Cricket Thermometer

Years ago, when I was a kid, I heard about a Frank Lutz study in which snowy tree crickets could be used as a thermometer by counting their chirping rate, which, because they are poikilotherms, varies with the ambient temperature. At the time I thought that was interesting, but a little irrelevant, since I had a thermometer. But we don’t always have a thermometer when we’re, say, camping, so a few years ago I had my Biology class make a thermometer by going outside, recording the temperature, and counting the chirps per minute of our local crickets. I don’t know the cricket species, but it is a common one in late summer when school starts. Here are their data, compiled to show a good polynomial fit. The linear equation, upper left, is also a good fit at r = 0.96.

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Unconformity on Shelf Road

Precambrian granite (about 1.6 billion years old), distinct to the practiced eye from Pikes Peak Granite, sits directly under the Ordovician Manitou Limestone (~ 450 million years ago), which has fossilized scales from jawless fishes. This contact represents over a billion years that’s missing from the geologic record (at this site). That means that the old granite probably had a series of overburdens that may have represented many events, but the evidence has all eroded away, leaving the nearly flat erosional surface, upon which the seafloor sediments accumulated that became the limestone. On Shelf Road you can put your finger on over a billion years of missing time.screen-shot-2017-03-04-at-10-18-49-pm.png

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Waking Up at the May Museum

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Dedicated to the May family.

When I was eight years old, I suffered a short career in Cub Scouts, less than a year, weathering one bit of idiocy after another. The camping trip, washed out by a downpour, the picnic in the park spoiled by the nutcase who forgot to bring the drinks, the hike up the canyon ruined by falling on sharp rocks that cut my shins and made them bleed–everything conspired to destroy my faith in scouting.

The last straw, my final and most deflating experience with the organization, but also the most wondrous event in my life, was the field trip to the May Museum of Natural History. There, my patience stretched to—and beyond—the breaking point. Continue reading “Waking Up at the May Museum”