June E-News: Celebrate National Donut Day!

Donuts – Those warm gooey fried rings of dough covered with sugar or sprinkles and filled with custard or jelly. While you don’t really need an excuse to eat a few (or a few dozen), it’s always a nice treat to have one! – On Friday, June 1st you will have the perfect reason, for it’s National Donut Day! This great holiday got us thinking…how much do we actually know about the poignant, patriotic history of our favorite fried food product? 

Many are shocked to learn that donuts have been around for hundreds of years! Archaeologists have turned up several fossilized fried cakes with holes in the center in prehistoric ruins in the Southwestern United States. How these early Native Americans prepared their donuts is still unknown.

Most historians talk about donut history as starting in the mid-19th century, when the Dutch wrote down their recipes for “olykoeks,” or “oily cakes,” which were balls of sweet dough fried in pork fat, with apples, prunes or raisins in the middle. Soon after, the Pilgrims brought the tasty snack with them to America. There was just one little problem with donuts back then – when the olykoeks were pulled out of the hot oil, the centers were hardly ever cooked through.

So how did donuts get their modern-day name? There’s a story about a woman from New England, Elizabeth Gregory, who was known for her yummy olykoeks. Her secret was to add a hint of nutmeg and fill the center with hazelnuts or walnuts. She even had a special name for her creation, “dough-nuts.” (She may have gotten the idea for the name from an instruction in the recipe, which said to make “little nuts of dough” and place them into the hot oil.)

And how did donuts get the whole in the center? Well, the story of Elizabeth Gregory continues, though there are a few different endings. In one, she gives her son – a sea captain – some dough-nuts to take with him on one of his ocean journeys. But when a storm started at sea, the captain found himself having a hard time holding the treat and steering the ship. So he impaled the dough-nut on one of the steering wheel’s spokes, creating a hole in the middle of it.

Another version of the story says the captain simply didn’t like the nuts his mother put in the center of the dough-nuts, so he poked them out, leaving an empty whole in the middle. Whatever the real story is, there were benefits to making doughnuts with holes. They cooked more evenly and their unique shape made them extremely popular. During World War I, donuts achieved the ultimate food status as an American favorite. Young American men fighting oversees were served donuts as a reminder of the food back home. 

Since 1938, every first Friday in June is designated as National Doughnut Day! Contrary to popular belief, this American ‘holiday’ is not a marketing ploy by the big donut companies, but a tradition that dates all the way back to the Great Depression. National Doughnut Day was created by the Salvation Army to honor the women who served doughnuts to soldiers during World War I. 

 

Over the decades, National Doughnut Day has become a revered tradition in the USA. Each year, millions of Americans celebrate the occasion by chowing down on the nation’s top-selling baked dessert. With over 10 billion sold each year, the doughnut is second only to bread in total baked good sales nationwide. Donut shops such as Dunkin Donuts, Krispy Kreme & even some of the small neighborhood shops, give away free donuts on this fun holiday!   

While donuts may be an American tradition, many countries around the world have a donut-like incarnation that they enjoy. In the horn of Africa (Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Eritrea ), the ball-shaped Lagayamats are fried and covered with powdered sugar, while the Tunisian Yo-Yo’s, are smothered in honey or even sesame seeds. India has a savory version called Vada, while Indonesians make their Donut Kentang with mashed potatoes and flour and, . . . . . . . the list goes on and on. The bottom line is, no matter where you live, you will be able to celebrate this holiday!

If you are one of the minority that simply don’t like donuts, you can still get into the spirit with charity – sell donuts to your friends and neighbors and donate the proceeds to your local Salvation Army. After all, it’s thanks to their ingenious idea that we have this yummy holiday!

Whether it’s powdered, jelly-filled, or frosted, this classic treat is always delicious, making National Donut Day a great reason to celebrate. You can share the excitement of this unique holiday with friends and family with a Free Donut Day eCard! 

 

– Make A Solar Cell with Powdered Donuts!

– VIDEO: How Donuts Are Made

– 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Donuts

Prepare For The Spectacular ‘Ring of Fire’ Solar Eclipse This Sunday!

If you live in the Western part of North America, chances are that you have never ever witnessed an Annular Solar Eclipse – That’s when the moon blocks out most of the sun, transforming the outer edge into a spectacular ‘ring of fire’. The last time this was visible from the United States was in 1994 – The next? Sunday, May 20th 2012!

The best places to watch this rare eclipse will be Medford Oregon, Chico California, Reno Nevada, Albuquerque New Mexico and Lubbock Texas. NASA experts believe that these lucky people will be able to experience the phenomenon for a full 4.5 minutes. The annular will also be visible over the North Pacific, in Southern Japan and Southern China on the morning of May 21st.

Other parts of the Western United States and Canada will be able to view a partial solar eclipse just not, the ‘ring of fire’.  However, this is better than being on the East Coast, which will miss the entire spectacle, since the sun will have already set, before it all begins.

That’s because unlike most celestial events that take place late at night or, in the wee hours of the morning, this one, will occur in the late evening – From 5.30 to 7.30 pm, Pacific Standard Time. 

If you’re east of the Mississippi River, don’t worry — the Slooh Space Camera is broadcasting the event live, using telescope feeds from Japan, California, Arizona and New Mexico. Slooh’s live feed begins at 5:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday.

Just like all solar eclipses, this spectacular event can also be very dangerous. NASA’s leading eclipse expert Frank Espenak warns that the ring during annular eclipses can be extremely bright and cause permanent damage to the eye and even blindness, if looked at directly or through telescopes or binoculars not covered with the right solar filters. So be sure to get some before Sunday if you are planning to view the eclipse. Learn how to prepare for the eclipse here.

To check if your town or city will be able to witness any part of the 2012 Annular Solar Eclipse go to shadowandsubstance.com.


Are Pit Bulls Inherently Dangerous? Science Says No…

 

Image Source: Pixabay.com

The Maryland Court of Appeals recently deemed pit bulls and pit bull mixes “inherently dangerous,” but many animal experts and dog advocates believe the court’s ruling may have been too extreme.”Inherently dangerous” implies that all pit bulls are, through genetics or their environment, born with a vicious streak. But studies are showing that the science does not seem to support this.  

For example, a University of Pennsylvania study on dogs found that the top three biters of humans were actually smaller dogs: Dachshunds, Chihuahuas and Jack Russell terriers.

Pit bulls didn’t always have such a bad rap. In the early part of the 20th century, this breed was in fashion and became quite popular as a family pet. “The Little Rascals,” a series highlighting child actors, even featured a spunky pit bull. Have the dogs then changed over the years? Some have with the help of their owners & genetic science. 

“It is possible to breed in or out certain traits, with some dogs purposefully bred for fighting,” Jennifer Scarlett, a veterinarian who is also co-president of the San Francisco SPCA, told Discovery News.

She said that studies on foxes suggest that a trait possibly affecting personality can appear in just two to three generations. Pit bulls & any other breed of dogs that are bred using this genetic science seem to be more aggressive against other dogs, but not necessarily humans. Scarlett, said that countless pit bulls nationwide are highly socialized and well trained, never hurting anyone. Much then comes down to the owners, and therein lies the real problem.

Scarlett indicated that at least one study is underway to see if certain factors predict if a segment of the population is at greater risk for being attacked by a dog. Anecdotally, socioeconomic factors, whether or not a dog has been spayed or neutered, and whether or not a dog has been socialized and trained, appear to predict attacks.

Read the full story on Discovery.com

Yum! It’s National Chocolate Chip Day!

 

 

May 15 is Chocolate Chip Day! There is no better way to celebrate this wonderful chocolate holiday than with FUN science. If you are wanting to experiment with chocolate chips that is a little less traditional than chocolate chip cookies, how about using them in the bath to wash away the dirt & grime from your day. Yep, that’s right…you can use chocolate chips as a moisturizing soap! The Chocolate is full of oils that will moisturize your body and leave you smelling yummy too. Learn how to sweeten up your bath-time with this FUN, at-home experiment! 

Chocolate Chip Bath Cookies!

What You’ll Need: 

1/2 cup Baking soda 2 cups of Sea salt or rock salt 

1/2 cup Cornstarch 

2 tbs of Almond oil 

1 tsp Vitamin E oil 

1-2 eggs 

6 drops of Vanilla essence

How To Do It:

Mix it all together and then cut out with cookie cutters or flatten balls to form a cookie shape. Add the chocolate sprinkles into the mix or simply sprinkle on top.

– Bake at 350’F (180’C) for 10-12 minutes. 

– Allow to cool. 

– Use 1-2 per bath.

Wrap these in air tight packaging or seal them in an airtight container as with time these cookies do go moldy. The picture above is of chocolate chip bath cookies.

 

Google Pays Tribute To Howard Carter with New Doodle!

Image Source: Google

Today, Google visually unveils some wonderful things itself to celebrate the 138th birthday of archaeologist, Howard Carter. Carter was a celebrated Egyptologist, who gained lasting fame with the 1922 discovery of the tomb and the subsequent, laborious excavation. The homepage Doodle depicts just a few of the thousands of objects that were removed from the tomb — a process that took the better part of a decade and stirred the public imagination.

Image Source: Wikipedia

The famed explorer is known for his discovery of the 18th-dynasty of Tutankhamun’s tomb, more than 3,000 years after the boy king was laid to rest. Tutankhamun’s tomb is the most intact pharaoh’s grave ever found in the Valley of the Kings.

Carter secured his place in history when he made the monumental discovery on November 4, 1922. The finding was a long time coming; Carter had worked as an archaeological excavateur for 30 years prior to stumbling upon the four-room chamber that contained the pharaoh’s mummy.

The unearthing of the entrance to the burial chamber took months, and the recovery of the more than 600 groups of precious treasures took close to a decade.

After the finding, Carter retired from working in the field and chose instead to work for museums and private collectors. He died of lymphoma in 1939 at 64 years old.

The First Person Account:

The Discovery:

The Tomb

Science Reveals Secret Behind Bird Navigation – Is it GPS?

Image Source: Pixabay.com

That GPS unit on your car sure is fancy, but pigeons have got you beat: they have GPS built right into their brain! Researchers have spotted a group of 53 cells within pigeons’ brains that respond to the direction and strength of the Earth’s magnetic field. The question of how birds navigate using – among other signals – magnetic fields is the subject of much debate. These new “GPS neurons” seem to show how magnetic information is represented in birds’ brains.

There have been some interesting developments in learning how birds navigate. It was thought that birds had tiny chunks of metal in their beaks or inner ears that enabled them to detect the direction of the Earth’s magnetic field. But more research has thrown doubt on the existence of these so-called ‘compass cells’, saying that they were just a type of white blood cells.

Now a new article in the journal Science suggests that birds have clusters of certain cells dubbed ‘GPS neurons’ in their brains that enable them to navigate.

Every neuron had its own characteristic response to the magnetic field, with each giving a sort of 3-D compass reading along the familiar north-south directions as well as pointing directly upward or downward. In life, this could help the bird determine not only its heading just as a compass does, but would also reveal its approximate position.

Each cell also showed a sensitivity to field strength, with the maximum sensitivity corresponding to the strength of the Earth’s natural field. And just like a compass, the neurons had opposite responses to different field “polarity” – the magnetic north and south of a field, which surprised the researchers most of all.

Read more about this fascinating new research from the NY York Times