## The Magnitude!

Join High Touch High Tech in celebrating
Richter Scale Day
April 26th!

Does the
name Charles F. Richter mean anything to you? Is he your friend on Facebook or Instagram?
Is he a YouTube Star? No! Back in 1935, 86 years ago, this man developed a
mathematical way to determine the strength of earthquakes!

You may have
heard the term “Richter scale”, but the official name is Richter Magnitude
scale. Charles Richter was working at the California Institute of Technology
and developed a mathematical device to compare the size of earthquakes. Trying
to determine the strength of earthquakes is no easy task. In fact, it is extremely
complicated and requires serious math.

The
magnitude of an earthquake is determined from the logarithm of the amplitude of
waves recorded by seismographs. Adjustments are included for the variation in
the distance between the various seismographs and the epicenter of the
earthquakes. The epicenter is where the earthquake first began. On the Richter
Scale, magnitude is expressed in whole numbers and decimal fractions.

For
example, a magnitude 5.3 might be computed for a moderate earthquake, and a
strong earthquake might be rated as magnitude 6.3. Because of the logarithmic
basis of the scale, each whole number increase in magnitude represents a
tenfold increase in measured amplitude; as an estimate of energy, each whole
number step in the magnitude scale corresponds to the release of about 31 times
more energy than the amount associated with the preceding whole number value.
Amazing!!

Richter
was born in Overstock, Ohio.  He grew up with his maternal grandfather,
who moved the family to Los Angeles in 1909. After graduating from LA high
school, he attended Stanford University.
In 1928, he began work on his PhD in theoretical physics from the
California Institute of Technology, but, before he finished it, he was offered
a position at the Carnegie Institute of Washington.

He became
fascinated with seismology (the study of earthquakes and the waves they produce
in the earth). Thereafter, he worked at the new Seismological Laboratory in
Pasadena, California under the direction of Beno Gutenberg.

In 1932, Richter and Gutenberg developed a
standard scale to measure the relative sizes of earthquake sources, called the
Richter scale. In 1937, he returned to the California Institute of Technology,
where he spent the rest of his career, eventually becoming professor of
seismology in 1952.

Richter
chose to use the term “magnitude” to describe an earthquake’s
strength because of his early interest in astronomy; stargazers use the word to
describe the brightness of stars.

Gutenberg
suggested that the scale be logarithmic so an earthquake of magnitude 7 would
be ten times stronger than a 6, a hundred times stronger than a 5, and a
thousand times stronger than a 4. (The 1989 earthquake that shook San
Francisco was magnitude 6.9.)

The
Richter scale was published in 1935 and immediately became the standard measure
of earthquake intensity. Richter did not seem concerned that Gutenberg’s name
was not included at first; but in later years, after Gutenberg was already
dead, Richter began to insist for his colleague to be recognized for expanding
the scale to apply to earthquakes all over the world, not just in southern
California. Since 1935, several other magnitude scales have been developed. But
it is the Richter scale that remains the standard.

Interested in becoming a seismologist for the day? Create your own earthquake with our at-home experiment, Shaker Table. Test the magnitude of your earthquake and give it a rating from the Richter Scale!

## Garlic is a Superhero

Join High Touch High Tech in celebrating
National Garlic Day
April 19th

While
not actually an Avenger, Wonder Woman or Batman, garlic does have so many
health benefits, that it deserves to be considered a superhero. It might
as well be wearing a cape!

When
we first encounter garlic, it really does not have much of a smell, that is
until you cut into it, slice it, or crush it! Once crushed or sliced the odor
is extraordinarily strong. When we cut into a garlic bulb, thio-sulfinite
compounds in the garlic turn into allicin. Allicin is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal,
it is believed to lower bad cholesterol by inhibiting enzyme growth in liver
cells, and it helps nitric oxide release in the blood vessels relaxing them and
lowering pressure.

This improvement in blood pressure can help ease the strain on the heart, making garlic a very heart-healthy choice. Garlic’s antibacterial properties also makes it a great treatment for acne and cold sores, as well as general health. On top of all that, garlic also contains a ton of vitamins and minerals, including manganese, potassium, iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium, calcium, beta-carotene, and Vitamin C. Garlic is a true superhero!

Garlic is a species in the onion family, Allium. Its close relatives include the onion, scallions, shallots, leeks, chives, Welsh onions, and Chinese onions. It is native to Central Asia and Northeastern Iran and has long been a common seasoning worldwide, with a history of several thousand years of human consumption and use.

Sumerians
(2600–2100 BC) (the indigenous peoples of Southern Mesopotamia) were actively
utilizing garlic for its healing qualities and are believed to have brought
garlic to China. From China, it later spread to Japan and Korea.

In
ancient China, garlic was one of the most used remedies for many ailments since
2700 BC. Then, owing to its healing and stimulating effects, garlic was
recommended to those who suffer from depression.

In ancient Indian medicine, garlic was a valuable remedy used as a tonic to cure a lack of appetite, common weakness, cough, skin disease, rheumatism, and hemorrhoids. In the Vedas (the most ancient Hindu scriptures) garlic was mentioned among other medicinal plants. Indian priests were the first physicians and pharmacists to utilize garlic.

Archaeologists
have even discovered garlic bulbs in the pyramids of Egypt. Ancient Egyptians
were known for their healing skills, preparations, and remedies.

The
Ancient Israelis made use of garlic as an appetite stimulator, to avoid
starvation. They also used garlic as a blood pressure enhancer, body heater,
parasite-killer, and more! The Talmud, the book of Judaism, prescribes a meal
with garlic every Friday.

The
Ancient Greeks also valued garlic although those who had eaten garlic were
forbidden entry into the temples. Perhaps due to their stinky breath! During
the archeological excavations in the Knossos Palace on the Greek island of
Crete, garlic bulbs were discovered dating from 1850–1400 BC. Early Greek army
leaders fed their army garlic before major battles. It is an interesting fact
that while nowadays some athletes take a wide spectrum of dangerous performance
enhancing drugs, Greek Olympic athletes ate garlic to ensure a good score!

According
to Theophrastus (370–285 BC), the Greeks offered gifts to their Gods consisting
of garlic bulbs. In his works, Hippocrates (459–370 BC) mentioned garlic as a
remedy against intestinal parasites. He recommended garlic for regulating the
menstrual cycle and to fight against seasickness. He also recommended garlic as
a remedy against snakebite (for that purpose they drank a mixture of garlic and
wine) and against a mad dog’s bite (for that purpose they applied garlic on the
wound directly).

For
thousands of years humanity has used garlic to enhance the flavor of food as
well as for medicinal purposes. Although pungent and somewhat unpleasant to
smell, Garlic’s positive health benefits are undeniable. Have you had your
daily dose?

So, as we celebrate National Garlic Day this April 19th, let us know the superhero role Garlic plays in your life!

And since Garlic has such a recognizable smell, we invite you to participate in this week’s At-home Experiment, Smelling Bee! See if you can determine which scent belongs to its corresponding food item! Check out the lesson plan below, grab your supplies, and start smelling!

## The Hidden Life of Mushrooms

Join High Touch High Tech in celebrating
Mushroom Day
April 14th!

In a soup, they’re a pleasure.  On pizza, a game-changer.  Grilled on a bun, they are a vegetarian’s best friend.  Mushrooms are one of mother earth’s tastiest foods, but did you know they could also… SAVE THE WORLD?  Researchers like Paul Stamets are teaching the truth about mushrooms, and the more we learn, the more it seems that mushrooms are like a swiss army knife of amazing functions!  They are an essential, if invisible part of every plant’s growth.  They have cancer-destroying properties, and they even give bees the strength they need to pollinate crops.

Mushroom expert Paul Stamets has made the fungus among us his life’s work, revealing that mushrooms are so much more than the “fruiting body” that we purchase in a store.  The hidden part of any mushroom is what’s known as the Mycelium, a massive underground network of tiny fungal threads that permeate practically all soil.  In fact, even a few cubic inches of soil contain miles of Mycelial threads.  These threads do important chemical work, secreting enzymes and compounds that allow them to digest nutrients and grow, but also serve as food for the countless multitudes of tiny invertebrates in the soil.  In this way, Mycelium is essential for soil health and the healthy growth of plants, especially their roots.  A Mycelial mat of one single fungus can spread for miles, linking its aboveground “community” in a network full of nutrients, moisture, and protection as it goes.  The largest known Mycelial mat is the Armillaria in Oregon.  It is one fungal organism that spreads for 3.7 miles, weighs 35,000 tons, and is thought to be 8,000 years old!  The hidden side of mushrooms is so nourishing, connective, and helpful that it has been characterized as “nature’s internet.”

The Mycelium may be one reason that mushrooms are so packed with compounds that have been shown to have immune-stimulating, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial compounds.  Ancient cultures the world over have long revered medicinal mushrooms, from the prized Lingzhi mushroom of Chinese Medicine to the powerful healer called Agarikon, identified by Ancient Greek doctor Dioscorides.   Paul Stamets intriguingly points out a reason why: in humans, our stomachs are on the inside, and secrete compounds and enzymes to help us digest and use nutrients. The “stomach” of mycelium is on the outside, in the soil where they lay.  Over 650 million years of evolution, Mycelium and its diverse fruiting bodies have adapted to release compounds that keep away harmful bacteria and toxins, allowing them to digest the soil in peace and health.  Their adaptation is a treasure that provides us with mushrooms like Turkey Tail, which has been shown to have strong anti-cancer properties, or Cordyceps, which aids in circulation and heart health.

It’s not just humans who benefit from mushrooms.  Research is still ongoing, but it has been
observed that Bees also use certain kinds of mushrooms to stay healthy.  In a strong, undisturbed old-growth
ecosystem, mushrooms flourish in many places, as do bees. Currently, Bees are
under attack from pesticides, mites, and viruses that, if unchecked, could end
up spelling doom for our entire agricultural system.  Stamets noticed that Bees seemed to love to
congregate on certain kinds of low-to-the ground mushrooms, and on further
research found that the protective, anti-microbial compounds in mushrooms
spelled better health for the bees.  He
is formulating a “Mycelial Honey” that Bees can eat and share with their hive,
thus assisting their survival in this toxic modern world!  In Science, it is always assumed that there
is more “under the surface” of phenomena we see, and mushrooms and Mycelium are
an excellent example of the bustling, vibrant life that happens right under our
feet.

And with so many varieties of mushrooms, we thought it would be
fun to capture prints of various mushrooms to examine and compare their
“footprint”. Take a look at our Fungi Prints at-home experiment and see if you
recognize any of the fungus among us! Lesson plan and tutorial video links
below:

Tutorial Video:
https://youtu.be/xxlRswPbgCs

Sources:

Paul Stamets TED Talk:

How Fungi Changed My View of the World, a documentary by Stephen

Medical Research into Cancer and Mushrooms: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gn7wLIm1SJA

## Zoo Lover’s Day!

Join High Touch High Tech in celebrating
Zoo Lover’s Day
April 8th

The Kitchens of Zoos – otherwise known as Commissaries – are some of the busiest kitchens in the world and serve a VERY demanding clientele!

Ever had to cook a dinner for a large number of guests? And if some are vegetarian?  Maybe some need low sodium?  Some are on a raw food diet?  Only paleo for others?  Lovingly catering to hundreds of different species’ exact needs is second nature at the major zoos of the world.  Feeding the amazing animals in zoo collections is truly a 24/7 job!  Animals take no holidays and preparing food for hundreds of species at a time usually requires preparation day and night, not to mention enormous freezer and storage capacity.  Plus, ALL the food is 100% restaurant grade, the same as you get at your favorite dining spot!

A Zoo Commissary is run with precision, receiving shipments by night and preparing enormous quantities of fresh food by day.  One single elephant in the Cleveland Zoo, for example, eats 100 to 400 pounds of food each day.  Because animals are precious and many are endangered, they are fed with constant attention to their nutritional needs and their overall health.  Food in zoo commissaries is restaurant grade, but it is also prepped with the same attention to hygiene and cleanliness as any restaurant.  Cutting corners on any animal’s food, whether it is a Lowland Gorilla or a Desert Jerboa, could have huge consequences for the animal, and therefore cutting corners or stretching the food budget in any way is just not done.  The Cleveland Zoo splashes out one million dollars every year to feed their treasured residents!

Keepers at the San Diego Zoo (and every major zoo) are fiercely dedicated to their charges, and so every day in San Diego, meals are carefully prepped for 800 different species, 3,000 animals in total.  Food, whether it be fruit, insect, hay, or a whole carcass, is often left in the enclosure for the animal to forage as they please.  On a very special day, like a birthday or holiday, sometimes the beloved animals are directed to special treats made just for them.  From a watermelon “cake” for a tortoise to frozen “shrimpsicles” for big cats, watching healthy, happy animals devour their treats is surely something that makes every zookeeper’s day!  Why not treat yourself this Zoo Day, and watch some happy noshing animals for yourself?

If you’re a fan of zoo animals like we are, check out some
of our zoo animal related at-home experiments! Communicate like a whale with
echolocation, rattle like a snake, or even hibernate like a bear! See links
below for lesson plans and more!

Article Sources:

A 50 year old Tortoise birthday party:

Big Cats cooling off:

Christmas Treats at the Zoo: