1) How to Levitate the Earth. Perhaps you recall a cryptic reference I made some weeks ago about trying to learn this skill. Thanks to Haley Harwood, a College of the Atlantic student who has been helping us at The Naturalist's Notebook, I can now make one of our globes hover and revolve with no strings attached. Voila!
2) Dogs like to eat artwork. I pretty much knew this from the time Wooster licked the egg tempera off a painting Pamelia had done. But confirmation came when a puppy ambled into the shop and—with no one looking—chewed a faux granite boulder off the base of Rocco Alberico's popular Acadia National Park-themed art construction (see earlier posts). I got the paper-mache-like object away from the pooch before he destroyed it, but I was still relieved to hear Rocco's reaction when I told him of the incident: "I knew I shouldn't have made the rocks out of Alpo."
3) A dragonfly is even cooler looking when you study it up close. Notebook friend Dr. Ted Angel snapped this shot at his family's coastal cottage. The dragonfly was at least four inches long.
4) We regenerate a full coat of new skin every seven days and gradually replace our bones over the course of seven years. That's according to the Stanford School of Medicine's Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regeneration Medicine. And according to a really smart guy who came into the Notebook one day
5) Bats are genetically more closely related to humans than to any other mammal. Alas, most people think of them as scary little Draculas rather than as distant human cousins or as wonderful pest controllers who can eat two-thirds of their weight in insects in a single night. No matter what, you ought be worried about them. A fatal fungus is spreading rapidly among them and has already killed more than a million of them between New Hampshire and Oklahoma. (No cases in Maine yet.) The fungus causes white nose syndrome (before the bats die, their noses turn white) and no cure has been discovered.
6) Scientists just discovered the largest star they've ever seen. It's called R136a1 and it is 250 times bigger, seven times hotter and several million times brighter than our sun. An astronomer told the BBC the difference in brightness between R136a1 and our sun is like the difference in brightness between our sun and our moon.
7) Thanks to the laws of physics and the weight of fermented grape juice, you can open a wine bottle with your shoe. Or at least that's what someone does in a video link sent to us by a Notebook fan. Check out the wine-opening trick at: http://www.flixxy.com/how-to-open-wine-bottle-with-shoe.htm
8) Taylor Swift wants to retire in Maine. O.K., I actually heard this on the radio while driving to the Notebook rather than at the Notebook, but regardless, the 20-year-old country/pop singer has blossomed into a Mainiac thanks to her fun experience filming a video in Portland. "When I am old, and I have silver hair -- or white, I don't know which one it'll be, some shade like that -- I wanna live in Maine," she said. “I wanna have a house and make necklaces or something. And have a lot of cats."
9) As luck would have it, I also read in a Notebook book this week that Sir Isaac Newton invented the cat door—that little entry way that spares cat owners from having to get up to let their felines in and out. Earlier this year, when I attended a lecture in New York City by renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson (http://naturalistsnote.wordpress.com/2010/01/30/pluto-revisited/), he raved about how Newton was his all-time favorite scientist. I don't have my notebook from that night with me, but—I'm paraphrasing here—he said something like, "Newton was amazing. He invented calculus, discovered that white light is made up of the colors of the rainbow, figured out the forces that govern the movement of planets, determined the speed of sound waves...and then...HE TURNED 25."
10) One last note on cats: I learned this week that group of kittens is called a kindle.
11) And finally, just what you've been waiting for: The revelation that waiting doesn't have to be a waste of time. A Notebook visitor from Pennsylvania bought an artist's notebook and came back a few days later to show us what he'd done in it while waiting in line for a campground office to open. Below is one of the pages. Carrying a pad and pen or pencil around in your pocket or bag isn't such a bad idea.