Tag Archives: science

A Cinco de Mayo beneath a Super Moon

Buenas tardes, oddlings!

It’s Cinco de Mayo, and while many of you think that means tequila shots and pinatas, the fifth of May actually commemorates the Battle of Puebla. This 1862 battle was a Mexican victory during  the Franco-Mexican War, which took place from 1861-1867.

The holiday is a fairly minor one in Mexico, but here in the United States it has become quite the event, celebrating the Mexican culture and heritage.

The Battle of Puebla is an interesting story, and I highly recommend reading more about it on Mexonline.com.

Aside from mariachi music, you might hear oohs and aahs tonight over the Super moon. The term “super moon” simply means that a full moon occurs at or near the time when the moon is closest to Earth on its non-circular orbit. This is called perigee, and it places the moon at 221,802 miles (356,955 kilometers) away from Earth.

Added bonus tonight? There’s a meteor shower from Hailey’s Comet that is set to peak as well! This is the annual Eta Aquarid meteor shower and promises up to 60 meteors per hour for skywatchers with clear weather and away from city lights. Brooklynites might have a tough time peaking the Eta Aquarid, since we have so much light pollution and today’s weather makes the sky look like a gauzy grey curtain. But Bubo promises that the Super moon’s 30% brightness increase will shine through.

If you’re in a similar situation, fear not! You can access views from NASA’s all-sky cameras for the Eta Aquarid meteor shower remotely here: http://www.nasa.gov/connect/chat/allsky.html

Our last Super moon was in March 2011, so get outside tonight and tilt your eyes to the skies. Bring a margarita outside with you and toast those brave Mexican fighters who won the Battle of Puebla. Silas is making us sizzling fajitas and we are dining on the Widow’s Walk by Super moon light.


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The Time Machine

Oh, my dears. It’s been a long week. And it is Friday night. The sky is dark, the moon is traveling past the stars, and much of the world is readying for bed. Curl up and listen to the tales I weave, until your eyes grow heavy and you slip into slumber, ready for the Dream Maker.

In 1836, Russian novelist Alexander Veltman published Predki Kalimerosa: Aleksandr Filippovich Makedonskii (The forebears of Kalimeros: Alexander, son of Philip of Macedon), considered by many the first original Russian science fiction novel. The premise of the book is simple: the narrator rides to ancient Greece on a hippogriff and, after meeting Aristotle and voyaging with Alexander the Great, concludes that people are the same throughout time and place. (So true, so true.)

While Veltman was educated by traditional schools for the children of nobles, he credits his father’s orderly with first teaching him the art of storytelling. “Uncle Boris” was a shoemaker, and it is rumored that he dabbled in time travel himself. How else could you explain his uncanny calm about the future, or his oddly out-of-place fashion? Boris gave the future father of Russian science fiction a notebook to scribble his stories in, a book made of old shoe leathers and pocket watch pieces. Within these pages, Veltman could let his imagination travel freely, just as his protagonist traveled across time and space. (A book, mind you, requires far less upkeep than a hippogriff.)

Every time traveler needs a sturdy notebook; a place to write observations, musings, and thoughts. It is also an important tool to keep the time traveler grounded within their minds while their bodies journey through the ages. The notebook must be sturdy enough to weather globe-trotting through time and easy enough to pack. Will our ingenious electronics stand the test of time travel as well as papyrus and leather?

Some say that we time travel in our dreams. Others say it is physically and scientifically impossible. What do you say? Where have you gone when the clock stops and the fabrics of this universe mend themselves?

Write it down in a notebook. Share your stories. I do.

Sleep tight, my pets. Dream deep.

High Stakes Hyfrecation

In 1940, the Birtcher Corporation of Los Angeles, California, coined a portmanteau term for their medical device – a high-frequency eradicator. They called it the Hyfrecator.

The hyfrecator is a low-powered medical device used in electrosurgery in conscious patients. It sends electrical impulses into the body using a probe and an alternating AC current.

I have one on my wall, rescued from a crumbling state hospital in Indiana by Mordecai a few decades ago.

Looks rather sinister, doesn’t it? It’s not, though. Well, not in its intended uses, anyway. Hyfrecators are commonly used for in-office dermatological procedures like skin-tag removal, wart removal and also to stop bleeding quickly (in the case of skin cancer removals). If you want to sound sinister – and you can imagine that this is how Mordecai describes the device – hyfrecators are used for dessication and fulguration of skin tissues.

They are also used in veterinary medicine – the devices are so handy for the treatment of scar tissue and skin abnormalities from fights or accidents.

I bring your attention to the hyfrecator for a few reasons. Firstly, because it is an interesting bit of information; while this hyfrecator looks archaic and frightening, it’s not that old and hyfrecators are still used today, though they look much shinier and cleaner. And secondly, because I discovered Bubo perched on the hyfrecator this morning, fashioning a probe of chicken wire and paper clips. You can imagine my concern. She assured me there is nothing to worry about.

I’m convinced there is.

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Slip into Something More Comfortable

Like Jellyfish Lake.

According to OurAmazingPlanet, “The main genus of jellyfish in the lake is called Mastigias They are descendents of jellyfish from the ocean that are thought to have ended up in the lake when sea levels were much once higher, extending over the island and filling up the saltwater lake.”

Take a moment and slip into this video, won’t you?

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