“We don’t know yet what condition these engines might be in,” wrote Bezos, who watched the moon landing when he was 5 years old. ”They hit the ocean at high velocity and have been in salt water for more than 40 years. On the other hand, they’re made of tough stuff, so we’ll see.”
Bezos has stayed quiet about just how he found the Apollo 11 rocket booster parts, and he’s doubly quiet about who will be paying to bring the 19-foot rocket parts to the surface, only saying that private funds (probably his own private funds) will be bringing them to the surface and that he will be using sonar to find the pieces he’s looking for among the hundreds of NASA artifacts littering the ocean floor near Florida. The equipment is technically NASA property, but odds are NASA will allow the pieces to go to a museum rather than force Bezos to turn them over to Cape Canaveral staff.
April 2012 is the 36th anniversary of National Humor Month. Founded in 1976 by humorist and author Larry Wilde, Director of the Carmel Institute of Humor, the aim of this holiday is to promote the value of humor in improving health and enriching the quality of life. Human beings love to laugh, and the average adult laughs 17 times a day. Humans love to laugh so much that there are actually industries built around laughter. Jokes, sitcoms and comedians are all designed to get us laughing, because laughing feels good. For us it seems so natural, but the funny thing is that humans are one of the only species that laughs. Laughter is actually a complex response that involves many of the same skills used in solving problems.
Laughter is described as an audible expression, or appearance of merriment or happiness, or an inward feeling of joy and pleasure (laughing on the inside). It may ensue from jokes, tickling, and other stimuli. Strong laughter can sometimes bring an onset of tears or even moderate muscular pain.
Laughing is a part of human behavior regulated by the brain. It helps us clarify our intentions in social interaction and provides an emotional context to conversations. Laughter is used as a signal for being part of a group — it signals acceptance and positive interactions with others. Laughter is sometimes seemingly contagious, and the laughter of one person can itself provoke laughter from others as a positive feedback. An extreme case of this is the Tanganyika laughter epidemic. This may account in part for the popularity of laugh tracks in situation comedy television shows.
Laughter is a great thing — that’s why we’ve all heard the saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.” There is strong evidence that laughter can actually improve health and help fight disease. Studies show that laughter could be the simplest and surest way to reduce stress and improve physical and mental health. The study of humor and laughter, and its psychological and physiological effects on the human body is called gelotology. Josh Billings, a researcher from the late 1800s, may have said it best – “There ain’t much fun in medicine, but there’s a heck of a lot of medicine in fun.” Researchers have categorized the five types of humor as puns, exaggeration, surprise, silliness, and put-downs. No matter which of these methods of humor you use, laughing can alleviate stress, reduce depression, enhance mood and even increase activity of immune cells like T-cells that attack tumors and viruses.
Laughter has been shown to improve antibody activity, exercise muscles and lungs, oxygenate blood, and improve digestion. Research at the University of Maryland Medical Center has shown that constantly laughing may also help prevent heart disease.
Did you know that adults laugh about 15 times a day while children laugh hundreds of times a day? As we mature, or at least as we grow older, life’s issues can seem mighty overwhelming. With more and more studies being conducted on the science of laughter, humor has become a growing type of therapy for many. Humor therapy, laughter therapy, laughter mediation, laughter yoga and laughter clubs are all modern tools used to teach us how to deal with everyday life.
Here are three tips to help you put more laughter in your life:
1. Figure out what makes you laugh and do it (or read it or watch it) more often.
2. Surround yourself with funny people — be with them every chance you get.
3. Develop your own sense of humor. Maybe even take a class to learn how to be a better comic — or at least a better joke-teller at that next party. Be funny every chance you get — as long as it’s not at someone else’s expense!
National Humor Month is a time to remind ourselves to not take it all so seriously, to laugh much more and in the end, we will be better able to deal with it all. This April, we invite you to find humor in your life and in doing so, you can begin to laugh your way to a healthier sense of wellness.
Learn more about laughing & the science behind it here:
On the first day of April, many people play tricky pranks on their friends. Lots of animals are tricksters too! Nature has perfected the art of deception. Some devious insects and animals will copy coloration’s and patterns of poisonous or otherwise dangerous species’ to fake out their predators. This relatively common & very handy trick is known as mimicry. Mimicry is when a species benefits from evolving a feature that is displayed by another species. This feature could be anything from color, body shape, scent or behavior. Another strategy used to avoid being eaten is by employing camouflage techniques to blend into their surroundings in seconds and become barely detectable.
Thousands of creatures all over the world – including butterflies, moths, fish, birds, insects and snakes – have adapted to their surroundings and practiced mimicry & camouflage over hundreds of millions of years. By imitating other animals or their surroundings, nature’s fakers use these fascinating strategies to protect themselves, to attract and repel, to bluff and warn, to forage, and to hide.
In the spirit of April Fools Day, join us as we explore a few of nature’s tricksters & discover some of the coolest Masters of Disguise!
The advantages of mimicry are obvious for the members of the Animal Kingdom but how can humans benefit from nature’s ploys? Humans have been looking at nature for answers to both complex and simple problems since the beginning of time. This field of scientific study is called Biomimicry or Biomimetics. Biomimicry studies & takes inspiration from elements or processes in nature and uses them to solve human problems. Mimicry in nature has helped us solve many of today’s engineering problems such as wind resistance, harnessing solar energy and even human flight.
James Cameron boldly goes where no man has gone before.
The brilliant director, who gambled big on Avatar and ended up making one of the most successful movies of all time, has an obsession with the ocean. Between Titanic and The Abyss, the dude just loves the ocean for whatever reason. This love of water extends to his personal life as well, as the director and a group of scientists constructed a specially-made submarine, the deepsea challenger, for a specific purpose. James Cameron wanted to dive to the deepest point on earth, Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, and he was successful in this attempt. That’s right, movie director James Cameron set a record with the deepest solo submarine dive in history.
“It’s so exciting — every second you see something cool or you’ve got something to do or you’re photographing or you see some amazing fish,” Cameron told CNN earlier this month, before his attempted dive. ”You know, there’s so much we don’t know. I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to study the ocean before we destroy it.”
The spot Cameron visited was 35,800 feet below the surface of the ocean, and has only had two previous visitors before. In 1960, US Navy Lt. Don Walsh and Swiss explorer Jacques Piccard sank to this depth in a two-man sub. Cameron is the only person to hit this depth solo, besting noted thrill-seeker Richard Branson in the process and potentially qualifying for a $10-million-dollar X-Prize, though I don’t believe he has hit the bottom of the Mariana Trench yet.
Did you know that bull sharks are the only large shark that can live in both fresh and salt waters? They have a special gland near their tail that retains salt.
And did you know the bighorn sheep population peaked in the millions before almost reaching extinction? The species once crossed the Bering land bridge from Siberia and was eventually a source of food and clothing for mountainous Native American Indian tribes in the West before reaching the endangered species list.
There is a lot to learn about wildlife and there is no better time than now to celebrate! This week is National Wildlife Week – Sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation, National Wildlife Week is celebrating 76 years of encouraging people to learn about the wide array of fascinating wildlife in our world.
About National Wildlife Week
Held annually since 1938, National Wildlife Week is National Wildlife Federation’s longest-running education program. Even celebrities such as Shirley Temple, Walt Disney and Robert Redford have joined National Wildlife Federation to commemorate this unique event.
National Wildlife Week is a signature event of NWF’s Be Out There campaign, an initiative to connect families and communities to nature, raise healthier kids, instill a conservation ethic, and inspire a life-long appreciation of wildlife and the environment.
Wildlife Week for Educators Celebrate National Wildlife Week and connect your students with nature through lesson plans created by the National Wildlife Foundation. Different wildlife species are featured each day in these lesson plans designed for Grades K – 12.
Today, St. Patrick’s Day is a transcontinental celebration of Irish culture, filled with festive food and traditions. Amidst the millions of people that don green to celebrate the Irish few know the reasoning behind many popular St. Patrick’s Day traditions. Have you ever wondered why we wear green, tell stories of leprechauns, display shamrocks and pinch our friends on St. Patrick’s Day? Read on to discover how these modern day St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans came to be.
According to some accounts, blue was the first color associated with St. Patrick’s Day, but that started to change in the 17th century. Green is one of the colors in Ireland’s tri-color flag, and it has been used in the flags of several Irish revolutionary groups throughout history. Ireland is the “Emerald Isle,” so named for its lush green landscape. Green is also the color of spring, the shamrock, and the Chicago River, which the Midwestern city has dyed green on St. Patrick’s Day for the past 40-odd years.
Corned beef or bacon?
This St. Patrick’s Day, millions of people will sit down to an authentic Irish meal of corned beef and cabbage. Or so they think. In fact, only half of it is really Irish. Though cabbage has historically been a staple of the Irish diet (along with potatoes), it was traditionally eaten with Irish bacon, not corned beef. Irish immigrants in America could not afford the bacon, so they substituted it with corned beef.
Pinch me, I’m Irish
Forgot to wear green on St. Patty’s Day? Don’t be surprised if you get pinched. No surprise, it’s an entirely American tradition that probably started in the early 1700s. St. Patrick’s revelers thought wearing green made one invisible to leprechauns, fairy creatures who would pinch anyone they could see (anyone not wearing green). People began pinching those who didn’t wear green as a reminder that leprechauns would sneak up and pinch green-abstainers.
Leprechauns, Pots of Gold & Rainbows
Just what does a mythical leprechaun look like and why are they so special? A leprechaun looks like a little old man and dresses like a shoemaker with a cocked hat and leather apron. According to Irish folklore, leprechauns were cranky tricksters who you wouldn’t want to mess with. They live alone and pass the time by mending the shoes of Irish fairies. According to the legend, the fairies pay the leprechauns for their work with golden coins, which the “little people” collect in large pots–the famous “pots of gold” often associated with leprechauns. The legend says that if you catch a leprechaun, you can force him to tell you where he hid his pot of gold. Supposedly, this pot of gold is hidden at the end of a rainbow. Because you can never find the “end” of a rainbow, you can’t get the pot of gold. To get the gold, you first get to catch the little Leprechaun.
The cheerful, friendly ‘Lil elf most Americans associate with St. Paddy’s Day stems from a 1959 Walt Disney film called Darby O’Gill & the Little People. The Americanized, good-natured leprechaun soon became a symbol of St. Patrick’s Day and Ireland in general.
Shamrocks & the Four-Leaf Clover
According to Irish legend, St. Patrick chose a three leaved clover or shamrock as a symbol of the church’s Holy Trinity because of its three leaflets bound by a common stalk. A shamrock is not a four leaf clover, contrary to popular belief.
Although clovers are most often found in nature with three leaves, rare four-leaf clovers do exist. Finding one is thought to bring someone extreme luck. The folklore for four-leaf clovers differs from that of the Shamrock due to the fact that it has no religious allusions associated with it. It is believed that each leaf of a four-leaf clover represents something different: first is hope, the second is faith, the third is love, and the fourth is happiness. The good luck attached with the four leaf clover predates Christianity in Ireland back to the ancient Druid priests.
You don’t have to be Irish to have some hands-on fun on this holiday, exercise your green thumb this St. Patrick’s Day & learns to grow shamrocks indoors!
Kiss Me I’m Irish
The popular “Kiss Me, I’m Irish,” saying is a reference to The Blarney Stone. The Blarney Stone is the “Stone of Eloquence” in Blarney Castle. Legend holds that kissing the stone brings good luck and gives you the ability to never be lost for words, becoming a smooth talker so-to-speak. If you can’t make it to Ireland to kiss the actual stone, convention says the next-best option is to kiss an Irishman.
No Snakes In Ireland?
Another St. Patrick myth is the claim that he banished snakes from Ireland. It’s true no snakes exist on the island today, but they never did. Ireland, after all, is surrounded by icy ocean waters—much too cold to allow snakes to migrate from Britain or anywhere else. But since snakes often represent evil in literature, when Patrick drives the snakes out of Ireland, it is symbolically saying he drove the old, evil, pagan ways out of Ireland and brought in a new age. The snake myth was likely spread by well-meaning monks centuries after St. Patrick’s death.
The Luck o’ the Irish
Want to get lucky this St. Patrick’s Day? If so, follow these rules:
1. Find a four-leaf clover.
2. Wear green (so you don’t get pinched).
3. Kiss the blarney stone.
4. Catch a Leprechaun if you can.
There are many traditions associated with Saint Patrick’s Day. Regardless of your actual heritage, we all embrace our inner Irishman (or woman) on St. Patrick’s Day. Looking for more ways to have FUN this holiday? Check out these FUN games & resources!
Ask most people what they think are Ireland’s greatest contributions to the world and they would probably come up with suggestions such as great music, great writers and great food. It’s unlikely that scientists would be high on the list, but Ireland has given us many great inventors, innovators & scientists. Their work covers a broad spectrum from developing medical treatments to pioneering new technologies and revolutionizing the way we work, rest and play. This month, we want to celebrate the Irish natives that have achieved greatness in the scientific field and highlight those achievements which have made such an impact on our modern world.
Robert Boyle is known as being one of the original modern chemists and made many key contributions in the scientific revolution of the 1600’s. He said that all matter is made up of tiny particles joined together, that it is not continuous. His most famous discovery, which examined the pressure-volume relationship in laboratory conditions, now bears his name (Boyle’s Law) and was to prove fundamental to our understanding of gases and atmospheric pressure.
William Thompson is also known as Lord Kelvin is noted for his infamous curiosity & investigation of heat. His interest in the measurement of temperature and thermodynamics led to his creation of the absolute scale of temperature- The Kelvin Scale or Absolute Scale. This scale is still used today by scientists across the world.
In 1932, Earnest Walton in collaboration with John Cockcroft, became the first people in history to artificially split the atom, thus ushering the nuclear age. Up until their discovery of ‘splitting the atom’, scientists thought that the atom was the smallest thing possible and could not be split. In 1951 they were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics – making Walton Ireland’s first and only Nobel science laureate.
Throughout the centuries, Ireland has proven itself to be a nation filled with innovation, producing many successful engineers that have revolutionized the way we live. From the hypodermic needle to the perforated stamp, their contributions have made a lasting impact in the military, medical, transportation and tourism fields.
John Philip Holland is accredited with being the inventor of the modern submarine. He had a keen interest in science and was inspired by the book 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. This inspiration led him to wonder the possibility of constructing submersible boats. In 1898 the Holland submarine was launched. Armed with one torpedo tube and a pneumatic gun, his innovation changed military tactics worldwide.
The first hypodermic needle was created in Dublin’s Mental Health hospital in 1844. Physician Francis Rynd improvised the needle & hypodermic injection in order to give a local anesthetic to a woman who was suffering with an agonizing pain in her face.
The modern tractor was invented by an innovative self-taught mechanic, Harry Ferguson deemed the “Mad Mechanic”. It was lighter, more effective and safer than earlier tractors, and helped to revolutionize farming. Ferguson also invented four-wheel-drive, anti-skid braking, and was the first Irish man to fly in 1909.
Another Irish invention includes perforated stamps, invented in the 1850s by a Dublin printer, Henry Archer – before then, each stamp had to be cut from a sheet.
Ireland’s scientific achievements are being honored & celebrated this year as Dublin was chosen to be the European City of Science for 2012. The scientific celebration kicks off during Dublin’s famous St. Patrick’s Festival. The St. Patrick’s Day parade will feature floats & displays seeking to answer some of science’s most engaging questions, such as “How is a rainbow formed?”, “What makes the weather change?”, and “How is electricity made?” The City of Science title will remain throughout the year and will globally recognize Ireland for all of their scientific accomplishments.
Today is Pi Day, an unofficial mathematical holiday. Celebrated on March 14, or 3.14, the date reflects the abbreviated version of the irrational constant pi (π). Pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, and it enables you to find the area of a circle. (Pi multiplied by the square of the circle’s radius gives you the circle’s area.)
As noted above, pi is an irrational number, which means that its value cannot be exactly represented and that the numbers following the decimal point continue on as far as anyone has been able to calculate them. (As of September 2011, computers had surpassed the 5 trillionth digit to the right of the decimal point.) Most people are comfortable abbreviating pi as 3.14, but some people compete to see how many of the decimal digits they can memorize and/or recite.
The Greek letter π was first used to abbreviate the ratio between a circle’s circumference and its diameter by Welsh mathematician William Jones in 1706 who chose it because it is the first letter of the Greek word for periphery (περιφέρεια). It was popularized later in the century by Swiss mathematician and physicist Leonhard Euler. π is also known as Archimedes Constant, as well as the Ludolphine number or Ludolph’s Constant.
Pi Day was created by Exploratorium physicist Larry Shaw in 1988 and spread to college math departments from there. Today it is still considered a fringe celebration, but one often marked by the eating of pie, both for its shape and its homophonic relationship to π.
Will you be celebrating with math games or dessert or both?
“Super Tuesday? You bet!” said Joseph Kunches, a space weather scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). ”It’s hitting us right in the nose. By some measures this is the strongest one since December of 2006.”
The solar flare, an X5-4-class sun storm, is expected to cause no major problems, but due to the storm’s strength, people are already taking precautions with their communications systems and air travel routes. The NOAA’s space weather scale has been set at an R3, which means special communication precautions have been taken, but Kunches expects the storm may peak at a G3/S4 level. That means power surges may affect the power grid and that the astronauts on the ISS will have to take shelter from the radiation bombardment.
A century after the Titanic disaster, scientists say they may have found an unexpected culprit for the sinking: the moon. Anyone who knows history or has seen the blockbuster movies knows that the cause of the transatlantic liner’s accident was that it hit an iceberg.
Several months before the Titanic’s fateful encounter with an iceberg, the moon had been closer to Earth than in 1,400 years, and it was full just six minutes before.
Astronomers at Texas State University announced Monday (March 5, 2012) that the pull of the moon – its creation of tides in Earth’s oceans – might have played a role in the sinking of the Titanic nearly 100 years ago, causing death by ice water for approximately 1,500 people in the North Atlantic Ocean. Their announcement comes as the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic – on April 14, 1912 – is almost upon us.
Texas State has a nice write-up about the moon’s possible role, which includes a cool Titanic image gallery apparently owned by one of the astronomers. The story is that an unusually close approach by the moon on January 4, 1912, would have caused abnormally high tides that might have pushed the fateful iceberg into the Titantic’s path.
This research comes from Texas State physics faculty members Donald Olson and Russell Doescher, along with Roger Sinnott, senior contributing editor at Sky & Telescope magazine. They published their findings in the April 2012 edition of Sky & Telescope, on newsstands now.