Spring 2012 research activities: Science will blow your socks off. Resistance is futile.
It has been a very busy spring for The Rocket Scientists. Many of our explorations were not planned but arose rather serendipitously, or in David Suzuki’s words, the wild came leaping up. Sometimes the wonders of the natural world have a curious knack of imposing themselves upon you. From the natural history of the mighty humpback whale to the tiny mountain pine beetle, celebrations of timeless mathematical constants, epic quests for remnants of cataclysmic events and hidden treasures, to astronomical observations of spectacular celestial events; this spring, science has blown our socks off.
All of our adventures and explorations are visually documented on our official flickr site, but here is a brief summary of some of the highlights.
A series of serendipitous events resulted in a last-minute expedition to southern latitudes and opportunities to do some spectacular whale watching. While onboard our yacht looking for a snorkelling site we came across a mother humpback whale and her calf and they came just “leaping up” giving us the show of a lifetime.
We were fortunate to get our hands on some mountain pine beetle specimens for our entomology research program. As part of our outreach program we visited three local grade 6 classes where we made presentations on the mountain pine beetle and the Canadian boreal forest. The kids also got to do some hands on research using stereo microscopes and tree cookies. Our outreach activity was a resounding success and we have been asked to come back next school year again. Yay!
On March 14 we celebrated Pi Day by decorating a pie with the first 35 decimals of pi (post 1, post 2). As part of this event we also visited a local grade 1 class and read Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi. The kids were in awe and the pie was delicious.
At the end of April, together with Russian collaborators, we embarked on our first expedition to the Whitecourt Meteorite Crater. After a long arduous hike on remote forest trails, including some bushwhacking through unchartered terrain, the fellowship finally found the fabled crater and it did not disappoint. We left our shovels at the rim (or one might get sued) and descended into what once had been a cataclysmic event.
The spring has been busy with several highly anticipated astronomical events. First it was the Venus-Jupiter conjunction, followed by the partial eclipse of the sun and lastly (but not least) the nearly mythical Transit of Venus. We had the great fortune to view the partial eclipse and the transit at the University of Alberta observatory and the Venus-Jupiter conjunction from our subtropical astronomical observatory.
In the early spring, while snow and ice still covered the Alberta landscape, we participated in the Fire & Ice model rocket launching annual event held by Edmonton Rocketry Club at the Viking cosmodrome. We had 8 successful launches and witnessed countless spectacular high-powered rocket launches. In the spirit of true rocket science the sky gods claimed a few of the rockets. All in all, we had a blast of a day.
Our geocaching department has been lying low for a while but recently we got back into the groove with a highly successful and adventurous expedition to the Strathcona Wilderness Centre. During this expedition we located the oldest geocache in Alberta + another half a dozen caches, we were attacked by a very angry ruffed grouse, and chased by a monumental downpour and thunder and lightning. We slept well that night.
As the spring is drawing to an end The Rocket Scientists are busy planing for the upcoming summer research season. Updates will follow.
This is from the “The Rocket Scientists” blog ( http://therocketscientists.ca ).