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!

Friday, September 19, 2014

What the world looks like if you're teeny-weeny

Do you know about sengis, a.k.a. elephant shrews?

They are small rodents with really long noses (that's why they're called elephant shrews) who spend their time running around these corridors they build in the grass in the African savannah. The reason they build these passages is so they can run run run as fast as possible to pounce on the bugs they like to eat.

Here is a picture of one from wikipedia:


But it can be pretty scary to be so small... That's what I found out by watching this brilliant TV program all about sengis (and also other small animals from around the world). It shows you whats things look like from their point of view. You know, if you were teeny-weeny!

It's super great! Although there are some sad parts. But I think you would really love it.

Check it out here:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1daayx_bbc-hidden-kingdoms-1of3-under-open-skies-576p-hdtv-x264-aac-mvgroup-org_shortfilms

Seeya!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Spanish is totally ¡estupendo!



Today I started learning Spanish! Or español, as we say in Spanish.

It's pretty exciting and I'm sure I'm going to love it! Already, I LOVE the little hat that the "n" sometimes wears, which is called a tilde, and means that you should pronounce the "n" like a "niuh" as in the word "genius".

Our neighbor Kika is from Argentina. She lives three houses down from us and she's super nice. She spends a lot of time tending her front garden, which is beautiful because it has tons of flowers. Now she's an old lady, but it turns out that before she retired, she was actually a school teacher.

My dad was telling her all the problems I had with my new school and how it was really difficult for me so that I had to wait till my old one accepted me back because I didn't want to go to the new one anymore and everything... And you know what? She told him that she it would be her pleasure to teach me until I could go back to my old school. She said she knows the whole school program, and she would also teach me Spanish on top!!!



So of course, my dad decided that it would probably be a good idea. And me too because she is very nice and also I think it's exciting to learn other languages. So far in español, I know how to say: "Hello! My name is Margaux!" (¡Hola! ¡Me llamo Margaux!) And "I love watching Princess Mooglow on TV." (Me encanta ver a Princess Moonglow en la tele.) And also "Where is the bathroom?" (¿Dónde está el baño?) You, know... Useful stuff!



 I'll let you know what else I learn!

Meanwhile, here is a great Spanish song that I found on youtube for inspiration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvzEtFKyYqA 

Check it out!

Seeya!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tarsiers!

For a long time my favorite animal has been the giraffe. Because giraffes are beautiful, but also funny-looking. I find I tend to like animals who are like that. You know, goofy.



Like pugs also. They look silly, but in a pleasant way.



But now, I think I've found a new cute, weird looking animal that is going to be my favorite: the tarsier!

I was writing about how some people like to eat ants the last time, and that made me wonder if there are other animals who eat bugs, apart from, you know, humans once in a while, and birds, and Penny's little brother Pablo (he will put anything in his mouth!).

So I looked it up online. I found that tarsiers, who are teeny-weeny monkey-ish creatures that live in the jungle in the Philippines and Indonesia and places, only eat bugs!!! They have huge eyes to help them see at night, which is when they go hunting. They just sort of pounce on spiders and grasshoppers and stuff and then munch them. Which, I know, is gross. But maybe to a tarsier, a spider tastes like chocolate cake?

Here is a picture:


They like to hang out as a family inside holes in big trees during the day, to rest. But then at night they go look for something to eat. They are small enough to hold in your hand, but their eyes are so big that they can't move them around - they have to swivel their whole heads the shift their gaze... Plus they are super cute!

Here is a little movie you can watch about my new favorite animal:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRwbhOEv20A

I hope you like it!

Seeya!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Ants and how big (or small) stuff is

I spent a lot of time today looking at ants marching in the backyard, wondering what the world looked like to an ant. Luckily, my aunt Bebe gave me a great book about ants the last time she came to visit, so I could check it out.



http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0674485262/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_dp_ss_1?pf_rd_p=1535523702&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0674040759&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1H384HXRSXBVB8FT7B5Y#reader_0674485262

It turns out that ants don't really see much at all, and that they find their way around mostly by "smelling" stuff with their antennas. Depending on the species, they can sort of see what direction light comes from, but that's about it. So for an ant, the world is made up mostly of smells and the feeling of touching stuff.

Here is a picture of some ants:


When an ant dies, the other ants are supposed to carry it out of the ant colony and just sort of throw it in the trash. They can tell the ant is dead only because it smells funny. In an experiment I saw one time, a scientist put the smell of a dead ant on one that's alive with a kind of special perfume - and right away the other ants started carrying it out to the garbage heap, even though it was wiggling around like crazy (so that, to us humans anyways, it seemed obviously alive). The other ants were fooled though: for them if it smells dead, it must be dead!

Plus did you know that ants were closely related to wasps and bees? And that in some parts of the world, like Mexico, people actually love to eat ants for dinner? (It seems a bit yucky, but you never know, maybe with some ketchup or something...)

Looking at ants and thinking about ants also got me wondering about how come some things are small and some things are big. Like, compared to an ant, I'm a super giant. But compared to my dad, or to the oak tree in the yard, or to, you know, planet earth, I'm pretty small. So that in a way, size is always a relative thing.

Later I went on the Internet, and I found this awesome website that actually lets you visualize how big and small things are in the universe compared to other things. It also has nice music!

Check it out!

http://htwins.net/scale2/

Anyways, no matter how big or small you are (and even if you eat ants sometimes), I hope you have a great day!

Seeya!


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Meerkats!

Okay so, we were in the living room at Penny's house watching a totally boring TV show where people had to, you know, sing songs and stuff, so that some other people could say mean things about them and decide who was the best...

I don't get those shows because the songs are mostly terrible, and they just go on and on, but Penny's mom loves watching this kind of thing, especially while she's fixing supper. And since she's super nice to me (and also makes really awesome lasagna), I guess I don't mind, mostly.

But then, during the commercials, Penny's dad flipped the channel and found a show about some funny-looking animals called meerkats, which I didn't know about, and which, it turns out, are super cute and live in gangs that help each other out.

Here are some pictures of meerkats that I found in wikipedia:




They live in a desert part of Africa, where it's really hot. They spend their time hunting bugs and lizards and snakes and stuff, but they have to watch out for bigger predators like eagles and jackals that can eat them.

What the show explained what that there is always one of the meerkats that goes to the top of a tree or a big rock near where they live and stays on the lookout: he stands on his rear legs and swivels his head around over and over. It looks really funny!

He makes this special sound if he sees anything suspicious. And when the other meerkats hear it, they all scurry underground in the burrow for protection.

As animals, they are really sociable and love to play. They just like to hang out together and the grown-ups teach the kids how to hunt and survive in the desert.

I think they're neat!

Plus, I really like that they are part of the mongoose family, because that gives me the chance to say the word mongoose! (A fun word, I hope you agree...)

They eat mostly bugs apparently, like scorpions and stuff, which seems a bit gross to me, but probably, if you're a meerkat, it tastes just as good as lasagna!

Anyways, here is a link to the meerkat show we were watching, in case you guys feel like checking it out:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYiDqzF1yYA

Seeya!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Welcome to my blog!

Hi, I'm Margaux!




Welcome to my new blog!

It's going to be about animals and science and stuff (because that's what I'm interested in mostly).

But I might also write about, you know, life. Like hanging out with my best friend Penny. And what happens to me at school. And having to eat my dad's weird cooking. Plus ballet. Plus my favorite books. Plus the music I like...

So okay, it's going to be about a lot of stuff... But I'm pretty sure it's going to be awesome!

(Please leave me some comments and let me know what you think you guys!)