World Of Black And White (II)

The falling snow covers the individual needles and leaves of plants and bushes.  In the process, it brings out broad, previously unnoticed outlines and patterns and leaves them etched sharply against the plant’s dark backdrop.  In the case of this evergreen shrub, the result looked oddly like chicken feet.

World Of Black And White

Battling For The Big Ten Lead

Tonight the Michigan State Spartans come to the Schott to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes.  The two teams stand atop the Big Ten, and the winner will have a leg up on winning the Big Ten regular season championship.

This should be a classic match-up.  Michigan State is coached by Tom Izzo, whose teams have dominated the Big Ten for years, and is led by Draymond Green, the do-everything senior who is a very strong Big Ten Player of the Year candidate.  Green is one of those players every fan would love to have on their favorite team.  He works hard, leads by example, hustles, shoots well from the outside, can post up and rebound, will scrap for the ball and get the crucial garbage bucket, and is a great passer.  What’s not to like?

Michigan State has other weapons, too.  Keith Appling is a quick, capable point guard, Brandon Wood is a solid shooting guard, and Branden Dawson is one of the best freshman in the conference.  The Spartans also have lots of big bodies — in the form of Derrick Nix, Adreian Payne, and Green — to throw at Jared Sullinger.

The Buckeyes struggled on defense in their game against Purdue, but were able to outscore the Boilermakers.  I’m hoping that Buckeyes coach Thad Matta has figured out how to defend against the high screen Purdue used so effectively, because we can be sure that the crafty Izzo will have the Spartans ready to test that proposition.  How the Buckeyes respond after their disappointing defensive effort against Purdue will tell us a lot about this team and its prospects.

World Of Black And White

During an Ohio winter, when the snow falls and the temperature plummets and clouds fill the sky, everything seems drained of color and stripped down to black and white.  I like it when that happens because you suddenly notice things about the structure of the world around you that, perhaps, you didn’t fully appreciate when the blue sky and green grass and splashes of colorful flowers were such a beautiful distraction.

Today is one of those bleached-out days in New Albany, and on this morning’s walk with Penny I took some “structural” photographs of the world we encountered that I will share over the next few days.  In the photo above, I like the graceful curve of the bleak, barren trees edging the street as it bends off into the distance.

Supergiants Of The Briny Deep

It’s hard to believe, but a lot of our world remains unexplored.  The oceans which cover most of the Earth’s surface, for example, remain fertile ground for scientific examination.

At various locations in the Earth’s oceans are superdeep trenches that plunge downward for miles.  For years scientists believed that the super-dark, super-cold trenches must be devoid of life, because no known life form could stand the immense pressures exerted by the miles of water overhead.  Now scientists are learning that they were wrong.  The trenches have lots of life — and it is pretty weird.

Recently, a team exploring the Kermadec trench off the coast of New Zealand found supergiant amphipods.  These crustaceans normally are about an inch long; the amphipods of the trench are more than 10 times larger.  They make “jumbo shrimp” look pretty, well, shrimpy.

These supergiant amphipods join other creatures that are known to live in the trenches.  They all show that life is hardy, tough, and will usually find a way to survive in even the most inhospitable habitats.

Discoveries like this should make us all curious about the possibilities of finding life on other planets and moons.  If amphipods can thrive in absolutely dark, intensely cold environments at pressures that would immediately crush a normal creature like an eggshell, why couldn’t creatures somehow find a way to survive in, say, the hot, heavy atmosphere of Venus or on one of Jupiter’s moons?