Friday, April 06, 2012

...and, NPR story on Bears in Northampton, MA

Local story goes national.

Apparently, some people in Northampton don't realize that feeding wild bears is a bad idea.
Wildlife officials are pushing for a city law to make feeding bears illegal, so they'd have little reason to leave their natural habitat. The problem is, mother bears have already taught their cubs that chomping on discarded pizza crusts is a lot easier than picking berries in the woods. For the next generation of bears, this may actually be their natural habitat.
Another angle from, with a link to the abc40 news segment.

Two UMA Science stories (Center for CASA and Geckskin) on WFCR

This morning, on the local public radio station, WFCR, in their Morning Edition Extra segment, the first two stories spotlighted useful scientific research at UMass Amherst.

The first was a piece on the work at a new Engineering Research Center, CASA, or, Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere. David McLaughlin, associate dean of the School of Engineering, described the next generation of weather doppler to help speed up severe weather warnings. Currently, there is an average of 12 minutes between warning being issued and tornado striking, and 80% are false alarms. Solution is to use a higher number of lower and smaller radar installations, networked, like cell phone networks. Finer resolution should result.

This segment was followed by another on a UMass Amherst interdisciplinary team working on developing dry adhesives. As discussed in an interview with biologist Duncan Irschick and polymer scientist Al Crosby, they have looked to the gecko for inspiration.  Their work has produced an adhesive which will allow heavy loads to hang from smooth walls, and removing the load from the wall easily and quietly.  Geckskin's commercial applications could be myriad; military uses are also likely.  More info here.