Mon, 09/24/2018 - 3:53am

NC Science Now Reporter's blog

Shark Attacks

Although most people know in their brain that the chance of being bitten by a shark is extremely rare, the creature’s reputation as a fearsome predator (fueled by movies, TV shows, and news reports of attacks) still provokes a fear of sharks.

If Hurricane Hazel Hit Today...

While the debate rages on about the cause of sea level rise and if human activity is speeding up the process, the phenomena itself is not a new coastal hazard. Scientists have plenty of evidence that ocean levels rise and fall several times over thousands of years. Scientists have pretty strong evidence the seas are rising again. What makes sea level change so significant now is that there are many more of us living near the coast. And, as the report by the North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission's Science Panel says, “over time it exacerbates existing coastal hazards.”

The Changing Outer Banks

Ask almost anyone in the country to describe North Carolina’s Outer Banks and they could probably name a few images easily — the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the wild horses, wide strips of sandy beach, and the Wright Brothers monument.

The Outer Banks are so ingrained into our collective national consciousness that people can visualize the coastal region without ever visiting it. The irony is that while images of the Outer Banks remain the same, the islands are constantly changing. They are supposed to.

Flushing Away the Myths

It’s time to flush a myth down the drain.

As much as we’d like to attach the last name of Thomas Crapper to the invention of the toilet, we can’t. Crapper, in fact, did exist — he was a plumber in London — and he did make a lot of improvements in the function of the early toilet. He did not, however, invent the toilet.

Making Waves

Ask anybody what they like about North Carolina’s beaches and you’ll likely hear responses like warm sun, warm sand, ocean breeze, and fresh seafood at the restaurants. The answers vary, of course, but I think one thing that everyone likes about the beach is the sound of the waves.

So the question is... What makes an ocean wave?

The answer is simple: wind.

Dirt On Dirt

What’s in dirt anyway?

Admit it.

After sinking the shovel or trowel into the ground to plant something, you end up looking at the dirt that is pulled up and asking yourself, “Just what is in dirt that helps plants to grow?”

We’ve all asked the question at some point. So, to keep things really simple, the answer is that there is a lot of 'stuff' in dirt — including rocks, sand, clay and organic matter. The United States Environmental Protection Agency says the average soil sample is 45% minerals, 25% water, 25% air, and 5% organic matter.

Clay Capital

Remember that phrase from the famous baseball movie Field of Dreams — “If you build it, they will come.” The character was referring to a baseball field. In other words, if you build the field, fans will come to see a game.

When talking about the pottery industry in North Carolina, a twist on the phrase would be “If Mother Nature deposits it, potters will come.”

The 'it' I’m talking about is clay.

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