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!