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Throughout the year the sun appears at different locations at the same time of day. At 6 P.M. in July it's still sunny outside, while at 6 P.M. in January the Sun has already set. These differences are easily seen month by month, but not easily seen by the days or the weeks.

The sun tracking experiment will allow you to see that the sun appears in different locations at same specific time everyday. This is a great outdoor summer activity that will be fun for you and your family!  Here is how it works:

Sun_Track_1

  1. Glue a wooden stick to a cardboard square so that it stands upright at the edge, so the whole shadow can be seen on the square.
  2. Place the cardboard square outside where it can be exposed to the sun on a flat surface. Every day at the same time make a mark on the cardboard where the tip of the shadow is located and write the date. (It is important for the board to be in the exact location, facing the same direction everyday. It may be useful to mark the ground location where you will be putting the cardboard)
  3. Repeat this daily or weekly at the same exact time each day.
  4. Look at the results to discuss with your family about how often the sun moves compared to your expectations.

Sun_Track_2

The tilt of the Earth’s axis which causes the Earth to Face the Sun at an 23 degree angle is what causes the change in the shadow’s location. Depending on where the Earth is located in its orbit around the sun is what determines the length of day. The length of the days changes because the Earth’s location around the sun is contantly changing.


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This article is from last year, but the research continues. Neanderthals, or cavemen, have long been thought to be dull, slow and stupid, (thus the whole Geico thing about being so easy a caveman could do it). Ever since the reconstruction of the remains at La Chapelle aux Saints in 1911 by Marcellin Boule, the general public has had the idea that Neanderthals stood hunched-over, with their arms drooping down and that they moved slowly. In fact, this is a mistake. The remains from La Chapelle Aux Saints turn out to be those of an old man who had severe arthritis. Of course he would have walked slowly and been hunched over, but Boule thought this idea applied to all Neanderthals.

Much work had been done since then, but analyzing bones can only get you so far. That’s where this study comes in; a group of researchers from the Max Planck Institute are looking into DNA preserved in different specimens. What can we tell from this? For one, we can see how different Neanderthals really were from modern humans and we can get ideas about why you don’t see more cavemen around today.

For more information, click here to view the full article.

Stephanie is a Science Interpreter at the Science Center and often is found in DinoDigs or Careers for Life. Paleontology, Anthropology and Anatomy are her passion and jumps at every opportunity to talk about it. Stop in and say Hello!

 


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If you find normal crocodiles to be a little frightening check out the jaws on this guy!

Pepesuchus deiseae is a newly discovered crocodyliform, a group that includes modern-day alligators, which lived during the late Cretaceous period, between 99 million to 65 million year ago. The fossil skull was found at a site called Sao Paulo in Brazil by paleontologists from the Brazilian National Museum. It can currently be found in the Federal University of Rio de Janerio’s National Museum with other fossils that were discovered In Brazil.

Croc


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Wondering why you always feel hotter when wearing black instead of a light color? Try this experiment to prove that there are valid reasons for this to occur. This experiment looks at different types of colors reacting to the sun and which one will generate and capture more heat. Check it out!

What You Will Need:

  • 2 Identical Drinking Glasses or Jars
  • Water
  • Thermometer
  • 2 Elastic Bands
  • White Paper
  • Black Paper

Instructions:

  1. Wrap the white paper around one of the glasses using an elastic band or sellotape to hold it on.
  2. Do the same with the black paper and the other glass
  3. Fill the glass with the exact same amount of water
  4. Leave the glasses out in the sun for a couple of hours before returning to measure the temperature of the water in each.

What is Happening?

Dark surfaces such as the black paper absorb more light and the heat than the lighter one such as the white paper. After measuring the temperatures of the water, the glass with the black paper around it should be hotter than the other. Lighter surfaces reflect more light, that’s why people with lighter colored clothes in the summer keep cooler.


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Did you know that talking on a cell phone for a prolonged period might actually increase brain activity? Cell phones emit energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation and scientists are on a mission to figure out what effects this can have on the brain.

According to Science News, a recent experiment took place where 47 participants had two cell phones strapped against each ear. The phone on the left ear was turned off and the phone on the right ear played a 50-minute message, but was set to silent. Their goal was to study brain activity from the phone itself, not brain activity from listening and engaging in conversation. Scientist used a PET (positron emission tomography) Scan to study the brain activity. The test allows us to see what is going on inside of the body using injections of radioactive material to measure chemical reactions in the brain and creating three-dimensional pictures.

The results of the PET scan showed that the left side of the brain had no changes from the experiment. Conversely, the right side of the brain was using large amounts of glucose, almost as much as a person talking. Glucose is a sugar that provides fuel to the brain. These results allow scientists to conclude that brain cells are active even when the participants hearing nothing. The activity was most likely set-off by the radiation from the cell phone.

The experiment arose from the question “Are there any health risks involve with cell phone usage?”  There is still considerable debate, but scientists who believe there are give a few suggestions to be on the safe side:

  • Do not talk for long periods of time with a cell phone pressed against your head.
  • Keep your conversations short and sweet or use speakerphone.
Brain_Activity
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In the 1950's Stanley Miller was experimenting with what might have caused inorganic compounds to tease themselves together into the amino acids and proteins needed to spark life on a new and uninhabited Earth billions of years ago.

Miller created samples of ‘primordial soup’ and tested them for the ingredients needed to create small, uncomplicated, single-celled organisms. Some of his samples got shelved as unproductive - these are the samples being revisited in this study. And it turns out Miller accomplished a lot more than he thought.

More details at: www.sciencedaily.com.

Stephanie is a Science Interpreter at the Science Center and often is found in DinoDigs or Careers for Life. Paleontology, Anthropology and Anatomy are her passion and jumps at every opportunity to talk about it. Stop in and say Hello!


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Have you ever heard of a churkey or a turken? It sounds like a mix of a chicken and a turkey but National Geographic reports that it is actually a genetically mutated chicken that appears turkey-like due to a lack of neck feathers. The random mutation was first spotted in Romania hundreds of years ago. In these particular chickens a feather-blocking molecule called, BMP12,  is over produced. The reason only the neck losses its feathers is because the neck is actually the most sensitive part of the chickens skin due to an acid derived from Vitmain A being present there.

Most other genetic mutations cause harm but in this case the BMP12 mutation helps keep these chicken cool! Chickens bred in hot climates do not produce the same quality of meat and eggs that chicken bred in cooler climates do, that means featherless necks not only keep the chicken happier but, the farmers and consumers as well. Due to this fact the churkey trend in catching on! In a case where weird is wonderful, producers in the poultry industry who reside in hot climates such as Mexico, are purposefully breeding these genetically mutated barenecked chickens and seeing lots of benefits but doing so!

Chunkeys


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