Science

Happy Birthday Raspberry Pi!

Eight years ago a credit card-sized, affordable computer landed on the market, making computing and programming accessible to a wide audience. Since then, the Raspberry Pi has been a hit with scientists, hobbyists, students, and kids alike.

Take a look at these fun projects for beginners to get some inspiration!

The Library has several books and eBooks about the Raspberry Pi to get you started on your project. We also have resources on coding in Python and Scratch.

Have you been participating in this year’s One Book One College program? Use your Raspberry Pi to experiment with machine learning!

Pi day is coming up on March 14th (3-14!). Here’s how one academic library celebrated using the Raspberry Pi.

Katherine Johnson 1918 – 2020

Today marks the passing of one of the great minds of mathematics. Katherine Johnson, a mathematician at NASA during the Space Race, contributed to projects such as America’s first human space flight, the first moon landing, and the Space Shuttle.

In 2015 she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor given to civilians, for her 33 years of work with NASA.

She was best known for the calculations that helped put John Glenn in orbit around the Earth, the story behind Hidden Figures, available at the library in DVD, book, eBook, and eAudio format.

International Day of Women and Girls in Science

The United Nations has designated February 11th as International Day of Women and Girls in Science, a day that highlights how important it is to encourage a new generation of women to enter into the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields. International Day of Women and Girls in Science aims to break down harmful stereotypes and narratives as well as promote policies that makes STEM fields more accessible to women and girls.

How Can You Celebrate Women in Science?

Introduce Girls and Young Women to STEM Careers

  • Moraine Valley supports women entering technology fields with its Women in Technology Mentoring program.
  • Know a girl entering eighth grade? She might want to sign up for Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day on February 20th at Argonne National Laboratory.
  • Girls aged 10-18 can get involved with Girls 4 Science, a non-profit dedicated to getting young women in Chicago involved in the STEM fields.

I’m GLAD I Can Evaluate Science News

Despite my love of all things science, I’m often frustrated by how scientific discoveries get reported to the public. Studies are often oversimplified, misrepresented, blown out of proportion, or taken out of context to encourage readers to click on a headline. And since science influences so much of our lives, misinformation can be dangerous.

Okay, so you want to be well informed about new scientific discoveries and how they might impact you, but you don’t want to read a bunch of sciencey research papers every day. How can you know the news stories you’re reading are accurate? Well, the best way is to be like a scientist and discover the truth for yourself!

Above the Noise developed the GLAD criteria to help determine if a science news article is trustworthy or not:

  • Get past the clickbait
  • Look out for crazy claims
  • Analyze sources
  • Determine outside expert opinions

Check out the video to learn more:

Want to go further down the rabbit hole of science news reporting?

This bunny knows the importance of accurate and trustworthy science reporting.

If you’d like help identifying good sources of science news, you should ask a librarian!

Make it a Hobbit to Look for the Science

I said “peaceful” Bilbo!

November 11th marks the 65th anniversary of the publication of The Two Towers, the second book in J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous Lord of the Rings trilogy. Central to the story are the Hobbits, peaceful, large-footed people of short stature that love the comforts of home.

Most people accept that Middle Earth and its inhabitants are fantasy, but there’s some scientific evidence that hobbit-like people might have been real. In 2003 scientists discovered a hominin, or species related to humans, that was small in stature. Named Homo floreisiensis and nicknamed “the hobbit”, whether or not this fossil find is a distinct species has been hotly debated among scientists since its discovery.

There’s also some evidence that a volcano was partially responsible for the disappearance of the species and that Komodo dragons might have seen them as prey. Where have I heard a story like this before?

Mixing science and literature? It brings tears to my eyes!

Scientists have found evidence that H. floreisiensis created and used tools, but there’s no word of any gold rings found at any of the archaeological sites. If there were, the find would be precious...

Check out some of the other ways science honors Tolkien’s works. Feeling nostalgic for the films? We’ve got them! Want to research our human relatives? Try our Science databases!

Daylight saving time is ending- what will you be doing?

Pocket Watch - 3D render
“Pocket Watch – 3D render” by Áron Jakab is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Have you thought about what you want to do with your extra hour this Sunday? Sure, you could catch up on sleep, but there are so many options to consider!

Why don’t you ~fall back~ into the couch and enjoy an hour long episode of the PBS series How We Got to Now on time.

Perhaps you’d prefer to enjoy the soothing vocals of Seal’s “Daylight Saving” from his 2015 (and conveniently 50-minute-long) album, 7.

Maybe you find yourself contemplating the very nature of time? Why not explore those questions by reading Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.

Need help with time management? Learn how to balance your time between your work life and social life while still prioritizing your personal time.

Now stop wasting time and make the most of your additional hour!

Science is Snow Laughing Matter

I’m not going to lie, the snow certainly has some nerve to arrive this early in the season. But since it’s here, we should look at the chemistry behind snowflakes. Let’s learn some SCIENCE!

Hey, where are you going? This is cool, I promise!

According to the American Chemical Society, all snowflakes start as a humble dust particle encased in ice and are individually shaped by the temperature and environmental conditions as they fall to the ground. It’s the variety in conditions that lead to the incredible differences seen in each flake.

Not all snowflakes are flat!

Researchers have even developed a camera that takes multi-angle photographs of single snowflakes in free-fall to produce 3D images and measure fall speed. Understanding snowflake mass, diameter, and fall speed can improve cold weather forecasting models.

Individual snowflakes might seem harmless, but when they get together they can really pack a punch. Scientists studying earthquakes in California found that accumulated snow and water can deform the earth’s crust, leading to increased seismic activity. That’s some powerful snow.

A quick search in Science Magazine Online can help you find articles about snowflakes and more amazing science! Make sure you access it from the library website in order to use all its features.

The Physical Implications of Critical Infrastructure Cyberattack

In this talk, Dr. Rush outlines how cyber attacks against critical infrastructure can impact the supply of gas, water, and electric grids. Cyber-attacks are usually thought of as directed against information, such as compromise of passwords, access to financial information, or theft of information. The focus of this talk is on the need to increase the level of protection on critical infrastructure. The issue is viewed from the attacker’s point of view and outlines the physical impacts of a successful attack. This event is part of the STEM lecture series.

Particle Accelerators: Probing the Universe with the World’s Highest Energy Collisions

The universe we live in is approximately 14 billion years old and has undergone many phases of transformation. The exact laws of its structure and formation remain largely unknown to us. One way to understand them is to re-create the conditions of the early universe when the matter was very dense and hot. This can be achieved in our days using high energy particle accelerators and colliders. In this talk I will present big questions particle physicists are facing today and explain how we try to address them using the data from accelerators, such as the Tevatron at Fermilab and the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. This talk is part of the STEM Lecture Series.

The Grand Canyon: Home to Ancient Vampire Bats and Ground Sloth Poop

A long time ago in a canyon far far away… prehistoric animals left traces of their existence for scientists to discover. We celebrate those discoveries and their contributions to science with National Fossil Day. This year’s focus is the rich knowledge gained from the fossils found at the Grand Canyon National Park

This year’s promotional artwork depicts a 9 foot long Shasta Ground Sloth entering Rampart Cave on the west end of the park, surrounded by the large droppings that remained fossilized in the cave for around 11,000- 40,000 years. The fossilized dung has provided a wealth of information about the local plants and environmental conditions from the sloth’s time.

Also included in the artwork is an extinct vampire bat, a distant but larger cousin to living vampire bats in Central and South America. Remains found in the cave suggests these bats may have fed on the blood of the Shasta Ground Sloth. Prehistoric life could be pretty rough!

The Grand Canyon might seem far from Moraine Valley, but you’re closer to fossils than you might think. Mazon Creek is a well-known fossil collecting site in Illinois, famous for its excellent preservation and fossil variety.

One of the more interesting findings to come out of Mazon Creek is now the Illinois state fossil. Known as the Tully Monster (Tullimonstrum gregarium), scientists currently believe it was a soft-bodied invertebrate that lived on the sea floor back when Illinois used to sit near the equator. Its strange body shape has left scientists stumped as to what kind of animal it actually was.

The library has plenty of books and media to satisfy your need for fossil knowledge. Find them here!

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