and before that in the tent that went through the desert with the Israelites. Blake reminded us that God is present in a grain of sand; here is Chesterton meeting him on a Spring morning. These cowslips are growing in pastureland, where sheep will safely graze later in the year. We were told that the farmer seeded the field with wild flowers. Thank you to him!

‘Elder father, though thine eyes
Shine with hoary mysteries,
Canst thou tell what in the heart
Of a cowslip blossom lies?’

 

‘Smaller than all lives that be,
Secret as the deepest sea,
Stands a little house of seeds,
Like an elfin’s granary,

‘Speller of the stones and weeds,
Skilled in Nature’s crafts and creeds,
Tell me what is in the heart
Of the smallest of the seeds.’

‘God Almighty, and with Him
Cherubim and Seraphim,
Filling all eternity—
Adonai Elohim.’