2017-08-31 (Thursday)

Today, I learned that:

Finally, the month of August is coming to an end. In Sweden it is called ‘rötmånad’, literally meaning ‘the rotten month’. The reason for that is the relatively high humidity at the end of Summer, which makes food susceptible to rapid deterioration. And in Brazil, the month is called ‘mês do cachorro louco’, i.e. ‘the month of the mad dog’, the month when the dogs wake up to life after Winter in a bad state of health.

But, apart from the terrible terror attacks, there have been some interesting highlights, such as the solar eclipse I wrote about on 2017-08-21. However, I would like to dream myself back to 40 years ago, when I first visited the USA during June, July, and August. We were 80 people from my university in Gothenburg who travelled there for a 2-months Summer job and with August off to travel around in this mighty country. Most of my colleagues preferred a 1-month air pass called “7 stops”, which permitted them to visit 7 different locations in one month.

However, I decided to make a different voyage. After my initial two months at Gould Inc. in Rolling Meadows, IL, I boarded the Continental Trailways bus and it took me to 28 different US states and Washington D.C., 2 Canadian provinces, as well as a sneak peak of Tijuana, Mexico. I have mostly good memories from that trip, but what still is imprinted in my mind is when, on 1977-08-16, while hanging around in Dave’s house at Hermosa Beach, CA, there was a breaking newscast on the radio. It started with the words “The King of Rock is dead!”. And when Dave and I gathered with his friends at the bar in the evening, everyone was soooo sad.

August, 1977, was also the month when NASA sent its Voyager 1 out into space. Besides all the scientific instruments aboard, it also included an optical disc with recordings of human talk, music, and pictures. Reference # 2 will lead you to a web portal that has all the information you might ever need about Voyager 1 and its sister ship, Voyager 2.

But of course I also remember Las Vegas, NV with its casinos; Flagstaff, AZ at the edge of the Grand Canyon; the ferry ride from Victoria, BC to Seattle, WA; Preservation Hall in New Orleans, LA; playing football in Central Park, NY and so many other joyful moments.

Elvis

The King of Rock is for ever connected with Las Vegas, and that is where I took this photo. Unfortunately it is just a copy cat, and the photo was taken in Las Vegas on 2007-01-18. But the music really rocked!

As a tribute to the King, here is a photo of a copy cat performing in Las Vegas. But the video clip in reference # 1 is the real thing, ENJOY!

… That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: Elvis Presley – Blue Suede Shoes

2: An Insider’s Guide to Voyager: 1977-2017

*: What did you learn in school today ?

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2017-08-21 (Moonday)

Today, I learned that:

In the USA, the big interest today is not “fake news”, but of course the real eclipse when the moon covers the whole sun as seen from earth. Mr. President, would this not have been a perfect moment to improve your scores with the American public and anticipate Labor day two weeks, giving many more people a chance to observe this rare phenomenon?

If you read this before the event, if you cannot be on site, in reference #1 you can find what I will be laying my eyes on from 4:00 p.m. GMT today, the NASA live coverage of the solar eclipse.

Eclipsesolar

Total Eclipse of the Sun in Salzburg, Austria, on 1999-08-11

The photo above is of the total solar eclipse on 1999-08-11, which I took in Salzburg, Austria. More information about that one and other eclipses, see my posts of 2016-03-08 and 2016-03-09.

I wish everyone clear skies!

Update with pictures from the eclipse, all from NASA:

The Eclipse 2017 Umbra Viewed from Space

… That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: NASA TV – Eclipse Views

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2107-08-01 (Mother Nature’s son)

Today, I learned that:

Regardless of what we say and think, we still respond to Her (Mother Nature). Sometimes She shares with us the most amazing scenarios, such as the one in the amazing photo below. It shows a countryside highway with bamboo trees on both sides. And if you can read Portuguese, then you understand that this place is a sanctuary for wild animals. The road sign depicts an ocelot, and furthermore there is an alert that this is a road with a high degree of crashes between cars and animals. The location is close to the city of Assis, state of São Paulo, Brazil, where there is an ecological station.

Bambu

Highway SP-333 close to the city of Assis, SP, Brazil. This area contains an ecological station with wild animals of various species, the reason why the roadsign alerts for a high degree of collisions between them and cars. The depicted animal is called jaguatirica in Portuguese, ocelot in English, and Leopardis pardalis in Latin. On both sides of the road are planted bamboo, which gives a magical touch to this sacred place. Photo taken on 2017-07-23.

It seems like a perfect coincidence that it is located in Assis, because as you probably remember, in a similarly sounding town in Italy, during the 12th century, there was born a person who later would be known as Saint Francis of Assisi. Among other things, he is known for his friendliness to the birds and in 1979 Pope John Paul II declared him the Patron Saint of Ecology. (The current Pope Francis I also honoured him by adopting his name as his own papal name.) See references #1 and #2 below.

But Mother Nature does not only present us with beauty, She is also very practical. Last Friday, I was reminded twice of that, when Radio Sweden interviewed professionals involved with creating and using practical solutions from Her in favour of humanity.

In the morning, I was told about a new kind of glue, which will permit heart surgeons to glue parts together within a beating heart. The origin of that invention is in the slime produced by a slug, which inspired scientists at Harvard. Hear and read about it in reference #3 below (Swedish), as well as read about in reference #4 (English).

Arion_vulgaris

Arion vulgaris, photo by Xauxa Håkan Svensson – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11200581

Then in the evening, another sensational feat. As long as we can remember, the spider has impressed us with its production of ultra-thin, yet extremely strong threads. And now Swedish scientists have discovered a way of recreating such production without using toxic chemistry. Reference #5 contains an audio interview in Swedish with Anna Rising, one of the scientists, and reference #6 is a written interview in English, where she and her fellow colleague Jan Johansson explain more.

Then, over the weekend, I remembered a similar story from exactly 10 years ago. By using practical solutions from a gecko and a mussel, scientists at Northwestern University were able to create a glue that would stick well also under water, see reference #7 below. And in the beginning of 2017, see reference #8, was reported how the very same gecko had inspired researchers at Kiel University to invent a method of immediate grip and release.

But wait, there is more! As a bonus, look also at this article from 2010, reference #9 below, which reports about a combination of mussel glue and nanoparticles to create a proactive cover against corrosion.

To end today’s post, what could be better than listening to the fantastic song writher John Denver, so tragically gone in 1997, to describe his love to Mother Nature! See and here his poem in reference X below.

… That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: Assis

2: Saint Francis of Assisi

3: Snigelinspirerat lim kan användas vid operationer

4: Slug Slime Inspires Scientists To Invent Sticky Surgical Glue

5: Forskare om att framställa artificiell spindelväv, med början vid 06:20

6: Spinning super strong synthetic spider silk

7: Design by Gecko, Plus Glue by Mussel, Yields a Powerful Adhesive

8: Scientists Can Turn This Gecko-Inspired Gripping Device On or Off With the Flick of a Light

9: Musslornas klister används som rostskydd

X: John Denver – Mother Nature’s son

*: What did you learn in school today ?