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Science Saturday

by: 
Arra, Lakewood Library


Did you know Uranium in the Rocky Mountains gives Denver a 50% higher level of radioactivity than most other U.S. cities?  This is the equivalent to getting three chest x-rays per year.  Ironically, the cancer rate is lower in Denver than in the rest of the country. Want to know more?  Check out the book The Instant Physicist: An Illustrated GuideAmaze your new teachers with your knowledge of science this school year!

by: 
Arra, Lakewood Library

Aaaakkkkk!  Ebola has just broken out in Texas!  What should we do?  You can become part of the Center for Disease Control with a new i-device app.  Solve a fictional outbreak just like the CDC.  Can you be a CDC detective and figure out how an outbreak began before the whole state of Texas is gone?  *There isn't really an Ebola outbreak in Texas*

by: 
Arra, Lakewood Library


 © Dr Michel Royon / Wikimedia Commons

Did you know bees dance?  They use this dance to help communicate with other bees in the hive the location of the best flowers or a perfect location for a new hive.  This bee waggle is actually part of the bees genetics.  Bees start out as nurse bees, taking care of the queen.  After a few weeks the gene kicks in and the bees become worker bees and begin foraging for pollen.  When bees are looking for a new hive worker bees will scout out potential locations.  They come back to the swarm, the group of nurse bees surrounding and protecting the queen bee, and do a dance to show the location of the potential new hive.  The bees all begin to do the same dance based on the best location.  If one bee doesn't do the dance the other bees will persuade the bee to dance with the rest of the colony.  Want to know more?  Check out the online database: Science in Context.

by: 
Arra, Lakewood Library

Who knew one of the most deadly animals in the world would be a shrimp?  With amazing vision that can see in both the ultraviolet and infrared spectrum not much gets past this feisty little creature.  The two appendages on the front of its body can hit with the same force as a 22 caliber bullet!  Check out the blog The Oatmeal for a fantastic introduction to the mantis shrimp. 

by: 
Arra, Lakewood Library

Death Valley is the lowest, hotest and driest place in North America.  With an average rain fall total of less than two inches and temperatures over 100 degrees between April and October this is undisputable.  The highest recorded ground temperature was 201 degrees Fahrenheit with an air temperature of 128 degrees in July of 1972.  Temperatures regularly exceed 120 degrees in the summer months.  There are four mountain ranges that block the mositure from the ocean from reaching Death Valley.  Despite being so dry and hot it is home to 51 species of mammals, 307 bird species, 36 species of reptiles, three species of amphibians and five species of fish.   When I start to complain about the heat this summer I will just have to remind myself, "At least I'm not in Death Valley!"

by: 
Arra, Lakewood Library

This weekend is the grand opening of the light rail West Rail Line.  There are lots of festivities going on to celebrate.  Here is some of the science behind the commuter train.  The train is a "bi-directional, six-axle, high-floor single articulated light rail vehicle constructed of low alloy high tensile (LAHT) steel," according to the RDT website.  What does this really mean?  The trains are made out of a type of steel that is strongerand more resistant to corrosion.  The carbon content is required to be between .05% and .25% and the steel may contain other elements such as: manganese, copper, niobium, nitrogen, nickel, vanadium, chromium, titanium, calcium and titanium.  The trains run off an AC-IGBT system.  This is a motor with a controlled amount of voltage from the DC electricity of the tracks to the AC current needed for running the four motors in each car of the train.  

Maybe RTD can model the next phase of train development off the Eco-Ride train in Japan.  Like a rollercoaster this train runs by turning potential energy into kinetic energy.  Hang onto your lunch!  Read more about the Eco-Train in the online database Science Reference Center.

by: 
Jessie, Columbine Library

What happens when you try to wring out a washcloth in space? Personally, I had never thought about it. Luckily for me, someone else did and now we have this cool video of an astronaut from the Canadian Space Agency testing exactly that:

Follow the Canadian Space Agency on YouTube for more awesome space experiments.

by: 
Arra, Lakewood Library

"What's for dinner?" asks Archaea.  Rocket Fuel!  Some deep sea microbes thrive on perchlorate, a major ingredient in rocket fuel.  Scientists in Netherlands studying these microbes discovered their ability to consume perchlorate.  Among the most commonly seen and studied Archaea is Archaeoglobus fulgidus. It lives in ocean vents and hot springs all over the planet and breathes sulfer instead of oxygen.  Perchlorate is also a chemical found on Mars.   This unique diet may resemble creatures from the earliest times on earth.   

Want to know more?  Check out our online database Science in Context.

by: 
Jessie, Columbine Library

James D. Watson is most famous for his work with Francis Crick to discover the structure of DNA. Watson was born today, April 6, 1928. He was declared a genius at an early age and he graduated from the University of Chicago at age nineteen. He and Crick began to investigate the molecular structure of DNA in 1952, eventually coming up with the structure known today as the "Double Helix." Watson won a Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine in 1962, and in 1991 he became the first director of the Human Genome Project. The Human Genome Project was an effort to map the genetic sequence of the entire genome, a project which was completed in 2006, and has huge implications for research as well as ethics. It's hard to imagine where we would be today without Watson's work and the work of countless other scientists after him. For one thing, it's possible some of my favorite science fiction books might never have been published!

The library has lots of books about thse scientists and their work, or you can check out the Science in Context database on our new Homework Help page for more information.

by: 
Jessie, Columbine Library

(Super cheesy, I know. I couldn't resist)

Here are a few eggy experiments to help you celebrate Easter weekend:

Suck an egg into a bottle (from The Naked Scientists): You'll need a hard boiled egg, a bottle with a slightly smaller neck, a little oil and a match (or you can try it with boiling water). You'll light the match and put it in the bottle, with will warm the air inside and cause it to expand. As the air cools, the egg will be sucked into the bottle. Read through the link for full directions, as well as instructions for getting your egg back out again.

Egg Geodes (from The Happy Scientist): You'll need clean egg shells and an egg carton to hold them, epsom salt, food coloring, and hot water. You'll finish with cool crystalized eggs. Read through the link for the directions.

Naked Egg or Rubber Egg (from Steve Spangler Science): You'll need an egg, a glass, and a lot of vinegar. Basically, you let the egg sit in the vinegar until the acetic acid in the vinegar reacts with the calcium carbonate in the egg shell and breaks it down. I saw a few other websites that said you could bounce it against your table, but do so at your own risk! Read through the link for full directions.

What other experiments can you think of?

 

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