exploratorium eclipse dispatches
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click for live webcast June 21 2001  
We see bugs everywhere. Black beetles as fat as a little finger and decorated with yellow and orange bands across their backs munch happily away on purple horn-shaped flowers. These pretty beetles, we learn, secrete a substance which causes painful blisters on human skin-- a very African contrast.

A wild fig bush is adorned with furry fruit, and when we look closer there are ants doing headstands on the fur. We watch a caterpillar wave its spike-adorned head from side to side as it climbs slowly up a pole and we wonder: what is it sensing? A moth in still water surrounds itself with dozens of expanding circular ripples as it vibrates its wings in an attempt to break free of the surface.

Whew--our equipment has arrived! After a day of anxious waiting, we finally got a call from the driver of our truck, who rolled in 36 hours late, exhausted from the pounding of the rough roads and the endless waits at border crossings. All the cameras and telescopes have survived the trip. Now if we can just get it into the Lower Zambezi National Park-- plus we have to hope the satellite transmission crew will arrive there too...no shortage of things to worry about.

Meanwhile, Zambia has begun to sink in. The smallest of details make us feel we are on a different continent.

Blister Beetle

In the morning we inspect the smooth sand around our cabins and see the record of the events of the previous night. Tracks with a line down the middle show where a lizard has dragged its tail. Beetles leave tracks that look like cursive writing. Most surprising are the paw tracks of a civet and a genet, cat-like nocturnal omnivores, who had come and gone during the night so quietly that we had no idea they were there.Even the most common items of everyday life are different. The local matches with a Lion on the cover seem to burst into flame with the slightest jostling. These are definitely not safety matches.


Lion Matches



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