July 15, 2009

Climate change, the energy crisis,  global pandemics, nuclear proliferation-many of the most urgent problems of the twenty-first century require science-based solutions. Yet Americans are paying less and less attention to scientists. For every five hours of cable news, less than a minute is devoted to science; the number of newspapers with weekly science sections has shrunken by two-thirds over the past several decades. Just 18 percent of Americans personally know a scientist to begin with, and exceedingly few can name a living scientist role model.

This is excerpted from the new book UNSCIENTIFIC AMERICA, written by Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum.


The disconnect between the scientific community and mainstream American culture grows wider every day.


We all need to think about our own attitudes toward science and what we’re teaching our children. 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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July 14, 2009

In this article from the latest issue of Wired Magazine, researchers describe how some humans are learning to move around by using their ears, rather than their eyes, to know where they are going.

Make Like a Dolphin: Learn Echolocation | Wired Science | Wired.com

Do you think YOU could move around in your world the way a dolphin does in water?


Posted by: Seymour Simon

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June 1, 2009

Doing an experiment with a child helps them learn about science. To learn new things, you have to build upon what you already know. In everyday interactions with children, there are many things you can try without lecturing or applying pressures to help them learn science. Of course,  you can’t experiment with a dolphin but here are a few ideas that will help you learn about how dolphins survive in the sea.

1.  How long can you hold your breath? Compare that to how long a dolphin can hold its breath underwater.

2. Do sounds travel underwater? Can you hear sounds when you are swimming? Have you ever played a game where you and a friend make sounds and "talk" underwater,  and try to understand each other?

3. Which freezes more quickly: freshwater or ocean water? Fill two plastic cups halfway, one with freshwater and the other with salty water. Put them in the freezer and check them every ten minutes to see which freezes first. How do the results help to explain why dolphins don’t live in freshwater lakes in places that get very cold in winter?

4. Dolphins dive deep under the water where the water pressure is very great. In the sea,  pressure increases with water depth. Here’s how you can demonstrate that pressure increases with depth. You will need a large, empty tin can, a hammer, a large nail, water, salt, a ruler and a basin or a sink.  Use the hammer and a nail to make three holes, one above the other and each two inches apart in the side of the can. Stand the can on the side of the basin or sink and fill with water. Measure the distance the water spurts out from each of the holes. Try it again with salty water.

a.  Which spurts out further? Why? Remember that the weight of the water is greater over the bottom hole than over the top hole. The heavier the water above, the greater is the water pressure below. At sea level, air pressure is a bit less than 15 pounds per square inch. At 300 feet, the water pressure is about 150 pounds per square inch.

b.  Could humans survive at that pressure without protection? Do research to find out how dolphins survive the pressure of deep waters.

Click on this for Dolphins FAQs 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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May 31, 2009

What’s so interesting about dolphins?

  A while ago, I read a science fiction story about an ocean planet populated with intelligent water mammals such as whales and dolphins. The ocean animals of this planet even explored beyond their planet in spaceships filled with ocean water. And who were the leaders and the smartest sea life on the ocean planet? Dolphins, naturally.

  What makes dolphins so smart? Why their brains of course. Dolphins have very large brains in relation to their body size. In fact, bottlenose dolphins rank second only to humans in the ratio of their brain size to body size. Just how intelligent on the dolphins that live on our planet Earth? Nobody really knows the exact answer to this question (or at least no one on Earth knows), but researchers are finding out that dolphins can and do communicate with each other and that they can even solve some puzzles and problems.

  All of this is interesting, but the real reason I wrote a book about dolphins is that they are beautiful and fascinating to watch at sea and even in large public aquariums.  And like with most of the books I write, even after the book is published I still am finding out new things which I wish I had put in the book. Do you know things about dolphins or have you taken pictures or video of dolphins that you would like to share with readers of Seymour Science?  Send an email to Seymour Science  and tell me all about it so I can post your note on my site.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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May 31, 2009

Teacher Guide: Let’s talk about dolphins!

  1. Dolphins are the "wonder of the animal kingdom." Take a tour of a dolphin’s body to find out what makes them so wonderful.

    a. Teeth: A dolphin’s teeth are not for chewing, but how do they help in food gathering? Some scientists think that the teeth are spaced in a way to help dolphins analyze sound waves.

    b. The melon: The melon is used in echolocation to focus sound waves the dolphin gives off.

      c. Dorsal fin: As distinctive as a person’s face. Used by scientists to identify individual dolphins.

    d.  Eyes: Special glands to protect their eyes from ocean water.

      e. Skin: Many nerve endings in skin helps explain why tame dolphins like to be stroked.

    f. Blowhole: Like a person’s nostril.  Blowhole allows a dolphin to breathe while swimming at top speed.

  2. What makes Dolphins so smart?

    a. Brains: large size, second only to human in ratio of brain size to body size.

    b.  Communication: Dolphins communicate by sounds. Listen to a recording of a "conversation" to hear the squeaks and whistles.

      c. Dolphins make choices and learn quickly.

  3.  What are some amazing dolphin facts? What other facts do you know?

          a. Using sonar, a dolphin can find a single marble dropped into the end of a 70 foot pool.

    b. A mother dolphin will stay with a calf for two to three years.

      c. The killer whale (Orca) is really the largest dolphin, not a whale.

    d. Dolphins can mimic a human whistle.

      e. Baby dolphins "babble" like human children.

      f. Dolphins were once land animals and evolved into sea animals.  Their front legs became fins for steering although they still have a land mammal’s finger-like bones.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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April 14, 2009

Editorial Observer - Science, Mythology, Hatred, and the Fate of the Gray Wolf -  NYTimes.com

If you want to protect wolves from being hunted again to the point of extinction, then you need to protest the decision of the Interior Department to allow wolves to be hunted again. You can write to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar at feedback@ios.doi.gov

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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March 31, 2009

Meet the Author -  Seymour Simon 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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March 9, 2009


Posted by: Seymour Simon

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March 9, 2009

Are there are Earth-like planets in outer space? The Kepler mission aims to find out. We’re looking for a "Goldilocks" planet—not too hot and not too cold.


Posted by: Seymour Simon

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March 9, 2009

I’m speaking on Tuesday night, March 17th in Portland, Oregon for The Innovative Northwest Teacher (T.I.N.T.) at the Authors! Authors!  Authors! Series. I’m also looking forward to speaking at several elementary schools in the Portland area. I hope that some of the teachers coming to that event take the opportunity to have their classes view my web and send their comments.

Please be sure to come up after the speech to say "hi" if you’ve signed up to be notified about updates on www.seymourscience.com. 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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