I just watched another episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (finally available on iTunes!) about Michael Faraday and his discoveries about electromagnetism. Faraday was the director of the Royal Institution and started its annual Christmas Lectures back in 1825:
Begun by Michael Faraday in 1825, the CHRISTMAS LECTURES are now broadcast on UK television every December and have formed part of the British Christmas tradition for generations.
The Lectures have taken place every year since they began, stopping only from 1939 to 1942, when it was too dangerous for children to come into central London. The theme changes every year, and they are delivered by an expert in their field.
If you haven’t subscribed to their YouTube channel, definitely do that. It looks like it could be a source of inspiration for sure. Here is a playlist titled “RI Talks” which includes a collection of talks about a range of fascinating topics:
This talk by Andrew Szydlo titled “Fireworks and Waterworks” looks like a lot of fun and I can’t wait to watch this with our kids.
I have a feeling this channel will become my Saturday morning entertainment once I finish watching Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (again).
The galaxy, embracing more than 100 trillion stars, is the extremely bright object at the center of a rich cluster of galaxies known as Abell 2029. Analysis of new telescopic images indicates that the object is a distinct galaxy more than six million light years in diameter, scientists report in the issue of the journal Science published today.
Just how large is it? At its largest point, this galaxy extends about 2 million light-years from its core, and it has a mass of about 100-trillion stars. To give you some idea of what this means, the Milky Way is just 100,000 light-years in diameter. If our galaxy were to be replaced with this super-giant, it would swallow up both Magellanic clouds, the Andromeda galaxy, the Triangulum galaxy, and almost all the space in between. That is simply staggering.
Tardigrades are notable for being perhaps the most durable of known organisms; they are able to survive extreme conditions that would be rapidly fatal to nearly all other known life forms. They can withstand temperature ranges from 1 K (−458 °F; −272 °C) to about 420 K (300 °F; 150 °C), pressures about six times greater than those found in the deepest ocean trenches, ionizing radiation at doses hundreds of times higher than the lethal dose for a human, and the vacuum of outer space. They can go without food or water for more than 30 years, drying out to the point where they are 3% or less water, only to rehydrate, forage, and reproduce.
What fascinates me about them is that they are so resilient. I couldn’t help but imagine a possible future where humans are long gone and these little creatures become the dominant species on this planet after growing a little and developing technology.
My son asked me about space travel and we started talking about the Voyager 1 and 2 probes that were launched in the late 1970s and sent out to the outer planets. Those probes have begun their journey into interstellar space after passing out of our solar system.
I stumbled across this video, “Great White shark Vs Killer Whale“, on the National Geographic Wild channel on YouTube and it is just incredible. It is apparently very rare to see a Killer Whale kill a Great White Shark:
What is very cool for kids is that the Nat Geo Wild channel has full length episodes freely available on YouTube. This is a terrific educational resource for parents!
Fascinating fact: if you can turn a shark upside down, it calms down. Its apparently a phenomenon called “tonic immobility“.