Know Your Mother

Some Incredible Earth Facts to Celebrate on Earth Day

1) The Earth isn't round!

Actually, (like a lot of us) the Earth is a bit plump about the middle. Why? Because it's spinning so fast! The Earth's rotation creates stress on the rocks and the oceans, causing the planet to bulge around the equator. In fact, because the Southern Hemisphere is mostly ocean and because water is easier to move than land, the Earth is a little bit pear-shaped!

2) The tallest mountain is . . . well . . .

You probably said Mount Everest right away. It's true that Everest is the point on Earth farthest from sea level. However, there are at least two challengers to Everest's claim. If you measure base to peak, then Mauna Kea in the Hawaiian Islands is actually about four thousand feet taller than Everest. Of course, Mauna Kea begins on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean and doesn't even break sea level until it's already almost 20,000 feet high. But if you put the two side by side, Mauna Kea would actually be larger.
Gorgeous view of Pacific Ocean.

For Carl: Three New Worlds in the Cosmos

It seems like just yesterday. In 1980, astronomer Carl Sagan presented Cosmos, his PBS series about the joy and beauty of scientific discovery. More than anything else (yes, I have to admit, even more than my childhood visits to COSI), Cosmos awakened in me a love and a passion for science that has never dimmed.

In one of my favorite scenes, Sagan visits his old sixth grade classroom in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn. Sagan talks to the students there (who, coincidentally, were just my age at the time) about what a special time this was, the first time that humans had begun to explore the universe. In particular, Sagan talks about the beginning of our search for planets beyond the solar system.

The Electroscope, Dark Matter, and Mystery

We have a new toy in the Electric Workshop at COSI. It's called an electroscope.

On the 1898 side of Progress, you might happen upon our Electric Workshop Show (check your daily schedule for show times). The Electric Workshop is one of COSI's hidden gems, a live demonstration all about the history (and future) of electricity. You can become an electric generator, make real lightning with our Wimshurst machine, and discover the mysterious power of a new kind of energy called radio waves.

Now we've added an antique electroscope to help reveal one of science's great discoveries: the entire universe is electrical. With the electroscope we discover the effect of separating electric charge.

But there's a further story to be told. The electroscope lies at the heart of another mystery of science – one that, believe it or not, we still haven't solved even in 2013.
A photo of the amazing electroscope.

Flight: Blogging from 38,000ft

Since my daughter was born nearly three years ago, I haven't traveled much. So it was with a lot of excitement that I boarded a flight this morning to attend a conference in Portland, OR.

Ever since I was a kid (remember when you still got little plastic wings instead of a full body scan?) I have loved flying. At 14 I was lucky enough to take some flying lessons and I've never fallen out of love with the science of flight, nor have I lost my appreciation for the physics of it.

Lift. Thrust. Weight. Drag.
It seems so simple... just four small words. But, the mechanics of flight are nothing short of amazing.

Right now, I'm inside an aluminum frame that is capable of lifting and holding 154,500 pounds of weight in to the air while cruising at 593mph thanks to two massive high-pressure turbofans producing 49,200lbs of forward thrust.

Airplane wing in flight

Meet COSI’s newest basketball stars!

It's been an exciting Spring in the locker room at COSI, as we've watched our newest pair of rats fly through their basketball training. Penny and Bernadette played their first game for a crowd of screaming fans last week, breaking some pretty impressive training records. What makes this pair so exceptional? Our average training time is about 5-6 months, from the first day in the training court to the first public show. It can take up to 8 months for a rat to master her basketball skills, and some rats have breezed through training in about 4 months. Penny and Bernadette spent just three and a half months perfecting their skills, our current record for the fastest learners!
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