The eastern wood thrush is my favorite songbird. The best time to hear one is just before sunset when it fills the woods with an ominous yet beautiful flowing whistle. Click to listen.
Catbirds can be identified by a very busy and some may say noisy call. Their tails usually flutter sporadically and they are quick on their feet. Click to listen.
Hang an orange in a tree and if you're lucky, a Baltimore Oriole will come to eat it. Click to listen.
These birds are strange and so is their name. They almost look as if they're hurt while in a resting position. Click to listen.
These large birds can be found by riversides, perched high up in trees. Their nests are generally messy looking so they aren't too hard to find. Click to listen.
The tardigrade is one of my favorite microscopic organisms. They are the ultimate survivalists. They can withstand extreme cold and heat, live years without nourishment, and can even survive space. You need an electron microscope to see them but they are nearly everywhere.
Tardigrades are also known as water bears and resemble water weenies, only they have eight arms and a tiny sucker for a mouth. Their movements are that of something many, many times their size which makes them appear to be too perfect for something so microscopic. The crazy thing is that they've been studied for many years but not too long ago, they were said to be non-ubiquitous. In fact, they are probably in your back yard crawling around in the trees. Check out this video to learn more about them.
I first have to admit that I'm a huge fan of the show Mythbusters before I praise a podcast that's....very worthy of my praise. I had no idea who the Mythbusters were when I first started watching the show years ago, but I knew that between Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman they had over 30 years of experience in special effects and not much more than that.
The two busters of myths are famous for saying that they make a great team but wouldn't make great friends because they are so very different from each other. The only reason that they've been blowing stuff up for the past ten years or so has to do with Adam being hired by Jamie's company to work on the set of A Nightmare Before Christmas. This is where the all the fun began.
A few years later they were shooting a pilot for Discovery. Adam did what he does best and put his ability to embrace something new to work by learning how to edit video while in the process of editing their video pitch and the rest is still history in the making. But I'm not here to talk about the Mythbusters. My knowledge about them is a result of hours and hours of listening to a wonderful little gem called Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project. Yes, it's a podcast titled after the absence of a title and yes, you can download and listen to it whenever and wherever you please.
I've spent the last few weeks listening to old episodes not because I'm trying to catch up, but because I genuinely enjoy listening to Adam Savage talk about just about everything! He covers it all...parenting, marriage, working in a shop, being a geek, video games, special effects, film, Etsy shopping, hearing loss, stitches, whip making, holiday shopping, Indiana Jones, Quentin Tarantino, tech, shop safety, dumpster diving, building a toolkit, cooking, celebrity encounters, travel, science, comics, cosplay, myth busting... To sum up the real Adam Savage: He's a human sponge willing to absorb anything and just as willing to regurgitate that information back in the most passionate and gracious way possible.
Of course, he's not alone while spouting out randomness, he's joined by Will Smith (not the Fresh Prince) and Norman Chan (Jamie too, but he's not on this particular podcast). Together they are part of Tested.com which is sort of like Mythbusters but online and on a much smaller, more focused level. Will and Norm are technology writers and built Tested as a place for "anything that's awesome." Somehow, they linked up with Adam and Jamie and now they have a place for mega awesomeness!
I've seriously learned a ton by listening to Still Unitiled: The Adam Savage Project and think that if you enjoy science, family life, cooking, and the long list mentioned above, you'll without a doubt love listening to these guys and their interesting lives as they pepper listeners with mega awesomeness and the occasional Jamie-looks-like-a-walrus joke.
Battle wounds aren't like flat tires but they can now be repaired in a similar way. These tiny medical grade sponges are coated in chitosan (made from crustacean shells) and wood pulp. Packing these into a gunshot wound, for example, is a faster way to stop bleeding and provide a temporary fix. It'll surely save lives. So it's kind of like bike tire Slime without the green mess.
When I was growing up I had a wristwatch with a barometer. I was able to predict the weather without any help from the weatherman. I also had cats. Now if you have a cat, you already know that they sleep for most of the day, they get into trouble when you are trying to sleep, and they can also predict the weather. My cats never told me about the latter. They were more adept at allowing me to live in my house and to making me feed them. I had no clue that they were almost as good as my fancy-pansy wristwatch.
If a cat sneezes, scratches, licks itself against the grain, or sleeps on it's back with it's mouth turned up, it means that some kind of weather is going to happen. So what if we got together some cats – maybe two or three – we could make them smell some pepper. We could offer them a cozy spot on the couch. We could also try tickling them with a feather to try to make them lick or scratch themselves. The idea behind this would be to create some kind of weather event that no human has ever seen before – never ever recorded in a Farmer's Almanac. We could create some kind of "supurrcell" blended with who-knows-what.
Last night I watched Hawking on PBS. I was almost certain that I'd be listening to the buttery vocals of Benedict Cumberbatch for most of the broadcast. Instead, I was surprised to find Cumberbatch behind the camera being interviewed. He apparently portrayed Stephen Hawking in a biopic. I am accustomed to watching Into the Universe With Stephen Hawking where Cumberbatch and Hawking's iconic robotic voice beautifully overlap. This wasn't the case. Hawking narrated the entire hour and it was refreshing. He told the world about his interesting yet tragic life dealing with ALS through the one device that has enabled him to communicate his theories behind some of the biggest mysteries of the universe.
I'm always looking for new ways to learn about the universe. By coincidence or more honestly by my app alerts on AppShopper.com, I had been notified that Stephen Hawking's Snapshots of the Universe went on sale. So, I bit. I read half of it in one sitting! It's filled with text and mini games that help explain the basic concepts behind the universe's most noticeable laws like gravity and space-time. I'm not going to give you a full review here, but you should check it out for yourselves, iOS users. Here's a quick book factoid: I am privileged to live in the same small town where Kitty Ferguson once lived. She has written a few books about Hawking and spent a lot of time interviewing him. Her works include Stephen Hawking: An Unfettered Mind and Stephen Hawking: Quest for a Theory of Everything.
I have an intense interest in cosmology, in physics, and in some of the same mysteries that are driving the leading minds in science. I grew up with and was influenced by family members who were/are mathematicians and who are science-minded. Stephen Hawking is one of the few people in his field (Michio Kaku included) that are able to help us non-physicists understand quantum physics, black holes, multiverses and a long list of discoveries that are helping to sculpt the theory of everything.
Matches burn after we strike the side of a matchbox or the side of our scruffy beards. However, this giant match was lit by a torch and it was captured at 4,000 frames per second. If you want to learn about the amazing chemical reaction taking place go here. But if you want to learn a out how they managed to capture it burning in slow motion, you've come to the right place.
They said that they used 2,000 watts of light at 4 inches plus mirrors and reflectors in order to capture the burning flame in slow motion. Isn't that going to overexpose the match and flame? Isn't the flame itself going to be a sufficient amount of light anyway? Nope.
Even though the flame is producing a seemingly sufficient amount of light, it's not enough to be captured at 4,000 frames per second. As you increase framerate, the amount of light that is required to capture a subject is also increased. If the framerate were reduced to a standard of 24 fps or 30 fps, 2,000 watts of light at 4 in would be overkill and completely overexpose the subject because the frequency at which an image is being captured has decreased.
Another factor is shutter speed. As a general rule, shutter speed is "double" that of a given frame rate to produce a decent looking shot. This is of course completely subjective. A shot captured in 24 fps would then have a shutter speed of 1/48 and a shot captured in 30 fps will have a shuttle speed of 1/60. If they shot at 4,000 fps then they may not have set their shutter speed to a high number. Most of the time it's electronically controlled on a high speed camera. Shutter speed ultimately decreases the amount of light that is captured as the fraction of the shutter speed decreases. Technical mumbo-jumbo aside, it's really cool to watch things in slow motion.
Death is a difficult subject. Something that once existed as matter in the form of life, now exists as matter in the form of - well, nowadays humans ultimately decide how we'd like our loved ones remains to "live" on. The same is true for our pets. NPR had a great Weekend Edition about a company that turns human ashes into diamonds using high heat and pressure.
One can argue that nobody would want to wear something that used to be great grandma Pearl. But how is this any different than buying a fur coat or genuine leather shoes? Minus the emotional attachment, it's still an item that was a living creature. The catch is that this process can cost as much as a funeral. So the compromise would be to add value to yourself in death, rather than having someone spread your ashes into the air or rather than buried underground with hopes that the zombie apocalypse will happen.
Your body is filled with a slurry of attraction chemicals and there's nothing you can do about it. It's no wonder why you can't get a girlfriend you big dumb ape. Attraction leads to action I always say, but your body is subconsciously doing most of the work for you. It's firing off chemicals that you naturally produce such as adrenaline, serotonin, testosterone, and dopamine. You're essentially on drugs when you're attracted to the opposite sex. So if you really, really like-like someone maybe you should take a good deep sniff, let your eyes roll back inside your head, and enjoy the chemicals.
It can't be easy to reach an escape velocity fast enough to exit the Milky Way galaxy. Somehow there are stars the size of our very own Sun managing this incredible feat right now. Ironically, there were 42 possible stars that were discovered to have been possible high-velocity dwarfs (thanks, Douglas Adams) but only 17 were deemed probable to have reached a high enough escape velocity.