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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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The first official day of spring is March 20th. A great way to celebrate spring is to start growing your own garden. Check out this activity from National Geographic Little Kids. This is a great way to learn how things grow and take advantage of the great weather.

Planting_Seeds



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Throughout history people have been locating dinosaur fossils and incorrectly classifying them. The Greeks and Romans thought they belonged to ogre’s, the Chinese thought they were dragon bones, and the English thought they were from giants. Despite all the wrong predictions, there were three British fossil hunters in the early 1800’s who began to dig deep into the exploration of the unknown world of dinosaurs. Keep in mind, at this point in time there was no such thing as a dinosaur and the word dinosaur had not yet been invented. In 1824, William Buckland was the first individual to scientifically name a dinosaur, calling it a Megalosaurus. Gideon A. Mantell discovered other early dinosaur fossils including the Iguanondon (duck-billed plant eater) and the Hylaeosaurus (armed plant-eater). A few years later a man named Benjamin Waterhouse Watkins made the first life-size dinosaur model out of concrete as an amusement at a house party for scientist.

“Dinosauria” was the first name given to dinosaurs and they were believed to be a suborder of large, extinct reptiles. Sir Richard Owens, a British pioneer, coined the term dinosauria in 1841, from the Greek word “deinos” meaning fearfully great and “sauors” meaning lizard. He also noticed some similar characteristics between the Megalosaurus, Iguanadon, and Hylaeosaurus such as their upright legs and their unique vertebrae structure. Owens introduced “dinosauria” as a new taxonomic group among other reptiles and since then over 330 species of dinosaurs have been discovered. Every few months paleontologist find new dinosaurs and help increase our knowledge about the creatures that roamed the earth during prehistoric times.

To get your dose of dinos, don't miss Fossil fest, taking place Saturday, March 20 from 11am - 4pm!

Dino3


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National Geographic reported that a new dinosaur species, Brontomerus mcintoshi, was discovered. This new dino is a type of sauropod, four-legged plant-eater, and is beginning to be known as the Thunder Thighs thanks to its immense hipbone blades. The blades on its hips suggest that very large muscles were attached there; these muscles could have been used for maneuvering over hilly land or giving its predators a swift kick.

In 2007 Mathew Wedel, professor of anatomy at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California, and his team were examining bones from a fossil quarry in Utah when they discovered that the bones weren’t from any known species. Since the shape of the thighbones suggested that this dino had the largest leg muscles of any sauropod, it was named accordingly since Brontomerus means "thunder thighs" in Greek. Wedel and his team have studied the bones and done artist concepts of what this dinosaur might look like close up. Although he thinks it’s probably safer that we never came in contact with b.mcintoshi. Wedel explains that this dino had a little brain, was constantly paranoid about all the meat-eaters around, always on the lookout to protect it’s young, and was not afraid to use its enormous legs to do so. He adds that the, “ sauropods were probably beautiful animals if you were a long way away with binoculars.”

Thunder_Thighs_Brontomerus


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The earliest horned dinosaur fossil-skull can now found at the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History in Norman, Oklahoma, and has been coined Titanoceratop ouranos. The new species of dinosaurs is uniquely known for the size of its head, estimated at 8-feet long, and its overall weight, estimated at 6,550 kilograms.

The fossil skull was discovered in 1941 in New Mexico, and spent fifty-four years in museum storage before it was pieced together and ready to be displayed. Paleontologists are currently facing some difficulties placing the species into a family tree; arguing if it resembles the Pentaceratops or the Triceratops. Until recently, the beast was considered to be related to the Pentaceratops, but new inclinations regarding its physical face structure suggest relations to the Triceratops. This theory would place its evolution 5 million years earlier than originally considered and would propose that there are a lot of other horned dinosaurs yet to be discovered.

On the flip side, there are some paleontologists that still believe the Titanoceratops is part of the Pentaceratops family. They are claiming that although the fossils bones are oversized compared to the “not-so-titanic” species, it may be in its growth stage.  The debate still continues, but either way the Titanoceratop is a colossal dinosaur with an oddly enormous skull.

Pentaceratops


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