The Irish Potato

What role does the potato play in the number of Irish who emigrated from Ireland to America during The Great Famine (1846-1849)? According to historians, thousands of Irish natives were lost in a wave of immigration to America. Also, the destruction of the potato crop resulted in over one million deaths from starvation and disease.  A mold (Phytophthora infestans) that infected the Irish potato was the cause of all this suffering. The russet, red, white, yellow, purple and fingerling are just a few of the potato varieties that can be found worldwide. Ireland had one variety and the lack of genetic variation in Irish potatoes contributed to the severity of the Irish potato famine.

Check out these articles for some background information on the potato blight.

Monoculture and the Irish Potato Famine: cases of missing genetic variation

Irish farmer revives Irish famine potato

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Mass Media in The Middle Ages

The leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, recently announced his resignation from the papacy. The news spread quickly. This historical event was reported by the internet, twitter, blogs, TV, radio, etc. Mass media has changed greatly since the last pontiff, Pope Gregory XII, resigned in 1451. Read this fascinating article from The Atlantic to find out how news of the papal resignation spread during the Middle Ages.
Also, the MVCC library has numerous books about the papacy.

Liquid gold

The English poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, paints an ironic image of the world’s water shortage: “Water, water every where,/Nor any drop to drink.” (121-122).

Investors are always looking for the next big thing to make them rich. Fresh water has become the new gold, oil, etc. Here are a number of sites to check out. Find out about a precious commodity we all take for granted.

Is water the new gold?

Lack of fresh water

Are we running out of water?

MVCC Catalog

Pentagon lifts ban on women in combat

Another ceiling has been broken. The “brass ceiling” is a term used to describe the male-dominated U.S. military. Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense, recently announced that women would be allowed to serve in combat roles. Ironically, over 152 women have died serving their country in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Check out the MVCC catalog for a historical perspective on this topic.

The MVCC Databases are a great source for current information on women and combat.

Five key questions and answers that will help you understand this issue.


The Gun-Control Debate

With the terrible aftermath of the December 14, 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the gun debate has resurfaced. Thousands of articles have been written, cable news has spent countless hours dissecting this issue and radio talk shows have been inundated with calls. Perhaps some MVCC students will research this controversial topic for a persuasive speech or a research paper. The Moraine Library has numerous books and database articles available to help you with your research.




You may also want to check out this site:

Elisabeth Fosslien’s Charts Will Make You Much Smarter In The Gun-Control Debate


“The Most Popular Avalanche in America”

Over the last 10 years, the number of avalanche-related deaths has increased dramatically in the United States. In 2012, 34 people were killed by avalanches. One of these disasters took place at Stevens Pass, Washington, on February 19, 2012, where three expert skiers died. Numerous articles were written about this incident. One of these articles described as the “best designed Web story ever” was written by John Branch, a New York Times reporter. Branch wrote a six-part series that explored the disaster. He also compiled an array of dazzling multimedia extras to enhance the heart-wrenching story. It’s incredible and completely engrossing, and does what technology in media should do.

The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek

Questions & Answers – Tunnel Creek article



Radioactive band makes unusual music!

The last big rock group to come out of Sweden was ABBA. Sweden has recently introduced another musical group to the world, The Radioactive Orchestra. It is completely safe to go to a live concert because there is no radiation emitting from the band members – “just music that sounds like a techno-version of your science curriculum.” This new band is made up of Swedish scientists who produce music from nuclear isotopes.

Would anyone expect that an assortment of astonishing musical sounds exists beneath the periodic table?

Check it out.

Make your own radioactive music.


Political Cartoons

Political cartoons express opinions using pictures and words. During past presidential elections, political cartoons use to play an important role in evaluating candidates. However, times have changed, and print newspapers are no longer a major source of information for the average person. According to Pew Research Center, only 23% of Americans read print newspapers. Fortunately, political cartoons still play a role in the election process. Google “presidential cartoons 2012” and you will find over 100,000 hits on this subject.

Could your vote be swayed by a cartoon?

Check out the MVCC Catalog.   Political cartoons

View U.S. News & World Report Campaign  2012 Cartoons