April 30, 2012 - Bugs Bunny Day

Oh, yes, some Bugs Bunny fans will tell you that July 27 is Bugs Bunny Day. That is the anniversary of the 1940 debut of the familiar rabbit and his adversary, Elmer Fudd. In that July debut people also heard for the first time Bugs's famous line, “What's up, Doc?”

But today is the real anniversary of Bugs Bunny. The “wascally wabbit” first appeared on April 30, 1938, in a short theater cartoon called “Porky's Hare Hunt.” Perhaps the reason people don't recognize Bugs from that early cartoon is that he was credited as “Happy Rabbit.” But, you know what they say, if it looks like Bugs Bunny, and talks like Bugs Bunny, and moves like Bugs Bunny...then it IS Bugs Bunny, no matter what they call it!”

Enjoy Bugs Bunny!

With this free WB game, you can help Bugs gather carrots.  Be sure to get a few carrots to munch on while you play!

Boomerang has all sorts of Bugs Bunny activities, such as this coloring page, this painting activity, and even a carrot cake recipe.

Here is a lesson in how to draw Bugs Bunny. 

Watch some silly bits from Looney Tunes cartoons. Like these(Here is the full cartoon from one of those bits.)

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April 29, 2012 - Fullmoon Day of Kason in Myanmar

 (a.k.a. Burma)

In Myanmar, today is considered a blessed day in the hottest month of the hot season: a day when Buddhists pour water on the Bodhi tree. It was under the Bodhi tree that Prince Siddhartha was supposed to have reached enlightenment and become the Buddha.

Parades of people carry pots of water and flowers to the tree, chanting poems all the while. Refreshments are served and music and dance performances entertain the crowds.

Check out photographer Sam Gellman's beautiful photos of Myanmar. 

Also on this date:

April 28, 2012 - Anniversary of Maryland's Statehood

On this date in 1788, Maryland became the seventh state to ratify the Constitution of the United States of America.

The document most Americans honor so much, the Constitution, was a matter of great debate when it was first written, while it was waiting to be ratified by the 13 colonies-turned-states. There were discussions and arguments among the general public as well as behind closed doors in the state conventions. A lot of people were not happy with the Constitution as written. Some even wanted a whole bunch of amendments put in right away! (Yeah. They're called the Bill of Rights, and they're very good ideas!) In New York state, two-thirds of the delegates were against ratification—at first, that is, because New York did eventually ratify.

Here is the story of those ratification debates.

Here is the order of the ratification of the Constitution. Can you guess what states make up the list by looking at just the vowels?

1. ___ E ___ A ___ A ___ E

2. ___ E ___ ___ ___ Y ___ ___ A ___ I A

3. ___ E ___ ___ E ___ ___ E Y

4. ___ E O ___ ___ I A

5. ___ O ___ ___ E ___ ___ I ___ U ___

6. ___ A ___ ___ A ___ ___ U ___ E ___ ___ ___

7. ___ A ___ Y ___ A ___ ___

8. ___ O U ___ ___ ___ A ___ O ___ I ___ A

9. ___ E ___ ___ A ___ ___ ___ ___ I ___ E

10. ___ I ___ ___ I ___ I A

11. ___ E ___ Y O ___ ___

12. ___ O ___ ___ ___ ___ A ___ O ___ I ___ A

13. ___ ___ O ___ E I ___ ___ A ___ ___

Hints below.
Answers even farther below.

HINTS: The beginning letters of the states, in order, are:
  1. D
  2. P
  3. N J
  4. G
  5. C
  6. M
  7. M
  8. S C
  9. N H
  10. V
  11. NY
  12. NC
  13. RI

Animaniacs Sing!

A few days ago I linked to the Animaniacs' “Nations of the World” song. Here is Wakko's State Capitals song!

  1. Delaware
  2. Pennsylvania
  3. New Jersey
  4. Georgia
  5. Connecticut
  6. Massachusetts
  7. Maryland
  8. South Carolina
  9. New Hampshire
  10. Virginia
  11. New York
  12. North Carolina
  13. Rhode Island

Also on this date:

April 27, 2012 - Anniversary of the Discovery of Hahnium (a.k.a. Dubnium)


 You know how a person who makes a scientific discovery gets to name it?

Well, it doesn't always work out that way!

Albert Ghiorso at the Lawrence Laboratories of the University of California, Berkeley, discovered atomic element 105 (which means that it has 105 protons). The discovery was announced on this day in 1970, and Ghiorso and the other American physicists named it hahnium after German scientist Otto Hahn.

But it turned out that Russian scientists had made some of this heavy element, too, in Russia. Apparently they had named the element nielsbohrium after the Danish scientist Niels Bohr!

I guess it's kind of nice that Americans were promoting a German and Russians were promoting a Dane—they weren't just trying to promote their own country's reputation. What isn't so nice is that some scientists were writing papers about hahnium, and others were writing papers about nielsbohrium, and that was pretty confusing.

The international organization that rules on disputes of this kind decided to give element 105 the name unnilpentium as a temporary name, and eventually (in 1997) gave the element a completely different name: dubnium, after the town of Dubna, Russia, where the Russians had first produced it. The international organization pointed out that Lawrence Laboratories had already been recognized in several different element names (lawrencium, berkelium, californium, americium), and that Dubna had not been so recognized in the past.

So that's great—but think about this poor element! It's had so many different names:

Hahnium (Ha)
Nielsbohrium (Ns)
Unnilpentium (Unp)
Dubnium (Db)

By the way, dubnium doesn't exist in nature, and even when people create it, it disappears fairly quickly because it is radioactive, with a short 28-hour half life.

Do you know the Element Song?

Tom Lehrer wrote a song with the names of all the elements—but people have created some new ones since he wrote it. Watch at the end of the video as several elements, including dubnium (Db) pop up on the periodic table of the elements. If you want them, here are the lyrics.

Oh, and here is Harry Potter singing the element song. (Okay, you got me, it's really Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who played Harry Potter!)

Also on this date:

April 26, 2012 - Richter Scale Day

Today's the birthday of Charles Richter (born on this date in 1900), who grew up to be a seismologist.

That's a person who studies earthquakes.

Richter invented a scale so that scientists could measure and compare the size and strength of different earthquakes. The scale runs from 0 to 10, and going up one number on the scale means that the earthquakes is TEN TIMES larger! In other words, an earthquake that measures 7.0 on the Richter Scale is ten times worse than one that measures 6.0.

And, believe me, an earthquake that measures 6.0 is pretty darned strong. It can be felt for miles, and it can fling stuff off of shelves, and even do some damage to bridges and buildings.

The devastating earthquake that hit Japan in March of 2011 was a 9.0 on the scale! (A thousand times larger than the 6.0 quake I was talking about, and a hundred times larger than the quake that ravaged Haiti in 2010!) This 2011 earthquake was the worst in Japan's history and one of the five worst earthquakes in the world since scientists started keeping track. Of course, one reason so many thousands of people died is because the earthquake triggered a devastating tsunami, or “tidal wave.” It was truly an enormous tragedy.

  • Get ready for earthquakes and other natural disasters using ideas from this FEMA site

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April 25, 2012 - Peppercorn Day in Bermuda

This is one of the odder of the Caribbean holidays: Every year in Bermuda's largest city (St. George) pomp and circumstance surrounds an event that would seem to be very ordinary, even boring: collecting rent.

A horse-drawn carriage brings the governor to the Old State House to collect this “rent,” which is not a sum of money, but is instead a single peppercorn!

This goes back to the old days of 1797, when a group of Freemasons began renting the Old State House for the sum of a peppercorn. St. George used to be the capital city of Bermuda, but in the late 1700s the parliament decided to build a new capital city.

Do you know where Bermuda is?

Earlier I referred to Bermuda as being a Caribbean island—but really it's pretty far north of the Caribbean Sea. It's about 600 miles due east from North Carolina, well into the Atlantic Ocean. (Check out the map below.)

So why is it often referred to as a Caribbean island?

Historically and culturally Bermuda, along with other not-actually-in-the-Caribbean islands such as the Bahamas, is linked with islands that ARE in the Caribbean Sea. One example is that many black people from the Eastern Caribbean islands migrated to Bermuda in the early 1900s, bringing their culture and foods.

By the way, Bermuda isn't a fully independent nation; instead, it is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom. But that didn't stop it being included in the Animaniac's "Nations of the World" Song

(A less fuzzy version of the song can be found here—but the country names are missing from this version, which is too bad. Lyrics can be found here.)

What's the Bermuda Triangle?

Basically, the Bermuda Triangle is pseudoscience. What I mean by that is that it is nonsense, hokum, baloney, hogwash, and poppycock!

The Bermuda Triangle is a geographical area of the Atlantic Ocean that is supposed to be the site where an unexplainable number of airplanes and boats have disappeared in such mysterious circumstances that people were sure that ghosts or aliens or magic had to be the cause. However, studies have shown that a lot of the reports given by Bermuda-Triangle promoters were incorrect or “fudged”—by which I mean lied about, to make a point. In actual fact, some planes have gone down in the area, sadly, and some ships have sunk. But the numbers of tragedies there are no more than any other area of the ocean.

Also on this date:

April 24, 2012 - Anniversary of the Launch of the Hubble Space Telescope

– 1990

On this date in 1990, we Earth-lings gained an eye-in-the-sky—the best tele-scope ever boosted up into space at that time—so it could take a peep at the universe from above the hazy, cloudy, always-moving atmosphere. And so began a new age in astronomy!

The Hubble Space Telescope was lifted into orbit by the space shuttle Discovery. There was a serious problem with the mirror, and although some observations were carried out in the first three years, the HST wasn't able to do as much as scientists hoped. A solution was created by adding new optical elements to the telescope—like giving it eyeglasses! By the end of 1993, the space shuttle Endeavor was able to install the “eyeglasses,” and we began to gather amazing high-resolution photos of the universe.

Check out the Hubble photo gallery here

Someone has judged the “top 100” Hubble photos, found here. If you want a smaller assortment of the best, Discovery has 18 here.

Also on this date:

April 23, 2012 - Happy Birthday, Max Planck

  • Did you know that we live in a universe in which particles poof into existence, out of nowhere, and then just—poof—disappear again?
  • A universe in which teeny particles called electrons can be two places at the same time—unless we're watching?
  • A universe in which tiny particles are spinning clockwise AND counter-clockwise at the same time?

Argh! Thinking about quantum theory can make my head hurt—because it's sooo strange! The reality of what happens at the very, very small scale of the atom seems almost completely opposite of what common sense tells us—because our common sense has to do with much larger objects such as apples and rocket ships and fleas.

The implications of quantum theory even upset the “father of quantum physics,” Max Planck.

Quantum physics
allows the possibility
of wormholes in space.
This German physicist didn't want to revolutionize physics, but he had to work with what experimental results showed to be true, and what mathematical equations proved as well. Planck came up with the idea that light and x-rays and radio waves (and other electromagnetic radiation) can exist only in certain discrete quantities or values. Here's an example: instead of light emerging from a lamp as a steady stream of energy, it is emitted in little packets of energy, called quanta. From this first idea, and thousands of experiments by many physicists all around the world, developed the quantum theory we have today.

Max Planck, who was born on this day in 1858, won a Nobel Prize for his contribution to the science he founded.

Some people think that the weirdness of
quantum physics means that it isn't true....
or that it's useless. But quantum physics is
backed up by countless experiments and is
used in many ways--such as in computers!
To learn more about quantum physics, check out:

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April 22, 2012 - Earth Day (and OK Day)

This very important day calls attention to the effects of human activities on the environment. Our Earth has precious water and air to protect, wildlife to cherish, and forests to preserve. Perhaps most important, it has climate patterns that we depend on in our agriculture. Let's try our best to save the Earth, by which I really mean to save ourselves!

Check out this and this other earlier posts about Earth Day.
Here is the official Earth Day 2012 website.

Also on this date:

Oklahoma Day

Today commemorates the date when the “Oklahoma Lands” were opened for European settlement. Some state organizations will have special exhibits and concerts. Some schools will have lessons touching on the subject tomorrow.

Did you know that Oklahoma was one of the first states in the U.S. to pass laws that protect archeological sites? In the 1930s, commercial excavations revealed what we now call Spiro Mounds, one of the greatest collections of Native American artifacts in the U.S. 

The Spiro people lived during “Pre-Columbian” times, which simply means before Columbus came to the New World. They settled in the area that is now Oklahoma but developed trade and communication with people from California and the Pacific, to Virginia and the Atlantic, and from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes. They shared information about growing plants, mound building, religious ceremonies, and iconographic (picture) writing.

What do I mean by “mound building”? Mounds are earthworks, hills of earth built by the Spiro people. Some of the earthen mounds surrounded a level plaza where rituals and games were carried out. Some were burial mounds. Some of the mounds were platform mounds, which looked like pyramids with their tops cut off and temples built on the flat tops. Platform mounds usually had earthen ramps leading to the top, or stairways made of logs.

The Spiro Mounds were abandoned by 1450, almost half a century before Columbus "discovered" the West Indies, and long before European people explored the Oklahoma region. The mounds may have been abandoned because increasingly large bison herds lured the people into a more nomadic hunting lifestyle rather than a settled farming lifestyle.