Have you ever thought about taking data points and creating music with them? This is exactly what Mark Ballora does.
Ballora, a Penn State associate professor of music technology, translates data into music — also known as data sonification. He does this in part to emphasize that data may be interpreted aurally as well as visually.
The Polar Center has hosted Polar Day for several years, and this year it will be held on Tuesday, March 22, on Penn State’s University Park campus. The event is free and open to the public and features performances, lectures, and other events celebrating the natural and cultural value of the world’s polar regions. Continue reading Chill out & learn at Polar Day→
An environmental activist friend of mine recently shook her head and marveled at the extraordinary accomplishments of the last several months. “Still lots of work to be done,” she said. “But wow! This has been an epic period for environmentalists!”
From the rejection of the Keystone pipeline to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change (COP21), “epic” may be an apt descriptor for someone who is an environmentalist.
However, nothing galvanizes opposing forces to action better than significant wins by their foes. And 2016 appears to promise that environmental issues – particularly climate change – will be more politicized than ever before.
For the past year, my boyfriend and I have shared our home with another couple. They lived above us. We could hear them walking around up there, and we suspect we heard them copulating above our own bed. The problem we had with this couple, though, was that they never paid rent. This is probably because they were squirrels.
The situation came to a head a couple of weeks ago. We had been away for the weekend, and came home to discover one of our upstairs neighbors lounging on our couch underneath an afghan. How did he get there, you ask? He fell into a wall, wasn’t able to climb back up into the rafters, and decided to chew his way out through the wall.
Once I got past the trauma of having a squirrel running around my house digging through the aloe plants and cuddling under the blanket my mom crocheted for me, I began to wonder how and why these squirrels chose our attic — of all places — to be. Was this normal? And did we need to worry about squirrel diseases or something haunting our house now?
Who better to ask than our resident squirrel expert, Carolyn Mahan?
I learned that all species of squirrels either make a drey — a bowl- or ball-nest — or find a cavity to build their nests in — like our house.
“There was probably a gap,” said Mahan, of how the squirrels got into the attic in the first place. “They don’t need a lot of space to get through.”
According to Mahan, squirrels will readily chew through vinyl siding or wood if there is some sort of hole or gap started there already. And in the case of the insulation the squirrels were pulling out of our roof and throwing onto the deck, it most likely was simply in their way.
An important answer I got from the gracious Dr. Mahan: there will be no squirrel diseases haunting our house. The most danger a squirrel poses, Mahan said, is its habit of chewing through plastic coating on wires — which could in turn lead to either an electrocuted squirrel or a fire hazard in the house.
The good news is the squirrel didn’t do much damage in our house — aside from the nice squirrel-sized hole in our bedroom wall. There doesn’t appear to be any wire damage, and we have since patched up the hole that the squirrels were using as their front door.
There are plenty of nice trees in our neighborhood. Maybe they can hang out in one of those?
Tell me about critter escapades in your own home/office/other personal space in the comments section below. I’m sure we’re not the only ones with a ridiculous story to tell!