Category: Science

Tiny jewels beneath our feet

Pieces of sand from a beach in Maui, Hawaii

“See the world in a grain of sand,” wrote the poet William Blake. The photographs taken by Dr. Gary Greenberg make that amazingly easy to do.

Using microscopes that he designed and invented, Greenberg has magnified and photographed. His images reveal that what we may think of as trillions of identical “grains” are really a colorful array of tiny fossils, bits of minerals, and pieces of coral and shells.

You can see more of his photographs at http://www.sandgrains.com. He has even photographed sand from the Moon!

Know your rodents!

Ever since I wrote my 2009 book The Rodent Order for young readers, I’ve been fascinated with these active, adaptable mammals. This excellent chart can help you keep your rodents straight. See the full-sized chart online and find more of the artist’s work at https://albertonykus.deviantart.com/art/A-Guide-to-Rodent-Phylogeny-713227506

Copyright 2017 by Albertonykus

 

The eighth continent?

Does our world have seven continents, as most of us learn in school? Or could it have eight? Some geologists say “eight.”

The eighth continent is Zealandia, in the southern Pacific. About 94 percent of it us under fairly shallow water. The part that is above water is the island nation of New Zealand.

New discoveries show that Zealandia was closer to the ocean’s surface in the past than scientists used to think. It may have been a migration corridor–a way for plants and animals to reach the islands that are above the surface today.

Read more about Zealandia here: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/27/zealandia-drilling-reveals-secrets-of-sunken-lost-continent

 

The “opposite birds”

This big chunk of amber (fossilized tree sap) was found in the Southeast Asian country of Myanmar, or Burma. It contains traces of a bird that died after becoming stuck in the sap almost 100 million years ago. This is one of the best fossils ever found of the “opposite birds”–a group of birds that lived at the same time as the ancestors of our modern birds, but later became extinct. Who knows what other amazing fossils are waiting to be found?

Read more about it here.

Choosing Space

Have you ever read a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book? One where you have to decide what your character will do in various situations, with many different possible endings to the story?

I haven’t written a book for the CYOA brand, but I DID write a book with lots of choices and endings built into it. It’s called Space Race, and it’s part of a history series called You Choose, in which readers have to guide their characters through events that really happened.

Space Race tells the stories of three characters I invented–an American engineer, an American woman pilot, and a Russian cosmonaut–at the dawn of space exploration, when two superpowers were racing to be the first in space, first in Earth orbit, and first on the Moon. Each of these characters dreams of exploring the new frontier of outer space, and each faces challenges and life-changing decisions.

The events of Space Race really happened. Only my characters are fictional. It was a blast to research the early years of space exploration and find ways to place my invented characters inside that thrilling world–and also to make the giant diagram I needed to keep the many decisions and endings sorted out! If you read Space Race, let me know what you think.

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