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Category Archives: life

Seeing wildlife in urban areas always captures the imagination of the city.  Wildlife running through 4 lane canyons flash us reminders of what lived here before.  Last night a coyote seen running through downtown Chicago amazed the public… but was no surprise for Chicago's Animal Control.  When contacted, the department said 250 GPS wearing coyotes are being reintroduced to urban Chicago as pest control.  This vestige of a wilder America displaced by years of urban development may become a more common sight and the howl, a more common sound at night in Chicago.

The breaking news story from Chicago Breaking News below.

A coyote loping along the South Loop streets this morning was probably at his job searching out rodents, according to city animal welfare officials.

A video shot last night at 3 AM shows the coyote running down State Street as cars and a moving truck pass by. Brad Block, a supervisor for the Chicago Commission on Animal Care and Control, said the animal has the run of the Loop to help deal with rats and mice. He said no one has called today to complain.

"He's not a threat…He's not going to pick up your children," Block said. "His job is to deal with all of the nuisance problems, like mice, rats and rabbits."


Block said he believes the coyote is one of those fitted with a GPS device to monitor its whereabouts. He said the coyote is pretty timid and stays away from people.

Cook County officials have fitted a few coyotes with GPS as part of an urban coyote project and has allowed them to run wild in Chicago to deal with the rodent population. It was unclear whether this coyote is part of that program. The animal was not captured.

Earlier this year, another coyote was found in a park near the Chicago River and would return there to scavenge for food, he said.

That animal had to be removed because it had become accustomed to people and their handouts. It was eventually taken to a wildlife center.

– Carlos Sadovi

What sort of wildlife lives in your town?

If you're interested in more city wildlife check out this LoE story about a hawk named, Pale Male, living in NYC.

Who hasn’t stared into the starry night and felt — you know — alone?
Well, seems there are a lot of neighborhoods in our universe and over the past 20 years astronomers have discovered hundreds of planets. However, they’ve been either too big – too small – too hot or too cold to sustain life. But astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, the director of the Hayden Planetarium, says a newly discovered planet holds out the tantalizing prospect of being — just right.

TYSON: Yeah, yeah, its a jackpot actually. What we’ve always been curious about was whether any of them orbited their host star at the right distance where you could sustain liquid water- if you had an atmosphere. Nearly all of those planets were not in this ‘Goldilocks Zone.’ The one or few that were are huge Jupiter-sized planets where no one imagined that you’d have life on Jupiter. So, the holy grail in this exercise, was trying to find an Earth-sized planet in the Goldilocks zone around one of these stars, and that’s what was just announced.

GELLERMAN: This Goldilocks planet- the one that’s outside of our solar system, does it have a name?

TYSON: Uh, yeah, well it’s GLEEZ-581G (?).

GELLERMAN: It kind of rolls of the tongue.

TYSON: I know, and Gleez is the name of the catalog. 581that’d be the number in the catalog. G is the Gth object found the system- so it’s not a lone planet in orbit around the single star- there’s other stuff there. And, so that’s part of what’s exciting about it is that it’s a star system that it’s a part of. It’s where many of the exo-planets have been found.

GELLERMAN: So, what exactly is an exoplanet?

TYSON: That’s just a word that we give to planets outside of our own solar system. So, we’ve got our 8… get over it. (Laughs).


TYSON: And then we go to other stars and they’ve got planets of their own. And, they used to be called extra-solar-planets, but that’s too many syllabuls and unnecessary, so, they’re exoplanents. And then there’s the field of study that is in search of life and it’s exobiology. The exo is what gets you out of our own solar system

GELLERMAN: In exo-biology the ex could also be for extreme biology.

TYSON: Yes, in fact, excellent perceptive point. There’s biology on earth thriving in extreme conditions that would kill us post-haste. And, we call those extremophiles, actually, lovers of extreme environments. That has allowed people who look for life elsewhere in the universe to cast a much wider net of the conditions under which they think life might thrive. Simply because of the broad conditions that we find life thriving here on earth- high temperature, low temperature, high pressure, high radiation- and you say ‘hey, wait a minute! It doesn’t just need a room temperature warm pond.’ If it can thrive in all these conditions- bacteria life that is- then why can’t we look in many more places than we have before?

GELLERMAN: Yeah, it turns out that life is so tenacious, it really can exist in very extreme conditions.

TYSON: Right. Not all life- there’s some life that can, and does and thrives. And, what it means is, if you need intelligent life to have a warm pond- then you can just forget it (laughs). Figure out how to talk to bacteria and that might be all you’ll be finding. But, none-the-less, it would still be remarkable to find life of any variety out there, even if it’s just single-celled life.

GELLERMAN: But if we went to an exo-planet, we could literally trip over something and we might not know it’s life.

TYSON: Yeah, that’s an interesting philosophical point. Whether there could be forms of life that are beyond our awareness, or our capacity to even register as life- and I once sat a little too long with a philosopher and he said “I wonder if rocks are alive”- I said ‘Ok, I’m done with this coversation.”


TYSON: (Laughs). I’m sorry- I’m not going with you there on that one, alright? Take that one back to the philosophy coffee lounge. But, normally when we think of life we think of a metabolism, and ability to process energy, we think of it’s ability to make copies of it’s self. But, now, by the way, biologists, as much as they might celebrate the diversity of life on earth, at the end of the day, they have to confess that they have only a sample of one. Because all life on earth has common DNA. All life we’ve ever investigated- oak trees, lobsters, jellyfish, humans. And, as a result, we’re not really in a position to assert what the minimum criteria for life should be. And so, that’s an unfortunate situation and part of what feeds this eager search for life elsewhere in the universe and nearby stars.

GELLERMAN: In astronomy, nearby is a relative term.

TYSON: (Laughs) I should have made that clear! This one is about 20 light years away- which if you wanted to visit it on the very fastest space craft we have ever launched- it would take about 300,000 years. SO you need really fertile people on board this spacecraft, or just be happy with the telescopes. I’d rather just stay at home on Earth. I’d be happy just looking at it through a telescope- staying at home on Earth and using my telescope to check it out.

GELLERMAN: Well, the Russians are going to be launching a space hotel soon. Within five years. Have you heard about that?

TYSON: Yeah, well, you know everyboday…here’s the problem… normally we are at the head of this innovation and entrepreneurship, and my big concern is, just as an American, that the rest of the world has discovered space. We know that. China has just sent a mission to the moon just a few days ago, and here we are trying to convince ourselves and Congress that it’s a cool thing to do. And, people aren’t listening strongly in America as they are listening in other countries. So, sure, more power to them. Put up a hotel. And then that means they collect our rent, that’s just how that goes.

GELLERMAN: Well, I’m just thinking about all the frequent-flier miles I could have by going to this Russian hotel actually.

DE GRASSE TYSON: (Laughs) I bet they’d have to recalculate what the unit of reward is.

GELLERMAN: Frequent light-years, actually.

TYSON: That’s right.

GELLERMAN: Astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson. He’s director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History. Dr. T, always a pleasure.

TYSON: Thanks for having me!

Photo Flickr/CC PBSPress

101008tysonplanetharm.mp3 3.1 MB

Last week there were stories everywhere about which cities in the US are considered the "most educated."  It’s based on a survey done by a University graduate student who looked into educational attainment of US cities.
San Francisco was #1 followed by New York City, Boston and Washington DC. Rounding out the top ten were Seattle, Chicago, Minneapolis, Providence, Philadelphia and Miami.  It’s not that much of a leap to find that those cities are magnets for young job seekers too. In the same survey the area with the most college degrees, which seems to be a different measurement, is the DC area.
In my work with college students over the last 16 years, I’ve talked to hundreds about finding work out of school and the first five cities mentioned were always on the list.  Young people want to be around people like themselves.  I moved to the DC area a long time ago and have since found it a place that is (for the most part) not as greatly affected by economic downturns.  The population continues to grow because of the universities there and the opportunity for individuals to find the kind of work they seek from non-profit, environmentally conscious to for-profit businesses to politics to government to media.
As you search for work, add into the equation the questions of "where?" and "for how long?" as well as the kind of job. You probably will change jobs but if you live in a place you like, it will probably like you back.