Author Archives: Eva Amsen

Portland’s scientific light rail station

ArmsOne reason for my recent absence was a work trip to Portland, Oregon. While I was there, I suddenly found myself in the most science-inspired light rail station I’ve ever seen.

Washington Park station serves a few attractions: the zoo, the Rose Garden, the Japanese Garden,  the World Forestry Center, and other locations. It’s the deepest subway station in North America, and one of the deepest in the world overall. But even cooler: The entire station is inspired by science – mainly geology.

Full platform

Along both platforms (in each direction) is a platform-length core sample, taken during construction, and above and below it are little science tidbits or illustrations. Continue reading

Where in the World is The Finch & Pea

Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 20.16.52Remember when I was really into GeoGuessr?

I rediscovered it this weekend, and I also found an even better site, GeoSettr, which allows you to make custom GeoGuessr games! I’ve made a special one, just for you. The locations are all ones that we’ve previously visited here at The Finch & Pea. So, if you’ve read all the travel posts, this should be a piece of cake!

The game is set up as a “challenge”, but ignore that – just try to find where you are. Some locations are easier than others!

Let us know how you did by entering your score in the comments.

Science North

Science_north_building_in_2007For Canada Day, let’s have a quick look at one of Canada’s most popular science centers: Science North.

Even though I spent seven years in Toronto, I never managed to make it up North, to Sudbury. This mining town in Ontario was established when railroad workers discovered nickel ore during railway construction. The town’s nickel mining heritage is highlighted in one of its tourist attractions, the Big Nickel.

A much bigger attraction in Sudbury, though, is Science North. It follows the common formula for big science centers, with various exhibits, evening entertainment, and an IMAX theatre, but, true to its name, Science North does offer some unique exhibits specific to the science and technology of Northern Ontario, including exhibits on local wildlife and the local underground physics lab SNOLAB. They also co-run a science communication degree with Laurentian University.

Science North is one of the science centers I’ve heard only good things about from people who either visited it or worked with them, and if I’m ever in Ontario again with some time to spare for a trip up North, I will visit!


Image from Wikimedia Commons

Let’s take back the comments section!

Screen Shot 2014-06-28 at 17.57.54Remember when we all left comments on blogs? I looked at some of my old blog posts from 2007-ish, and they’re full of discussions, friendly notes, silly pictures, and occasionally spin off into random banter. I have made friends via blog comments, and found interesting other blogs through the links left by commenters.

Now, all conversation about blog posts seems to happen externally – mostly on social media – and blog comment sections themselves are either empty or filled with spam. Very few of my posts get comments anymore (although I did get this really nice one from a museum in Chile!)

It’s easy to blame others for not leaving comments, but be honest, when did you leave a friendly blog comment yourself?

That’s why I’m planning to spend the month of July actively leaving comments on blogs again. I’ve started a pledge on PledgeBank where you can indicate if you want to join (pseudonyms allowed!) and several people are on board. There’s also a FAQ on my personal blog. Join me!

(And if you want to write blog posts rather than comments, I also recently revealed my secret for keeping track of writing ideas.)

Finding their way to Mariana

Walked the sand with the crustaceans,
Could find my way to Mariana
– The Pixies

Walsh and Piccard in their sub, on the way to Mariana.

Walsh and Piccard in their sub, on the way to Mariana.

Have you ever been to the Mariana Trench? If you have, you are either oceanographer Don Walsh or film director James Cameron, because the only other person to ever have visited the trench (Jacques Piccard) died in 2008. Hello Don or James! Thanks for reading The Finch and Pea.

If you’re one of the seven billion other people who haven’t yet visited, here’s a bit of travel info: The Mariana Trench is the deepest part of any of the oceans on Earth. It’s located in the Pacific Ocean, between Japan and Papua New Guinea. The trench forms the boundary between two tectonic plates: the Pacific plate in the East and the small Mariana plate in the West. The Mariana plate pushed over the Pacific plate, which created the trench at the border. Above the surface, the tectonic plate boundary forms a series of small islands, the Mariana Islands. The island of Guam, just South of the Mariana Islands, is also part of this system. Continue reading