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Explore! The eMagazine for Adventure and exploration.
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 Exploration in the 21st Century

We are well past the golden age of discovery when explorers traversed unknown expanses across the world to see what no one had seen before.  Except for the ocean depths, most of the earth has been visited and described by someone.  The next phase of exploration is starting to develop around the details missed by past explorers.  There are many nooks and crannies that have not been visited and many life forms remain to be discovered and described in places around the world.    We discussed work in this arena in our article about Jonathan Timberlake and Julian Bayliss.

The American Museum of Natural History is heading down this path with the launch of a comprehensive initiative to foster a series of innovative scientific expeditions that meet the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. The program, called Explore21, supports exploratory fieldwork that is multidisciplinary, heavily integrated with emerging technologies, and focused on delivering real-world applications by discovering new species, preserving biodiversity, and uncovering new knowledge about the natural world. The Explore21 Solomon Islands Expedition was the first expedition launched under the Museum’s program last year.  It is investigating the mysterious organisms that light up the dark waters, uncharted microbial life, and rich diversity of fishes, corals, and other animals in that area.  The 2014 expedition is underway in Papua, New Guinea in search of new species and specimens

“Exploration and innovation have been central to the Museum since its founding in 1869,” said Museum President Ellen V. Futter. “Explore21 ushers in a new era of expeditions that define what exploration means. Celebrated explorers including Theodore Roosevelt, Roy Chapman Andrews, Margaret Mead, and Franz Boas are indelibly associated with the Museum, and many of the iconic objects in our exhibition halls and scientific collections are here because of exploratory work. Explore21 builds on this long-standing legacy by taking an extremely modern direction that capitalizes on the Museum’s expertise in scientific collecting with novel multidisciplinary approaches and modern technology and techniques.”

Explore21 will provide the framework and resources to develop modern fieldwork methods and collections stewardship. The program will advance investigations in key research areas of the Museum’s scientists, including the discovery of new species in habitats enriched with biological diversity but under threat from major drivers such as deforestation, pollution, invasive species, and climate change. Explore21 will also foster innovative research approaches that employ cutting-edge technologies like advanced imaging and genome sequencing, increase the communication of findings and public outreach, and lead to critical new additions to the Museum’s preeminent collection of more than 32 million artifacts and specimens.

The efforts of the museum barely scratch the surface of the possibilities for continued exploration.  If you want to be a modern day explorer there are plenty of opportunities. 
 
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 Christmas Trees - Computer Code - Parks
The National Park Foundation, recently announced a partnership with Google in support of the 92nd annual National Christmas Tree Lighting. Thanks to Google's Made with Code initiative, girls across the country will experience the beauty of code by lighting up holiday trees in President's Park, one of America's 401 national parks and home to the White House.

"Millions of girls will have the chance to explore science, technology, engineering, and math in connection with one of America's national parks and as part of a historic American holiday tradition," said Dan Wenk, president of the National Park Foundation. "We are grateful for Google's partnership and shared commitment to connecting youth to our nation's treasured places."

Google's Made with Code is a movement launched last June to inspire millions of girls to learn to code, and to help them see coding as a means to pursue their dream careers.  Beginning on December 2, girls can head to madewithcode.com to code a design for one of the 56 state and territory trees. Girls can select the shape, size, and color of the lights, and animate different patterns using introductory programming language and their designs will appear live on the trees.

"While national parks are famous for breathtaking scenery and American history, there's a lot more to their care than meets the eye," National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said. "More than ever, the National Park Service relies on scientists, engineers and good data to take the best care of these special places. We want to spark an early love for science and math and match it with a passion for nature and history – the National Park Foundation and Google are helping us do just that." 

Presented by the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation, the National Christmas Tree Lighting will be held Thursday, December 4, 2014, at 5 p.m. Girls can code their own state and territory trees throughout the month of December, and visitors can see and code the designs live in Washington, D.C.  For event information and talent announcements, please visit www.thenationaltree.org.
 
 
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 Top-of-the-Line Outdoor Gifts
We mentioned a few possible gifts in last week's newsletter.  As the holiday's arrive, a number of adventurers have been reviewing outdoor gear.  Here is a list of some of the top-rated items we've seen recently that would make great gifts for your favorite outdoor enthusiast.  The prices are high, but the quality is top notch:
  • Osprey Exos 58 backpack.  Osprey Exos 58 backpackThis very light backpack is suitable for day use as well as multi-day treks.  It is a new design that improves the harness and hip belt and generally increases comfort while decreasing weight.  It offers 61 liters of space to handle your gear as well as several liters of water. It includes attachment points so you can carry your sleeping bag outside the pack.   Reviewers praise its comfort and overall design.  It comes in black/green (shown) or blue/white and several sizes to fit you better.  You may also want the specially designed rain cover.
  • Sierra Designs - Flashlight 2 UL Tent. This is very light 2 person tent that is easy to set up, roomy inside and a great match for the Osprey backpack. It comes with poles, but if you have two trekking poles (your Pathfinder uses a Sherlock adjustable pole that doubles as a monopod for his photography) you can use those, leave the tent poles at home and save some weight.  
  • Makers & Riders - 3-Season Commuter Weatherproof Jean.  These jeans were designed for bicycle commuters, but wilderness adventurers find them to be perfect for the trail.  They are made of PolarTek Neoshell, a fabric that is completely waterproof and exceptionally breathable while being abrasion resistant.  You will only need this one pair of pants on your backpacking adventure.
  • Westcomb Apoc Jacket.  This very light jacket is also made of PolarTek Neoshell making it a perfect outer layer for those rainy days.  It's waterproof,  snowproof, windproof and weighs about a pound.  Reviewers love it.
  • Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket.  This jacket weighs in at 8 ounces and it packs into its own pocket.  It may seem like a high cost for a small item,but with a product engineered like this, the reviewers loved it.  They call it "super light weight" and "super warm", a rare combination.   It's perfect for dry days and will fit nicely under your Apoc jacket for rainy days.
  • Icebreaker  Everyday Long Sleeve Crewe and Oasis Leggings.  These pieces of clothing are the first layer, against your skin.  They are made of marino wool.  Be sure to read all the provided information to get the right fit.  These are designed to be fairly tight fitting.  You may want to go with a larger size than normal if tight isn't your thing.
  • MSR Dragonfly Stove.  This stable stove can use white gas (e.g. Coleman fuel), kerosene, diesel or unleaded gasoline.  It's always great to have options!   Reviewers especially like the flame control that can range from a full boil to a slow simmer - many stoves cannot do this.  This feature also allows the stove to consume less fuel than others.  You will also want to get a fuel bottle.
  • GSI Outdoors Halulite Microdualist Cookset.  This cookset is designed to pack easily while handling meals for two.  It is made of hard-anodized aluminum (no teflon) so it is durable and relatively easy to clean.  It heats evenly without hot spots. You get two neoprene-insulated mugs, two bowls, and two plastic sporks.  The waterproof carrying case makes a great sink or bucket.
  • Sleeping Bags.  All of the top-of-the-line items listed above are perfect for backpacking in almost any weather.  Sleeping bags are a bit different in that they need to match the climate in which you intend to use them and all bags have pros and cons that you will need to evaluate on your own.  To help you do that, the folks at Outdoor Gear Lab have evaluated a lot of sleeping bags suitable for backpacking.  Check out their reviews at www.outdoorgearlab.com/Backpacking-Sleeping-Bag-Reviews

For clothing, most of the above links go to the Amazon page about the men's version of the item.  For products tailored for women,  use Amazon's search to find all the available options.  When choosing sizes,  be sure to consider how the clothing items will be layered to allow everything to fit properly.
 

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 Photo of the Week
Photo: East of Mount Scott - Crater Lake National Park

When out exploring, it is great to discover something.  When your Pathfinder climbed Mt Scott last month, he anticipated the broad view of Crater Lake from the peak of the mountain.  However,  he discovered a fog-shrouded arc of mountains to the southeast of Mt. Scott in the Winema National Forest.

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