- It might seem that germs come out in the winter to play, but they're around all the time — even if, surprisingly to the pre-K crowd — you can't see them! We seem to get sicker in the winter because we're indoors more often and in closer proximity to each other; so in essence, it's just harder to stay away from the sniffling, coughing, and flying sneeze-particles. Good times. A fun pre-K friendly ditty on colds comes from one of my favorite kid cartoons: Sid the Science Kid — check out "The Journey of a Germ" here.
- Another fun article (via Wired) I saw recently was on the fascinating — and incredibly antagonistic — mantis shrimp. Apart from having spring-loaded clubs that can be deployed so fast that the water around it superheats, its eyes are also phenomenal. Whereas we humans have 3 types of photo receptor cones that allow us to see 7 colors in the rainbow, mantis shrimp can see the ultimate rainbow. They have 16 receptors. In this RadioLab piece about color, they explain that just in the violet part of the rainbow, mantis shrimp can see 6-7 types of ultraviolet. If you look at these guys, they are very colorful themselves — if we find them to be a beautiful riot of color, imagine what they look like to each other! (Like most RadioLab pieces (if not all, really), the whole segment is worth listening to, as it explains and illustrates not only how we "see" color, but how we perceive and interpret it. However, if you're in a hurry, or just want to hear about the mantis shrimp, that part of the discussion starts at about minute 15:00).
- Speaking of different ways of seeing things, this is a hypnotic video from NASA, showing the sun as seen via different wavelengths. It's a cool representation of what we can and can't perceive according to what filters we're using (interpret that as literally or as philosophically as you wish — I generally find that I wax more poetically when I've had enough coffee and sleep). Also, along the same lines, and with an explanation of why scientists view the sun through different filters, a related collage here.
- Finally, a video which kept Conor amused for several viewings. A frog survives the seasons by literally freezing and thawing as the weather changes. Survival techniques: amazing.
Editor addendum: I forgot that I'd come across a great comic by The Oatmeal, entitled, "Why the mantis shrimp is my new favorite animal." It's definitely better appreciated by an older kid crowd — one that a) can read and b) can appreciate brilliant lines like this: "[The mantis shrimp] is Genghis Khan bathed in sherbet ice cream."
Also, I promised in an earlier post that I'd put up the link to the RadioLab Apocalyptical Live show. Here it is — it's worth a listen.