It's Friday, and I *know* you didn't see a Science Friday video coming because, well, I haven't posted one in ages.
Courtesy Science Friday
But it's Memorial Day weekend (officially, as it's after 5pm on the Friday before), and Memorial Day weekend opens the tomato season, so here goes...
"Tim Stark, tomato farmer and proprietor of Eckerton Hill Farm in Lobachsville, PA, describes his battle with late blight during the summer of 2009."
"Visit Robert Sabin's pumpkin patch: he has been growing giant pumpkins for over ten years. But these pumpkins just aren't meant for the pie pan: Sabin says they're more like children than fruit to him. He raises his pumpkins for competition--the heavier, the better. Does his top pumpkin have the heft to win the Long Island Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off at Hicks Nurseries? We'll find out."
"With the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade less than a week away, it's crunch time for the 'balloonatics' at Macy's Parade Studio. The balloons themselves, which are designed and fabricated in a warehouse in New Jersey, are getting their final checkup before the show. John Piper and Jim Artle take us around the studio and spill the secrets of inflation, explain how to calculate whether your balloon will float, and explain why the balloons look better after a little time in the sun."
"Carve first, scoop later--that's just one of the tips from Maniac Pumpkin Carvers Marc and Chris. Based in Brooklyn, these professional illustrators switch to the medium of pumpkin during October. Their pumpkins, which go for between $150 - $400, rarely end up on stoops. You are more likely to find them in Tiffany’s ads and in window displays. They gave us some tips for how to bring our pumpkins to the next level this Halloween."
"The New York Department of Environmental Protection installed a prototype "algal turf scrubber" at once of its wastewater treatment plants in Queens. The scrubber--two 350-foot metal ramps coated with algae that grows naturally--is designed to use algae to remove nutrients and boost dissolved oxygen in the water that passes through it. John McLaughlin, Director of Ecological Services for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and Peter May, restoration ecologist for Biohabitats, explain how the scrubber works, and where the harvested algae goes."
"This toilet floats. It's an outhouse and sewage-treatment plant in one, processing human waste through a "constructed wetlands." Green builder Adam Katzman, the inventor and builder of the toilet-boat, says it's meant to be more inspirational than practical. His paddle-boat-toilet ("Poop and Paddle"), parked at a marina in Queens, demonstrates how sewage and rainwater can be converted to cattails and clean water. It's a zero-waste waste disposal system."
"Water striders don't really stride, they row on the water. But their legs are spindly and don't seem good for paddling. David Hu, mechanical engineer at Georgia Tech, wanted to understand the basic physics of how water striders glide. By filming them stride on food coloring and building his own robotic strider, he found out that the secret to the stride is in the paddle."
"From death caps to puffballs, the fruiting bodies of fungi can be grouped into about a dozen major categories. Mycologist Roy Halling walks us through the wide world of mushrooms and takes us on a fungi foraging foray on the grounds of the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. With record-breaking rainfall in the northeast in the last few weeks, mycologists say that mushroom numbers seem to be up this year. Wet weather is prime for mushroom emergence because the fruits of fungi form through a hydraulic process, says Nicholas Money of Miami University in Ohio."
Yup, it's Friday.
So let's not beat around the bush.
Courtesy Science Friday
"Malcolm Beck was farming organically in the 1950s, and that's how he got into compost. What started out as a little manure pile on his farm became a 40-acre compost-processing business five decades later. Beck sold his company, Garden Ville, but still works there and is constantly experimenting with different fertilizer formulas--from bat guano to earthworm tea.
When San Antonio’s Malcolm Beck got into the compost business over fifty years ago, many people had never heard of compost, Beck says. Beck began making it for his organic farm and found that his compost more profitable than produce. Science Friday stopped by for a tutorial in the art of composting.
"Humpback whales blow bubbles around schools of fish to concentrate them for easier capture. It's called a bubble net, says David Wiley, research coordinator for Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, and it's visible as a ring of bubbles at the surface. Now, with underwater digital tracking tags and custom visualization software, whale researchers can see what the whales are doing underwater when they're bubble-netting. Humpbacks are the only whales known to blow bubble nets -- a circle of bubbles that traps schools of fish for easy capture. Although this hunting technique has been documented in humpbacks for decades, just how whales make the nets wasn't well-understood until now, says David Wiley, a biologist with NOAA. Wiley and colleagues attached digital tags to Humpbacks' backs to find out what they do underwater when they're bubble-netting."