April 11, 2013

Katherine Giles     Photo: Courtesy of katgiles.co.uk

Climate Scientist Killed By Truck Biking to Work

Katherine Giles was 35

A pioneering climate scientists was hit by a truck while cycling to work Monday and pronounced dead at the scene. Katherine Giles, 35, was a top researcher at the Center for Polar Observation and Modeling at University College London (UCL). 

Giles, who often chose to gather her own measurements rather than rely on satellite data, had studied sea ice thickness and the effect of winds on the newly exposed Arctic Ocean. She was being considered as a possible successor to Seymour Laxon, the center's director, who died just three months prior after suffering a brain hemorrhage. 

Tributes to Giles have poured in. "We are all left with a sense of the outrageous unfairness with which some of our best colleagues have been taken from us," Professor Philip Meredith, head of UCL's earth sciences department, said.


    Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Beaver Kills Belarus Man With Deadly Bite

Victim was on a fishing trip

A man in Belarus found out the hard way that beavers are not to be trifled with. The unidentified victim was on a fishing trip with two friends at Lake Shestakov when they spotted the massive rodent on the side of the road. The man approached the beaver intending to take its picture when the creature pounced and bit him in the thigh. The bite severed a main artery and the man bled to death.

Beaver attacks are a rarity, but the animals can become more aggressive at about two years of age, when they leave their colony to find a mate. Beavers can unleash nearly 180 pounds of biting force per square inch, compared to the human’s 88 pounds.

Last July, two girls were attacked by a beaver by while swimming in a lake in Virginia. There were no fatalities, save for the beaver, who was shot. A month later, a boy scout leader was attacked while swimming in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The beaver was brought down by a group of angry, rock-wielding boy scouts. Again, there were no fatalities, but the scout leader had to recieve treatment for rabies.


    Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Grilling is About to Get More Confusing

Beef, pork cuts to be renamed

Pork. Sure, we all love it. But do we truly understand it? The National Pork Board thinks the answer is “no.” After a collaborative two-year study, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Pork Board have announced new names for more than 350 different cuts of pork and beef. The labels, which overhauls 40 years of board-sanctioned terminology, are intended to help consumers more easily identify a cut of meat and the part of the animal it came from.

“The new names will help change the way consumers and retailers talk about pork,” said Pork Board President Conley Nelson in a statement. “The simpler names will help clear up confusion that consumers currently experience at the meat case, helping to move more pork in the long-term.”

Thus, pork butt shall henceforth be known as Boston Roast, which is much clearer if you only think in sports analogies. Other transformations include the pork Porterhouse chop, formerly the pork loin chop, and the New York chop, formerly the top loin chop. Beef cuts will also be getting a makeover, with the flat iron steak retiring in favor of the top blade steak.

Much to everyone’s relief, ground beef will still be called ground beef.

The new packaging will also include cooking instructions, with recommendations for temperature and a 3-minute post-preparation rest period.


    Photo: Courtesy of Kennebec County Sheriff's Office

Maine Hermit Caught After 27 Years

Suspected in 1,000 burglaries

It's been a tough week to be a mountain man. Following the arrest of Troy James Knapp, another notorious hermit suspected in over 1,000 burglaries over 27 years fell into the law's clutches last week after a game warden caught him breaking into a lakeside camp, police said Wednesday.

Christopher Knight, known as "the North Pond Hermit", said he had had contact with only one person in his nearly three decades of solitary living.

"He just decided to take off into the woods," state trooper Diane Perkins-Vance told AFP. "It was just something he decided to do."

Knight, 47, said he survived by stealing food and other supplies, including a radio and books, from deserted camps. According to the AFP, he told police that the only posession he didn't steal was his eyeglasses.


Dave and Amy Freeman

Dave and Amy Freeman     Photo: The Wilderness Classroom/Bryan Hansel

Couple Completes 3-Year, 11,700-Mile Honeymoon

Teaches 100,000 students along way

Before putting off in kayaks on the morning of April 3, husband and wife Dave and Amy Freeman rolled up their sleeping bags, jammed their extra clothes and gear into stuff sacks, and savored every last detail of the chores associated with packing up their campsite on the Florida coast. Advisable or not, Dave took a moment to inhale the fumes of the camp stove as he took it apart. "Usually we don’t even really think about it because it is part of our daily routine," he wrote on the Wilderness Classroom blog. "However, this was our last time taking down camp before we finished our 11,700 mile journey across North America."

Shortly after 100 of their friends cross-country skied, ice skated, and mushed to their Ely, Minnesota, wedding, the couple took off on a three-year honeymoon. They kayaked up the West Coast of North America, mushed across the Northwest Territories, and kayaked east to the Atlantic Ocean and over sharks on their way down to Key West.

Along the way, they posted daily blogs, videos, and podcasts updating their progress, conferenced into classrooms using a satellite phone, and stopped and held school assemblies when they could. They estimate the effort helped them teach 100,000 students about the value of the outdoors—something they say is essential now, more than ever.

We need future generations of paddlers, hikers, bikers and climbers who will lead healthy, active lives, and appreciate and protect our lakes, rivers, oceans and the wild places they connect. According to the Outdoor Foundation’s 2011 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report, participation rates for kids ages six to 17 have steadily declined since 2006. In some age brackets, participation rates have dropped by as much as 16 percent. The report also reveals that 37 percent of kids who consider themselves outdoor participants get outside less than twice a month. —Dave told Outside in May, 2012

On that last day of the trip in April, they soaked in every detail so they had more to share after landing in Key West. They watched as a dinner-plate-sized sea turtle zizagged beneath their boats, a five-foot-wide eagle ray glided smoothly past, and a three-foot-long nurse shark rested on the sandy bottom—opening and closing its gills ever so slowly.

Once they landed, Dave took some time to ponder the most amazing thing about the couple's 10-million-paddle-stroke journey. "I think the fact that Amy and I are closer than we were when we dipped our paddles into the Pacific Ocean nearly three years ago is our biggest accomplishment," he wrote.