Gather round Chicago! There’s still time to sign up for our 6th Annual Pi K Fun Run, this Wednesday, March 14th—3.14. Join us as we team up with Fleet Feet Sports in Old Town, Lincoln Square and Oak Park to exercise our love of all things circular and celebrate Pi Day with a 3.14 mile run/walk starting at 6:28pm (or 2 Pi). Continue reading “Pi, Pie, and a Pi-K on Pi Day!”
Our inner ear is the powerhouse of our hearing and vestibular (balance) senses. Hearing is part our everyday life: we play the music we love, chat with friends and family, and are aware of changes in our surroundings through sounds. On the other hand, our real “sixth sense”, the vestibular sense, often remains elusive to us, Continue reading “What’s In Your Ears Besides Wax?”
A mystery red gemstone is in front of you on a table. Is it a ruby? Is it a garnet? Is it a red diamond?
The DeYoung Red Diamond, held in the Smithsonian’s National Gem Collection in Washington D.C., presents a perplexing case. Observers originally thought the deep red 5.03-carat gem was a garnet. The large stone was set in a pin and purchased by a Boston jeweler at a flea market. The jeweler, S. Sydney DeYoung, noticed that stone held up better over time than a garnet should. After some testing, he realized that his stone was actually a rare red diamond. He extracted it from the pin and willed it to the Smithsonian, where it is now on display. Continue reading “The Mystery of the DeYoung Diamond”
Cancer is such a scary word. It comes in many different types, and chances are, it has touched your life in some way, whether through you or a loved one. The lifetime odds that you’ll end up with cancer are about four in ten, and the odds that it takes your life are about one in five. It feels like cancer is everywhere these days, not only in personal stories, but in the fundraisers, celebrity spokespeople, and political speeches on our televisions. In a general sense, this disease can seem daunting to tackle. But on a personal level, one thing is sure – we’ve all seen the toll cancer has on our families and loved ones, and we all aim to prevent it in our own lives. Continue reading “It’s 2018. How is Cancer Still a Thing?”
My first memory of knitting wasn’t of my grandmother making a scarf by a roaring fire, though it did involve a stern matron overlooking my work as her needles clacked together, knitting a blanket as we took out our pencils and our Scantrons. Continue reading “Knitting: For Senior Citizens or Scientists?”
Where would we be without blood? That red stuff that carries vital oxygen from our lungs to our muscles, and helps move our body’s chemical waste to where it can be recycled or disposed of? Blood is vital for life in humans, but did you know that not all animals have blood, and that some have blood that is very different to our own? Continue reading “Where Would We Be Without Blood?”
This story begins with a giant worm that lives in one of the most inhospitable places in the planet. A giant, gutless, eyeless worm.Continue reading “Better Together: Symbiotic Relationships in the Sea”
Flashes of fiery light. Infinite sparkles. The hardest rock on the scale. A traditional symbol of both love and status.
Diamonds have fascinated people through the ages. Their flashy optic properties captivate the viewer and make us wonder, “What is it about a diamond that makes the light bounce around and sparkle?” Continue reading “Maximizing the Sparkle of a Diamond”
On December 16, 2017 at about 5:00 PM CST, the asteroid 3200 Phaethon passed within 64 million miles of Earth. That’s about 27 times the distance to our Moon. While this may sound like a long distance (indeed, it would take on the order of one million hours to drive that distance in a car!), this particular approach will be our closest encounter with the asteroid for another 75 years. Continue reading “Are We Prepared for a Large Asteroid Impact?”
Sugar is everywhere. Kids crave it, pastry chefs live by it, and dieters avoid it like the plague. It comes naturally in our fruits, it’s added to our drinks, and it’s found in some form in virtually every packaged item at the grocery store. Some of us live by it, and for many of us, it does not love us back. But no matter what you say about it, sugar and its relatives are important for our health and well-being. Continue reading “The Reason Sugar Tastes So Darn Good”
What does this… Continue reading “Making Cheese Taste Gouda”
Since the 1960s, the United States government has been shooting lasers at the moon. No, this is not a covert government conspiracy or a relic of the Cold War. It is NASA’s attempt to prove Einstein’s theories right.
Let me explain.
Animals are pretty remarkable – we can find them in virtually every environment on Earth, from the perpetually frozen hallows of Antarctica to the pressurized, pitch black depths of the ocean. Continue reading “Deep Ocean or Deep Freeze: How Animals Have Evolved to Survive”
On December 3rd, 1942, under the stands at the University of Chicago’s Stagg Field, scientists produced a breakthrough that would change the course of history. There, on that day, physicist Enrico Fermi and his team from the university achieved the primary objective of the top secret Mahattan Project: they initiated the first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear reaction, bringing forth the dawn of the nuclear age.Continue reading “How a Pile of Uranium Changed the World”
Imagine a young family taking a stroll along a sun-speckled forest path. They take their time, admiring the scenery and taking in the fresh air. Continue reading “If You Go Down to the Woods Today: Conservation Genetics in a Nutshell”
The age-old question, “how did life begin?” has baffled humans for centuries. Many scholars have theorized about how life began, but in almost every case, they have agreed on one thing: in some way, the creation of life involved water. Continue reading “Did Life Begin in the Oceans?”
If you head outside and you walk to a freshwater river, stream, or lake, you will probably find some rocks covered in what looks like a slimy, green film. Continue reading “Diatoms: The Cheat Sheet for Studying Our Waterways”
You’re sitting in a room at your doctor’s office. Today, you might be visiting for a checkup. Or perhaps you simply need a prescription refill. Continue reading “The Flu Shot: A Police Raid on Influenza”
How do you study light from the beginning of the universe? What happened right after the Big Bang? Continue reading “Spotted from Antarctica: the Oldest Light in the Universe”
Long before humans, dinosaurs, or plants, some of the first creatures on Earth were primitive single-celled organisms that survived exclusively from the energy of light. You might call them living fossils. Continue reading “Living Fossils Inspire Cures for Disease”