Wednesday 2 March 2011

The Bouncing Boffin Springs into Action!

Blogging friends,

I know that many of you have been lying awake at night and thinking "oh, I do wonder when Bertie Boffin is going to resume his excellent and so very informative series of science lectures. We were most enlightened by his unique take on thermodynamics, geology and quantum physics last Autumn and are hungry for more".

Well, now that I have been officially confirmed by Mayor Frankie Furter in my position as 'Scientific Advisor' to Blogville (an honour which surely confers an added layer of authority and credibility to my youthful pronouncements), I feel duty bound to redouble my efforts at educating the canine community in all matters scientific....

Spring has finally arrived in Aberdeen (yes really!) and this has set my mind to thinking about the contentious topic of Climate Change.

I have been reviewing the available literature on this subject, and have arrived at the conclusion that important gaps in the data still need to be filled, and that we as a community can contribute.

Now, I hesitate to criticise my fellow scientists, but I do feel that, when considering the issue of warmth and cold, humans have persisted with too limited an approach, focussed on measuring temperature changes in terms of degrees Centrigrade and Fahrenheit.  I propose to broaden the analysis of climatic conditions by considering possible dog-relevant alternatives. This is where YOU come in:

All I'm asking is that you leave a comment on this post, to tell me about your own personal indicator* that Spring is in the air. Southern hemisphere friends will have to think back a few months. Also please tell me whether, according to this indicator, Spring in your part of the world is arriving earlier or later than it used to. To complete my database, I will also need to have some idea of where you live.

Later in March, when I have gathered sufficient new data and had time to perform a detailed analysis, I shall present my conclusions in a paper, which I hope to submit to a peer-reviewed journal for publication. As is the fashion in science these days, all those who have made even the smallest contribution to the paper (e.g. by leaving a comment) will be listed as a co-author.

I am highly optimistic that, given the global reach of the dog blogosphere, this collaborative research project will be truly groundbreaking.

It will without a doubt be novel!

*Examples of indicators could be: the first day I venture out without my winter jacket, or, the last day my human positively enjoys the warm feeling in their hands when picking up my poop. And please remember, top level science requires creativity! 
PS The more data points the better the analysis, so please also encourage all your friends to participate!


  1. We went back through our blog and found reference to budding trees on 28 August 2010, though it was still cold.

    We usually think it's Spring when SHE doesn't have to wear gloves on the morning walk; but we don't remember exactly when that was.

    XXXOOO Daisy, Kendra &Bella

    Oh, we're in central NSW Australia

  2. Hey there Bertie Bud'
    (A 'bud' is a sign of Spring, right?)
    'Tis Toby here - from SOUTH AFRICA, particularly JOHANNESBURG - since Cape Town has its own climate!
    Look, I'm only 7mths old, so I've only had one Spring so far, but Maxmom says you may want to rely on her evidence:
    Apparently our first sign of Spring is when Maxmom has to add MORE THAN one cup of Chlorine(every 2 weeks) to my swimming pool! Algae/germs breed faster in the warmer weather! So do our resident mosquitos!
    Our warmer weather starts appearing around the end of August each year and NO, Maxmom says that there is no sign of Spring arriving earlier here. Our signs of climatic change (we think) rest in the increasing severity of our thunderstorms (They cause extensive flooding!).
    Thanks Bertie Bud' for your vibrant blogpost and for that stunning picture of you in the flowers.
    (ps You asked for a 'thesis', didn't you?, no complaining about the extensive comment, BOL!)
    Lotsalicks from your conscientious South African student,

  3. Our first signs of Spring are birds and crocuses. Crocii? More than one crocus? Well, more than one crocus anyway. We haven't seen any of either yet, but it's early. When we see robins we know that Spring has sprung. I don't think it's arriving earlier or later here in any way that I can tell. What has changed sort of recently is that the summer and winter here (Long Island, NY) are more extreme than they've been in recent decades - so I'm told. I have only been around during this decade. Winter is worse if you're human, better if you're a Shar Pei. Lots and lots of snow lately, where for lots of years some winters would go by with hardly any at all. Summers on the other hand, I think we all agree -canines and humans - have been hotter than we prefer. Where we used to get a short kind of right in the middle where temps were up in the nineties or even a hundred - Farenheit of course - and lately that's been going on most of the summer. Of course, that's just our observation and not a scientific study.

    Oh, and congratulations on your appointment to the cabinet. No one is more deserving. You are young for such a post, but clearly a prodigy when it comes to matters scientific.

  4. Here in Florida I think we is missin' a season. I only knows about 3 seasons: SUMMER, HURRICANE, AND "HOLY COW...DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING OUTSIDE OR YOU'LL GO POOF IN A BALL OF FLAMES"

    Oh, and congrats on your new office in Blogville!

  5. Bertie - Congrats on your new official position in the Blogville Cabinet! Those crocus are magnificent! It just doesn't get cold enough here in the winter to have a display like that here!

    We would love to participate in your scientific research project. We live in Charleston, South Carolina in the US so it doesn't get below freezing much here. We would say spring has already arrived a couple of weeks ago or so. Our indicators are: Mom takes off her socks. We get to go with them to restaurants that have outdoor dining on occasion. We are all eager to go outside first thing in the a.m. to do our business. The heat gets turned off and the doors get opened.

    How's that?

    PeeS - We mentioned you and golf today on our blog. We might have started an international incident. Not sure.

    The Road Dogs

  6. Hey Bertie
    SOunds like a great research project fur you and we expect you will do a great job. WOW!! A co-author!! This is bigger than big!!

    Now, spring fur me is when those pretty dffidils pop up and Mom can go outside without a coat. I am in Illinois and so far got nothing fur you yet!!


  7. OK... here on my hill we go by when the Robins return... this year they were very much LATE.. and we think that means that it is gonna stay cold LONGER. PHOOOOOY
    One year we saw them on the Last day of January... and guess what on the furst day of April.. it was 89 degrees F...
    We also pay attention to when my winter furs start... leaving me. SO FAR... they are all hangin in.. another sign that we will have a slow Long spring warm up.
    This is a mostest exciting post.

  8. Hi Bertie
    We are very excited to participate in your very scientific survey.

    We are in the Southern USA, in Raleigh, NC which sits smack dab in the middle of our state.
    Madi's observations on the arrival of spring:
    The birds have turned in to cracker birds. Flitting about the feeders, tweeting (no not that type of tweeting, MOL) at each other, and taking lots of bird baths to wash off the winter dust.

    Mom's observations on the arrival of spring:
    My eyes are watering and itching, all due to the blooming cherry trees, golden rods, daffodils and all the hardwood trees in different stages of budding.

    Respectfully submitted,
    Madi and Mom

  9. When my piccures start looking like yours with flowers and what not. But for us by the sea it when those stupid little birdies called oyster catchers start nesting. They is like the annoyingest birds ever and they hang around the rocks on my beach and dive bomb the doggies and Auntie Penny can't go off lead cos she likes to chase them. Plus they make really annoying noises at night calling to each other at like 2am in the morning!
    Mum says that when spring has come. They is a little early this year.
    ~lickies, Ludo

  10. Bertie we have been lying awake for nights! How bout buds and birdies tweeting early in the morning. Spring is on it's way
    Benny & Lily

  11. Bertie congrants on your new post of "Scientific Advisor" Bertie Boffin has a nice ring to it!
    Well we had snowdrops last month, but its was the first time on saturday we all sat outside a pub because it was warm and sunny. Plus on my morning walk its not dark anymore.
    We live almost in the middle of the UK Shropshire.
    See Yea George xxx

  12. Bewtie
    I'm so pwoud of you . That is a vewy pwestigoos apointment(especially fow one so young, but it is well desewved!!!!)
    Awound hewe in my neighbowhood of NewYawk City(the West Village) I'm noticing the smell of the aiw, it's fwesh and I can smell the sea fwom acwoss the stweet too, and evewy little westauwant is full of hoomans sitting outside all of a sudden and thewe awe packs of doggies being walked at all houws. Wos many stowies to shawe when we meet each othew. A nowmal pee walk takes thwee times as long. Plus my wun is all of a sudden all cwowded.
    I see all the spwing flowews outside evewy "deli" They awe pwactically on evewy fouwf block.
    Nothing coming up yet, and some of the twees have tiny little buds on them.
    smoochie kisses
    pee ess I love youw bootiful cwocuses

  13. The Honorable Bertie. Sir. We, first, want to respectfully congratulate you on your appointment. Knowing you makes us feel a wee bit smarter. (And we recognize we DO share some of the same DNA, so that makes us feel pretty doggoned special, too)

    Now. About Spring in the Foothills of the Rockies. Well. That typically means snow. Lots of it. Deep. Heavy. Wet. Short-lived. Snow. Good snowdog making snow. Snow that is followed by bright blue skies and warm sunny days. A rapid Melt. Only to be followed by yet another Snow. But. Sadly. Alas. So far we have had NONE. In fact, the cold hard icy snow of winter is now completely melted. And the ground is brown. Only the rose branches are beginning to show signs of green. No bulbs. None. Not even one. No color. At all.

    We will certainly keep you posted. It would be HistoryBreaking if we don't get to enjoy at least one deep Spring (March) Snowfall. And. If we don't. We will pout. Because there is one sign that Spring SHOULD be arriving. Some very colorful new booties arrived on the DeliveryTruck today. For our feets. So we can go out and ENJOY the spring snow if (when) it finally arrives. We have already tried them on. Our feets are colorful like flowers. Purple. And pink. And we bounce like happy daffydills in the wind. At least there is one way to get some color in our Life.

    So. There. We're done. Until the weather changes.

    (Perhaps we should document it in photos for you. We'll think about that.)

    Your dedicated students,
    Jake and Fergi

    Our VeriWork is Plato. Plato? We're thinking it might better have been Descartes ... a bit more rational. Don't you think? Cogito ergo sum.

  14. Dear Bertie,
    A heartfelt congratulations to you on your recent appointment to the Cabinet. It might surprise you to learn that spring comes quite gradually in Southern California. March and April are often our rainiest months. Spring begins, for us, when the beautiful yuccas bloom all along our hike. Also, when it's warm enough to leave the windows and doors open. Our mom says there's a certain scent in the air -- orange blossoms/jasmine that clenches it for her. Hasn't happened yet. We will let you know when we catch the first whiff! For now, it's grey, very overcast, nothing's blooming and it's been below freezing at night.

    -Gizmo, Bart and Ruby

  15. Oh I can also tell cos the rabbits start getting more lively and chasing around and being more naughty and the moult and tell each other off.

  16. Oh, Bertie! We had forgotten about Le Donald Debacle and are so sorry to have reminded you of a sore subject. We just thought it was a little, um, presumptuous of SC to claim First in Golf when we all know it originated in Scotland! Nobody in our house plays, but in our town a golf course is preferable to all the highways they want to put all over the place here :) No wide open spaces here in Chucktown anyway.

    The Road Dogs

  17. Hi Bertie! I'm sending you a link (or an approximation) to another blog I read. She did a lovely post about Spring, and the comments are much like the comments on yours yesterday. Thought you might find it of interest :-)


    hahaha: veri-word is resend!

  18. Hey there Bertie, nice to meet you! I am Amber-Mae from Malaysia. I love those pictures of you with those very pretty flowers.

  19. SPRING??SPRING??ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? DID YOU SEE OUR DIRTY SNOW STILL?? HOW THE HECK DO YOU HAVE ALL THOSE FLOWERS THERE???? AND THEY ARE NOT IN POTS????? WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON HERE???...really darling do you think this is too big a project for you?? I mean you are taking on the whole world here..however do it and see what happens....I think a wee sign of spring here is when the Boston Red Sox truck leaves here and goes to Florida for SPRING training... Real smart idea this year IT WAS SNOWING WHEN THEY LEFT..sorry... Another sign is the Boston Marathon...IN APRIL BERTIE IT IS A WAYS AWAYS>> oh I must sit down... Love Aggs and Arch PS if you really want to know it is 9 degrees here today...

  20. Congratulations on your Cabinet appointment, young Bertie! Glad to see Blogville, at least, has respect for the sciences. And Scottish scientists are historically among the best in the world.

    We live in MD in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S., just outside Washington, D.C. Our first signs of Spring are: we start barking a lot more because all the little hibernating critters like chipmunks, and less-active-in-winter critters like rabbits, start stirring around, rustling outside our fence; Jed starts to blow his heavy undercoat; and we start to get tiny buds popping out on the tree branches. Also, Jed & mama's allergies get a LOT worse. Our crocuses are not out yet, and when they're out in northern Scotland just under the 60 degree latitude North before they're out near the 38 degree latitude North, you know "The World's Turned Upside Down." [Teehee, little historic dig.]

    Jed & Abby

  21. Spring here in South Florida is kind of a non-starter. It's so so so so subtle you'll miss it if you blink. We can go from 60 (winter)to 85 (summer) almost over night. However, when you see a beautiful pink or yellow tabebuia tree shimmering in the sun for a week or so, then you know Spring may have come and will soon be gone.

    Wirey love,

    Jake and Just Harry

  22. Hello Bertie; We're 100 miles NORTH of Agatha & Archie so we can only say "ditto" and then some to their comment! Spring in New Hampshire means hearing the frog "peepers" at night making their huge squeekie-peepie racket...and also the tourists from down south start to arrive again! BOL! Love your blog.

    Cairn Kisses;
    Buzzy McDuff & Pippa Posey Peanut Butter Pants

  23. In other scientific might enjoy the engineer's discussion of CATS over on Booker's blog.

  24. I calculate spring by the first evening I can smell the change in the aire (Airedales spell that way). There's a new softness and sweetness. Usually it happens in the middle of February when the plants are waking up but this year the weather has been so disturbed that it hasn't happened at all.
    Sherry, Alanis, and Miro

  25. I live in Auckland, New Zealand so spring is when the word “malt” (which has nothing to do with the fine amber liquid made in your part of the world) reappears in my mum’s vocabulary when she looks at her floor, then looks at me and sighs loudly. Then she bleats on about the bah noises (I can hear them from my front door as there is a farm nearby and even though we live in an urban area the strange landforms carry the sounds to me as I try to go to sleep at night). Blah blah bleat bleat.

    I also find that my humans don’t’ make me circle around on the large mat inside the front door as much, and I can no longer see my muddy prints on the floor boards. Of course if you asked my mum, she would say that there are only two seasons where we live but sometimes we still get four seasons in one day. That bit I can’t figure out.


  26. Here is Massachusetts, we are going to mark spring as the first day we can actually run and play tennis ball in the yard. Still looks to be a long way off.


  27. Bertie! Wagging well done on the your new position dear boy. Do make sure they treat you well. Black pudding and the like. Every hour on the hour.And hot doggies at half past I'm starving.

    As you yapped for here's my spring observations. Our crocususes this side of the wall down south have been out for about 3 weeks at least. B. The clumps of daffy dillys I've been watering most of the winter finally showed their sunny faces last week despite shivering in the cold. Mom ditto. Shivering that is. Pussy Willow is all puffed up wanting to be stroked.Weird eh? Our Wussy is asleep on his pillow 24/7. Forsythia is in full bloom today.Conclusive proof that spring is on it's way-today's weather forecast of snow.

    Mom's scientific contribution for you. Spring has sprunged when she changes footie wear for my walkies from wearing long fur lined wellies worn with wellie warmers socks to short fur lined welliebobs. No extra socks. And no gloves. Big piles of daffy's begging to be purchased by the tills at M&S! Fellow dog walkers stop to chit-chat rather than snatched conversations in passing about how cold it is/how the seasons are changing.Yawn.

    Paws crossed you'll get yourself a gold star for your paper Bertie.

    Wiry love from your Uncle Eric xxx

  28. Hello Bertie! It's a pleasure to meet a fellow data-driven canine. Here in Portland, Oregon (where a fierce windstorm is currently whipping the branches off the fir tree behind the house, causing me to burrow even deeper under my blanket), spring arrives when Mom's tulips begin to peek out of the ground. Sadly, she never gets to enjoy them....because I raze them all down to the ground! I dream about those delicious tender shoots all winter long!

    Bella the Boxer