Bones, stones, and ancient history in San Diego.

Did you know humans might have been living in your neighborhood 130,000 years ago?

I was visiting the San Diego Natural History Museum when my eyes fell upon an interesting display concerning the Cerutti Mastodon site.

Thirty years ago, during the expansion of State Route 54 in the South Bay, a team of researchers from the San Diego Natural History Museum discovered mastodon bones among cobbles. The bones appeared to have been intentionally broken. It was believed the stones, which had impact marks, had been used by humans to fracture the mastodon bones to extract marrow.

Using radiometric dating, the bones were found to be about 130,000 years old. If, indeed, early humans had worked these bones, that would mean humans were in North America about 100,000 years earlier than previously thought!

Many experts asserted the bones were broken due to the heavy machinery used for freeway construction. Two years ago, however, more evidence was obtained. Bone micro-residues were observed on the cobbles, which seems to confirm that ancient inhabitants of San Diego did indeed hammer at fresh, tasty mastodon bones!

If all of this excites your curiosity, the Wikipedia article concerning San Diego’s scientifically important Cerutti Mastodon site can be found here.

And here’s a detailed article about the discovery written in 2017.

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What’s inside a high tech ocean buoy?

Perhaps you’ve seen those spherical yellow buoys bobbing on the ocean off San Diego’s coast. Have you ever wondered what’s inside them?

Well, there’s a CDIP (Coastal Data Information Program) buoy on display near the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. And a nearby sign describes the technology that makes a buoy such a valuable resource of information!

Buoys like this one measure wave height, period, direction and sea surface temperature information.

The data is used by coastal engineers, planners, scientists, harbor masters, lifeguards, mariners, boaters, surfers, divers, fishers and beach-goers! That’s a lot of people who benefit from buoys!

Inside a plain-looking buoy there are various high tech instruments, including accelerometers, magnetometers, a thermometer, acoustic pingers, a computer, GPS and antenna to transmit all the collected, archived information!

(Did you know biofoul was a word? I didn’t!)

Next time I see one of these yellow CDIP buoys, I’ll have a much greater appreciation of what they are!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Become a citizen scientist in San Diego!

Would you like to make contributions to science? But you’re not a trained scientist?

You can easily become a citizen scientist!

Opportunities are available for ordinary people who’d like to use their passion or particular talents to help broaden our understanding of the natural world.

I discovered several great ideas while visiting the San Diego Natural History Museum recently. Signs spotted around the exhibition Extraordinary Ideas from Ordinary People: A History of Citizen Science provide details.

Most of the following ideas apply not just to San Diego residents, but to anyone anywhere. Here they are:

Become a member of iNaturalist and post photographs you’ve taken of living things in nature. Scientists will identify what you recorded. Nature lovers around the world can discuss your observations. You’ll contribute to our shared understanding of biodiversity. To learn more click here.

Participate in the Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count or Great Backyard Bird Count. Critically important data collected during these events is used by scientists to study bird populations across the country. To learn more click here.

Participate in the Celebrate Urban Birds project. Spend ten minutes helping scientists understand how common birds are doing in urban settings. More than a quarter of a million ordinary people have already made observations! To learn more click here. (Balboa Park’s own WorldBeat Center has participated in this project. Read about that here!)

Become a summer camper at the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park. Over the years, people walking around Balboa Park have observed green anole lizards, which aren’t native to San Diego. It was determined by the museum’s young summer campers that the green anoles were the descendants of escapees. These lizards had once been used as food for other animals at the San Diego Zoo! To learn more about attending summer camp at theNAT, click here. (Scholarships are available!)

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Star III submersible outside Birch Aquarium.

Should you walk from the parking lot by Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography to the popular attraction’s entrance, you’ll see what looks like a small submarine. On its side is written Star III.

Star III is actually a submersible that was used for undersea studies back in the mid-20th century.

I looked at the cool little marvel of technology and wondered about its history.

A nearby sign provides interesting information concerning the submersible, which was built by General Dynamics.

When I got home, I found a book published in 1968 by the Naval Oceanographic Office titled Undersea Studies With the Deep Research Vehicle Star III which you can preview here. It concerns a series of 21 dives off Key West Florida in March 1967…to evaluate the Star III system as a platform from which to conduct underwater photogrammetric and various surveying tasks.

I also found the following old public domain photograph of Star III suspended above the water from a seagoing vessel.

Launched in 1966, Star III was capable of carrying a two-person crew and as much as 1,000 pounds of scientific equipment to a depth of 2,000 feet. The sub and its occupants could remain underwater for up to 120 hours…

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Tour of new UC San Diego Park & Market!

A sneak peek was enjoyed yesterday inside the new UC San Diego Park & Market building, in downtown’s East Village neighborhood!

The special public tour was part of the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s big annual Open House event.

UC San Diego Park & Market is designed to be a collaborative hub where students, researchers, community organizations and business partners will interact in the heart of the city. It will also feature space for private conferences and events, and high quality entertainment venues for the public.

Once completed, the building will be home to a digital movie theater, a top notch black box theater, a small art gallery, a bistro, and a huge two-sided video wall that can be enjoyed inside on the ground floor and from the Market Street sidewalk!

This unique, truly visionary multi-use facility will have its grand opening in a couple months during Cinco de Mayo. It sounds like the celebration will be epic!

During yesterday’s tour led by Mary Walshok, UC San Diego Associate Vice Chancellor, several floors of the innovative building were explored. We learned about its conception and development. One of its most important qualities is its location next to a UC San Diego Blue Line trolley station, connecting this extension of UCSD to the main La Jolla campus, providing students easy accessibility.

As you can see from my upcoming photographs, Park & Market will certainly become a stimulating cultural destination for people living downtown and around San Diego. Numerous future events and festivals are being planned. I can’t wait!

Please read my photo captions to learn a little more about this amazing project!

The next photo shows the public plaza north of the building, adjacent to the new The Merian apartment tower. It’s where our tour group gathered.

Two fantastic murals by regional artists can be found in the inviting space. I posted photos of both murals back in January here.

Standing on the second floor terrace north of the building, with downtown views in several directions. (I didn’t photograph it, but one can see Balboa Park’s California Tower in the distance from here, too!)
About to enter the second floor of the glassy building.
Outside art is by Tammy Matthews, artist from New South Wales, Australia. Taranora, 2020. Original painting adapted to steel screen.
The second floor was busy! A private conference had been booked, even before the building’s official opening! We next headed left to the digital movie theater.
Inside the cozy theater, which will be operated by acclaimed Digital Gym Cinema.
A small gallery on the second floor, near the top of a grand staircase leading to the ground floor. The debut exhibition concerns UC San Diego’s Stuart Collection. (I’ve blogged about many of these outdoor UCSD public artworks in the past.)
Nearby windows look down on downtown San Diego’s busy Market Street.
Mary Walshok addresses the group as we stand near the top of the fantastic staircase.
Looking down!
Now we’re downstairs on the ground floor, after taking the elevators. This big black door is the entrance to the black box theater, where there will be concerts and diverse performances. Unfortunately, we couldn’t go inside.
Emerging near the bottom of the spiraling staircase!
A bistro will be located here. People can come off the street, dine, sip and hang out. The bistro operator, we were told, has one of the largest vinyl record collections in San Diego!
Making our way across the large space near the Market Street entrance. That big black thing is a two-sided computerized video screen! Events can be streamed live from the UCSD amphitheater and other venues. Proposed users include Comic-Con and the San Diego Symphony! Folks walking down the sidewalk can stop to watch outside, too!
Pretty cool, huh?
Chairs and tables can be set up here. UC San Diego Park & Market will utilize technology to connect people in new and stimulating ways.
Finally, we headed to the fourth floor, the research center, where students engaged in projects, and people from academia, non-profits and private business will rub elbows, interact and collaborate. There are many small offices for faculty and community organizations. We didn’t visit the third floor, where classrooms are located.
A view up Park Boulevard from one extraordinary new building!

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Beautiful photos from the foot of Scripps Pier.

Today I went for a very long walk through La Jolla. I started at the San Diego VA Medical Center and proceeded through the UC San Diego campus, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla Shores, and finally into the Village of La Jolla. I have loads of photos to share in the days ahead!

I’ll start off with photos that were taken during the middle part of my walk. As you can see, I had reached the foot of the Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier, which juts into the Pacific Ocean at the world-famous Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

This pier is an important tool that is used for carrying out ocean research. It has a variety of environmental monitoring stations and supports small boats and scientific diving operations. It also pipes seawater to laboratories on the campus. You can read more about the history of Scripps Pier here.

It was a perfect day. Surfers were out on the waves. Families played on the sunny beach below, or in the shade under the pier. Sunbathers lay on the sand.

A welcoming platform near the foot of the pier is a place where people can relax in chairs and enjoy the view.

A gift to honor Jim Ax, Mathematician-Mariner who loved the “Savage Sea” – Kevin and Brian Keating
Urban runoff biofilter. The rocks, gravel, soil and plants filter runoff so it does not pollute the beach and ocean.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Students reveal genealogy, humanity at History Center.

An exhibition at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park assembles the genealogical research of students at High Tech High.

The High Tech High “Rubber Duckies” have discovered the fascinating stories of their ancestors, and have shared them online. The stories contain joys, struggles, successes and failures–they are memories of complex lives filled with humanity whose echoes still touch the living.

At the museum, visitors can scan QR codes to read the stories. Or you can read them now by clicking Pre 1900, 1901-1950, or 1951-Present. Then click Family History at the top of each story summary to read the student report.

Many of the students have immigrant ancestors with stories that will break or lift your heart. Some distant ancestors are quite surprising, such as William the Conqueror.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Shark research vessel in San Diego.

Look at those two big shark cages! I spotted them during my early morning walk along San Diego’s Embarcadero.

The Sharkwater marine research vessel of the organization Fins Attached is now docked in San Diego!

I didn’t see any crewmembers on deck, and when I looked at their social media this evening, I couldn’t tell whether they’re in San Diego for a particular reason. I did see on their website that a special online fundraising event is coming up.

The mission of Fins Attached is primarily the study of sharks and their preservation. If you’d like to help this cause, visit their website to learn more!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Help build a new environmental field station!

Want to do something tangible to help the environment? Here’s an idea!

UC San Diego is working to fund a new Kendall-Frost Field Station on the north side of Mission Bay. They are raising funds for a much improved education, research and outreach center at the edge of the Kendall-Frost Marsh Reserve.

I passed their old trailer today during my long walk through Pacific Beach, and I happened to see the following information on the fence. It includes a rendering of the proposed field station…

Join our fundraising campaign to build a new field research and education building to replace the 55-year-old trailer. The new building will feature a large multi-purpose classroom and community room, roll-up windows and a large deck, bird-watching overlook, and reception area.

Five years ago I visited the old trailer and the working area adjacent to it during Love Your Wetlands Day.

If you want to see the wetland restoration that is done here, and fun photos of that educational event, check out my past blog post.

If you want to help build the new field station, or learn more about this project, visit the UC San Diego web page here!

The trailer is covered with colorful art, but is getting very old.
The environmentally important Kendall-Frost Marsh Reserve in Mission Bay.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Exhibit illuminates intersection of art and science.

More, 2019, by Sheena Rae Dowling. Luminous sculpture in a darkened space depicts the scan of a healthy brain with normal rhythmic functions.
More, 2019, by Sheena Rae Dowling. Luminous sculpture in a darkened space depicts the scan of a healthy brain with normal rhythmic functions.

Art and science have much in common. Both explore deep mysteries and seek essential truths. Both often take paths that are complex. Both produce results that are often surprising.

A new exhibition at the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park explores the intersection of art and science. Illumination, 21st Century Interactions With Art and Science and Technology features thought-provoking pieces by 26 artists, many of whom were inspired by personal interactions with local scientists and technologists. Themes explored include Global Health and Discovery, Climate Change and Sustainability, and Technology and the Touch Screen.

Many of the pieces concern biology and biotechnology. That isn’t surprising. San Diego is a world center of biotech research. Many of the scientists who’ve inspired this artwork are making breakthrough discoveries at local institutions, like UC San Diego and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

If you want to be stimulated, step through the door of the San Diego Art Institute. Bop about this exhibition like a particle undergoing Brownian motion or a dawning Artificial Intelligence. You’ll encounter illuminating artwork that really opens your eyes and mind.

Don’t be left in the dark! Illumination turns off after May 3, 2020.

Illumination, 21st Century Interactions With Art and Science and Technology, lights up the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park.
Illumination, 21st Century Interactions With Art and Science and Technology, lights up the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park.

Moving through a gallery full of strangeness. Complex mysteries and unseen realities surround and penetrate each of us.
Moving through a gallery full of strangeness. Complex mysteries and unseen realities surround and penetrate us all.

Nucleus 1, 2019, by Anne Mudge. Artistic wire representation of folded strands of DNA, which in reality are about 6.5 feet long and packed inside a cell's microscopic nucleus.
Nucleus 1, 2019, by Anne Mudge. Artistic wire representation of folded strands of DNA, which in reality are about 6.5 feet long and packed inside a cell’s microscopic nucleus.

Leap of Faith, 2019, by Becky Robbins. Art, like science, begins with an idea that leads to questions. Links between considered elements appear. Some connections are obvious, others are vague.
Leap of Faith, 2019, by Becky Robbins. Art, like science, begins with an idea that leads to questions. Links between considered elements appear. Some connections are obvious, others are vague.

building, 2019, by Beliz Iristay. Deaf adults without a linguistic foundation early in life have altered neural structure, with long-term effects on mastery of complex grammar.
building, 2019, by Beliz Iristay. Deaf adults without a linguistic foundation early in life have altered neural structure, with long-term effects on mastery of complex grammar.

Chromosome 22, 2020, by Cy Kuckenbaker. The artwork includes a book-like printout of some 10,000 pages of a data sequence in the smallest of 23 human chromosomes.
Chromosome 22, 2020, by Cy Kuckenbaker. The artwork includes a book-like printout of some 10,000 pages of a data sequence in the smallest of 23 human chromosomes.

Shining Palimpsest, by Young Joon Kwak. I, you, she, he, they, we, it--tangled, twisted, uncertain. Who we are and how we are viewed depends on perspective.
Shining Palimpsest, by Young Joon Kwak. I, you, she, he, they, we, it–words that are tangled, twisted, sometimes uncertain. Who we are and how we are viewed depends on perspective.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!