## Celebrate Leap Day – The FUN Science of Telling Time!

Thirty days hath September…but why on earth does February have 29 every four years?

This year is a leap year, making the length of the 2012 calendar 366 days, instead of the normal 365.  Every four years an extra day is added to the month of February, but have you ever wondered why this happens?  In celebration of 2012 being a Leap Year, we invite you to hop back in time with us for a brief history of our modern day calendar and discover the FUN science of telling time!

The calendar is supposed to match the solar year, in other words, the length of time it takes for the Earth to orbit the Sun once. But things aren’t quite that simple. It actually takes Earth 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds to complete its orbit (about 365 1/4 days). Those extra hours gradually add up so that after four years the calendar is out of step by about one day.  Adding a day every four years allows for the calendar to match up with the solar year again.

However, because the solar year isn’t exactly 365 days, even adding a leap day every four years means that the calendar is still out of step by 11 minutes and 14 seconds each year. Over the course of 400 years this would add up to three extra days. In order to solve this problem it was decided to leave out the leap year three times every 400 years. So the new rule was, a century year (1600, 1700, 1800, etc..) would only be a leap year if it was evenly divisible by 400.  This means that the year 2000 was a leap year, but 2100 will not be.

Phew! So, who figured all this out?

The Egyptians were the first people to think of adding a leap day to the calendar. Later, the Romans copied the idea and in 1582 Pope Gregory XIII reformed the Julian Calendar (introduced by Julius Caesar in 45 BCE). By Pope Gregory’s time, the calendar had drifted 14 days off track. He neatly solved this by wiping ten days off the calendar, telling everyone that the day after October 4th was going to be October 15th. Bad luck for people with birthdays during that time, including famous scientist Sir Isaac Newton. His birthday according to the Julian calendar, used during the year of his birth, was Christmas Day, 1642. However, once the Gregorian Calendar went into effect,Newton’s birthday changed to January 4th, 1643.

The early roman calendar originally began the year in the month of March. It consisted of ten months, each lasting about 30 days, ending with December. This ten month calendar completely left out the winter months.  It is thought that the two extra months, January & February, were added sometime around 715-673 BCE. This would have made February the last month of the year, which might explain why a leap day was added to that month. Later, it was decided to start the year with January.

Other nations have different leap year rules and different methods of keeping their calendar in line with the solar year.  Countries may have a day, or in some cases a month, that gets added every few years in order to balance the time. The Chinese, for example, add a month about every three years, whereas in the Islamic Hijri Calendar a day is added 11 times during a 30-year cycle.

It can be pretty confusing keeping track of our modern day calendar, but just remember…

Thirty days hath September,

April, June and November;

All the rest have thirty-one

Save February, she’s alone

Hath eight days and a score

Til leap year gives her one day more!

Did You Know?

There is a tradition that women are allowed to propose marriage to men on leap days! One day in the 5th century, St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick about the unfairness of the system which only allowed men to propose, so he decided to let women do the asking once every four years!  Today, we refer to this special day as Sadie Hawkins Day!

FUN BrainPOP Video about leap year

Leap Year 2012

Take The Leap: FUN Leap Year Quiz!

Happy Leap Day!

## Heinrich Rudolf Hertz Google Doodle Gets Wavy!

Today’s Google Doodle honors German Physicist Heinrich Rudolf Hertz who is probably best known for the unit of measurement that bears his name.

Hertz’s experiments in electromagnetism paved the way for wireless communications, as he was the first scientist to prove the existence of electromagnetic waves. His early research served as an expansion of the theory of electromagnetism proposed by Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell in 1865. Maxwell proposed that light itself was a series of electromagnetic waves and this prompted Hertz to construct his own apparatus to generate electromagnetic radiation.

Hertz did this in 1886 with a radio wave transmitter using a high voltage induction coil, a condenser, and a spark gap.

But he also had to detect the waves, so he built a receiver to detect the oscillating current. This was visible through the sparks across the spark gap. In later experiments with electromagnetic waves, Hertz determined that the radiation’s velocity was the same as light’s velocity and that radio waves’ reflection and refraction was also the same as light.

The “Hertz,” a universal measure of frequency, was established in 1930.

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates what would be his 155th birthday, Hertz Died at the age of 36.

## Every February Yosemite Waterfall Turns to Lava!

‘Lava eruption’ is trick of the eye, Yosemite Park ‘lava eruption’ is a stunning trick of the eye, What looks like a trail of fiery lava cascading over a cliff is really a stunning trick of the light. It is a phenomenon that wouldn’t look out of place on top of Mount Etna. The fiery-looking trail below may appear to be a blast of molten lava, but it’s actually a cascade of water illuminated by the sun.

The wonder at Yosemite National Park, California, appears only at sunset during a select window of time in mid-February and is keenly awaited by a number of photographers and spectators. Weather permitting, the effect is created by a precise alignment of the sun and earth which makes the Yosemite Park’s Horsetail Fall turn a bright, fiery orange. The vibrant color is the result of the sun’s rays reflecting off granite behind the falling water and is dependent on a clear sunset.

Park officials believe it will last until February 24, with the best views east of the peak at the El Capitan picnic area. The incredible sight was first captured in color by the natural world photographer Galen Rowell in 1973.

## Chickadees, Blue Jays, and Robins Oh My …Join the Backyard Bird Count 2012!

The 2012 Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) takes place from Friday, February 17 through Monday, February 22. Each year, volunteers across the country tally the birds they see in backyards, parks and natural areas. Last year, GBBC participants racked up more than 11 million observations and identified 596 species! Counting birds during GBBC helps scientists gain a snapshot of how winter bird populations are changing across North America over the years by documenting things like:

• Rare sightings: In 2011, a Brown Shrike was spotted in California, far from its home in Asia. A Swainson’s Thrush, which usually winters in Central and South America, was reported in North Carolina.
• Population Changes: American Crow numbers fell after being hard hit by West Nile virus in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but recent GBBC data shows that the population may be rebounding. Future data will help scientists determine if the crow population is really recovering.
• Spread of Invasive Species: The Eurasian Collared-Dove is an invasive species that was introduced in Florida in the 1980s and has expanded its range ever since. In 1999, the dove’s range covered eight states. In 2011, it had expanded to 40 states, including Alaska – its most northerly reach yet.

Viewer Tip: Collecting all this data would be impossible without the help of thousands of volunteers. Anyone can participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count by tallying birds for at least 15 minutes on any day of the count. Simple instructions for counting and reporting birds are available at www.birdsource.org/gbbc/howto.html. You can also find regional bird checklists, photo galleries, resources for kids and more!

The Northern Cardinal and Mourning Dove were the two most frequently reported birds during last year’s count.Click here for high resolution photos for media use in conjunction with reports about the Great Backyard Bird Count.

## The Amazing Spray-On Antenna: Wireless In A Can!

Ever found yourself without a signal and wished you could just spray one on like magic? Well, maybe soon, you’ll be able to do just that. Chamtech Enterprises has developed a spray-on antenna it says is more lightweight and energy-efficient than current technology. Revealed at Google’s inaugural Solve for X shindig, the antenna can be “painted” onto almost anything, including trees, walls and fabrics.

A traditional antenna would require thousands of watts to send out a signal with a one mile range underwater. Chamtech’s can do that with only three watts, and have a stronger signal to boot. So how does all of this work?

The truth is, we don’t really know. According to Chamtech’s co-founder Anthony Sutera, he and his team came up with it in his living room two years ago. It works by manipulating magnetic and radio signals through mysterious organic materials, and you can spray it on any virtually any surface and hook into it with a flexible circuit cable.

Chamtech’s already talking with government-based customers, and as such can’t spill too much detail on how it works, but said it uses organic elements to tinker with magnetic and radio-frequency fields. The start-up’s CTO, Rhett Spencer, claims the antenna could increase mobile energy efficiency by 10 percent. It was also found to work particularly well under water, and being organic, we presume, would make it ideal for sub-aquatic telecom infrastructure, and of course, rainy days.

This is quite possibly best thing to come in a can since Easy Cheese!  Check out video of Chamtech’s Solve for X presentation below.

## Bring Love Into The Lab With These Science Valentines!

There are Valentine cards, ecards, and gifts for every taste imaginable! If you don’t find a card or image that perfectly expresses your sentiments, you can easily make your own. And if you lack the imagination, skills, or time to create one, someone else probably has just what you’re looking for. The scientific community is no exception -and they take advantage of every opportunity to make a pun when they can. Here are some very clever valentines from different scientific disciplines.

## White House Honors Future Scientists of America with 2nd Annual Science Fair!

Barack Obama and a personal childhood favorite, Bill Nye ‘The Science Guy’ welcomed a group of younger science and technology innovators to to the White House on Monday, as part of the President’s growing effort to promote innovation from all sides. President Obama has been pushing out tech initiatives consistently over the past couple weeks, bringing innovators to the White House for the State of the Union, bringing the Startup Act to Congress, and now, encouraging young inventors to show off their projects to him at the White House. He even helped shoot off a marshmallow cannon…yeah, we know…we wish there was a video of it.

“The young people I met today, the young people behind me — you guys inspire me. It’s young people like you that make me so confident that America’s best days are still to come. When you work and study and excel at what you’re doing in math and science, when you compete in something like this, you’re not just trying to win a prize today. You’re getting America in shape to win the future. You’re making sure we have the best, smartest, most skilled workers in the world, so that the jobs and industries of tomorrow take root right here. You’re making sure we’ll always be home to the most creative entrepreneurs, the most advanced science labs and universities. You’re making sure America will win the race to the future.

Unbelievable prodigies were honored by the President including:

• A girl who built a sugar packet that dissolves in hot water (will save up to 2 million lbs of trash/year)
• A boy who built a robot/video camera apparatus with Skype to keep senior citizens in touch with their families at nursing homes.

We took special note as the President made a note to reporters and editors to “give this some attention.” The President continued his plea, saying, “This is the kind of stuff…what these young people are doing…that’s going to make a bigger difference in the life of our country in the long term than just about anything…we’ve got to emphasize how important this is.”

Amen, Mr. President.

Here’s another awesome photo of the President marveling at the marshmallow cannon:

Here’s a clip of Obama honoring these unbelievable youngsters who will most certainly become a valuable part of our future.

## The Academy for Business & Technology Elementary Welcomes Back HTHT of Detroit!

The Academy for Business & Technology Elementary School welcomes back High Touch High Tech of Detroit. Students over the past several years have taken part in High Touch High Tech’s fun & educational science experiences. Each experience has provided a hands-on, up close & personal interaction with science that they students really enjoy!

This year’s experiences include: “Newton in a Nutshell” for Kindergarten; “Weather or Not” for 1st grade; “What’s the Matter” for 2nd grade; “Sounds Like Fun” for 3rd grade; “Edison’s Workshop” for 4th grade; and “Up, Up and Away” for 5th grade. HTHT has customized each program to be grade appropriate & ensures the experiments relate to the science grade level content standards. In each program, HTHT Scientists will engage students in activities that not only teaches the science, but allows the student to experience the science & see the scientific concepts at work first-hand!

You too can experience the FUN of hands-on science with a High Touch High Tech workshop! If you are in the Detroit area including Macomb & Wayne Counties, contact :

High Touch High Tech of Detroit