A small flock of these golden-crowned kinglets showed up a few mornings ago—the first time we'd ever seen them. They weigh only half as much as a chickadee and are particularly vulnerable to the sort of cold temperatures we're having. Though no one is sure, some scientists believe that these kinglets become hypothermic, letting their bodies chill to near-death levels, to conserve energy on bitter nights. That strategy is used to an even greater extent by certain other small animals, including wood frogs, who let much of their body freeze to survive the winter.
Music Quiz Answer:
Using only the notes of the musical scale (A through G), the longest words you can make (I think) have seven letters: acceded, baggage, cabbage, defaced and effaced. Did you come up with any others?
What are the only two common vegetables that keep growing and producing for several years (meaning from the same plant, not new plants that might sprout up from fallen seeds)?
This weekend Sir Francis Bacon, the Englishman who's often credited with inventing the scientific method of inquiry, would have turned 450 years old. Though occasionally embroiled in scandal (he allegedly accepted bribes when in political office), Bacon was so gifted in so many areas that Thomas Jefferson called him one of the three greatest men who ever lived (along with philosopher John Locke and physicist/astronomer/mathematician/genius Isaac Newton) and some in the literary world have argued that he is the one who actually wrote Shakespeare's works. We all might benefit from remembering one of his many famous lines: "A prudent question is one-half of wisdom." Perhaps fittingly, as I write this on a cold day, Bacon died as a result of a wintry experiment he was conducting. He wanted to see if snow would preserve meat, so he went out and stuffed a fowl with it, in the process getting cold and wet and soon developing a fatal pneumonia.
If you're wondering, this Francis Bacon is in fact related to the famous 20th-century Irish-born painter Francis Bacon, who was a direct descendant of Sir Francis's brother. If you've never seen any of the younger Bacon's abstracted figurative paintings (some love them, some hate them), check out a gallery of his work at: http://pinkfreudian.tripod.com/archivebacon.html
Andrija Mohorovicic, the Croatian meteorologist, geologist and earthquake expert who was a founder of modern seismology, would have been 154 today. His greatest achievement was establishing (through experiments—the scientific method!) that the Earth is made up a core surrounded by layers. Specifically, he found that the Earth's crust (the thin outer layer of rock) is separate from the Earth's mantle (the layer of denser rock that is farther down, makes up 85 percent of the planet's volume and surrounds the Earth's molten core). Mohorovicic is one of the most important scientists you've probably never heard of.
Desmond Morris, the British zoologist and surrealist painter who in 1967 wrote the best-selling scientific history of humans called The Naked Ape, turns 83 today. A former curator of mammals at the London Zoo, Morris tried to make science more accessible to the general public. The title The Naked Ape refers to the fact that homo sapiens is the only primate species not covered in hair.