Search This Blog

Meet Ununpentium

It's official. The newest addition to the Periodic Table of the Elements is Ununpentium, aka element number 115. It's one of the heaviest elements yet and has a half-life of 173 milliseconds:

The Power of Thought

I don't think I can do any better to introduce this post than quote the first paragraph of this story, which goes like this: "Scientists achieved the first remote human-to-human brain interface this week, when Rajesh Rao sent a brain signal over the Internet that moved the hand of colleague Andrea Stocco—even though Stocco was sitting all the way across the University of Washington's campus." What follow are more examples of what the brain can do, with a little help from technology (or vice versa):

Nuts to You

from (and always good to know!):

A cashew apple is the fruit that grows on the cashew plant, which tends to be more well known for the nuts that grow on it. The cashew nut actually grows first inside of a kernel, which then develops a small yellow or red fruit. It is originally native to Brazil but also grows wild throughout warm climates, especially in South America, Central America and East Africa. Cashew apples tend to spoil quickly, often in less than a day at room temperature,

Avaaz Upon a Time

Avaaz's Ricken Patel                                              Dan Callister/The Guardian
There once was a little boy who moved with his family from Kenya to Canada and went to a First Nations school on a reservation. When he was 3, his mother read him a story about a boy befriending a Kalahari bushman. When he was 4, his brother, who is nine years older, explained the Cold War and the human cell to him, and when he was 9 or 10, he read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. This is the boy who became the man who founded the self-described "campaigning community" Avaaz, which now has more than 25,400,000 members worldwide:

From Adolf to Icon

Getty Images
A brief history of the car that, according to a commission of British car makers in 1945, would be “quite unattractive to the average motorcar buyer,” but that ended up, in the 1960s, being the biggest-selling foreign-made car in America (story, slideshow):

Going Home

David Good and his mom                                                               David Good
David Good's dad is an anthropologist. David grew up with him in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. But at the age of 25, he decided to find his mother. And so he journeyed deep into the jungles of the Yanomami, on the border between Venezuela and Brazil (story, lots of pix, video):

The Crest of a Wave

The Pearl                                                                                     Orhan Cileli
While some are working to forestall climate change, others are figuring out how we can live with its consequences. From telescoping piers to oil drums, desalination systems to Pearls, here are five ideas for homes that can withstand the rising waters:

Trips for the Rest of Us

screen shot
OK, nerdy citizens of the United States ~ time to step up (to the Nerdy Day Trips website) and share our delights with the rest of the world. This is a point of pride. Just look at their map (above). The United Kingdom is filled with so many pins, you can't even see them all. (I just added the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City and the Exploratorium and Alcatraz in San Francisco, though our coasts are pretty well represented):

Picturing the Global Small-Arms Trade

This story actually presents two interesting and important phenomena at once: the small-arms trade and visualization technology. Putting together an interactive map of the former exposed some surprising truths about which countries are more active in the import and export of small arms. At the same time, it showed how using the latter makes subjects and information more accessible and easily digestible (for another example of this, see

Home Alone

Herman's cell                                          Herman Wallace

It was an email from Amnesty International that got me to this link, a trailer for the documentary Herman's House. The film tells the story of Herman Wallace, who has been in solitary confinement in a prison in Louisiana for 41 years, and of the artist whose journey with him started when she wrote to him with one question. What kind of house, she asked, would a man who lives in a 6'x9' cell dream of? (video):

Stranger Than Fiction

Jason English and his Facts Machine                                               screen shot
Who said geeks have no sense of humor? Well, really, I don't know if anyone ever said that. The point is, the geeks and nerds (see for a lesson in how to distinguish them) over at Mental Floss do, and this video about interesting video-game facts proves it:


Of course, this is basically about donations and getting the word out (not a bad thing), but it's kind of a cute little quiz. Answer a few multiple-choice questions and find out which barnyard animal you most resemble:

Walls of Green

Not too long ago, I went on a home-garden tour in the nearby town of Venice, CA. One of the houses had a beautiful living wall lining one side of its courtyard ~ and a garden on the roof (see pic). It's not just homeowners who are greening their living spaces this way; commercial concerns are doing the same ~ for the benefit of us all:

We All Want To Change the World

April 1984                                                                                     screen shot
Fascinating timeline showing every protest in the world since January 1979 as tracked and coded by the Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone and adapted by Penn State doctoral candidate John Beieler. (The accompanying story points out some unintentionally misleading characteristics that one should keep in mind before jumping to any conclusions) (story, interactive timeline):,0

'On the Road' Again

Paul Rogers
On Aug. 15, "the Mexican girl" who transfixed Jack Kerouac and whom he immortalized in On the Road, died. Her name was Beatrice Kozera (Bea Franco, then), and it was only three years ago that she learned that her fling with the writer in 1947 had become part of a book, or, indeed, that the writer had ended up writing at all:
   Artist Paul Rogers has created an "illustrated scroll" in which he drew a picture for every page of On the Road (he posted each part as he finished it, so if you want to begin at the beginning ~ which, you know, is what Alice's King suggests one do ~ scroll about four-fifths of the way down):

Webs of Wisdom

Multnomah County Library, Portland

Apparently, a fellow named Mike once wrote to author E.B. White (Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, The Elements of Style) asking for some tips on how to have a book published. This is what he got in response (all aspiring authors, take note!):
   And here, since we're on the subject, is a wonderful interview with the man (E.B., not Mike) preceded by an equally wonderful essay about a visit to his farm:

Worth Rereading

Good things to know, from

Refried beans are actually fried only one time, although many people believe that their name implies that they have been fried more than once. Their name, however, is thought to come from the Spanish word refritos, which translates to “well-fried,” rather than meaning that they have been fried and then fried again, or "re-fried." The dish traditionally is prepared by cooking beans, often pinto beans, in two ways. They typically are boiled in water until the beans are softened, and then they are mashed before being fried in lard. Occasionally, the mashed beans might be served as they are

Old New World

Here's an interesting poem I found in my inbox today, courtesy of Poem-A-Day. I almost didn't finish it, but then I got caught up in the whole dueling time-space-culture ambiance of it all and saw that it was really, in a straightforward and simple way, saying something very deeply true about the contradictions and similarities of the human condition.
Ode to Lil' Kim in Florence
by Barbara Hamby

We're in a taxi on the way to see Andrea del Sarto's last supper, 
          which was in the country when it was painted 
but is now in the suburbs beyond the old city wall in an ex-convent,
          and our driver turns the radio to an English station
playing an American song, yes, Lil' Kim's "How Many Licks," 
          and Miss Kim, you are not singing about throwing punches, 
but for a while I don't notice because my husband 
          is talking about where we will eat dinner, but like a bullet
the lyrics penetrate the armor of the city, the fresco, the tagliata

For the Win

Growing up in South Africa, S'manga Khumalo saw his first horse when he was 14. This July, he became the first black jockey to win the Vodacom Durban July, Africa's biggest ~ and richest ~ horse race. "As I came to the number one box down at the grandstand, my mum was there in front," he recalls. "She was screaming and thanking all the people that made it possible and also looking back to her family and to our ancestors" (story, video):

Mise en Scène

An abandoned, decaying house in York, Alabama, is razed, and a 100-seat open-air theater is put up in its place. Not just any theater, though. When it's not being used as a free public space for concerts, plays, and the like, it all folds up into the shape and look of a little house again (video):

Google Autocomplete Is ...

You know how, when you start to type something into the search window on Google, it starts to try to complete your thought for you? Sometimes it works and sometimes it totally doesn't. And sometimes the suggestions it comes up with are humorous or even poetic or both. We have one man on a bus to thank for all of that:

Those Who Marched

Leonard Freed/Magnum
Photographs from the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., on Aug. 28 50 years ago:

The Sound of Flowers

Dan Corson
First, there were the cell towers that look (vaguely) like trees. Now, in Seattle, there's an artistic installation of cartoon-like flowers that are actually solar powered and that create not only power but light and sound (story, lots of pix):
   The installation in action (video):

Nothin' But Blue Skies Do I See

Smog in Hong Kong? What smog? Tourists can now take pictures in front of a huge backdrop of the area on a clear day:

A Little Bit of Nature

Albanese with his head in the (cotton ball) clouds               Matthew Albanese
Artist Matt Albanese creates stunning worlds in miniature that look so real, so beautiful, that you want to live in them forever (story, lots of photos):

Sierra Mountain Sigh

We're in Mammoth Lakes right now. It's best known as a great ski resort, which it is (except, IMHO, when the practically gale-force winds kick up!). It's less well known as a summer destination. We've been coming here in both seasons almost every year for a long time. Summer at Mammoth is full of gorgeous vistas and great outdoor activities ~ biking, hiking, and (for those who are into that kind of thing) fishing. One of my very favorite places here is Convict Lake. I love its long-ago history, its stark, magnificent beauty, and the pure clarity of its water.
   The lake is at the end of a long valley, surrounded on all but that side by high mountains. It got its current name in 1871. The story goes that, in September of that year, 29 men broke out of the state prison in Carson City, Nevada. Six of them made it to this area, followed by a posse looking to claim the reward for their capture. As you drive up toward the lake, you can imagine the convicts riding along there, looking for a place to hole up. What they found instead was a dead end ~ almost literally, for them, and literally, for three of the posse members, who were killed in a shoot-out. Two of the surrounding mountains, Mount Morrison and Mono Jim, were named after two of them. The convicts were later captured in nearby Round Valley.

Tweeter Tape

Using old clock parts, a UK man has modified the old ticker tape machine to print out tweets! (story, video, lots of pix):

Name and Identity

Convicted U.S. Army soldier Bradley Manning wants to change his name to Chelsea, which begs the question, How do adults who are changing their gender pick a new name?:

I'll Be Watching You

Patty Hearst as SLA member Tania                          SLA

Just about everyone of a certain age remembers Patty Hearst and her kidnapping by the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974. It was the first time most of us had heard the term "Stockholm Syndrome," which is the name for the relationship that can develop between a hostage and captor. As we're learning through more recent events, it's a very common condition for those in that kind of situation. So the word "syndrome" makes sense, but why "Stockholm"?:

Ta2 U

Yes, I quickly went through the people I know in this age group, and it stands up to the statistic. From

   About 40% of Americans age 18-29 have at least one tattoo, and 20% have two
or more tattoos.
   It is estimated that 15% of all people in the United States, or more than
45 million people, have tattoos. Tattoos tend to be more common among
younger age groups, with an estimated 40% of Americans age 18-29 having at
least one tattoo and about 20% of them having more than one. In one study,
17% of tattooed people said they regretted getting a tattoo, with the most
common reason being that the tattoo included another person's name.

Now THAT's a Tat!

How to keep a secret of the universe and all life with you always:

Dios Es Allah

"We are a minority within a minority," says Nahela Morales. Indeed. "I will be a Mexican for the rest of my life," she continues. "I'm just Muslim." Morales is one of an apparently growing number of U.S. Latinos brought up in the Catholic religion who are turning to Islam (video):

The Brain-Body Link

Many schools are cutting back on recess and P.E. classes and at the same time piling on the homework, which gives students even less opportunity to run and play outside. Perhaps now is the time to remember that exercise is crucial, not just to the one's physical well being, but to one's cognitive development as well. From

Exercise has been found to improve cognition, research has shown, although it is not known why. Aerobic exercise, such as walking or swimming, has been found to be particularly effective at making the brain think better. It is thought that exercise increases blood flow to the brain, making it easier to think more clearly, because of the additional oxygen the brain is receiving. Exercise also is thought to activate the hippocampus, an area of the brain that contributes to memory and learning. Some scientists believe that having exercise improve cognition might have developed in early humans to help them react more quickly while running for survival.

More about exercise and brain function:
  • Aerobic exercise is thought to increase creativity, and many well-known authors, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott and Henry Miller, were reported to have been avid exercisers for this purpose.

  • Running has been found to create a feeling of euphoria, known as a runner’s high, but researchers do not know why this occurs.

  • Albert Einstein is reputed to have claimed that he came up with his theory of relativity while riding a bicycle.


No. 8: Georgia Institute of Technology  Rob Felt/Georgia Institute of Technology

The Sierra Club has released its seventh annual ranking of Cool Schools, which, in this case, means the greenest. Sadly, my alma mater is not among the top 10. Is yours? (slideshow):

The Next Chapter

Wendy Becktold
Here's a great DIY project that'll give your favorite books a new and useful second life. Even better, it doesn't require mutilating them in any way (slideshow):

Take That Back!

The other day, a friend told me that she had been witness to a spider in her yard eating its own web. She was sure/not sure that this is what it was doing, because the web disappeared. How else could that have happened ~ and is this possible?:

Point and Shoot

Now that we've all gotten over the amazement and elation we've felt about taking camera-quality photos with our phones, it may be time to take the next step. Herewith, reviews of four apps that make the process even better and more creative:

The Maleficent Cup

Aaahhh, the morning cup of coffee. Ooooohh, the iced blended on a hot afternoon! Not to ruin the moment (because it shouldn't), but the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders now includes caffeine withdrawal as a disorder. Its ingestion on a regular basis, over time, actually changes the brain's physical and chemical makeup, which is why we need more to get the same effect and why quitting makes us feel like someone poured wet cement into our head:
   On a related topic of interest, the paper coffee-cup sleeve: It seems simple and obvious enough, and yet someone had to invent it:

Color in Black and White

Paris en Rose                                                                        Fabienne Rivory
A selection of the works of one Fabienne Rivory (with links to more). The accompanying text translates to "Fabienne Rivory creates these images by using black-and-white photos with a mirror effect to which she adds colors via paint":

Hobos and Vagrants and Tramps, Oh, My!

The attendees assemble.                                     Sarah Feesemann/The Leader
It was the 113th National Hobo Convention, "a riot of straggly hair, hobo poetry and free Mulligan stew," according to one journalist who went along for the ride. Among the highlights were a parade and the crowning of the 2013 Hobo King and Queen:

Contain Yourself

Keetwonen dormitory, University of Amsterdam                             ZUMA Press
The Boxcar Children had the right idea, but it took a while for it to spread to the nonfiction world. Shipping containers as homes, offices, shops ~ how utterly cool is that! (slideshow):

Plants and Predators

Amazingly, it seems that a plant can sense an herbivore approaching and will protect itself the best it can:

'The Last, Best Summer of His Life'

Hemingway, center, with other guests at bullfighter Antonio Ordóñez's ranch, Spain
Archival librarian Megh Testerman was given a daunting task by Boston's John F. Kennedy Library: to catalog photos of author Ernest Hemingway from 1953 to 1959. A lesser woman might have opted out, but Testerman took it on ~ and did so much more (print and audio versions, slideshow):


It sounds like something out of Dune (which, btw, is a great book ~ and I'm not even a science fiction fan): a suit made of plastic tubes through which algae circulates, helping to make a human semi-photosynthetic (story, strange little video as only the Brits can make them!):

Beating the Odds

“Jamaica has fallen from one of the more corrupt countries in the Americas to one of the least,” according to a recent USAID study. Interestingly, it was a violent situation centered around one of the country's most powerful drug lords that is credited with the new emphasis on community policing and fighting corruption. Although drug trafficking may be moving back to the Caribbean, Jamaica seems to be protecting itself well (story, slideshow):

Broken Trust


Older adults might be more likely to fall for scams because of changes that occur in the brain during the aging process. Research has found that people older than 55 had less activity in the anterior insula, the part of the brain that is responsible for evaluating truth and risk, and were less able to identify untrustworthy faces. Older adults with depression or low social fulfillment might be the most likely to fall for scams. One study

A Great Head Start

Some babies cry a lot in their first few weeks on Earth, and apparently it's not always because of colic. It is during this time frame that doctors see the most cases of what is descriptively called Shaken Baby Syndrome. A new campaign aims to create more awareness of this dangerous and sometimes deadly problem, and you can help by knitting purple baby caps to remind new parents that this is a normal phase and to be patient. The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome is hoping to pass out 100,000 of them in November and December:

Something To Chew On

Of course, we all have our opinions about genetically modified foods, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, organic food, and the like, and I don't know if this story proves anything one way or t'other. All I know is, it's interesting and that qualifies it to be here!:

My Kingdom for a Morsi

I recently spoke with a lovely woman I know (who just celebrated her 90th!), the mother of a good friend, who, though European, grew up in Alexandria, Egypt. I asked her about the current situation there, and her answer, not surprisingly, came down to one thing: the unrelenting, chronic poverty of the people. She saw it then, and not much has changed. There was sadness, and maybe even a kind of resignation, in her voice as she told me of the Egyptians' kindness, generosity, humor, and dignity. It was evident that a large part of her heart is still there.
   As that county's crisis drags on and seems to intensify and we've now started unofficially using the "c" word ("coup") to describe the latest chapter, do we understand it any better (see and
   Here's another good explanation, which focuses on four main players: the old regime, the Muslim Brotherhood, the military, and young activists (video):

Waterworld, Texas

A tiny town in oil country is dry. As in, no more water. As in, turn on the tap and nothing comes out. Who's to blame (because, of course, you gotta blame someone)? I honestly don't know what to say about this (well, I do, but if I start, I'll have a hard time stopping) except that this would make an amazing case study for a psychology class (story, fascinating video):

The Cartoon, Explained

A New Yorker cartoon editor ~ and cartoonist in his own right ~ discusses the strategies behind that art/entertainment form, complete with lots of chuckle-inducing examples (story, slideshow):

Feeding the Creatures

Karen Paolillo and friends
Karen Paolillo lives with her husband in a cottage they built by the Turgwe River in Zimbabwe. Twenty years ago, she founded the Turgwe Hippo Trust, and she's been working to help and, in may cases, save those and other creatures ever since. This year, due to another drought, she is actually trucking food in to help them get through the season (story, very cute video):
   Here's a fascinating, more in-depth story about the couple and their life as conservationists in Africa:

Cat in the Box

I almost called this "Ummm ... What? Redux," because it's an attempt to explain that old Schrödinger's Cat enigma. Does a pretty good job, but what I still don't understand is why it's a big deal. It seems to make perfect sense, but it's called a paradox, so all I think I understand now is that I must be misunderstanding something:

Ummm ... What?

Don't you just love long, complicated sentences that don't mean anything? Like this one from a letter to shareholders in which L'Oreal claims it “has made the most of the diversity and complementarity of its presence in all channels and in all regions to take advantage of the sectors which are accelerating.” This is what Rittenhouse Rankings calls FOG, or “fact-deficient, obfuscating, generalities,” and the corporate communications consulting firm has ranked companies according to their degree of it (story, slideshow):

Hello. My Name Is ___________

"The word 'Messiah' is a title, and it's a title that has only been earned by one person, and that one person is Jesus Christ," said Tennessee Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew by way of explaining her order that a little boy's name be legally changed from Messiah to Martin. There are other names that have not made it past the courts, too, and not all in Tennessee. Oddly, Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116 was OK. Here's the story, from

   This week, a Tennessee judge ruled that a mother couldn't name her son "Messiah." Name bans are uncommon in the U.S., but around the world, it's a different story
   In 2008, a New Zealand family was ordered to rename their 9-year-old daughter from "Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii." Other names banned in Kiwi Country include "4Real," "Mafia No Fear," and "V8." Strangely, "Number 16 Bus Shelter" is perfectly okay. 
   Malaysia and Sweden have also dropped the hammer on bizarre names. In 2006, Malaysian authorities cracked down on a couple that named their baby "Chow Tow" -- which translates to "Smelly Head" in Cantonese. Meanwhile, Sweden enforces a strict naming law, which prompted a protesting couple to name their child "Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116." (If you're wondering, it's pronounced, "Albin.")

The Good, the Bad, and the Ukulele

I dreamed I saw James Hill last night (Joan Baez fans will get that reference). Anyway, here are a couple of great ukulele videos, one is of James Hill's encore using comb and chopsticks (if you don't have time for the whole thing and want to cut to the chase, FF to 3:50), and the other, beneath it, is of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain's rendition of the theme from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:

A Mosquito Flies By

Can there be many worse sounds in the middle of the night than the high-pitched whine of a mosquito circling for a landing? I'll answer that: No. A new product, called the Kite Patch, is in the works. It will supposedly make one "invisible" to the little suckers by blocking their carbon dioxide detectors (story, video, slideshow):

1520 Sedgwick Avenue

DJ Kool Herc is credited with being the father of hip-hop.
Hip-hop was born at a Back to School Jam in an apartment building's rec room on Aug. 11, 1973 (story, slideshow):

Green Markers

Markers can be recycled! Who knew? Crayola is now working with a company that turns the waste plastic into diesel and other liquid fuels ~ and the idea came from a group of California schoolchildren!:

Bright Lights

above Tecate, Baja California                                                              Reuters
We in the Northern Hemisphere can watch the peak of our annual light show from the Perseid meteor shower on the night of Aug. 11. Actually, the best time to view is just before dawn:

Museum of the Absurd

In an elevator shaft in New York City, there sits a little (well, it would have to be, wouldn't it?) museum called Museum. On exhibit are intriguing detritus from modern life here on Earth, including part of a potato-chip bag collection, Mars rocks, and the very shoe (so they say) that was hurled at President George W. Bush:

The Things We Keep

Statue of Liberty souvenir, made in 1885
The word "souvenir," in French, means "to remember." At first, it was things like locks of George Washington's hair and pieces of Plymouth Rock, but soon people began to realize that there were only so many actual pieces of such things available, and that, as we chipped away at them they would soon disappear. And so the souvenir industry was born. Washington's National Museum of American History exhibit Souvenir Nation: Relics, Keepsakes, and Curios includes mementos from way back and all over (video):

Poems for Sale

Katie Falkenberg
"Love" is the most commonly asked-for topic, but nothing stumps Jacqueline Suskin. She first started writing for a Poem Store in 2009, in Oakland. Then, she moved to Humboldt County. These days, she's at the Hollywood Farmers Market. "Part of the exercise is to get down immediately whatever comes to me," Suskin says. "They are like little mantras, little prayers that get handed out" (story, slideshow):,0,6438656.htmlstory

Game On

Danny's in. from
There's old-school sports, like, you know, baseball, football, basketball ~ and then there's eSports, like League of Legends. The latter just became officially recognized by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Champion player Danny Le, a citizen of Canada but hoping to be part of a U.S. League team, was granted a P-1A visa, just like foreign-born, non-green-card-holding Dodgers team members:,0,2878956.story

A Time and Place

screen shot
"This was the book that signified that a photo book without any narrative structure could be, in and of itself, considered a book of art," explains the Museum of Modern Art's Sarah Hermanson Meister, who is curating a show celebrating the book's 75th anniversary. The book is question is the fabled Walker Evans: American Photographs (video):
screen shot

Breaking the Fast

in Bangladesh                                                                                 screen shot
Muslims the world over are celebrating Eid-al-Fitr, which concludes the holy month of Ramadan (video):

It's No Joke

Talk about a tough crowd: A female North Korean comedian was just sentenced to hard labor for an undisclosed slip-up during a stand-up routine. She was hustled away mid-show, with no time to pack or notify family:

Those Persnickety Poisons


This should come as no surprise, but it is fascinating (in the car accident kind of way) nonetheless. As a result of a recent study, we can now determine rather accurately a person's socio-economic level from the types of toxins in that person's body ~ and vice versa:

Sunny Side Up

Approximately every 11 years, the sun's polar magnetic fields flip, and scientists say they're about to do so again in the next couple of months. The effects of this 180-degree switch ripple out to the far reaches of the heliosphere (video):

Living Down Under

Dani Ridge House, Big Sur, California                                Studio Schicketanz
We've lived in caves, sod houses, tract houses, tree houses, and skyscrapers. We've insulated ourselves from the weather and invited the outside in. Here are seven modern homes that bring us back to our roots, back to the earth:

Student Needs an Apple

Kieran Youngman                                                                            screen shot
 A 17-year-old from England won this year's (and there really is such a thing) Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship, held in Washington, D.C. "I'm gonna be honest," he said when asked to speculate about his family's and mates' reactions, "a few might not be surprised" (story, video):

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

That's Scott on the left.                                    NASA TV
The first ~ and, so far, only ~ set of identical-twin astronauts, Mark and Scott Kelly, could help scientists understand more about the effects of long-term space flight. In 2015, while Scott Kelly rockets up to the International Space Station for a one-year stint there, Mark Kelly will stay back on Earth, as the control. Both will be giving blood and saliva samples before, during, and after the trip, as well as having their bone mass measured, sleep patterns analyzed, and more:

The Other Magic Kingdom

There's a certain glowing magic about San Francisco, so it seems only natural that a spellbinding place like the Exploratorium would have landed there. I can't remember how old I was when I first visited, but I do know that when I walked in those doors, I wanted to stay for days. It's not just magical, it's smart and creative and inspirational and boundless and lots and lots of fun.
   The Exploratorium moved from its beautiful home in the Palace of Fine Arts to Pier 15 not too long ago (, and I haven't seen it there, but by all accounts, it's just as special ~ maybe even more so, as it has more room in which to excite. Here is a great interview with its executive director, Dennis Bartels:,0,41567.column?page=1
   This is the Exploratorium's youtube site, which includes a delightful look at the Tinkerer's Clock and its inventor, British artist Tim Hunkin. Speaking of magic!:  

Crawling to Tibet

screen shot
Four Buddhist pilgrims are traveling the 1,360 miles (2,190 km) from their hometown of Gansu, China, to Lhasa, Tibet, the slow way ~ on their hands and knees. They are all over the age of 60 and have been at it for more than two months now (video):