Happy Pi Day!

Happy Pi Day! Support MFS with a donation of $3.14, $31.41, or $314.15 today!

Dear Science Lovers –

Today, March 14, is Pi Day, a celebration of the constant invaluable in formulas throughout math and physics. It’s also exactly one month from the second annual March for Science Mobile event, “A Day for Science.”

We think you’ll agree that this event is bigger and more ambitious than last year. Here’s what we have planned:

  • April 14, 2018 from 9am-12pm, Bienville Square;
  • Keynote speakers Dr. Kristine DeLong and Ben Raines, who will talk about their work on The Underwater Forest, the 2017 documentary about an ancient cypress forest discovered deep in the waters off the Alabama coast;
  • Open air science fair for all ages, with booths from local organizations doing science-based work and showcasing citizen science opportunities, and invited local science fair competitors bringing their show boards;
  • A sign-making contest with prizes in several categories; we’ll have copies of the commemorative book Science Not Silence for the winners (and other goodies);
  • And, of course, a march for science.

Your support is needed to make A Day for Science happen. Pi day is a great occasion to donate $3.14, $31.41, or $314.15 to support the event. You can make your contribution by using the PayPal button on our website (located in the sidebar).

Our expenses this year are projected to be around $2000. Last year we raised enough funds to cover our costs with only a small amount left over. We wouldn’t ask for your help if it weren’t important!

Another way to help out is by buying merchandise from our online store. All sales directly support our 2018 event.

Our volunteer coordinator will soon be sending out a message to people on our volunteer list. If you’ve never signed up to be a volunteer and want to add your name, just use our contact page to get on the mailing list.

With your support we can continue to make a difference in our community! Thank you so much! We look forward to see you on April 14th.

Sincerely,

Angela Jordan, President
On behalf of the March for Science Mobile Advisory Board

Press Release: Speaker Announcement

A Day for Science Speaker Announcement: Dr. Kristine DeLong and Ben Raines

Mobile, AL, March 9, 2018 – Speakers for the 2018 March for Science Mobile event, “A Day for Science,” will be Dr. Kristine DeLong and Ben Raines.

Photo of Kristine DeLong
Dr. Kristine DeLong

Dr. DeLong is a paleoclimatologist at Louisiana State University and a featured scientist in the documentary The Underwater Forest. The 2017 film was written and directed by Ben Raines, who is a longtime journalist at AL.com and filmmaker. This stunning film documents a unique, recently-discovered ancient cypress forest that sits nine miles off the Alabama coast in 60’ of water. Dr. DeLong is leading the scientific investigation of this incredible find. The film was co-produced by The Alabama Coastal Foundation and This is Alabama!

Dr. DeLong will also bring graduate students from her lab to have a booth at the event, and will have samples of the 50,000+ year old wood for attendees to handle!

Dr. DeLong’s research is focused on climate change of the past primarily in the subtropics to tropical regions for the past 130,000 years, and her field work involves dives to recover modern and fossil coral samples. She is the lead principal investigator for projects involving sediment coring and geophysical survey field operations. She is one of a few paleoclimatologists who has published multi-century long coral-based temperature reconstructions from Atlantic and Pacific corals. DeLong has published extensively on her reconstruction work as well as on the refinement, fidelity, and data analysis methods used in paleoclimatic reconstructions.

Photo of Ben Raines
Ben Raines
Photo by Debbie Elliott/NPR

Mr. Raines is well-known for nearly two decades of writing about environmental issues and natural wonders in Alabama, with much of that time spent as an investigative reporter for AL.com. He has also produced several documentaries about Alabama, with the most recent being The Underwater Forest. The film has received media attention from national and international news outlets such as NBC Nightly News, the BBC, The Washington Post, and NPR. Raines also produced America’s Amazon, a documentary about the Mobile River Basin that aired on PBS stations around the country. His underwater film work has appeared in documentaries on the Discovery Channel and National Geographic TV. The U.S. Coast Guard-licensed captain also runs fishing and sightseeing tours in the waters around Mobile.

A Day for Science will take place in Bienville Square on April 14, 2018 from 9am-12pm. This free open-air science fair for all ages will feature our keynote speakers, and booths with local scientists and science-based organizations, as well as local K-12 students in a science fair poster session. There will also be a sign-making contest and a Parade for Science. Participants are invited to bring their friends, kids, a spirit of fun, and their love for science.

A Day for Science gives the public a chance to meet local scientists, learn about the wide variety of fascinating science being done in our community, and advocate for the importance of science in public policy and our community. This event is an official satellite event of the national March for Science event taking place on the same day.

In 2017, the first ever March for Science had over one million participants in over 600 cities worldwide, and the event in downtown Mobile drew an estimated crowd of 550.

If you would like more information about this year’s event, please contact Angela Jordan at 251.680.0084 or email at mobilemarchforscience@gmail.com. Please add to any event calendars you maintain.

“Alabama transforms the way the world sees itself”

Leading up to our announcement this week of keynote speakers for our 2018 event, A Day for Science, we’ll take a look back at the talk given in 2017 by speaker Bill Finch, who reviewed a few of the many important contributions Alabamians have made to science, and the inspiring range of natural diversity in our state. The following is a transcription of Bill’s remarks, edited for clarity.

Speaker Bill Finch 2 960
Speaker Bill Finch

“You know, if we were gonna put our foot down for science, it’s very important that we’re doing it right here, in Bienville Square, in Mobile, and in Alabama. There’s no more appropriate place, no better place that we could do it. Alabama has inspired science, has changed the way we view science, and changed the way we view life and the world in ways you may not recognize.

There was this guy about 175 years ago, a guy named Charles Lyell who was trying to figure out, “How old was the world? Is it 5000 years old?” And he was looking around the world for unique places that would help him understand how old the world was. And there is a very unusual place up the Alabama River, just up above the delta, that just rains little tiny fossil creatures – forams, foraminifera – and he began collecting them from that place and comparing them to other places in the world. And Charles Lyell, because of that, wrote a great book and became sort of the father of time, the first person to really put together for the first time the concept of a world that’s very very old. That book written by Charles Lyell went on board a ship called The Beagle with Charles Darwin, and it influenced how Charles Darwin saw the world, and thus these little creatures from Alabama suddenly became very important in the theory of evolution and how we see the whole world.

You know, a little later, in fact about six blocks that way [gesturing], a guy named Charles Mohr, a pharmacist here in Mobile decided, “You know, this is a pretty diverse state, this is a pretty interesting place I live in, we need to understand what’s here.” And Charles Mohr about 1903 put together the first botanical volume, the first state botanical volume ever done in the United States. It was really seminal; it guided how other people saw the world and saw their own states, and it became very very important: The Plant Life of Alabama by Charles Mohr.

In 1940, there’s a guy – they called him Snake Boy – and Snake Boy lived about six or seven blocks that way [gesturing in the opposite direction], and he’d get on his bike, and he would ride out to the causeway, and he would catch snakes, bring them back. Everybody knew him as Snake Boy. He loved the world around him. Later on he got really interested in ants – collected some unusual ants here, and was the first person to identify, by species, the ant we know and love so much as the fire ant here in Alabama. Ed Wilson, E.O Wilson. He lived six blocks from here, was thrilled by this place he grew up in, inspired by it, and really changed the way we see evolutionary biology. He created it as a modern field of study in many ways, and his theories of island biogeography have influenced the way we view diversity in biology and certainly his books over the years have done that. Six blocks away.

Up the Alabama River a little piece, just a little farther up on the Coosa, there was a girl growing up, and she loved the birds, loved the bird life that she saw along the Coosa River, the upper end of the Alabama River. And so she did an immense amount of study, Patty Gowaty, and she realized that, “You know, we bring all these weird prejudices to our world, and just looking at the birds, looking at what is happening, maybe it’s not the way we think.” And Patty became the first person to realize that our gender biases really had influenced the way we saw speciation taking place and we saw how natural selection takes place. She has transformed, to much controversy, the way we view gender in natural selection. Patty Gowaty. Great scientists who are here, inspired by this incredible place.

Up the river here a little ways: one of the great centers of oak diversity in North America, north of Mexico. Who would have thought it, in Monroe County? Here on the edge of the delta in three counties: the center of turtle diversity for the western hemisphere. Astonishing. Alabama: the greatest number of fish species in the United States, more than any other state. What an inspiring place to live. What an inspiring place to do science. We need to put more emphasis on science here in Alabama, because Alabama transforms the way the world sees itself. Thank y’all.”

A Selection of March for Science Mobile Photos

 

It’s hard to believe it’s only two months after March day! We send an immense “Thank You” to all the photographers who shared their work with us!

Speaker Announcement: Bill Finch

Bill Finch paddles a boat in the Mobile Tensaw delta.We are pleased to announce a late-breaking addition to our speaker lineup: Bill Finch. Bill is an award winning writer, a botanist and natural historian, and a specialist in landscape interpretation and restoration. His garden columns and environmental reporting have been recognized nationally, his weekly radio and television programs have a large following along the Gulf Coast, and his educational programs at Mobile Botanical Gardens draw enthusiastic crowds. His book Longleaf, Far as the Eye Can See is now in its second printing. Bill is a Senior Fellow for The Ocean Foundation and still serves as chief science advisor for the Mobile Botanical Gardens, where he was formerly the executive director. He has also served as Conservation Director for The Nature Conservancy of Alabama. Through his consulting business, Earthword Services, Bill is increasingly focusing his skills and efforts on large-scale landscape conservation and restoration efforts, in coordination with the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation and the Ocean Foundation.