Welcome to Terra II, maybe

An exciting piece of news crossed the television screen last week, sandwiched between a missing airplane (“Breaking news: Searchers still have not found Malaysian Flight 370.) and Russian troops daring the Ukraine army to come out and play.

The news was the discovery of a planet that may be capable of supporting life as we know it. It didn’t get a lot of play – couple mentions during the day and it was done – but it’s pretty big news in the history of human-kind. It is the first planet that is both the right size and the right distance from its sun for its climate to possibly have water and other features essential to human existence. Continue reading Welcome to Terra II, maybe

Kids need (outer) space for dreams

Somewhere, below the water and above the trees, other worlds await young explorersI went for a walk in the woods one day with the granddaughters, in search of the source of a creek which flows from the county where I live in south-central Pennsylvania, across the state line into Maryland, and joins the Monocacy River east of Thurmont.

A paper company once owned the particular piece of forest, 2,500 acres of the first tree farm in the state that gave birth to the nation’s forest conservation movement. There was a time when men with axes and horses took to the woods to cut trees and drag them to a nearby road, from whence they could be carted to the mill. Axes gave way to chainsaws, and horses to huge, powerful tractors called “skidders,” but even then, logging was a slow process. I know; I was raised where logging and paper making was the primary industry.

Chainsaws have been replaced by machines with air conditioned cabs from which one operator can virtually denude a mountainside in a matter days, instead of the months or years once required, leaving the owner to pay taxes for several decades while waiting patiently for trees to grow to usable girth. Glatfelter, owner of that 2,500 acres, had decided to sell the land, to let someone else pay the taxes and “call us when you’ve got wood to sell.” … Continue reading …