All posts by clairedonnelly

Chicago Botanic Garden’s “seedy” preservation project

By Claire Donnelly

This library never worries about anything overdue.  But expect to  give back from what you borrow.

This is a seed library established by Leora Siegel, director of the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Lenhardt Library. Visitors can “check out” different seed varieties like heirloom tomatoes, mesclun greens, peppers, peas and beans.

The library, housed on a cart, is open to anyone who is interested in borrowing seeds. The cart is divided by seed type and offers a rotating selection based on the growing season and availability of different varieties.

Siegel said the idea is for community members to plant the seeds and harvest them. Then, save some of the plants’ seeds and return them to the botanic garden so the library can grow.

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Climate change threatens national parks

By Claire Donnelly

The glaciers in Glacier National Park are melting.

Snowpack in Yellowstone National Park is decreasing.

Blueberry bushes in Acadia National Park are flowering weeks earlier than they did more than 100 years ago.

These are just some of the ways that climate change is threatening the national parks.

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Scan, cook and serve: Smart oven turns up the heat on home meals

By Claire Donnelly

Your microwave is about to get very jealous.

Chicago startup company Tovala has designed a new smart oven that cooks meals to perfection by simply reading a barcode.

The company launched a 30-day Kickstarter campaign with a $100,000 goal Tuesday to help fund  production costs and raised $90,957 by 6:42 p.m.

The Tovala oven is not a microwave, but rather a scaled-down version of a combination oven with four cooking functions: baking, broiling, steaming and convection heating.

To cook at home with the Tovala, a user scans the barcode on fresh, pre-packaged meals, places the meal in the oven and then presses the start button.

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“Otterly” awesome – Shedd Aquarium’s new pup

By Claire Donnelly

Shedd Aquarium’s rescued sea otter pup is one lucky baby.

Pup 719 – as she is known until she gets a name – arrived in Chicago this winter after turbulent waves stranded her on a beach in California. The orphaned pup received almost two weeks of care at Monterey Bay Aquarium.

“Shedd was eager and ready to welcome pup 719,” said Tim Binder, Shedd’s executive vice president of animal care, in a post on the aquarium’s website.

Rescuers found the baby Southern sea otter early in January, lost amid crashing waves on Carmel Beach. They estimated that she was about four weeks old, based on her size, teeth and behavior.

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Spider-Man can’t do whatever a spider can, researchers say

By Claire Donnelly

What if instead of evading the evil Dr. Octopus by scaling the nearest wall, Spider-Man found himself stuck to every object he passed?

According to some scientific researchers, that’s exactly what would happen if Spider-Man’s sticky pads were correctly proportioned to his body weight.

In a study published in the January issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers in the U.S., U.K. and Australia examined how certain physical features–specifically, sticky pads–change as an animal’s body size changes. The study of these changes is known as allometry.

For David Labonte, lead author of the study, that meant looking at a lot of gecko feet.

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The long and (very) short of bonsai

By Claire Donnelly

Chris Baker has 269 children.

His children are green, grow leaves and live at the Chicago Botanic Garden. They’re bonsai trees.

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Man versus lake: Chicagoan drinks Lake Michigan straight

By Claire Donnelly

Tim Mack stepped toward Lake Michigan and dipped his ceramic mug into the freezing water.

Blindfolded and fueled by the cheers of dozens of onlookers, Mack chugged the entire unfiltered  beverage.

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