February is African American History Month. In celebration of this event here are a few amazing African American scientists:
George Washington Carver- From cosmetics to gasoline, Carver found more uses for the peanut than you might imagine. Carver moved around quite a bit as a youth and often did a variety of odd jobs. With this well-rounded education, both practical and from formal colleges like Simpson and the Agricultural College in Ames Iowa, he used his knowledge of chemistry and agriculture to try to improve the situation for poor southern farmers.
Percy Lavon Julian - Julian discovered a method to extract hormones and steroids from plants. This discovery brought the cost of medicine down significantly and helped relieve everything from glaucoma to helping with fertility. He also invented a fire fighting foam that was used in World War II.
Annie J. Easly - Best known for her work on the NASA Centaur rocket project, Easly joined NASA at the beginning of the space age. She wrote computer code that evaluated substitute power technologies, helped launch Centaur, identified wind, solar and other energy projects for NACA (now called NASA). She also helped invent other systems to solve energy problems.
Want to know more? Check out our online database Science in Context.
Beautiful Creatures, based on the teen best seller by Kami Garcia, is set to release Feb. 13th. It’s a dreamy, southern gothic romance. The story is set in Gaitlin, South Carolina. Gaitlin is a typical small southern town where everyone knows everyone else’s business. Ethan, 16, and still reeling from the loss of his mother the previous year, begins having nightmares. Every night he wakes sweating and terrified from a dream of a girl who mysteriously slips from his hand and drowns in a pool of water. Can you guess what happens next? Yes, the girl from his dreams, Lena, moves to town. She is mysterious and lives with her reclusive uncle. She’s also a caster, aka witch, whose path will be chosen for her when she turns 16--a path toward darkness or a path toward the light.
Humans and dragons engineered a fragile peace nearly forty years ago, but as the anniversary of the treaty nears, tensions escalate with covert factions on both sides instigating war. Seraphina, an unusually gifted musician, hides not only the extent of her talent but her heritage. Dragons can assume human form and a few live among the people of Goerdd as ambassadors and scholars; they are mathematical, rational and precise musicians, but they disdain emotion. Seraphina is half-dragon and half-human, something that everyone else presumes impossible. She must hide her true nature at risk of death for herself and her father, but her knowledge of dragons is uncanny. When the Crown Prince is murdered, Princess Glisselda and her betrothed, Prince Lucien rely on Seraphina’s courage and knowledge, drawing her deeper into an intrigue rooted in treason.
Vivid world-building at its best, Seraphina is an adventure that tests the boundaries of love, loyalty and what it means to be human.
Anya doesn’t fit in a school or home. Her mom wants her to respect her Russian immigrant roots but she wants to be a normal American teen. When she falls down the well in the park she finally gains a best friend, one that has been dead since 1918. Emily may have been dead for a century but she is determined to help Anya transform into a popular girl at school. As the saying goes, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence and sinister secrets follow Emily from the grave. This is a well drawn story with images that perfectly capture what it is to feel like an awkward teen trying to fit in. I loved this story from start to finish.
It may be a mouthful to say but it is also one of the most beautiful natural phenomenon on this planet. A librarian at Lakewood just got back from Greenland where she spent 4 days (or nights in her case) watching the northern lights.
What creates these amazing light shows in the sky? When electrically charged particles from solar flares enter the earth's atmosphere they collide with oxygen, nitrogen and other gasses to turn into light. Think of it like a giant neon lamp in the sky. These auroras are typically seen at the poles because the magnetic field of the earth generally repels these particles. South auroras are called Aurora Australis. These light shows take place at 60 to 200 miles above the earth and may sometimes go even higher. The color is generally green but may appear in other shades as well.
Want to know more? Check out Science in Context to read more or watch videos.
There have been a lot of advances in robotic design in the last few years. Here are some teen titles that take a look into what robots of the future might look like:
Girl Parts by John M. Cusick - Do you have a hard time talking to girls? Ever feel lonely? David's parents buy him a companion bot to "encourage healthy human interaction."
Cinder by Melissa Marr - Cinder, a gifted mechanic and cyborg, becomes involved with handsome Prince Kai and must uncover secrets about her past in order to save the world.
Eager by Helen Fox - The Bell family's new robot, Eager, is programmed to not merely obey but to question, reason, and exercise free will. When the ultra high-tech, eerily human BDC4 robots begin to behave suspiciously, Eager and the Bells are drawn into a great adventure that is sometimes dark and often humorous.
The Robot by Paul E Watson - Gabe and his best friend Dover crack the code to the forbidden laboratory of Gabe's father, unwittingly unleashing T.R.I.N.A., a beautiful blonde robot programmed with a mission that the two boys must put to a stop.
I Robot by Issac Asimov This is the ultimate classic robot book. Asimov explores the idea of robots becoming an intrinsic part of our society. What happens when they try to take over the world?
ABC Family recently announced that they are working on two TV series based on teen books. I think they are still in the very beginning stages, so we'll need to wait and see what happens. In the meantime, you may want to try the books.
Recovery Road by Blake Nelson: While she is in a rehab facility for drug and alcohol abuse, Maddie meets Stewart, and they begin a relationship. They try to maintain this relationship (and stay sober) after they both get out.
Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay: For seven hundred years, the souls of Romeo and Juliet have repeatedly inhabited the bodies of newly deceased people to battle to the death as sworn enemies, until they meet for the last time as two Southern California high school students. (By the way, I love the cover blurb for this one, which says "The greatest love story ever told is a lie.")
Have you read either of these books? Would you watch the show for either?
I'm not a big fan of horror fiction but for some reason I like zombie books. Not the funny, quirky zombies, but the I'm going to eat you so you had better run kind of zombies. Here are some of my favorite zombie books:
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan - Mary lives in a walled village and in the surrounding forest dwell the unconsecrated, aggressive flesh-eating people who were once dead. There are paths leading from the village down which no one has walked for generations. They are nearly forgotten until one day a stranger comes into the village along one of the paths.
Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Mayberry - In a post-apocalyptic world where fences and border patrols guard the few people left from the zombies that have overtaken civilization, fifteen-year-old Benny Imura is finally convinced that he must follow in his older brother's footsteps and become a bounty hunter. What I love about this book is the new look at zombies as former humans. The book starts slow but after the first chapter it really takes off.
Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick - A huge electromagnetic pulse has been set off and all electronics are dead along with most of the humans. Alex was taking a solo hiking trip through the woods when the EMP struck and at first does not realize the danger. Another side effect of the EMP? People turning into zombies. I couldn't put this book down. It grabbed me from the first page and didn't let up till the end.