A great animal story
The video is an all-time classic. Unfortunately, the scientists appear to have autistic-level social awareness (i.e., no awareness at all) of their audience’s interests. “Excuse me, could you repeat that bit about rats driving?”
https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/23/us/rats-drive-tiny-cars-trnd/index.html

Orcas
New footage of Seattle-area orcas from a drone. Short and much more beautiful than I expected.
https://www.seattletimes.com/video/6100440138001/new-orca-footage-stuns-researchers/

A new chevrotain
This article is not very informative, but it reminded me that in the rainforest of Cameroon, we had a “water chevrotain,” which was a related species. When startled, it would dive into the nearest creek and hide underwater. I actually had the privilege of seeing one do that, and then trying in vain to figure out where it was hiding. A very wily little bugger—and there were crocodiles in the rivers so it wasn’t a riskless strategy.
https://www.npr.org/2019/11/11/778312670/silver-backed-chevrotain-with-fangs-and-hooves-photographed-in-wild-for-first-ti

Climate change
The Okhotsk sea, which borders on Siberia and Kamchatka (and is not that far from Mongolia) is the northern hemisphere’s coldest place; its “cold pole”. This is a great article about what it used to be like – sea ice piled 30 ft high in the winter – and what it is becoming, and how that is affecting Japan. Great photos of the northern Japanese islands. Did you know that Japan had grizzly bears? I didn’t.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/world/climate-environment/climate-change-japan-pacific-sea-salmon-ice-loss/

Oysters in the gulf
A lot of discussion about cooking, which makes me salivate. I guess the interesting bit to me was that the main threat to gulf oysters is increased freshwater runoff from the Mississippi, as people pave over the one-third of the US that is drained by the river. The floods just get higher every year.
https://nyti.ms/2QgLTs5

Rising waters threaten China’s cities
This is an article from 2 years ago that I lost, and then stumbled on again. It’s really fascinating. China is taking climate change much more seriously than the US and is ahead of us in thinking about how to deal with it.
https://nyti.ms/2oL7Lyd

Alternative energy
A dry policy article saying that wind and solar power have become so cheap that they are beginning to directly challenge fossil fuels.
https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-11-07/wind-and-solar-power-have-become-amazingly-affordable

Engineering tidbits

Conservation
Sand mining is a horrible new threat. Maybe I should just have a “grim” section.
https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20191108-why-the-world-is-running-out-of-sand

Nature's art
Wonderful images of the Mississippi meandering across the land. These are made by lidar, which provides very accurate elevations by bouncing a radar off the ground millions of times. Lidar is the technology behind several of the archaeological articles I’ve sent. Nature is the best artist of all.
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/11/mississippi-rivers-hidden-history-uncovered-by-lidar/

A fascinating new geology theory
A new study suggests that the outer ‘skin’ of the earth rotated relative to the inner core as much as 30 degrees in the Jurassic. As a result, China moved--literally--so far south that it went from a wet, tropical climate to a much drier climate (that’s because the earth’s climate is determined by something called Hadley cells, which are atmospheric circulation patterns). In other words, if you picture the earth as a ball with a loose skin, the ball is rotating around its axis, and the axis and rotation don’t change, but the skin slips around. They call it “polar wander,” but that’s a bad name – it should be called something like “skin slip.” Apparently there’s still some disagreement about the theory. One idea is that the movement of continental plates can change the balance of weight in the skin enough to cause it to slip. I think it’s a really cool idea and I expect that it will change a lot of interpretations of changes seen in the fossil record, because basically the scientists will have to solve a problem of simultaneous processes: continents moving around, and the crust slipping/changing latitude.
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/11/earths-odd-rotation-may-solve-ancient-climate-mystery/

History
A sad loss. This temple was the seat of power in Japan for 400 years!
https://www.npr.org/2019/10/31/774973894/fire-sweeps-through-historic-japanese-castle