Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Soil, Soil Everywhere

Here is a link to a great website telling of the 12 Soil Orders:

A soil type that is very common to Georgia is Ultisols. According to this website, ultisols are "strongly leached, acid forest soils with relatively low native fertility." They are found primarily in humid regions. It is often a red clay soil. Here is an example:

Here is a soil map of the state:

One way we can determine soil type is by simply looking at the color of the soil. Through the color, we can also determine the the types and amounts of organic materials and minerals within the soil, as well as the climate which the soil came from and the amount of moisture present. The soil color types are brown, orange, red, purple, and yellow. The Munsell Soil Color Chart is an extremely helpful tool when trying to find the exact color, hue, and chroma of the soil. Here is a link to a PDF of the color chart:

Another way to determine soil type is through a soil texture dichotomous key. By following the steps on the key and seeing how the soil they are dealing with measures up, one can experimentally determine soil type. Here is a link to one of these helpful keys:

Finally, here is a picture of a soil texture diagram. By looking at the amounts of sand, clay and silt within a sample of soil, one can use this diagram to determine the soil type.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I Said Brrrrrrrr, It's Cold in Here

As we've learned in class, and extremophile is an organism that lives and thrives under extreme conditions. In fact, for some of these organisms, and extreme environment is crucial to their existence. These environments include highly acidic ones (acidophiles), highly basic ones (alkaliphiles), ones high in sugar content (osmophiles), extremely hot ones (thermophiles) and extremely cold ones (psychrophiles)

This is a picture of a psychrophile, the ice worm. Ice worms were first discovered in 1887 on Muir Glacier in Alaska. They are blind and less than an inch long. Here, they feed off of the red algae one the glaciers. They bury themselves about 5 feel beneath the ice. They live in colonies of up to 20 million. These worms have since also been found on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico in 1997. The worms were found 1,800 feet under the sea by Charles Fisher. Here, they bury into mounds of methane which seeps up through the ocean floor. Scientists think that the worms eat chemosynthetic bacteria from the methane. The temperatures are at about 32 degrees Fahrenheit. At 5 degrees Fahrenheit they cannot thrive.

Here is an ice worm close up:

And here is a colony of the creatures:

Here is a link to a video that shows a habitat where the ice worms might live, as well as some live footage of the worms.

Rocks, rocks, rocks, rocks, rocks, rocks, rocks, rocks, rocks, rocks, rocks, rocks, rocks, rocks, rocks, rocks, EVERYBODY!

Rocks are classified into 3 different groups. Those groups are:

1. Igneous.
These rocks form from volcanic magma. The lava cools and solidifies, and these rocks begin to form. The lava can either come from an erupting volcano, or can remain underground.

Here are some examples:

This is granite. Granite is made mostly of quartz, hornblende, and feldspar. Depending on what it is made of, granite can be pink or gray or a combination of the two. It forms through the crystallization of magma under the earth's crust. It is the most common igneous rock found on the earth's surface.

This is diorite. Diorite is usually made up of white feldspar & hornblende. It is very hard and is usually dark gray or black as well as white or a combination of these colors.

2. Metamorphic.
These rocks are sedimentary or igneous rocks that have undergone some sort of change, whether that change be due to heat or pressure or some other force. They are formed under the earth's crust.

Here are some examples:

This is coal. Coal is made from organic carbon, meaning it is made from the remains of plants. It is usually a black or brown/black color. It is the most abundant fossil fuel in the US. It takes millions of years to form, as the energy from the dead plants put off heat and pressure from being underwater cause the rock to form.

This is gneiss. Gneiss is is essentially smashed diorite. Diorite being made of grey hornblende and white feldspar, causes the lines and layers of the 2 different colors. Other minerals can mix in as well.

3. Sedimentary.
These rocks are usually a build up of small pieces of other broken rocks, dirt, pebbles, or other material. They are formed on the earth's surface.

Here are some examples:

This is limestone. Limestone is mostly made from calcite, but with many other minerals and sands mixed in as well. It is formed from shells and other debris. Limestone is almost always found near water, and is especially prevalent in reefs. It is also a reliable building material.

This is coquina. Coquina is made of millions of clam-like seashells and other shells and fossils. It was originally formed along the eastern coastline of Florida.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Adventures of Said Tomato

On Tuesday, February 15, 2011 I found out that I am expecting my first child... who also happens to be a tomato plant. I know it's kind of sudden but I just want everyone to know that I am VERY excited and will definitely be keeping it.

To get this little guy(or girl) growing, I took him/her out of his/her little envelope and placed him/her in a little white Dixie cup under about 1/4 inch of soil.

I watered him/her on Thursday 2/17, Saturday 2/19, and Sunday 2/20. He/she has spent the past couple of days on my window sill with his/her surrogate brother/sister (who will one day be the lovely child of Jessica). The friends have received sunlight everyday,and yesterday I even opened the window a little bit to give them some fresh air (cause it was so very pretty outside yesterday!)

As you can see, I've decided not to find out the sex of the tomato. I just think it will be so much more exciting to find out when he/she is finally sprouted. I also am waiting to name him/her until I see his/her little sprout. I want to make sure they look like they can play the part of their name before I give it to him, you know? Also, I will not be revealing any potential names to anyone until the tomato sprouts... I hate politics.

Today, 2/20, I think I may see what could be the beginning of a SPROUT!!! :] :] I will update more tomorrow on whether or not this is indeed what I am seeing!!!

Said Tomato:

My surrogate friend (right) and I (left) (notice my potential little sprout thing!):

UPDATE 2/21: WE HAVE A LITTLE SPROUT!!!!!! Name still to come.. I want to get a good look at HIM and pray about it a little bit before making a final decision.


UPDATE 2/29: After much thought, prayer, and consultation with family, I have come to realize that there is only one name fitting for my precious tomato: Matthew McConaughey. You know, I really don't know where I came up with it but it just popped in my head one day and sounded like a really attractive name and decided to go with it. Not much change in the looks of the little guy, except that he has gotten a little taller. I continue to water him every other day with a few sprinkles of water, and he is still setting in his usual spot on my window sill where he receives plenty of sunlight throughout the day. Tomorrow, a family friend (Baby Josh) will be coming over for a play date. I can tell he's as stoked as I am for my little guy's very first play date. I'll be sure to update yall on how that goes!

UPDATE: I have finally retrieved my little guy from the babysitter (DR. ROOD--WOOO) after spring break. Don't get me wrong, I had a FABULOUS time in Scotland, but I sure did miss this little booger. Said babysitter did a wonderful job tending to his needs, and I swear he must have grown 3 sizes while I was gone! I can't believe it. He is just growing up sooo fast

UPDATE 3/28: Phew, we had a little scare yesterday. I looked over at the little man the other day and he really seemed to be withering. He was looking rough. BUT, I quickly got him some water and turned his little self around a little bit of that he could get sun on his other side and he is doing MUCH better today!!! :]

UPDATE 4/4: AHHHHH, after such the long week of rain and darkness the little guy is looking really, really ROUGH!! He is all withered and droopy and stuff. I'm taking him to the doctor I don't care what anyone else says.

UPDATE 4/5: The sun is back and we are looking a little healthier!! Keep praying!

UPDATE: I've been trying to keep this from everyone for some time now but... after I was in Daytona for a week... for cheerleading nationals... in April.. the guy looked REALLY rough. And.... he never recovered. :( That's right. He's a goner. I'm a horrible mother. RIP little Matthew McConaughey.

In his honor and because I love you all so much, I leave you all with this:

His name sake. You're welcome.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Geocaching is in interactive sport that is being played by millions of people all across the globe. With the help of a GPS, these people seek to find geocaches, which are waterproof containers hidden for this very purpose. There of over a million geocaches worldwide. Inside, there is a log where one can write to say that they found it. It is almost like a large scale treasure hunting game, or game of hide-and-seek. People even trade items through the sport, by placing something of theirs inside the geocaches. Here is the link to the official geocaching website:

This week in lab, we were able to do our own geocaching activity. Here is a map of where we walked to find our little treasures:

Here's what we found at the different stations:

Starting Point: This is where we began our route and found our first item. It was a metal black keychain with a rolled up piece of paper inside. It was pinned between a bike rack and the side of the building.

2. Here, we found a clear container with a white cap with black-eyed peas inside.

3.The 3rd item was inside the pole on the stop sign. It was a red container with a piece of paper inside.

4. The 4th was a prescription pill bottle with Tabasco sauce inside.

5. At the 5th location where we found a pill bottle with soda tabs inside.

6. Here, we found a clear bottle with chalk inside.

7. Here, we found a battery in a clear bottle.

Final Point: At our last point we found a pill bottle with magnets and a little toy car inside.

With the use of GPS devices, environmental studies and research has changed drastically over the past few years, and will continue to change as technologies further improve. With the use of these systems, tracking, mapping, and plotting can be done like never before. By collecting positional information, scientists can now analyze from a new perspective. Patterns and trends (such as the migrating pattern of a specific species) can be better explored through GPS data. Maps can be more easily created and filled with accurate detail. Environmental scientists can also more quickly locate places of interest. This is especially helpful in locating environmental disasters.