kinders explore light and shadows.
‘find beauty not only in the thing itself but in the pattern of the shadows,
the light, and the dark which that thing provides.’
Happy Birthday, Smithsonian!
The Smithsonian was officially created on August 10, 1846,
and one of the first things on the to-do list was constructing a building.
The 1850 glass lantern slide above
is the earliest-known photo of the Smithsonian Institution Building,
known as the Castle, and the only image of it under construction.
Smithsonian Explorers, c. 1862-63, Smithsonian Institution Archives
From the enchanting to the eccentric, the Smithsonian has an extremely rich past. There was even a group of rowdy scientists who used to live in the Smithsonian Castle. In 1857, a zoologist named William Stimpson formed a club of young naturalists aiming to build the Smithsonian’s collection. Their meetings were held in the Smithsonian Castle, and many of the members lived there.
Stimpson named the group the Megatherium Club, after the giant extinct sloth that once roamed South America. Over the years, the club developed somewhat of a rambunctious reputation among neighbors (they were known to drink beer late at night, and had sack races down the Castle halls). They called themselves “great beasts,” much like the sloth that they named themselves after.
Despite their mischief, these men were a dedicated group of naturalists, and we owe them a great deal for contribution their descriptions, classifications and specimens to American science, the Smithsonian, and many other institutions in the U.S.
“science doesn’t have all the answers,
but it is good at spotting the important questions
when they are camouflaged against a background of common sense.”
joyful young scientist
teaching and demonstrating
for even younger scientists
ends his hands-on physics and chemistry lessons
with a show-stopper
a fog-shooting cannon
crafted from a garbage can
and the crowd realizes how much they love science
and simply cannot get enough.
“facts are to the mind what food is to the body.”
ann arbor public library, pittsfield branch
Red wine compound improves memory
The antioxidant resveratrol, most often associated with red wine, improves memory and brain function in elderly people, though it is also found in peanuts, chocolate, and other fruits in addition to grapes. It has been linked to better heart health, anti-aging effects and even (in limited laboratory studies) cancer-fighting properties. A study published this month in the Journal of Neuroscience has released the first evidence that resveratrol improves memory and brain function in elderly people.
The improvement in memory occurred in parallel with an improvement in glucose metabolism—the way the body breaks down sugar. Researchers compared 46 people between 50 and 75 years old, who were given either a resveratrol supplement or a placebo pill for 26 weeks. Before and after the 26-week intervention, they tested the participants’ memory (by measuring their recollection of words they had been told 30 minutes earlier) and used brain imaging to measure the size and connectivity of a brain area called the hippocampus, which is critical for our ability to form memories. They also did blood tests to measure participants’ metabolism and markers of inflammation. The participants who took resveratrol lost body fat, showed an improvement in glucose control (poor glucose control is linked to type 2 diabetes), and scored better on the memory test compared to participants who were given a placebo.
Brain imaging also revealed that the connectivity between memory centers in their brains (hippocampus and frontal cortex) had increased. This trial is small and preliminary, but its results are promising—resveratrol might represent a new strategy to prevent brain aging.
The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball.
credits: emilie croisier, intelligent optimist magazine
(Source: Journal of Neuroscience June 2014, doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0385-14.2014, Pubmed)
baby short-eared elephant shrew must be on vacation.
This little guy is 1 of 31 endangered species born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in recent weeks.
You can read more about the baby boom: http://ow.ly/xZfPy