Thursday, December 18, 2014

This Week's Sci-Light!

As I close out the year and enjoy some great food, long-time friends, and family gatherings, I wanted to share one last post with you.  Surprisingly, it is an interdisciplinary look at a holiday classic--peppermint--with a USC twist (no pun intended).

The video below covers peppermint in art, history, neurobiology, botany and more all highlighting different facts, discoveries and applications in the marketplace.  Frequently, on Sci-Curious, I remind you that the world is a very big place, with many perspectives.  The environment provides so much to enjoy and to spark our curiousity.  We only have to engage in the wonder and details of it all to satisfy the child-like thirst for new experiences we can explore.

So as you enter this time of year, try to see it from a new perspective and engage your mind in the questions or details that you notice.  See it today, not through the lens of the past or the future.  Rather notice what it is.  Then follow the nuances that you have never seen before.  This may indeed be the way that professors from the University of Southern California initiated their study of the many facets of peppermint.
USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences

Happy Holidays, Happy New Year and stay Sci-Curious!

Friday, December 5, 2014

This Week's Sci-Light!

Image credit: ESA and the Planck Collaboration
Not many weeks ago, I blogged about a probe that landed on a comet and sent footage to Earth.  While that probe sits in the dark unable to recharge its batteries, we, still benefiting from the sun's rays, consider a larger subject--the universe.  Centuries of humans have stared into space marveling at the stars, the moon or distant planets.

European, US and Canadian scientists looked together into space using Planck (European Space Agency mission) instruments to measure the oldest light in our universe.   What they discovered was unexpected--the universe is older than they thought by 100 million years at 13.8 billion year old.

One of the US scientists participating in the project, Charles Lawrence from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory said, "As that ancient light travels to us, matter acts like an obstacle course getting in its way and changing the patterns slightly. "

A map of a patch of sky showing the temperature and polarization of microwave radiation emitted by dust swirling in the magnetic field of the Milky Way. Credit European Space Agency
Many links, photos, and videos on the project are housed on the NASA site and a new analysis outlined in the New York Times,  New Images Refine View of Infant Universe, by Dennis Overbye gives the vital statistics of the universe at birth--in essence the universe's baby picture. 

Fascinating how pictures of the universe can capture our imagination and fill us with awe like the ancients watching a flaming comet speed across the sky.  Whether your curiosity guides you to study the universe or the depths of the ocean or perhaps the intricacies of cell biology, human problem solving skills guided by inquiry and diverse perspectives are essential.  But not only in the field of science.  We need their application in our daily lives to inform how we see each other--we all matter.   So stay Sci-Curious and be continually surprise by what you'll learn and how you'll grow!
Credit: Walter Miles