Monday, March 2, 2015

the oldest animals

A few months ago, my dog Hannibal died because he was really old. That was super sad for me. He was 16 years old in human years (6 years older than me!), but the vet said that was like being 80 years old in dog years.

That made me interested and how long animals usually live. So I did some research on the internet to find out.

It turn out that some animals don't like very long at all, like bees (3-4 weeks) or hamsters (4 years).

Humans, it turns out, get to be about 80 years old on average, especially if they live in rich countries where there is health care and enough food and stuff. And plus, girls usually live longer than boys. (Yay girls!!!)

But what I was especially interested in were animals that live for super long. Like for example the Adalbra giant tortoise, which lives on islands in the Indian Ocean and spend their time eating plants. One of them, who lives in a zoo in India, is over 250 years old!




Apparently there are a bunch of big tortoises (which I guess is a kind of fancy turtle?) that live super long, because their bodies don't seem to age much and they are so well protected from the predators that may want to eat them.

Lobsters' bodies also don't seem to age much, but they have to change their shell every once in a while and when they get too big, they can't do it anymore and so they die (plus people eat them sometimes, but not me because I'm allergic to shellfish). So they get to be like 70 years old.

There was apparently a clam that was over 500 years old, called the Ming clam.

But the super-champion is a kind of jellyfish called Turritopsis nutricula, who, if it doesn't get eaten or get sick, can potentially live, like, forever - because it can make itself into its young form again when it gets in trouble, and then grow up all over again! It's teenie-weenie (a few millimeters wide), and I'm not sure how interesting it is to be a jellyfish, but you can be one a really long time!



Also, it's not an animal, but I found out there was this pine tree in California that's actually 4 846 years old! So that means it was around when the Egyptians were still busy building the pyramids!!!


I hope I get to live a really really long time (even if I don't have a shell and I'm not technically a jellyfish) so I have the time to find out about lots of other super interesting animal facts!

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Giraffe as the Ideal Unit of Measuring Height (for very high things)

My friend Binh An, who always finds super interesting things on the Internet (and also knows a lot about science and stuff, and plus is really good at cooking Vietnamese food...) showed me this awesome article about how high people are able to throw stuff. Like for exemple did you ever wonder how far up it was possible to throw a baseball, or a tennis ball, or a golf ball? According to the article, it turns out that this would be about 16 giraffes high maximum.

I'm not the best at throwing stuff, but I do play "Baby" and "Massacre" with my friends at school sometimes, by bouncing a tennis ball against the wall in the yard. But most of the time, I'm one of the first people who are "out" because I'm not very good at aiming. And once, not on purpose, I actually threw the ball over the roof, so then we had to stop playing, because it was our only ball. :(

...But I was secretly pretty proud of myself for having managed to pitch it so hard!!! At least two giraffes!!! :)

Anyways, here is the link to the article:

https://what-if.xkcd.com/44/

I hope you like it!

Seeya!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Serendipity

Do you know what the word "serendipity" means?

I do, because I just learned it and decided that it’s my new favorite word!

It means when you luckily stumble upon something. Like maybe you were just wondering what ever had happened to the great strawberry-scented eraser that you had in third grade, and then just by chance you find it as you are tidying up your room. That's serendipity! A lucky find.

You never know when serendipity might sneak up on you... Which, if you think about it, is pretty exciting!

Like for example, I was watching all these great videos on the internet by a girl called Vi Hart, who is super smart and explains math stuff. And I was thinking it would be great to see more videos by girls who know a lot about science to be like, you know, role-models for a wanna-be scientist such as me. (I’m going to be a marine biologist.  Or possibly an astronaut. Or a veterinarian...)

And then: blam! Serendipity strikes again! I found another great girl scientist channel!

Here it is:
https://www.youtube.com/user/thebrainscoop

It’s called "The Brain Scoop" and it’s made by a girl called Emily Graslie, who looks super nice and talks about natural history and animals on her show. She works for a place called The Field Museum in Chicago, where they have all kinds of interesting things, like fossils and animal squeletons and stuff, and she shows you all of it, giving really interesting explanations.

It’s really cool. You should check it out!

I hope your day will be full of serendipity!

Seeya!


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Math and stuff!

OMG! I found this totally awesome youtube channel that you just have to go check out.

It’s made by this super genius girl called Vi Hart who likes to doodle stuff in her notebooks and talk about it — but they’re not just regular doodles. With them she explains all sorts of interesting things about math (and also about music sometimes) in a really fun way.

I showed her videos to my dad, who is a math teacher at a university, and he agrees with me that they’re a great way to find out about, you know, math stuff.

Here is the link to her channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOGeU-1Fig3rrDjhm9Zs_wg

My dad says I should also mention a website that is a bit less fun, but more helpful if you’re actually trying to learn the nuts and bolts of how to do math and science for school. I've been using it a lot for my classes and it really helped. I get mostly good grades now!

Well, ok, except in grammar and gym. :(

You know: "You win some, you lose some..."

Anyways the site is called Khan’s Academy and its free. Just though you should know about it.

Here is the address:

https://www.khanacademy.org/

Seeya!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Walking on two feet (instead of four)

Did you ever wonder why we humans walk on two feet?

Animation: SoylentGreen
I was asking myself this, as I observed my mom’s pug Tamerlan struggling to hoist himself up on the living room couch, so that he could chew on the leather armrest (which is his favorite thing to do).

(Here is Tamerlan, trying to look all innocent:

)

Anyways, when we’re babies, we start out crawling around, but then, after a while we stand up to walk... As if this was a totally normal thing to do. But why?

Monkeys and apes, our cousins do fine on all fours, and so do our more distant cousins like cats and dogs and bears and, you know, like cows and elephants and horses...

So I did some online digging, and it turns out that scientists don’t really know. They have a few ideas, but they don’t know for sure the real reason.

It could be that standing upright became an advantage when our ancestors moved from a forest environment to the savannah, where it’s good to be able to stand up because you can see far away, above the tall grass, and notice if a lion or something is sneaking up to eat you.

Or it could be that standing up all the time freed up our ancestors’ hands, so that they could carry stuff they needed to bring from far away, like food or tools.

Or it could be that walking on two feet actually costs less energy in certain conditions than walking on all fours, so it’s better because it makes you less tired.

But nobody knows for sure! So it’s still a mystery.

Here is an article about this stuff. It’s a bit difficult to read because it’s written for grown ups, but it’s still really interesting I think, so check it out:

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/becoming-human-the-evolution-of-walking-upright-13837658/?no-ist

Oh, plus: I found out that "walking on two feet" is called "Bipedalism" and that the fastest bipedal animal is actually not humans, but the ostrich, which can run to up to 60 miles per hour!

Photo: Stig Nygaard

All I can say is that I'm sure glad I’m bipedal, this way I can pick up that big old couch-chewing Tamerlan and give him a hug as I walk away!

Seeya!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Milky Way

I love looking up at the sky, especially when my dad takes me to the country.

In winter, on a clear night, we usually take walks around the lake to go to the village and have a cup of hot cocoa. Looking up, you can see all these stars that you can't see in the city, because the glow from the streetlights and stuff gets in the way.

http://media.skysurvey.org/interactive360/index.html

I found this awesome interactive image of the night sky online that you guys can check out, if you want to know a bit what our galaxy looks like in detail. It's really interesting, and also, super beautiful. You can zoom in and out, and find out what the names of all the constellations are.

http://media.skysurvey.org/interactive360/index.html

I hope you like it!

Seeya!


Monday, September 29, 2014

Porcupines!

I was looking at youtube the other day, and I found this great channel where they have little videos about different animals, like for example Brazilian porcupines:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBu2afgqNf4

The videos are made by this super nice lady called Jessi, who loves animals so much she decided to start an animal shelter in Montana with her husband, you know, to recue animals and stuff.

http://www.animalwonders.org/

I think it's great! I would love to have so many pets!

So far, I only have two emerald parakeets, that stay in my dad's office and say odd things like "Cheez Whiz" and "Copacetic."


Also, I used to have a dachshund called Hannibal, but then he died because he was super old.

Anyways, you should check out the videos, because they are pretty neat. Maybe when I grow up, I can have an animal shelter too...

Seeya!