Monday, October 23, 2023

Evolution Earth

It's not always clear to me why certain documentary properties are picked up by NOVA while others run "independently" on PBS. In the end, I'm not sure it's critically important.

In autumn, 2023, two series are running on PBS that constitute a popular social media meme.

How it started : How it's going. The it here is Life on Earth. 

How it started is documented in Ancient Earth (BBC/NOVA). It chronicles the events that transpired to bring Earth from a lifeless rock to planet bustling with living organisms. And yes, I have questions!

How it's going is documented in Evolution Earth (PBS). It details contemporary evolution in progress, often spurred by human impact on the environment. 

Both series tell their stories across five episodes.

Evolution Earth embarks on a global expedition to reveal the animals keeping pace with a planet changing at superspeed. Heading out across the globe to distant wilds and modern urban environments, five episodes track how animals are moving, using ingenuity to adapt their behavior, and even evolving in unexpected ways.

At the front lines of this rapid change are the scientists, filmmakers and local communities recording the animals’ stories. We follow heart-warming tales of resilience that redefine our understanding of evolution, and hint at how nature can show us a path towards a sustainable future for Planet Earth.

The series is narrated by Dr. Shane Campbell-Staton, who guides us through each episode in an intimate narrative style, drawing on his background as an evolutionary biologist.
At Earth’s extremes, animals are reacting in surprising ways. Animal homes are changing around them at superspeed. Follow remarkable stories of resilience and hope. From humpback whales to tiny butterflies to ingenious savanna chimpanzees.
Segments: Savanna Chimpanzees · Coastal Humpback Whales · Edith’s Checkerspot Butterflies · Mountain Pine Beetles · Marine Iguanas

Cover Photo: Marine iguanas and a finch enjoying each others' company on a beach in the Galápagos islands, August 2008.

Islands are like miniature simplified Earths, where evolution is playing out at super speed right before our eyes. Journey from the Galapagos to the edge of Antarctica to seek out animals responding to our changing planet in extraordinary ways.
Segments: Sea Lions · Finches · Silver Key Anoles · Pacific Field Crickets · South Georgia Pipits · Red Colobus Monkeys · Mangrove Forests

Cover Photo: Fur seal eyes a Galápagos lava lizard. Galápagos islands, August 2008. [I confess to the faux pas of representing the sea lion and and Silver Key anole with a fur seal and lava lizard, but the photo was too much fun not to use.]

Travel to the hottest and driest extremes to see animals go to extraordinary lengths to survive. From the Sahara Desert to Australia, animals provide new clues about our changing planet and what it will mean for the future of our heating world.
Segments: Savanna Chimpanzees II · Nubian Ibex · Saharan Silver Ants · Zebra Finches · Atomic Camels · People of the Sahara 

Cover Photo: Death Valley, December 2005. The desert locations used in the episode are a bit more far-flung (Sahara and Gobi, for example.) But I like what I captured in Death Valley years ago. I'll only go there from November through March.

At the planet’s frozen extremes, shifts in animal movement and behavior reveal vital information about our future world. Examine polar bears in the Arctic, penguins in Antarctica and other animals surviving in icy worlds.
Segments: Polar Bears · Mountain Hares · Gentoos and Adélies · Billy Barr · Wandering Albatross Winds · Lemmings and Foxes · The Sámi and Their Reindeer Herds

Cover Photo: A Polar Bear in the Pack Ice, July 2018. We had to sail to 83°N to find polar bears north of Svalbard. Once you spot one, you plow your boat into the ice and stop the engines. The bear will come to you. They're curious as to this new thing in their desolate environment, and must investigate.

Grasslands are one of the planet’s most important, yet most overlooked habitats. Follow scientists as they discover animal species with the power to transform and restore our grasslands, turning them into carbon sinks that could slow climate change.
Segments: The Serengeti: Wildebeest and Dung Beetles · Patagonia: Guanacos, Pumas · American Prairies: Butterflies, Bison, Prairie Dogs, Oaks, Grasshoppers, and Roots

Cover Photo: The Sun Sets on Theodore Roosevelt National Park, July 2022. This North Dakota national park includes acres and acres of grasslands.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Advanced Placement Crossword Puzzles

That's right. Physics crosswords suitable for AP Physics students. Topical terms constitute the core of the word list. Unlike the first series, there are no “words all high school students should know” vocabulary terms. Fill-in terms lean toward physics and science, but sometimes wander into pop culture or randomness. 

One nice thing about crosswords is that students know what to do with them without any instructions. They take to the challenge right away. The students who enjoy them most are often students who don't seem to enjoy the class the most. 

Note: the "puzzle score" stat listed in each puzzle's description indicates the number of word crosses/intersections. If you look at other crosswords at TPT or elsewhere, they typically involve a few dozen (sometimes one dozen) words with a few dozen crosses. Lessons of Phyz crosswords tend to involve more than 100 words with 150+ crosses. I begin each puzzle with core typical words, then fill in the gaps with terms from, physics, science, pop culture, and randomness. I intend to fill the grid without making something that will require more than two pages.

An AP1 Physics Crossword Puzzle Bundle includes all three of the following.

110 words with a puzzle score of 171. This is the first crossword of the year for the AP Physics 1 class. It covers kinematics, Newton's laws, circular motion and gravity. Core terms: Acceleration, Arc, Aristotle, Average, Body, Brahe, Brake, Centripetal, Change, Circular, Copernicus, Deceleration, Distance, Drag, Earth, Ellipse, Force, Friction, Galileo, Gas, Gravitational, Inclined, Inertia, Instantaneous, Interval, Kepler, Kilogram, Launch, Laws, Mass, Meter, Mu, Newton, Normal, Opposite, Pairs, Plane, Position, Projectile, Ptolemy, Pulley, Rate, Rest, Scalar, Speed, Steering, Sum, Tangential, Tension, Terminal, Uniform, Unit, Vector, Velocity, Weight.

127 words with a puzzle score of 182. The core words come from these conserved quantities. Additional words begin from motion and forces before going to other fields. Core terms: Bounce, Bullet, Collision, Conservation, Daughter, Elastic, Energy, Explosion, Fd,  Flex, Force,  GW, Half, Height, Impact, Impulse, Inelastic, Joule, kgms, Kinetic, Mass, mgh, Momentum, mv, Potential, Power, Speed, Speed, Square, Stable, Target, Time, Unstable, Velocity, Watt, Work. 

Additional terms include Acceleration, Apex, Areas, Atom, Axis, Centripetal, Deceleration, Drag, Earth, Ellipse, Equal, Friction, Galileo, Gravity, Hot, Ideal, Inertia, Kelvin, Kepler, Kilogram, Kinematics, Lab, Laser, Log, Mercury, Meter, Nano, Newton, Normal, Nu, Opposite, Orbs, Ovum, Pair, Pattern, Petri, Pi, Rest, Rev, Second, Solid, Star, Tension, Tera, Tesla, Uniform, Universal, Waves, Weight.

121 words with a puzzle score of 189. The core words come from harmonic motion and rotational mechanics. Additional terms come from force, motion, energy, and momentum. Core terms: Acceleration, Alpha, Amplitude, Angular, Arm, Axis, Balance, Conservation, Constant, Cylinder, Degrees, Displacement, Elastic, Energy,  Force, Frequency, Fulcrum, Harmonic, Hollow, Hooke, Hoop, Inertia, Kinetic, kx, Length, Lever, Mass, Maximum, Minimum, Momentum, Omega, Parallel, Pendulum, Period, Potential, Radian, Ratio, Resonance, Restoring, Revolutions, Rotational, sin, Solid, Sphere, Spring, Standing, Tau, Top, Torque, Velocity. 

Selected additional terms: Centripetal, Collision, Deceleration, Earth, Ellipse, Fusion, Gram, Gravitational, Impact, Kilo, Luna, ma, Meter, mgh, Nano, nm, N/m, Nrg, Opposite, Peta, Pi, Pluto,  RGB,  Saturn, Slow, Tension, Uranus, Venus, vt.

An AP2 Physics Crossword Puzzle Bundle includes all five of the following.

113 words with a puzzle score of 166. At the beginning of the year of AP Physics 2, we spend time reviewing the common mechanics topics covered in grade-level Physics and AP Physics 1. AP2 presumes knowledge of these topics, but we won't cover them formally in AP2. This crossword is part of this review process. Core terms: Acceleration, Action, Arc, Centripetal, Collision, Components, Conserved, Direction, Drag, Earth, Elastic, Ellipse, Energy, Equal, Explosion, External, Force, Friction, Fun, Galileo, Gravity, Horizontal, Impact, Inelastic, Inertia, Interaction, Inversely, Joule, Js, kg, kgms, Kilo, Kilogram, Kinetic, Mass, Mechanical, Meter, Momentum, ms, Mu, Net, Newton, Nm, Normal, Opposite, Orbit, Parabola, Power, Projectile, Relative, rev, Run, Second, Speed, Spring, Square, Tangential, Tension, Uniform, Unit, Universal, Velocity, Watt, Weight, Work.

105 words with a puzzle score of 150. The core words come from fluid mechanics and thermodynamics. Core terms: Absolute, Adiabatic, Archimedes, Area, Bernoulli, Buoyant, Carnot, Cold, Conductivity, Continuity, Cycle, Density, Depth, Displacement, Efficiency, Energy, Engine, Entropy, Float, Fluid, Force, Gauge, Heat, Hot, Impulse, Isobaric, Isothermal, Isovolumic, Joule, Kelvin, kPa, Law, Pascal, Pressure, Sink, Temperature, Thermal, Torricelli, Volume, Wind, Work.

Selected additional terms: Amplitude, Charge, cos, Cyan, Deceleration, Dipole, Ear, Echo, Elements, Gravity, Hertz, Inertia, Luna, Node, Omega, Orca, Oxygen, Petals, Radical, Rate, Rougher, Senses, Series, sin, Sleep, Sound, Spectrum, Tesla, Test, Tnt, Torque, USB, Velocity, Wavelength, Zinc.

114 words with a puzzle score of 174.  The core terms come from electrostatics, circuits, and magnetism. Core terms: Ampere, As, Attract, BA, Battery, Capacitor, Charge, Circuit, Conduction, Conductor, Coulomb, Current, Destructive, Dipole, Domain, Electrons, Electrostatic, Energizes, Energy, Faraday, Field, Flux, Force, Franklin, Generator, Glass, Induction, Insulator, IR, Kirchhoff, Magnet, Motor, Negative, Neutral, Oersted, Ohm, Open, Parallel, Polarized, Pole, Positive, Potential, Power, Proton, Repel, Resistance, Resistor, Semiconductor, Series, Short, Silk, Superconductor, Tesla, Volt, Voltage, Watt, Weber.

116 words with a puzzle score of 177. The core terms come from geometric (ray) optics and physical (wave) optics.mCore terms: Angle, Blue, Center, Central, Chartreuse, Concave, Cone, Constructive, Converging, Convex, Critical, Destructive, Diffraction, Diffuse, Dispersion, Diverging, Enlarged, Focus, Frequency, Glare, Height, Image, Incident, Index, Interference, Internal, Inverted, IR, Iridescence, Laser, Lens, Light, Magnification, Maxima, Minima, Mirror, Nano, Nitrogen, nm, Normal, Object, Optics, Order, Plane, Polarization, Radius, Rainbow, Ray, Real, Red, Reduced, Reflection, Refraction, Rod,  Screen, Slit, Snell, Specular, Ultraviolet, Upright, Violet, Virtual, Wavelength, Xray.
121 words with a puzzle score of 177. The core terms come from atomic and nuclear physics. Additional terms come from mechanics, fluids, thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, and optics. Core terms: Absorption, Atomic, Beta, Bohr, Chain, Charge, Critical, Curie, Dating, DeBroglie, Defect, Duality, Effect, Einstein, Electron, Emission, Energy, eV, Fission, Frequency, Function, Fusion, Gamma, Ground, Half, Hertz, hf, Ionize, Kinetic, Light, Momentum, Neutron, Nucleon, Nucleus, Number, Phi, Photoelectric, Photon, Planck, Proton, Quantum, Strong, Tension, Time, TOE, UV, Wavelength.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Ancient Earth

NOVA openied the the second half of its 50th season with a 5-part partnership with BBC called Ancient Earth. Previous such collaborations produced two spectacular series, The Planets and Universe Revealed. In any case, I have questions.

Ancient Earth BUNDLE on TPT 
Witness the dramatic history of Earth, from its birth to the emergence of humanity. Dive into the most dramatic events in Earth’s 4.5-billion-year history, from its birth to the emergence of humanity. How did a hellscape of molten lava transform into a lush, green, watery planet filled with life? With dazzlingly realistic animation based on the latest research, each of these five episodes brings to life long-lost worlds that ultimately led to the one we know today.
I have had the good fortune of seeing many excellent documentaries on Earth's atmosphere. This is the best one I've ever seen. [I used a photograph I took on Floreana Island in the Galápagos for the cover.]
Today, Earth is enveloped by a thin veil of gas, a narrow band of atmosphere that protects a world covered in lush green vegetation, deep blue oceans, and abundant life. But 4.5 billion years ago, Earth was a very different place: a hellscape of molten lava and barren rock, under relentless bombardment from meteors, and with no atmosphere whatsoever. So how did our familiar blue sky come to be? Breathtakingly realistic animations and a chorus of science experts reveal how the primordial inferno first gave rise to an orange-hued cauldron of toxic gasses that would be deadly to us today. Witness how the first drops of rain splashed down on the searing planet, setting the stage for the evolution of life. And discover how life itself helped create the air we all breathe today.

Cover photo: Baroness viewpoint on Floreana Island in the Galápagos, when I was there in 2008 during The Amazing Adventure 3 with James (The Amazing Randi).

This is the story of Snowball Earth, Rodinia, eukaryotic life, plate tectonics, silicate weathering, the fall and rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and the intertwined nature of biology and geology.
700 million years ago, Earth was a giant snowball cloaked in ice from pole to pole – a global deep freeze that held the planet in a stranglehold, threatening the survival of the earliest complex life. How did life manage to hold on in this forbidding world? Leading scientists investigate how this catastrophe may have become a catalyst for life to evolve in creative new ways as it bounced back from the brink – setting the stage for the astonishing complexity we see today.

Cover photo: The pack ice in the Arctic Ocean from the M/S Origo, summer 2018. 

This is the story of how plant life emerged from the ocean and populated the land. It was not a trivial matter. It required plate tectonics (which was apparently triggered by asteroid bombardment) for granite and carbon dioxide from volcanoes. And it required a symbiotic relationship with fungi to get from water onto land. "Prototaxites" was a new word for me.
For billions of years, life teemed in the oceans of planet Earth while the land was desolate and inhospitable. So how did life make the leap to land? Scientists explore how some of the earliest life emerged and invaded a barren, rocky landscape, eventually transforming it into a verdant, green world. Gripping visual effects reveal an alien landscape dominated by towering fungi before the arrival of plants. Witness how the first plants made landfall and partnered with fungi to create soil that would sustain them. And discover how, once life emerged on land, it fundamentally altered the very ground it grew on.

Cover photo: A riparian landscape taken while looking for jaguars in the Pantanal of Brazil's wild west, summer 2016. 

252 million years ago, the most devastating mass extinction of all time abruptly wiped out around 90% of all species on Earth. The culprits were the biggest volcanic eruptions the world has ever seen, emitting some 700 thousand cubic miles of magma and rock. Volcanic gasses permeated the atmosphere and acidified the oceans while toxic gasses destroyed the ozone layer, bathing the planet in destructive UV radiation. The event–now called “The Great Dying”–came close to wiping out all life on the planet. Follow scientists as they piece together geologic evidence from the deep past and clues from today’s ecosystems to discover how life made it through and evolved into the astonishing variety we see around us today.
The story of Earth can only be told because now, 4.5 billion years into its existence, a technological and self-aware animal species roams its surface, able to study the very planet that gave rise to it. But how exactly did Earth give rise to humans? Through stunningly realistic animation, witness the cataclysmic asteroid strike that wiped out the dinosaurs, the tumultuous changing climates that allowed early primates to spread across the planet, and the geologic events that created the conditions for the evolution of an animal that walks upright on two legs. Explore the power and paradox of humanity’s profound impact on our planet, and ponder the question of how we may shape its future.

Cover photo: Newspaper Rock in southeast Utah, as I saw it in April, 2004.