Posted tagged ‘FHSU’

Punxsutawney Phil sees no shadow…

February 2, 2011

Groundhog handler Ben Hughes watches Punxsutawney Phil, who did not see his shadow predicting an early spring.

After this week’s weather, I’m sure that everyone is looking forward to spring.  With Punxsutawney Phil not seeing his shadow this morning, spring is supposed to come early, right?

Maybe….maybe not….

Flipping through the history books, it seems Punxsutawney Phil has spotted his shadow 99 out of 114 times. That would mean that there is rarely an early spring. However, according to the Stormfax Almanac, the groundhog is only right 39 percent of the time — a failing grade in school terms.

The Different Celebrations of Christmas

December 22, 2010

Stockings by the fireChristmas as we know it today began in the early 1860’s.  Probably the most celebrated holiday in the world, our modern Christmas is a product of hundreds of years of both secular and religious traditions from around the globe.  Here are some of the different ways that different cultures celebrate the Christmas season:

Norway: ‘Gledelig Jul!’
Norway is the birthplace of the Yule log. The ancient Norse used the Yule log in their celebration of the return of the sun at winter solstice. “Yule” came from the Norse word hweol, meaning wheel. The Norse believed that the sun was a great wheel of fire that rolled towards and then away from the earth. Ever wonder why the family fireplace is such a central part of the typical Christmas scene? This tradition dates back to the Norse Yule log. It is probably also responsible for the popularity of log-shaped cheese, cakes, and desserts during the holidays.

Mexico: ‘Feliz Navidad!’
In 1828, the American minister to Mexico, Joel R. Poinsett, brought a red-and-green plant from Mexico to America. As its coloring seemed perfect for the new holiday, the plants, which were called poinsettias after Poinsett, began appearing in greenhouses as early as 1830. In 1870, New York stores began to sell them at Christmas. By 1900, they were a universal symbol of the holiday.

England: ‘Merry Christmas!’
An Englishman named John Calcott Horsley helped to popularize the tradition of sending Christmas greeting cards when he began producing small cards featuring festive scenes and a pre-written holiday greeting in the late 1830s. Newly efficient post offices in England and the United States made the cards nearly overnight sensations.snowman

Celtic and Teutonic peoples had long considered mistletoe to have magic powers. It was said to have the ability to heal wounds and increase fertility. Celts hung mistletoe in their homes in order to bring themselves good luck and ward off evil spirits. During holidays in the Victorian era, the English would hang sprigs of mistletoe from ceilings and in doorways. If someone was found standing under the mistletoe, they would be kissed by someone else in the room, behavior not usually demonstrated in Victorian society.

Italy: ‘Buone Natale!’
Italians call Chrismas Il Natale, meaning “the birthday.”

Ukraine: ‘Srozhdestvom Kristovym!’
Ukrainians prepare a traditional twelve-course meal. A family’s youngest child watches through the window for the evening star to appear, a signal that the feast can begin.

Canada
Most Canadian Christmas traditions are very similar to those practiced in the United States. In the far north of the country, the Eskimos celebrate a winter festival called sinck tuck, which features parties with dancing and the exchanging of gifts.

Greece: ‘Kala Christouyenna!’
In Greece, many people believe in kallikantzeri, goblins that appear to cause mischief during the 12 days of Christmas. Gifts are usually exchanged on January 1, St. Basil’s Day.

Central America
A manger scene is the primary decoration in most southern European, Central American, and South American nations. St. Francis of Assisi created the first living nativity in 1224 to help explain the birth of Jesus to his followers.

France: ‘Joyeux Noël!’
In France, Christmas is called Noel. This comes from the French phrase les bonnes nouvelles, which means “the good news” and refers to the gospel.

In southern France, some people burn a log in their homes from Christmas Eve until New Year’s Day. This stems from an ancient tradition in which farmers would use part of the log to ensure good luck for the next year’s harvest.

Invisible toxins in your home

December 6, 2010

Exposure to indoor pollution is associated with allergies, severe asthma, hospitalizations for cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and even heart attacks.

Having a clean home doesn’t keep the toxins and pollutants away.  According to the EPA, pollution in the home is often 2 to 5 times higher than it is outdoors.  “The air in your house contains pollen, mold, and ozone that leach in from the outdoors, as well as pet dander and pollutants from household cleaning products,” says Ted Myatt, ScD, a senior scientist at the consulting firm Environmental Health and Engineering, Inc.

Come winter, weatherproofing combined with heated, dry air can boost indoor pollution levels even higher by sealing in airborne toxins and lowering levels of humidity. The combination of the two can pose an even greater risk. “Exposure to indoor pollution is associated with allergies, severe asthma, hospitalizations for cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and even heart attacks,” Dr. Myatt says.

Considering we spend about 60% of our lives in our homes, it’s time to clear the air. Check-out this article to find out what you can do help reduce the toxins and pollutants in the home.

Zoo Atlanta’s baby panda makes an appearance

December 3, 2010
Panda cub

Lun Lun & cub

After almost a month since his birth, Zoo Atlanta allowed the media in to get their first view of Lun Lun’s Giant Panda cub.  The cub won’t be named until he is 100 days old, following Chinese tradition. He will be placed in public viewing areas at the zoo when he can walk, usually around 4 months old. But for now, viewers can watch the online panda cam

Glowing trees may soon replace street lights

November 30, 2010

 

Biologically based LEDs could be used to make trees illuminate city sidewalks. Grant Faint/Getty Images

Scientists from the Academia Sinica and the National Cheng Kung University in Taipei and Tainan have implanted glowing gold nanoparticles, known as bio light emitting diodes, or bio LEDs, inside the leaves of a plant. These  nanoparticles will hopefully one day replace electricity powered street lights with biologically powered light that removes CO2 from the atmosphere 24 hours a days.

 

“In the future, bio-LED could be used to make roadside trees luminescent at night,” said Yen-Hsun Su in an interview with Chemistry World. “This will save energy and absorb CO2 as the bio-LED luminescence will cause the chloroplast to conduct photosynthesis.”

The gold nanoparticles are the key to turning a material that normal absorbs light into one that emits it. When shorter wavelengths of light hit the gold nanoparticles, they get excited and start to glow violet. That violet light strikes the nearby chlorophyll molecules, excites them, and the chlorophyll then produces red light.

Harry Potter sings Elements song

November 16, 2010

Well maybe not Harry Potter, but the actor that plays Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe, sang the Elements song during a recent interview.  The Elements song lists all of the elements of the periodic table and is put to the tune of The Major General’s Song.  Every student should watch and learn…Elements song

.

Cure for the common cold…may not be too far away

November 4, 2010
virus and antibody

Virus (purple) circulating in the bloodstream recognized by antibodies (yellow) of the immune system

In a dramatic breakthrough that could affect millions of lives, researchers at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge have been able to show for the first time that the body’s immune defenses can destroy the common cold virus after it has actually invaded the inner sanctum of a human cell, a feat that was believed until now to be impossible.

In the past, it was thought that the antibodies of the immune system worked entirely outside the cells, in the blood and other extra-cellular fluids of the body. Now scientists realize that there is another layer of defense inside the cells where it might be possible to enhance the natural anti-virus machinery of the body.

How the virus is tackled

  1. Virus (purple) circulating in the bloodstream recognized by antibodies (yellow) of the immune system
  2. Virus attaches to outer cell membrane with antibodies still attached
  3. Virus invades the cell membrane and emerges inside the cell
  4. Remains of cell membrane disappear and the virus is free to hijack the cell
  5. TRIM21 protein (blue) recognizes attached antibodies as foreign material
  6. Powerful virus-destroying machines (cylinders) attracted to virus by TRIM21
  7. Virus rapidly broken down and disabled within hours