Showing posts from September, 2015

Flying By Pluto

Collage of the Mercury Program. Image Credit: NASA Though I was just a little girl, I still remember the excitement surrounding the Mercury Program--the first manned space flights in America. It seemed an impossible dream that we could send men up in rockets to orbit the planet. As time went by, our explorations into space drew less attention, even becoming commonplace. But I'm still fascinated by what our country has accomplished and what we are still learning from our journeys through the universe. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA's) New Horizons Mission  is helping us "to understand worlds at the edge of our solar system by making the first reconnaissance of the dwarf planet Pluto and by venturing deeper into the distant, mysterious Kuiper Belt – a relic of solar system formation." Launched nearly nine years ago, New Horizons made an early fly-by of Jupiter for a gravity boost. Scientific data and photos of that beaut

Zero Water Industries

I recently finished writing an online course, Introduction to Reclaimed Water, for CEU Plan, Inc . This is a company that provides training for professionals in the water industry. Recycled water is more in-demand now than ever, especially in water-hungry states like California and Texas. In addition to concerns of water shortage, environmental regulations are very restrictive about putting wastewater in receiving streams. So water conservation and reuse are important factors in meeting those goals. My introductory course focused more on reclaiming municipal effluent. But industry is doing its part as well. I was reading a Water Online article about Nestle's Zero Water Facility . Zero water and zero liquid discharge (ZLD) systems are gaining ground in various industries. A ZLD system is just that--as much liquid as possible is recycled or repurposed within the facility,  and the remainder evaporated or crystalized. The solids or crystals can be repurposed, or in some case

Backyard Wonders

As I mentioned in a previous post, you don't have to go far to enjoy nature. Sometimes, you only need to venture into your own back yard. Our back yard is nothing elaborate--in fact, my husband's shop is there, and much of the yard is landscaped with rock, mulch and stepping stones. But we have a great maple tree, viburnum bushes that grow like crazy, a patch of grass and some overhanging trees and flowers from the neighbors' yards. The snake in the photo above, a southern black racer (as identified by the "community" after  uploading the photo to may  iNaturalist  account) was slithering through the viburnum probably looking for something to eat--maybe something like one of the brown anoles shown below. Trying to capture photos of monarch butterflies was challenging. They don't keep still for long. But I was able to snap a shot of these beauties when they lighted on the maple tree. The northern cardinal acted like he was posing for me as he g

Point of No Return - Video: Down to Nothing - National Geographic Magazine

The best way to appreciate nature is to get outside and experience it. Mountain climbers are up-close and personal with the environment on a grand scale. I've always been fascinated by mountain climbing--but way too chicken to actually do it. Here's a short video of the story, "Point of No Return," written by Mark Jenkins, in this month's National Geographic. Point of No Return - Video: Down to Nothing - National Geographic Magazine These climbers (Emily Harrington, Hilaree O'Neill, videographer Renan Ozturk, writer Mark Jenkins and photographer Cory Richards) journeyed through 151 miles of Myanmar's rain forest jungle  to the base of what may be the highest mountain in Southeast Asia--Hkakabo Razi. Since the only way to precisely measure a mountain's height is to be on top of it with a GPS, that was one of the goals of the expedition. (A Japanese climber, Takashi Ozaki, reached the summit in 1996, but did not measure the elevation). Duri

Recycling Gone to Pot?

Wastewater treatment plant clarifiers I'm a fan of recycling. Our resources are limited. So reusing things makes sense. Glass, paper, metal. And water, of course. After 36 years in the water business, I can tell you that water is our most precious resource. And it's very expensive to treat, pump, distribute to each home, and clean up the wastewater. Most wastewater plants are now called water reclamation facilities--because at least part of the treated effluent receives further treatment so it can be recycled. Reclaimed water irrigates golf courses and residential lawns, agricultural crops and football fields. It's used in industrial cooling towers and boilers. Disney World even uses reclaimed water to wash buses. So, recycling water is commonplace. Reclaimed water irrigating golf course turf But I came across an article in my Water Environment Federation Highlights newsletter where the University of Michigan and the Rich Earth Institute are taking thi