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26
March
2013

What is Thundersnow?

Earlier this week we had a snow forecast that could really have affected our operations here at COSI. I was watching the weather forecasts really closely to determine how much of the possible 10 inches of snow we could get here in Columbus and one of the forecasters mentioned the possibility of thundersnow. This is a term I've heard of before, even experienced but I really don't know a lot about it. So I turned to our resident science guy extraordinaire, Steve Whitt and asked him what in the world is thundersnow? How does it form and what is it?
A picture of snow at COSI 3.25.2013.
03
January
2013

Brush Creek to Portsmouth

We completed the last leg of our Scioto River journey in August. We drove down to Shawnee State Park the night before in order to get an early start. Our plan was to put in on Scioto Brush Creek, a tributary of the Scioto and a popular waterway for canoeing. David Rutter brought his two sons along, so I shared a canoe with George – not his usual canoe, but the very first one he made 23 years ago. This sweet boat was a joy to ride in and I picked up some valuable lessons on paddling a canoe in the bargain.

We speculated about how much water would be in the creek given the lack of rain throughout the summer. We drove to the town of McDermott to take a look at the creek. Although getting the canoes in the water was challenging due to the steep bank, the creek itself seemed to have enough water to float us. That turned out to be deceptive!

Brush Creek to Portsmouth
21
November
2012

Sweet (Potato) Science

Sure, everyone knows about turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. But somewhere hidden behind the gravy boat and that mountain of rolls, if you're very lucky this Thanksgiving you just might find a truly unique dish: candied sweet potatoes! My grandma used to make them the old-fashioned way - piled high with delicious, gooey marshmallows! Mmmm, marshmallows . . . I was a picky eater as a kid, but even I couldn't turn my nose at a vegetable that tasted like dessert.

What is a sweet potato, anyway? Turns out it's not a potato at all. It isn't closely related to white or yellow potatoes, the kind you mash up for Thanksgiving or deep fry and salt for, well, for just about any other day. Sweet potatoes also aren't closely related to yams, another tuber grown mostly in Southeast Asia. (What many people call candied yams are almost always in reality candied sweet potatoes.)

Sweet (Potato) Science
01
November
2012

Greenlawn Dam to Shadeville River mile 129.30-120

George and I put in just below the Greenlawn dam, which is easily accessible from Greenlawn Avenue on the west side of the river. George had canoed this stretch of the river some years ago and was interested in seeing if it had changed. The showy pink flowers of Halberd-leaved Rose-mallow were blooming on this August day. Puffy white clouds were drifting across a blue sky, keeping the heat from becoming oppressive.

Greenlawn Dam to Shadeville River mile 129.30-120
31
October
2012

The Science of Sugar

Halloween is pretty much my favorite holiday. I love the costumes, the spookiness, using marshmallow "peeps" in my science experiments, and the candy!

Of course, we know what makes candy great is sugar. What we know as sugar is sucrose, a molecule composed of 12 atoms of carbon, 22 atoms of hydrogen, and 11 atoms of oxygen (C12H22O11).

I don’t really consider myself much of a scientist, being a communications person and all, but I love the idea that cooking, baking, and the like counts as science. When we mix different ingredients together, we form new compounds, and formulate chemical reactions to make delicious foods. By the way, whenever this mad scientist is in the kitchen, it’s definitely considered experimental. I once burned rice krispie treats! (in the science world that is called carbon. Sheepish grin.)

The Science of Sugar
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