Courtesy Mark RyanA billion years or so from now, our Sun, like all stars in the known universe, will eventually die. But compared to more massive stars that explode into novae or supernovae, our medium-sized yellow star (or G-type main-sequence star) won't go out with much of a bang but more of a poof. During its death throes, as the Sun runs out of hydrogen and begins burning helium, its size will fluctuate until it swells up into a red giant big enough to engulf the inner planets, perhaps even Earth. This means it's going to get a lot hotter around here. If you want to get a better idea of what's in store for us, check out these dramatic and somewhat disturbing illustrations of the Sun's end times.
I really like the cool image showing one of the surviving Maya stone idols being scorched by the bloated Sun. It's Stela A from Copan, Honduras, and if you want to see a really impressive full-sized replica of that monolith, you can see it in the Science Museum of Minnesota's terrific new exhibit, Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed.
On Wednesday July 30th The Heritage crew took a small lesson on flint knapping with Rod Johnson. Rod has been flint knapping for about 30 years and he pursued this skill because it related to his work with archeology.
After a small power point about the history and different styles of flint knapping we were given some hands on experience on how you flint knapp.
Rod also showed us the marks that are present in flint knapping that differs from regular rocks. Being able to distinguish these marks is a good skill to have when figuring out if an item is a worked artifact or just a random rock. One of the marks is called the bulb of percussion. The bulb of percussion is the part of the rock that swells into a bulb after you hit it. Following the bulb of percussion are ripples in the rock. It looks like you dropped something into a river and seeing its ripples but instead of dropping you strike the platform and instead of river it’s a rock and instead of the ripples fading it stays frozen into the rock.
On July 22nd we went over to Bremer site in Hastings. We observed the University students of Minnesota and asked them many questions such as, "Why is there pink flags sticking up the ground?" They're for the excavation spots and to mark the test pits.
While we were at Bremer we learned how Bremer was found by a young boy in 50s who just walking alone the bay.
Now we have the opportunity to work at Bremer and dig up cool thing like Pottery.
Last Monday, the Heritage Crew got a lesson in lithics from the Archaeology department at the Science Museum. Lithics are stone tools like arrowheads, hammerstones, metates (millstones or grinders), and stone blades. Lithics,(or stone tools) come in many different shapes and sizes. Some stone tools are "unifacial" which means that they have been flaked on one side only. Others are "bifacial" which means that they have been flaked on both sides of the rock. There are some stone tools that can be "nonfacial" which means that they were not worked on and just used how they were. Efficient knappers (stone tool makers) can flake off long, thin blades and not have to rework it, and then would be able to haft the blade onto a wood or bone handle. Hammerstones however, were not worked on, they were just stones used to hit and crush objects. They were used in conjunction with anvilstones and usually had spots worn away and made very bumpy.
You could gain fame by coming up with a common name for a newly discovered, colorful, and mysterious fish, and have the good fortune of winning a ten-day trip to the Galapagos Islands if your name is chosen. A common name is one used commonly (e.g. blue whale, black-eyed Susan, or timber wolf) to describe a plant or animal - not the binomial genus-species designation used in scientific circles. The contest runs now until August 26, 2013, and everything you need to know to acquire these fleeting prizes can be found on the National Geographic website.
Courtesy Mark RyanActually, you don't have to leave the country or even your room. The University of Alberta is offering a new course on dinosaurs and anyone with a hankering for the prehistoric wonders can audit the class for free on the World Wide Web. This fall, renowned vertebrate paleontologist Dr. Phil Currie, and Master's Student, Betsy Kruk, will present, via the Internet, a course called: Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology. The massive open online course (or MOOC) is absolutely free and it's really easy to enroll. I'm already signed up. The course will include, among other things, 3-D virtual fossil collections, lectures, short videos shot at museums, dinosaur dig sites, and fossil preparation labs. It starts September 4th.
Using semiconductor nanowire transistors, researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have created a flexible sensor that lights up when touched. The harder it's pressed the brighter the lights. It's paper-thin, flexible nature could allow it to be laminated to any surface, which is quite different from the rigid touchscreens we find on iPhones, computer screens, and ATMs, for example. This new technology could be used to give robots a finer sense of touch, create a wallpaper that doubles as a touchscreen, or laminate dashboards to allow drivers to change electronic controls by waving their hand.
Courtesy Paul BergerResearchers from Ohio State University have developed a coating that allows small sensors to function even when in contact with blood, bodily fluids, or living tissue. Currently, the electrical signals in silicon-based, implantable sensors are disrupted by the electrolytes in the body, resulting in unreliable readings. This new, ultra-thin coating blocks the electrolytes and allows the sensors to continue functioning accurately within the body. These coated sensors are first slated to be used to detect early stages of organ transplant rejection, but could have a lot of other possible applications in the future.
Courtesy SMMIn an area called Kasota, a kid found a mysterious mandible in the riverbed. A mandible if you don't know is the lower jawbone of an animal. My friends and I all believed it to be a cow, elk, or a moose skull. After researching and comparing it to other skulls we found out that it was indeed a cow skull.
We went to the Science House in the Science Museum of Minnesota to compare our mandibles to the ones in their collection. When we compared it to the elk mandible, our mandible was the same length but it was obvious that bone between the teeth and the bottom of the mandible was narrower on the elk mandible. Our mandible was too big to be any deer mandible so we were certain it was not a deer mandible. When we were comparing it to the moose our mandible seemed a little too small to be a moose mandible. When we compared it to the cow mandible it was almost a perfect match. So we concluded that it was the mandible of a cow.
...frogs use leaves as umbrellas! Very cool photo. The little critter is about 2 inches tall.