Posts Tagged "science"

What You Don’t Know About Giraffes & Why They Are Going Extinct

Dear Kid,

Some of us have the great pleasure of feeling short most of the time. I’ve met 3 year olds who are taller than I am. (Fortunately, I have a big personality to make up for my lack of actual stature.)

Some of us have the great pleasure of feeling tall most of the time. I imagine that people like LeBron and Shaq don’t often look up (literally speaking) to see other people’s faces.

But even those who play bball well enough to go by their first name alone are dwarfed by giraffes.

PHtttttt! Typical Teenage Giraffe. DearKidLoveMom.comGiraffes are tall. As in really tall. As in the tallest mammal in the world. They are the gangly teenage growth spurt of the animal kingdom.

Not only are they tall, they stand most of the time. When you’re that tall, you flaunt it. You don’t even bother with high heels. Not that most manufactures make shoes big enough for giraffes (the diameter of their feet is 30 centimeters on average—that’s bigger than yours).

Giraffes sleep standing up and they don’t sleep much. They sleep less than college students during finals week, needing between 10 minutes (yes, you read that right) and two hours a day of sleep.

Giraffes are peaceful animals. When you only get 10 minutes sleep a day for your entire life, you probably just don’t care enough to fight with anyone else.

Giraffes don’t sleep much because they spend their time eating. A lot. And (a la moo) they chew their cud.

Giraffes are universally envied for their eyelashes, and in other galaxies are frequently mascara models. DearKidLoveMom.comLike snowflakes, fingerprints, and zebra butts, no two giraffes have exactly the same spot print. (You knew that.) Some zoologists think their patterns are for camouflage. Clearly, these people know nothing about fashion; who wears the same thing as someone else? It’s just awkward.

Speaking of awkward (have you ever really looked at how that word is spelled? Even its letter arrangement is, wait for it, awkward), a giraffe’s neck is too short to reach the ground. So in a gangly, awkward, ridiculously vulnerable move, giraffes have to spread their front legs or kneel to reach the ground for a drink of water. This leads to many arguments between young giraffes and their parents about being sufficiently hydrated and watching for lions while drinking.

This part is really cool: because the giraffe is so tall (I believe I mentioned that part), when it lowers its head to drink it is moving about six and a half miles down-altitude. To protect its brain from crazy changes in blood pressure, it has valves to stop the back-flow of blood and elastic-y vessels that dilate and constrict to manage blood flow. NASA has done research on giraffe blood vessels (the better to build human space suits).

a giraffe’s neck is too short to reach the ground. So in a gangly, awkward, ridiculously vulnerable move, giraffes have to spread their front legs or kneel to reach the ground for a drink of water. This leads to many arguments between young giraffes and their parents about being sufficiently hydrated and watching for lions while drinking.

Being as how giraffes shop in the Big and Tall sections, they have hearts suitable for their big and Tall bodies. A giraffe heart weighs approximately 11 kilograms (even bigger than the Grinch’s post-expansion heart) which is used to pump 60 liters of blood around its body every minute at a blood pressure twice that of an average human.

The horny things on giraffe heads are called ossicones. They are unattached at birth so they can don’t injure the mama giraffe (for which the mama giraffes are most grateful). Later in life the ossicones fuse to the giraffe’s skull.

There are many subspecies of giraffe (zoologists care. The rest of us, not so much), and giraffes are already extinct in at least 7 countries in Africa. We should all care about that. A lot.

Giraffes are already extinct in at least 7 countries in Africa. We should all care about that. A lot. DearKidLoveMom.comHug a giraffe today.

Love, Mom

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Pluto, New Horizons, and Perspectives on Dwarf Planets

Dear Kid,

Pluto is in the news! (The planet, not thePluto. But not a planet. dog.)

As reported by a bunch of news agencies and (more importantly) re-reported by Uncle David to me:

When the New Horizons space craft flies by Pluto tomorrow, it will be 3 billion miles from earth.

It was launched in January 2006 — and to reach Pluto has been flying 1 million miles PER DAY.

To put this in perspective… if the sun were the size of a quarter and were placed on the goal line of a football field, Earth would be at the 3 yard line and Pluto would be 18 yards beyond the far goal line.

This means it takes a radio signal traveling at the speed of light 4.5 hours to reach the spacecraft.

Nevertheless, to achieve the maximum from its experiments, the spacecraft must pass through an imaginary window only 60 by 90 miles wide… within a time parameter of 100 seconds!

To put this in perspective…

Let’s say a parent gave a Kid $100. By 2015 that money would have grown to…wait a minute. That money would be long spent. Dumb analogy.

One wonders who gets the frequent flyer miles for a flight that long…

In other Pluto news, it will take 16 months for the New Horizons probe to send back all the information it collects.

To put that in perspective…about as long as it will take for a parent to learn about something interesting that happened in their kid’s life.

Dwarf. But not a planet. DearKidLoveMom.comAnd in still other Pluto news, there is a movement rebellion protest objection among some astronomers and other scientifically-oriented people about the whole “dwarf planet” thing.

“Dwarves are miners who sing Hi Ho,” said absolutely no one. “They are not planets.”

Actually, the issue isn’t about whether any large, orbiting body should be a dwarf planet, the issue is whether this particular large, orbiting body should be a dwarf planet. Official people say Yes, it is because we said so. Smart people (and by “smart” I mean me and other emotional people plus a bunch of folks who know what they are talking about) say No, it’s as much a planet as Jupiter.

So far, Pluto hasn’t weighed in on how it self-identifies. Maybe we’ll find out in 16 months.

Love, Mom

Share the love. Pass on the perspective.


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You Won’t Believe What Science Now Tells Us

Dear Kid,

I love it when scientists study the obvious (and by “love it” I mean I think it’s ridiculous).

There are all sorts of useful things for scientists to study, like how to cure cancer, how to save the environment, and why anyone would write such a bad ending for Grey’s Anatomy.

Once people figure those things out, we’ll have a much better understanding of the universe.

On the other hand, studying things like “Literacy Improves Chances of Employment” or whether watching Fox News makes you stupid seems like a waste of money because well, DUH.

Dear Scientists: Just to save you some time and effort, eating lots of fattening food makes people heavier, listening to extremely loud music (especially through headphones) for long periods of time does not improve people’s hearing, bathing regularly makes one less likely to smell like a cesspool, and Band-Aids cure boo-boos.

You’re welcome.

Scientists have once again ventured into the land of DUH because they have spent (presumably) valuable time and money studying whether dogs love their masters more than wolves love random strangers. (Seriously. There was a study. Published. And reported on NPR. I’m hoping they talked about it because it was a nice, uplifting, happy bit rather than because they thought it was news.)

Puppy love. Can it get any cuter?Turns out doggies have learned to stare into people’s eyes because that’s what people do, and to avoid eye contact with strange canines because that’s appropriate canine behavior. And it turns out your dog actually does love you as can now be proven scientifically.

Science therefore has now caught up with what every dog owner already knows. We love our dogs and our dogs love us.

Just to be clear—people have known this since the first dinosaur came home with a big eyed bronco-puppy and said, “But mom, he just followed me home! Can I keep him? He loves me!”

And scientists put effort into this.


Love, Mom

i shall take myself for a walk...would you like to accompany me?

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Dihydrogen Monoxide | You’re Drinking WHAT?

Dear Kid,

I admit it. I have bad habits.

I don’t always get 8 hours of sleep. I don’t floss my teeth every day (job security for my dentist). I watch too much bad TV. I rarely say no to chocolate. And I generally don’t take my makeup off at night.

I am not recommending any of these habits. They’re my bad habits, and if you choose to borrow them you do so at your own risk.

Not taking off makeup isn’t really smart. Makeup can clog pores and lead to acne and all sorts of other rotten stuff. Except it doesn’t on my face. There’s no secret except not wearing too much makeup and good genetics. (Thanks mom!)

I generally take off my makeup from yesterday in the morning. Only I didn’t today.

But I have a really good excuse: I was studying chemistry.

More specifically, I was reading a blog about chemistry (sounds more believable already, doesn’t it?).

I hereby pronounce myself the newest fan of Yvette d’Entremont at and here’s the article I was reading.

The thing is, Yvette is not a fan of people who make things up and claim they are talking science.

I’m pretty sure she’ll be ok with my nonsense since when I make things up I say so (which is most of the time) and when I make things up and don’t say so I generally attribute them to Mrs. Joe Neanderthal and if you can’t figure out that I don’t have a direct research line to Mrs. Joe then you have bigger problems than worrying about whether she invented grilled cheese or not.

Anyhoo, Yvette the Science Babe was debunking some of the things (and by “some of the things” I mean every dang word) written by Vani Hari, AKA the Food Babe, who is to science as I am to morning exercise—we’ve heard of each other, but have absolutely no plans to hang out.

Apparently, Hari is marching against any and all chemicals in food. Which is weird since (as I understand it) all food is chemical. Yvette wondered if anyone had told Hari about dihydrogen monoxide. (See, I told you there was chemistry involved.)

In case it is too early for your brain cells to be awake, I will spare you the embarrassment of asking: dihydrogen monoxide is water. H2O. The good stuff.

Anyone for a nice glass of dihydrogen monoxide? DearKidLoveMom.comIt was a long article and consequently I had no time to remove yesterday’s makeup with dihydrogen monoxide or makeup remover. So I had to commit yet another sin and slather on today’s layers over yesterday’s. It’s terrible, but I like to think of it as building up an archeological dig for later makeup removal. The experts tell you to layer fragrance, so I say why not borrow from the experts?

The truth is, I’ll have dark circles under my eyes all day. But since I plan to go around saying dihydrogen monoxide as many times as possible, I’m hoping people attribute it to my brilliance (she must have been up working all night) rather than to my bad habits.

Love, Mom

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