Month: March 2014

Earthquakes rock our world

Earthquakes are no laughing matter.  They are the result of vibrations in the Earth's outer crust.  These vibrations are caused when underground rock slips.  The Earth's crust is made of large plates of rock.  Over time these layers of rock slowly move causing the plates to slip against each other.  These tectonic type earthquakes occur in regions where the large plates border each other - the San Andreas Fault in California is a well known fault line. Earthquakes can also be caused by volcanic activity.  These types of earthquakes are usually not as destructive as the earthquakes caused by shifting plates.  In fact, earthquakes caused by volcanic activity can actually be beneficial since they often precede a major volcanic eruption and act as a warning that

Your brain

The human brain is a grayish-pink, jellylike ball with many ridges and grooves on its surface. A newborn baby's brain weighs less than 1 pound (0.5 kilogram). By the time a person is 6 years old, the brain has reached its full weight of about 3 pounds (1.4 kilograms). Most of the brain's nerve cells are present at birth. The increase in weight comes from growth of nerve cells, development and growth of supporting cells, and development of connections among cells. During this six- year period, a person learns and acquires new behavior patterns at the fastest rate in life. A network of blood vessels supplies the brain with the vast quantities of oxygen and food that it requires. The human brain makes up only about

Astronauts

[sc:commonscripts] Astronaut is a person who pilots a spacecraft or works in space. In Russia and the other former Soviet republics, such people are called cosmonauts. Astronauts and cosmonauts operate spacecraft and space stations, launch and recapture satellites, and conduct engineering, medical, and scientific experiments in space. The word astronaut comes from Greek words that mean sailor among the stars. Cosmonaut means sailor of the universe. Most American astronauts work for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). They live and train at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston (Reeko's been there!). On July 20, 1969, astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., became the first people to set foot on the moon. They landed the Apollo 11 lunar module Eagle and performed scientific

Volcanic ash and volcanic gas

Volcanic ash is made up of fragments less than 1/5 inch (0.5 centimeter) in diameter. Most volcanic ash falls to the surface and becomes welded together as rock called volcanic tuff. Sometimes, volcanic ash combines with water in a stream and forms a boiling mudflow. Mudflows may reach speeds of 60 miles (97 kilometers) per hour and can be highly destructive. Volcanic bombs are large fragments. Most of them range from the size of a baseball to that of a basketball. The largest bombs may measure more than 4 feet (1.2 meters) across and weigh up to 100 short tons (91 metric tons). Small volcanic bombs are generally called cinders. Gas pours out of volcanoes in large quantities during most eruptions. The gas is made up chiefly

Robotics, Robots, and how they’ll take over the world

[sc:commonscripts] In simple terms, a robot is a mechanical device that is intended to do the work a human would normally do. Robots can be as simple as a mechanical arm that helps assemble cars in a car assembly plant, or as complicated as a two-legged mechanical robot that looks very much like a real person. Robots are getting more and more sophisticated each day. The robot above is named ASIMO. He was created by Honda and is a little over 4 feet tall. He can walk and even run on two legs. Asimo can recognize moving objects flying through the air. He can recognize people’s faces and greet them by name. He can distinguish sounds and “hear” too. Asimo, like most robots, is made possible

All about RFID (Radio Frequency ID) tags

[sc:commonscripts] What is RFID? RFID tags, or Radio Frequency Identification tags, are really quite neat.  These small tags use radio waves to communicate with a "reader", a machine that reads the tag from a distance.  What makes them cool is their size and cost.  Why?  Because new technologies have allowed scientists to build these tags very small - small as a regular price tag on a shirt at the store.  Also, they are cheap to make now too - some only cost a few pennies to make.  This opens up the possibilities of what we can do with RFID technology. For instance, RFID tags can be used in credit cards so we don't have to run them through a reader.  Since they use radio waves, you can simply

QR Codes

Nope, they're not modern art or erroneous ink blotches. These are QR Codes or "quick response codes". These are like barcodes and are readable via a QR Code scanner or smartphone with the appropriate software installed. Download a barcode scanner or qr code scanner application on to your phone and you will be able to “read” one of these.  In Reeko's Mad Scientist Lab, QR Codes are used to provide secret messages (e.g. where to find the hidden pots of gold), science tips, and in some cases, just to mess with your head. QR Codes were created in Japan in 1994 and were quite popular there for some time before they spread to the United States. QR codes were originally developed to track parts in a

All about those mesmerizing lava lamps

[sc:commonscripts] History of Lava Lamps Lava Lamps (or Lava Lites) have been around longer than anyone can really remember. A man named Craven Walker saw a similar type lamp in a pub where he was drinking an ale. He described it as a "contraption made out of a cocktail shaker, old tins and things." Walker, being an inventor, was determined to make an even better version of the lamp and spent the next 10 years working on a better model (during this time he also ran a house-swap agency and made a film on nudism). Once Walker perfected the right combination of oil, wax, and other solids, he named the new lamp Astro. The original version had tiny lights at the bottom to simulate starlight. He made several

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Leaning Tower of Pisa is a bell tower at Pisa, Italy. It is famous for leaning 141/2 feet (4.4 meters) out of line when measured from the seventh story. It tilts because its foundation was built on unstable soil (it's a well known fact that Pisa architects aren't so bright). Construction of the tower began in 1173 and ended between 1360 and 1370 (which means it's been around even longer than dad). The ground beneath the tower first started to sink after the first three stories were built. In 1990, the tower was closed for repairs. At that time, its lean had been increasing an average of 1/20 of an inch (1.3 millimeters) per year. Engineers hope to stabilize the tower's foundation and straighten it slightly

Galileo Galilei’s Free Fall from the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Galileo, pronounced gal uh LAY oh (1564-1642), an Italian astronomer and physicist, has been called the founder of modern experimental science. Galileo made the first effective use of the refracting telescope to discover important new facts about astronomy. He also discovered the law of falling bodies as well as the law of the pendulum. Galileo designed a variety of scientific instruments. He also developed and improved the refracting telescope, though he did not invent it. Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa (yep, the site of the famous leaning tower) on Feb. 15, 1564. In the early 1570's, his family moved to Florence, and Galileo began his formal education at a school in a nearby monastery. Galileo's father, determined that his son should be a doctor, sent