California Set to Ban Plastic Bags
August 31, 2014
Plastic grocery bags will be banned in the entirety of California, if that state's governor, Jerry Brown, signs into law a bill passed by both houses of the state legislature. Brown has until September 30 to sign the bill, which would prohibit grocery stores from sending customers away with single-use plastic bags. The bill would also set aside money for plastic bag manufacturers, to help with a transition to multiple-use bags. Such bags have increased in popularity in recent years, but a large number of plastic bags still are handed out by grocery stores across California and, indeed, across the world.
Statues 'Come to Life' with the Scan of a Smartphone
August 24, 2014
If the statues could talk … Well, now they do, sort of. A new project by the non-profit Sing London has tapped 35 statues in London and Manchester with the ability to "talk," meaning that visitors who use their smartphones to scan a digital code can hear a special message recorded by members or affiliates of the group (including well-known actors and comedians) purporting to be the people depicted in the statues. It's not a conversation but a monologue. So anyone hearing the two-minute message can talk back but not get a reasoned response. Still, many visitors to a Queen Victoria statue might be delighted to hear that the queen is getting tired of holding up a heavy scepter.
Rats to Embark on Monthslong Mission in Space
August 22, 2014
NASA is planning to send some rats into space, to live for awhile. Sending rats (or other animals for that matter) is nothing new. Animals have been into space on dozens of missions. Space shuttle missions have carried animals into space for up to a couple of weeks. This time, however, the mission plan calls for the rodents to live on the International Space Station for up to 90 days, so that scientists can study how the rats' minds and bodies respond to spending that amount of time in less-than-Earth gravity.
Study Links Physical Activity, Mental Agility
August 19, 2014
A new study has found a link between physical activity and mental capacity in children. The study, published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, found an increase in white matter in children who were also more physically active than their peers. White matter has been described as "the subway of the brain," helping to connect gray matter in different parts of the brain. More white matter conceivably means a faster transfer of signals around the brain and, consequently, more opportunities for an active brain to function more efficiently.
LEGO Releases All-female Scientists Set
August 12, 2014
LEGO has released its first set of all-female scientist figurines, and they were so popular right away that the company has had to make more.
The female astronomer, chemist, and paleontologist are part of the company's new Research Institute set, which shows the scientists in job-like settings: the astronomer is looking through a telescope, the chemist is mixing chemicals in a lab, and the paleontologist is building a model of a dinosaur.
The Great War
This is the centenary of the beginning of World War I, or as it was called for many years, the Great War.
The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in August 1914 was only one of a series of events that led to the beginning of the war. The causes of the war stretch back a century before, in issues resolved and unresolved by the Congress of Vienna, which ended the previous Europe-wide conflict, the Napoleonic Wars.
Most of Europe was involved in the Crimean War, in the mid-1850s. The unifications of both Germany and Italy worried France and Austria-Hungary, both of which fought wars against dominant Prussia. The Franco-Prussian War established Germany as a unified nation and a powerful one.
All of this set the major powers of Europe on the path of conflict, in the form of entangled alliances that, once invoked, led to the most of the world being at bloody war for four long years.
Animals in Space
Long before and long since men and women have gone into space, animals have been sent there. The space programs of seven countries have sent hundreds of animals into space.
Dogs make up far and away the highest number of animals of one type sent into space. Perhaps the most famous dog was Laika, the first animal to reach Earth orbit, aboard the Soviet Union's Sputnik 2, launched on November 3, 1957.