September 04, 2013
Posted By: Robert Corbin
Last winter I had a really bad cold. I think I blew my nose 15 times an hour! OK, so what I am about to share may be disgusting but I know I am not the only one.
I looked carefully at what was in my tissue.
Call it curiosity or call it what you will — I could not believe the palette of colors and consistency of my snot. What a beautiful visage I had blown onto the canvas of my bathroom tissue! It was yellow and green, with reddish tinged spots distributed throughout, a virtual landscape of boogers.
Had I discovered a new art form? Gastro-respiratory-impressionism, perhaps? Could this be where Jackson Pollock found his inspiration? Was Monet's Water Lilies inspired by a snot rocket he shot onto his own blue Kleenex?
What is the deal? What do those colors mean? How much mucus doe… Keep reading.
July 02, 2013
Posted By: Robert Corbin
One of the "Random Acts of Science" that Discovery Place does to accompany Animal Grossology involves asking guests to try chocolate covered bugs.
Frequently the response is unadulterated revulsion. I must admit that I do not want to eat bugs either. I also find mayonnaise repulsive.
At least the scientist in me recognizes that these feelings are irrational.
For example, did you know that avoiding insect parts in your food is next to impossible? According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the acceptable level of insect fragments in chocolate is not more than 60 per 100 grams. And we won't even talk about rodent hairs.
So what's the big deal? If you can't see it, who really cares?
Insects are cheap, found almost everywhere and full of protein.
Would you rather tole… Keep reading.
January 31, 2012
Posted By: Robert Corbin
Lev Vygotsky contends that human beings are simultaneously the product of biology and their human cultures. His principal premise is that human beings are products not only of biology, but also of their human cultures. Part of the explanation for how we function intellectually can be explained by our social history. The sharing of this social history with adults and other children is how students learn higher intellectual functions.
Vygotsky espouses the idea of inner speech. Children learn when they have dialog with more capable peers. Vygotsky demonstrates that children actually use speech to solve problems. If a task is particularly difficult the children tend to use more external egocentric speech. For example they speak to themselves by saying such t… Keep reading.
Driving through the Discovery Place parking deck one morning, I noticed a van had just hit a moth. Interested in identifying what type of moth had just suffered this unfortunate fate, I quickly parked and headed toward the scene of the hit and run with the intention of collecting the critter and getting it to my office. But as I approached, an uninvited guest swooped down and stole the object of my wonder, carrying it just out of my reach. As the thief started to peck vigorously at his prey my insect friend bounced in small arcs over and over in a brave attempt to escape. The attacker was not giving up easily though, doggedly pursuing the moth as I, wide eyed with wonder, marveled at the ancient predator vs. prey drama unfolding right before my eyes.
Finally, as the moth surrend… Keep reading.
Back in 2000, Dr. C. Everett Koop said: Except for smoking, obesity is now the number one preventable cause of death in this country. Three hundred thousand people die of obesity every year. Childhood obesity is certainly a national concern. To address this science and health based issue, Discovery Place ScienceReach offers a popular program entitled: You Are What You Eat The program helps learners to make healthy and wise dietary choices. But how do we show the importance of nutrition with living things so that people can experience and observe it? How could I experiment with this idea? So this got me thinking
Do organisms other than humans have to make wise nutritional choices? Specifically, do insects get fat?
It is always a good idea to learn what you can before you … Keep reading.
What causes the electrical shock I receive when getting out of a car during the winter? --Vicello (age 36)
The shock you get when getting out of your car, particularly in the winter, is from static electricity. Static electricity often occurs whenever two dissimilar materials are rubbed together. When electrons, or the negative charge, are removed from one material and deposited on the other a static charge results. When you are in a car the seat is one material and your clothes are another when you move you create friction and build up a static charge. Once your body accumulates enough of a charge and then touches a good conductor, usually metal like the car door the charge quickly leaves you and you feel the shock.
The reason you feel this shock more in the winter than in the su… Keep reading.