Label: Science News

September 24, 2012

When soldiers are in combat, many put camouflage makeup on their faces to help them blend into the environment. Now, scientists have developed a new type of makeup that may help protect them against burns from bomb blasts, like the explosions or roadside bombs that have injured many troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.


An explosion produces powerful shock waves, and it also produces huge waves of heat, as hot as 1,112 F (600 C). That is as hot as a burning log, and anyone nearby will suffer severe burns to any exposed skin on their face, hands, etc.

Chemists were challenged to make a protective face paint that would have all the qualities of the camouflage paint that soldiers use already: Easy to put on and take off, waterproof, non-irritating to eyes, nose and mouth, include insect repellent (which is usually very flammable), and not rub off easily. And it had to be developed for a wide variety of skin colors - white, brown, light brown, black.

"I’m really impressed with this work," said Jamil Baghdachi, a chemist at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti. "This is one of the most practical applications of science that I’ve seen."


Photo: Spc. Gerald James, U.S. Army

Read More: Science News for Kids, Heat-Resistant Makeup, by Sid Perkins, September 7, 2012.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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September 10, 2012

It was a hot day on Saturday, and I decided to have some ice cream. After a couple of cold, delicious bites - OUCH! Brain Freeze!!

Have you ever had this feeling when you eat or drink something cold? All of a sudden you get a sharp headache. It doesn’t last long, but for a few seconds, it’s pretty uncomfortable.

It turns out that researchers have learned quite a bit about brain freeze by designing an experiment where they asked volunteers to sip a very cold drink, right up against the roof of their mouth. The volunteers were told to raise their hand as soon as they felt brain freeze starting, and raise their hand again when the headache stopped.

While this was happening, scientists were looking at a scan of each volunteer’s brain. When the brain freeze headache started, a rush of blood suddenly flowed into the anterior cerebral artery, which is located in the middle of the brain, behind the eyes. This increased blood flow caused the artery to expand, pushing painfully against the tissue surrounding it. Then after a few seconds - and right when volunteers raised their hands a second time - the artery rapidly returned to normal size.

The brain is one of the most important organs in our body - it needs to work well all the time. The brain is also quite sensitive to temperature, so researchers think that what is probably happening is that your body is rushing warm blood to the brain tissue to make sure your brain stays warm when you eat something very cold. Once the temperature in the brain rises back to normal, the extra blood isn’t needed, the artery goes back to normal size, and the pressure stops, which stops the pain.

So next time you have brain freeze, you can be glad that your brain is taking care of itself. And relax, because it will be over soon!



Read and learn more about your brain - the part of of your body that makes you, you!


Posted by: Seymour Simon

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August 25, 2012

          You may have heard that an astronaut named Neil Armstrong died today. He was a hero to me and to many others – the man who took a “giant leap for mankind” when he first walked on the moon on July 20, 1969.

Neil Armstrong was a man of courage, and although he was a private person, he gracefully accepted his role for the rest of his life as the “face” of the space program and a symbol of man’s exploration of the solar system beyond our own planet.


This is a photograph of a footprint on the moon, left by our astronauts back in 1969. It marked the first time that human beings walked on ground that was not Earth. That footprint may last for a million years or longer, because there is no air on the moon. Without air there is no wind to blow the dust around.

The print of that first giant step for mankind will live forever on the moon, just as Neil Armstrong’s brave quest to explore and learn more will live forever in our memories.

When asked how they would like Neil Armstrong to be remembered, his wife and family said:

"For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink."

I think we can do that, don’t you? 

 Read more about Neil Armstrong’s amazing journey and learn all about what it is like to be an astronaut in Seymour Simon’s SPACE TRAVELERS.



Posted by: Seymour Simon

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May 14, 2012

I have been working on a new book called SEYMOUR SIMON’S EXTREME OCEANS. In the chapter called "Big Waves and Giant Tides" I write about places along the coasts of Hawaii, California and Australia where huge waves are regularly whipped up by strong winds blowing at sea.

One of those places is Nazare, off the coast of Portugal. Recently, a 44-year-old Hawaiian surfer broke the world record for riding the biggest wave ever recorded. Garrett McNamara, who started surfing when he was 11 years old, successfully surfed a 78-foot (23.8 meter) wave. His ride beat the previous 2008 record by more than a foot, and is now in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Click on the "play" button below to see this awesome ride on a magnificent wave!


I think I might take a shot at the record. What do you think? Can I make it into the Guinness Book of World Records as a surfer?!













Video © Billabong XXL, courtesy

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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May 3, 2012


Brazilian scientists have been studying a small fishing community in Laguna, Brazil, where fishermen work together with dolphins to catch their fish.

This friendly pod of dolphins works together, herding groups of mullet (a local fish) toward the fisherman who are waiting in boats or standing in the water. Then the dolphins slap their heads or tails on the water to show the fishermen where to throw their nets.  Both groups, the fishermen and the dolphins, catch all the fish they need by working together in this way.

What is most surprising is that It is one special group of about twenty dolphins that work with the fishermen, and they have been doing it for more than fifteen years. The men recognize them by their markings, and have even given some of them names like "Scooby" and "Caroba." There are plenty of other dolphins in the waters around Laguna. The others do not cooperate with humans, going off to fish on their own.

The cooperation behavior is probably passed down from mother dolphin to her calves, and that is how it is learned by the humans, as well. Elders in the community teach the younger fishermen how to work with the dolphins.


Photo:  Fábio Daura-Jorge

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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May 1, 2012

NASA has released this photograph of a flaming meteor that unleashed a powerful sonic boom last week, rattling houses in California and Nevada. The meteor broke up as it traveled through our atmosphere, releasing the same amount of energy as if there had been a 5-kiloton explosion!

A sonic boom is an explosive sound caused by the shock wave of an object traveling faster than the speed of sound. The explosion was big enough to rattle windows, causes many Californians to think they had had an earthquake.

"An event of this size might happen about once a year," said Don Yeomans from NASA. "But most of them occur over the ocean or an uninhabited area, so getting to see one is something special."


Who can tell me why most of these meteor explosions happen over the ocean, rather than over land where we can see them? Hint: Think about the big, blue ball that is our Earth…...

Answer: Brian B., one of our readers, was onto the right idea. Most meteors explode over the ocean because oceans make up 71% of Earth’s surface. That means that most atmospheric events are likely to happen over the ocean, simply because there is so much of it.


Photo: Lisa Warren / NASA-JPL via AP

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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April 26, 2012

Many of my readers were interested in yesterday’s "Writing Wednesday" story about the soccer ball belonging to a Japanese student that washed up on an Alaskan island more than a year after the big tsunami.

This is a photograph of Misaki Murakami, the teenager whose ball traveled nearly 3,500 miles (5,600 km) across the Pacific Ocean, from Rikuzentakata, Japan to Middleton Island, in Alaska.

In fact, it is not surprising that the ball showed up on the U.S. coastline - scientists expect that we will see even more debris in the coming weeks and months.


The reason is that when water rises or falls very quickly, it often creates a whirlpool. Think about what happens in the bathtub when you pull the plug and water starts emptying quickly out of the tub - you see a spinning whirlpool above the drain. This is what happens, on a much bigger scale, when a huge tsunami wave rushes in, and then pulls back from the shoreline.


This is a photograph, taken from a helicopter, of one of the massive whirlpools that appeared off the Japanese coast in March, 2011 after the 6.9 earthquake and tsunami. The water was rotating clockwise, which means it was pushing debris away from the coastline, into the Pacific Ocean, and toward the U.S. coast.





And that explains why Misaki’s soccer ball washed up on a beach in Alaska.


Seymour Simon’s new book, EXTREME EARTH RECORDS, is full of information and photographs about the biggest tsunamis, earthquakes, and many more Earth record breakers. It will be available in September, 2012.




Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Earthquakes, Oceans   •  Permalink (link to this article)

April 25, 2012

Welcome to Writing Wednesday! Every week there is a new opportunity to publish your own creative writing on the Seymour Science blog. This week, we are asking you to read a science news story about a long-lost soccer ball, and then answer a question about that story.

The Facts:

  It is a good thing that Misaki Murakami’s name was on his soccer ball. He thought it was lost in last year’s tsunami in Japan, but it was returned to him after it washed up on an island in Alaska last weekend.

15-year-old Misaki Murakami was home when the tsunami struck Japan in March 2011, and he grabbed his pet dog and ran to safety on higher ground. His family lost everything, including their house, and have been living in temporary housing ever since. 

Misaki and his family members have been looking for their belongings, but the soccer ball is the first thing that has been found. His name and the name of his school were written on the ball with a Sharpie because this was not just any old soccer ball. It was a goodbye gift from his teacher and classmates when he had to change schools seven years ago. He has kept it next to his bed ever since.

Your Assignment: Once you have read and understood the story above, answer this question. Why was it so surprising that Misaki got his soccer ball back, and why was it important to him? Click "comments" below to write your answer.


Photo: NOAA - Jiji Press / AFP

Educators: Today’s Writing Wednesday is designed to use in support of CCSS Anchor Standard W.8: Recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(16) Comments  •   Labels: Common Core, science news, Writing Wednesday, Earthquakes, Oceans   •  Permalink (link to this article)

April 13, 2012

My readers love animals, and when you all write about Earth Day, you often write about the fact that you wish you could help animals. You can, if you look for opportunities in your own community.

  Tom and Debora Mann, who live in a small town near Jackson, Mississippi, are helping animals in their community. On most rainy nights in the spring there, dozens of salamanders try to cross a road, moving from their winter burrows to ponds on the other side, where they will mate. The salamanders can only mate once a year, so they are determined to cross that road. And unfortunately, there is traffic on that road and cars run over the salamanders in the dark.

The Manns worked with local police to be sure they could safely help the salamanders. The police department has installed two flashing lights and a lower speed limit sign at the salamander crossing, and drivers get a ticket for breaking the speed limit. On rainy spring nights you will find the Manns, along with other volunteers, scooping salamanders into plastic containers, carrying them safely across the road to their breeding pond.


Thomas Mann, who is a zoologist with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, would like to see the state close this two-mile stretch of highway for the salamander breeding season each year. But until that happens, he, his wife and a handful of other volunteers are out there on rainy nights, trying to make a difference.

What kind of animals need help in your community? Could your local ASPCA use volunteers? Is there a wildlife sanctuary anywhere nearby? Or you could call your local Cooperative Extension to find out where volunteers are needed. Work with your family or your teacher, and I bet you will find a way to help!

Photos: James Patterson/The New York Times 

Be part of Seymour Simon’s celebration of Earth Day 2012 by commenting on blog stories like this one, and telling Seymour about YOUR Earth Day Promises! How are you going to make a difference for the Earth? What will you do to make it be Earth Day / every day? Each time you leave a comment between today and April 22, you will be entered into a drawing to win a free, personally autographed book from Seymour Simon. So get started by clicking "comments" below, and tell us about Your Earth Day Promises!


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(12) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Animals, Conservation, Earth Day 2012   •  Permalink (link to this article)

April 1, 2012

Today is April 1, and we are beginning our celebration of Earth Day with a report of the discovery of a new species on our planet! A chameleon small enough to perch on the head of a match has been discovered on a tiny island off Madagascar. It is called a "Brookesia micra" chameleon, and it is believed to be the smallest species ever found. This tiny reptile is just six-tenths of an inch (16 millimeters) long, and even with its tail fully extended, it only measures 1.1 inches (29 millimeters).

Chameleons (even ones as small as this one) are particularly well-adapted for catching the insects that make up most of their diet. They have feet like parrots, with two toes facing forward and two facing backward, so that they can grab onto branches and climb easily. Each of their eyes moves on its own, so they can see all around them as they hunt for insects. And when they spot an insect, they shoot their long tongues out of their mouths at lightning speed, enabling them to catch fast-moving prey.

Photo: Joern Koehler / Reuters

Be part of Seymour Simon’s celebration of Earth Day 2012 by commenting on blog stories like this one, and telling Seymour about YOUR Earth Day Promises! How are you going to make a difference for the Earth? What will you do to make it be Earth Day / every day? Each time you leave a comment between today and April 22, you will be entered into a drawing to win a free, personally autographed book from Seymour Simon. So get started by clicking "comments" below, and tell us about Your Earth Day Promises!


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(13) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Animals, Earth Day 2012, lizards   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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