Sea of Tranquillity

July 21, 2009



 Apollo 40th Anniversary


 ‘Apollo 11 makes its thunderous, fiery exit at tea time on July 16th with its three man crew: Mr. Neil Armstrong, a civilian who is destined to be the first on the moon, Lieutenant-Colonel Edwin Aldrin, who will walk the surface with him, and Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Collins who will stay in the orbiting command module………Perhaps the greatest prize awaited from the journey is the 50lb. of lunar rock and soil the astronauts are expected to gather ……… ‘The Times Tuesday, Jun 03, 1969; pg. III; Issue 57576; col A

The lunar rock samples brought by the Apollo missions show us that the moon contains familiar material such as iron, aluminium, potassium, magnesium, feldspar, basalt, ranging in form from fine dust to rugged rocks and boulders.  

Samples were distributed to a selection of  scientific institutions throughout the world,  and lunar rock samples went on public display at the Museum and Institute of Geological Sciences, London, in September 1969 [Edinburgh University’s sample is said to have ‘arrived in a tiny phial wrapped in a pair of pyjamas …. Five grams of  greyish brown dust … estimated to be worth more than £1m.’   The Times Saturday, Sep 20, 1969; pg. 1; Issue 57670; col A]

Loughborough University subscribes to over 40 aeronautical and astronolical journals online, such as Acta astronauticaAstronomy & geophysicsAstrophysics and Space Science  and Journal of Astrophysics and Astronomy , all of which can be accessed via MetaLib.   [ATHENS username and password required for off campus access]

Image collections are available also in MetaLib, giving a wide range of pictures of the moon, footage from  NASA space missions, interviews with former astronauts, audio tracks of the moon landings, – for audio visual material you can use  Newsfilm online  [ some 3,000 hours of footage; c. 60,000 stories] and  BBC Motion Gallery [which contains over 30,000 clips are available, spanning 70 years].   [ATHENS username and password required for access].

If you would like to learn more about the Apollo missions, please see the links below.

Google Moon

Film of Apollo 11

Audio Apollo 11 landing

NASA – Celebrating the ‘giant leap’

Department of Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering at Loughborough University.

Department of Geography at Loughborough University


Kew’s 250th Anniversary

June 4, 2009


flowerAnecdotes of His Late Majesty…

The King [George lll] loved more rural scenery….At Kew he expended considerable sums in converting a most uninviting and unfavourable spot into a a beautiful pleasure-garden, and made a paradise bloom in what was before a wild….’ 

‘His Majesty…formed with much assiduity his botanical garden at Kew, which he highly prized, as it contains a collection of exotics to be found no where else. ‘ Caledonian Mercury (Edinburgh, Scotland), Saturday, February 12, 1820; Issue 15359.

A scientific conference to mark the 250 year celebrations will be held on  12 – 16 October 2009,  looking at plant conservation, agriculture, management, politics and technology.  

There is also the current exhibition at the Pavillion Restaurant of the The International Garden Photographer of the Year , whose winner Jonathan Berman‘s photograph  In Tresco Abbey Gardens,  is on display with other entries for the competition.  The exhibition runs from 23 May – 13 September 2009.

Loughborough University Library holds many books on botanical illustration,  horticulture,  and garden design , as well as over a hundred e-journals covering horticulture, forestry, soil science, plant biology, landscape and garden history, all available via MetaLib.    Athens username and password required for off campus access

If you would like to learn more about the history of Kew Gardens, please see the links below.

Kew, History and Heritage

Artists  [Botanical artists associated with Kew]

Royal Mail    – Action for Species stamps

Plants and Fungie Species Profiles

New President of the Royal Geographical Society

June 2, 2009



Press release from the Royal Geographical Society [with IBG].

“Michael Palin CBE has been elected President of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) at the Society’s Annual General Meeting….”



“Michael, who was elected unopposed for a three year term, takes over from Professor Sir Gordon Conway in this role as the Society’s figurehead and chair of its elected trustees.”

“Through his travels, Michael has become a great enthusiast and champion for geography and teaching people about the world around them. He has been an Honorary Vice President of the Society for some years.”

“Commenting on his appointment Michael Palin CBE, said: “To be asked to take over the Presidency of such an internationally acclaimed and respected body is an almost unbelievable honour and I am only too aware of the great and distinguished figures whose boots I will have to try and fill.”

If you would like to more more about the Royal Geographical Society, please see links below.

RGS Picture Library

RGS’s work

Geography Today

Loughborough University Library subscribes to over 480 geography related e-journals, which can be accessed via MetaLib   [ATHENS username and password required for off campus access]

Loughborough University Department of Geography

Burgess Shale Cambrian fossil site discovered 1909

May 26, 2009


animals_of_the_Cambrian_Period     June, 1909. 

The place – London, Burlington House – the then home of The Royal Society [now at Carlton House Terrace].

The reported ‘Court Circular’ of The Times ….‘Ladies Conversazione…The second of the two conversaziones held by the Royal  Society every year, that to which ladies are invited, took place last night at the Society’s rooms in Burlington House, which were as usual lavishly decorated with flowers and shrubs….’  The Times, Friday, Jun 25, 1909; pg. 14; Issue 38995; col D

The ladies who attended the conversazione would have seen an exhibiton of panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains by Dr Charles D. Walcott, the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.   These panoramic views were described as ‘one of the most attractive exhibits’  at the event and ‘well illustrative of the general aspect and the physical physical constitution of the mountain mass’.

Two months later, Walcott was to discover one of the most well preserved groups of marine animal fossils ever found, near the Burgess Pass, in the Yoho National Park, in British Columbia.

The Burgess Shale containes fossils of soft bodied animals such as sponges, sea cucumbers, jellyfish, as well as shrimp-type animals and the area became a UNESCO World Hertiage Site in 1980.

Loughborough University Library hold several books on the Burgess Shale :

The fossils of the Burgess Shale /Derek E.G. Briggs, Douglas H. Erwin, Frederick J. Collier ; photographs by Chip Clark – shelved at 562/BRI

Wonderful life :the Burgess Shale and the nature of history by Stephen J. Gould – shelved at 575/GOU

The University Library also subscribes to the e-journals Lethaia –  [Authentication: Athens username and password required for off campus access],   Palaeogeography, palaeoclimatology, palaeoecologyGeology,   Science,   and Nature.  

For more information on the Burgess Shale and its fossils, please see the links below.

Burgess Shale fossils

Yoho-Burgess Shale Foundation

Fauna and Flora of the Burgess Shale

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History




Diamonds in the landscape

May 8, 2009


 Great Gable

 Photograph: Great Gable View by Alan Cleaver

British national parks celebrate 60 years of protecting the British landscape, providing public access to the countryside, protecting areas of outstanding natural beauty and biodiversity, and helping local economies.  Earlier this year the go-ahead was given for a new national park in the South Downs to be established in 2010.

The new national park will join the 15 other areas of Britain designated as national parks such as  The Cairngorms,  Snowdonia  and Brtiain’s first national park created in the Peak District in 1951.

In 1947 the Hobhouse Committee on National Parks of England and Wales built on the work of the Addison Committee of 1931 and ‘conceived of the National Park …suited to British conditions, as a large, beautiful, and relatively wild area in which “for the nation’s benefit” and by appropriate “national decision and action” the landscape is preserved, access and facilties for open-air enjoyment are provided, wild life and fine or historic places and buildings are protected, and established agriculture is maintained and developed’   The Times, Saturday, July 19, 1947;pg. 5; Issue 50817; col B.

Threats to the national parks such as quarrying,  new roads, vandalism, military activity, building developers, removal of stone from limestone pavements, overgrazing of upland commons, congestion, erosion, etc means that Government has to be constantly reviewing  possible improvements in policy, funding and practice of all the agencies involved in maintaining Britain’s national parks and areas of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).

It is estimated that over 110 million people visit  British national parks each year,  generating millions of pounds to local economies, illustrating the national importance of parks and recreation the the economy as a whole.    For more information on the role of tourism in the British economy Loughborough University Library subscribes to a number of e-journals such as National Parks ,  Parks & Recreation,  Park Science.   Authentication: Athens username and password required for off campus access.  

If you would like to find out more about Britain’s national parks, please see the links below….

Publications from the Association of National Parks Authorities

History of the National Parks

Command Papers (HM Government), available from The Stationery Office (TSO) (was HMSO until 1997):
‘Report of the National Parks Committee (England and Wales) (Hobhouse Report), Cmnd. 7121, 1947 ;  shelved at serial 328/COM on Level 2 of the Loughborough University Library

English national parks

Countryside Act 1968 

Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 

Habitats Regulations 1994 

Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 

Hedgerows Regulations 1997 

The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Amendment) (Wales) Regulations 2008

CPRE – Campaign to Protect Rural England

Bramley Apple Bicentenary

March 26, 2009



Load Of Apples © Getty Images.

Bramley Apple 1809 – 2009


Despite its unknown pedigree when it was grown from a pip in Southwell, Nottinghamshire, the Bramley apple was recognised early on as one of the best quality cooking apples.   In 1913 The Times described the apple,  in a winter fruit article, as the  ‘Bramley’s Seedling, the prince of cooking apples, with its splendid green colour and fine size’.

The Nottinghamshire Bramley Seedling owns its name not to its originator and planter Mary Ann Brailsford, but to Matthew Bramley, who bought her cottage and the garden in which the apple tree grew, in 1846, and who insisted that his name be added to the cuttings which were taken by nurseryman Henry Merryweather.   Nottinghamshire is also home to a number of other old apple varities such as  Bess Pool, which dates back to the 18th century,  and Winter Quarrendon dating to the end of the 19th century.

The Bramley apple’s name is short and memorable, however its classification is somewhat longer.  B.E. Jumiper ‘s The Story of the Apple   describes the apple’s full name as  ‘family Rosaceae, subfamily Spiraeoideae, tribe Pyreae, genus Malus, section Malus, species M. pumila Miller……, cultivar ‘Bramley’s Seedling.’ 

UK apples have an entertaining assortment of names such as the Broxwood Foxwhelp, Cornish Gilliflower, Rambour Papeleu and Slack-ma-Girdle. Leicestershire also has its own local variety of apples such as the Wyggeston Pippin, Peasgood Nonsuch, Annie Elizabeth, Foxton’s Favourite and Barnack Beauty.  

Loughborough  University subscribes to a number of horticultural journals such as Postharvest Biology and Technology , Horticulture Week,   Scientia horticulturaeJournal of agricultural and food chemistry, and many more available via MetaLib.


If you would like to find our more about the history of the Bramley apple,  please see the links below.

History of the Bramley Apple

School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme

Apple Facts

Mintel Reports –    Fruit and Vegetables Report – January 2009

National Fruit Collection

Apple varieties and descriptions 

The Orchard Path

Great tits can reduce caterpillar damage in apple orchards

Fruit & Vegetable Quality  By Robert L. Shewfelt, Bernhard Brückner

Mr Bramley’s Apple


March 23, 2009




To see a World in a Grain of Sand
 And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
 Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
 And Eternity in an hour


Blake, William, 1757-1827 :  Auguries of Innocence


Stories of ship-wrecks on desert and tropical islands were popular in Blake’s time.   In 1719 Daniel Defoe had published his Robinson Crusoe and later Johann David Wyss published his adverture story The Swiss Family Robinson in 1813.  

On his island Robinson Crusoe attempts to make a stone mortar ‘to stamp or beat some corn in’,  but to his dismay Robinson found that the rocks on his island were either too hard or too soft..’ nor indeed were the Rocks in the Island of Hardness sufficient, but were all of a sandy crumbling Stone, which neither would bear the Weight of a heavy Pestle, or would break the Corn without filling it with Sand’.  

Defoe, however,  made sure Crusoe did not starve on his sandy island.  Robinson Crusoe’s  island supported a broad selection of vegetation – aloes, sugar cane, tabacco, cocoa trees, orange, lemon, and lime trees,  grasses, melons,  dates  and   ‘there were divers other Plants which I had no Notion of, or Understanding about, and might perhaps have Vertues of their own, which I could find out.’

Real sandy environments and gravel plains  support a variety of plants and animals.   The Australian, Thar, Sahara and Kalahari deserts supports grasses, saltbush and acacia, while the Sonoran,  Monte,  Mojave and Chihuahuan deserts are home to the creosote bushdesert sand verbena and desert mariposa lily.

Loughborough University Library subscribes to a large selection of journals covering earth surface processes of sandy environments, ecology and geomorphology such as …





The European physical journal E: soft matter




Zeitschrift fur geomorphologie

Earth surface processes and         landforms     


Palaeogeography,  palaeoclimatology, palaeoecology   


Journal of arid environments 



      Journal of Biogeography



Annual review of ecology and  systematics


Journal of Coastal Research

Sedimentary Geology

The Holocene


Most geography-related journals are available online via MetaLib, with off campus access available using Athens username and password or by logging in to the Remote Working Portal   

If you would like to know more about the geography of sandy environments, please visit the links below.


Desert Knowledge CRC Data Project

Sands of Time [Sefton Coast – North West England]

Geology of Sand Dunes

Australian desert exploration

Wind and Deserts 

Laboratory Manual for Historical Geology

Sand Dunes: A Phenomenon Of Wind

Desert Research Center (DRC)

Deserts and Wind Action

Deserts of the World

Deserts: Geology and Resources [USGS]



Loughborough University Department of Geography