by Elim Eyobed, age 10
Have you ever wondered how old birds can live? There is one special bird, Wisdom, who has lived for 70 years! She is the oldest living banded bird in her species. This is twice as long as the average Laysan Albatross bird species life expectancy. In 1956, researchers found Wisdom on Midway Atoll which is near Hawaii in the North Pacific Ocean.
After extensive research, biologists have concluded that Wisdom has laid hatched around 30 to 36 chicks so far! It’s commonly believed that birds breed in the same process as humans, but not Wisdom. Wisdom has hatched chicks every year for the past 15 years. Usually, the older a bird gets, the fewer chicks they hatch. However, since she’s so old, she outlived all of her mates. Wisdom’s most recent egg hatched in early 2021 on a piece of land in the Pacific Ocean.
Wisdom travels hundreds of thousands of miles all around the world to get away from predators and to find new mates. It’s not known if Wisdom will continue to lay eggs but up to this point, she has grown the population of her species exponentially, more than any other Laysan Albatross bird.
by Zale Thoronka, age 12
Did you know the movie Jurassic Park probably featured Deinonychus dinosaurs instead of Velociraptors?
The Deinonychus dinosaur was not the first raptor-like dinosaur to be found, but it is one of the largest at 10 feet long. It had three claws on each hand and four toes on each foot. There was one small toe, one extra-big toe, and one normal-sized toe, which it stood on. The fourth toe was used to kill, and it worked like the blade of a can opener. In addition, the Deinonychus had sharp, serrated teeth, long limbs, and a huge tail.
Deinonychus had a relatively large brain, so it was intelligent. It was fast and strong on its feet. Like an acrobat, it could jump very high and perhaps twist mid-air. And the Deinonychus could use its sharp claws as hooks to climb up the bodies of its prey.
by Ayelen Flores Ruiz, age 11
A natural phenomenon is something that happens on its own in the universe. It is not caused by humans. A phenomenon can be as small as a storm or as big as a comet in space.
Common phenomena that occur in space are comets and meteorites that travel near Earth. A comet is an icy solar system body that releases gases as it travels close to the sun. It can periodically be seen from Earth. A meteorite is broken bits of comets and asteroids that fall to Earth. The biggest recorded meteorite that fell into Earth was found in Namibia, South Africa in 1920, it measured nine feet long and weighed 60 tons.
Something that you might see in movies can be the northern lights or the aurora borealis. Their vari-colored bands of light can be seen across the sky in the polar region and are caused by particles from the sun reaching the Earth's magnetic field.
by Malaya Lawson, age 10
The fossil remains of Archaeopteryx were such an important discovery due to the species' having features of both reptile-like dinosaurs and birds. This is fascinating since it could mean the Archaeopteryxwas on an evolutionary pathway between two species. In other words, the Archaeopteryxwas a creature that best shows the transition of reptile creatures evolving to birds.
The Archaeopteryxwas small in size, it was about as big as a modern-day crow. Similar to any other bird, it was also covered in feathers. This bird-like creature could also take flight, but it's believed that it only flew in small bursts. Since the creature didn’t have a big sternum or strong muscles it wasn’t able to fly for too long in the air.
This bird could have been found in what is now known as Germany during the late Jurassic period. The Archaeopteryxfossils are now located in museums in Berlin, Germany, and the United Kingdom. What's interesting about the Archaeopteryxis that it was alive 150 million years ago. Researchers know this because the fossils have well-preserved wings, feathers, and flat sternum. Not only that, but it also had teeth and a bony tail. The fossil’s uniqueness makes it one of the most important fossils to be discovered.
by Owen Ayite-Atayi, age 13
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you tried to bend an icicle? Ice is almost always a well-structured, stiff and brittle substance. Icicles have a thin and pristine feel to them that is slick and spotless. However, through recent scientific discoveries, pure ice grown in labs can transform into an elastic and bendable substance using electric voltage to make flexible ice.
Icicles, also known as crystals, contain small defects such as tiny cracks, pores or dislocated sections. In contrast, the whiskers of ice grown in labs are a fraction of the width of a normal human hair, and lack the defects of normal ice.
The process of making flexible ice was discovered by Peizhen Xu who attends the University of Zhejiang, located in China. They used a needle to insert electric voltage inside a chilled chamber causing the cold vapor to form into crystals called ice whiskers. Bending the crystal’s fibers makes the core of the crystal compress on the inside of the curve causing it to tighten up and flatten. Crystals can make up a variety of shapes such as a square, triangle, star or hexagon. The shapes in which the crystals can morph depends on the change in temperature and pressure.
by Felix Berkelman, age 15
The recent discovery of the skull of an unknown human relative in northeastern China is creating a stir in the scientific community.
The skull was originally found in 1933 by a bridge construction worker in Harben, China during the Japanese occupation of the city. To keep the Japanese from finding it, the worker hid it in an abandoned well, where it remained for decades until it was retrieved by his grandson in 2018, shortly before his grandfather’s death. However, it was only recently that this important discovery became widely known. The skull is thought to be around 146,000 years old and is in exceptionally good condition.
The unusual features of the skull have left scientists debating over what species it belongs to. It is considerably larger than other humanoid skulls, suggesting that its owner was bigger and taller than the average human. It has wide nostrils for breathing in the cold and a thick brow ridge, features associated with Neanderthals. However, it also has more human-like facial features, such as a gentle curve in the brow and a rounder head shape.
by Dani Garduno, age 10
People are familiar with the asteroid that killed off dinosaurs; however, that asteroid also killed 75 percent of life on Earth, including many trees. The forests eventually transformed into the rainforests we see today.
Before the asteroid, there were a lot of different plant species populating the Earth. Half of the plants were conifers and ferns, while the other half were flowering trees and shrubs. When it rained, nutrients flowed out of the soil. The conifers could grow despite the lack of nutrients. These trees had the unique ability of being able to grow with very little food, which was helpful for survival. Herbivores, specifically sauropods, the largest animals ever to walk our planet, helped prevent the trees from over expanding by opening gaps in the top of the forests. Insects also lived in the forests. Some insects only ate one type of plant leaf and other insects were generalists, which meant they ate many types of plants and were able to survive after the impact.
66 million years ago, the fireball hit overnight and triggered a massive extinction event. Plants, animals, and the soil were changed into present day Colombia. Woodlands were changed into rainforests like the Amazon. It took six million years for the rich diversity to return. The woodlands were replaced by dark, moist, green trees and shrubs. Many of these types of trees are seen today. When the asteroid hit, ash from the fires fertilized the soil and grew flowering trees and shrubs. These species evolved to create canopies, which blocked sunlight from the forest floor.
by Dilma Attidekou, age 7
Did you know that the first fish were unable to bite with their jaws but rather they sucked up their prey from the mud?
Around 500 million years ago, the first fish appeared. As protection, these early fish had hard, curved plates of bone all over their bodies. They also ate differently. Some sucked their food while others were strong hunters with sharp bones in their jaws to cut up their food.
Ancient fish looked very different from fish today. Some could walk out of water. Other ancient fish look like sharks. They were spiny and had big teeth. Many types of early fish were fierce hunters. Over time, ancient fish changed to look like modern fish.
by Jules Da Costa, age 13
Scientists always knew the Tyrannosaurus Rex (T - Rex) had a powerful bite but they were unsure why. Now, new research explains the science behind why the bite had such tremendous power.
Scientists have recently gathered data about the T- Rex’s bite. They discovered that the bone-crushing bite was powered by a stiff lower jaw. The stiffness came from a small boomerang-shaped bone called the prearticular. A study presented in April 2021 shows that this bone was what gave the T- Rex its flexible lower jaw. A flexible lower jaw allowed them to open their mouth wider than most reptiles to bite larger prey. Like all reptiles, T-Rex had a joint in their lower jawbone called the intramandibular joint. Scientists have shown that with a bone spanning this intramandibular joint, the T-Rex could produce a bite force of more than six metric tons of power, which is the weight of an average delivery truck.
The scientists used 3-D scans and computer models to discover how the T-Rex bite was so powerful. One of the scientists was John Fortner. He is a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. John and his colleagues are using some advanced technologies to dig deeper for information about the T-Rex’s bite. First, they started a 3-D scan of its skull. After the scan, they used a computer model to see how the mandible would move. Finally, the scientists created two different versions of the jawbone to see how ligaments and the prearticular affected the bite strength.
by Allison Torres, age 12
Gravitational waves are identifiable changes in space-time that are produced when objects move at significantly high speeds. According to NASA, gravitational waves can be made when a star explodes asymmetrically, when two big stars orbit each other, or when two black holes orbit each other and merge. For example, when objects move, they create waves, just like when you shake a stick back and forth in the water. The same physics applies when a planet or star shakes back and forth at incredibly high speeds, only instead of waves in the water, gravitational waves are created.
In his famous general theory of relativity, Albert Einstein was the first to theorize the idea of gravitational waves. Einstein explained how large objects can make changes in space-time when spiraling closer to each other, and those changes, or ripples, are what he called gravitational waves. However, he wasn’t confident in his theory, and the technology didn’t exist at the time to prove it.
It is very difficult for scientists to measure or detect these gravitational waves, because they are so small and there are few scientific instruments that can detect them. Nevertheless, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) is specialized in detecting these gravitational waves. LIGO can detect if any gravitational waves are reaching our planet. LIGO has two observatories so any gravitational waves that are detected can be double-checked for accuracy.
by Jazmin Becerril Gonzalez, age 13
Sauropods, some of the largest animals to ever roam the earth, were long-necked and long-tailed dinosaurs often portrayed in movies eating from the top of the trees. The Brontosaurus, also known as the “thunder lizard,” is part of the sauropod family, but until recently many thought it didn’t exist.
Othniel Charles Marsh was the paleontologist who named the Brontosaurus genus in 1879 describing it as a separate species of sauropod. In 1903 another paleontologist, Elmer Riggs, believed that the Brontosaurus was part of the same genus as the Apatosaurus which had been identified in 1877. Since the Apatosaurus study was published first, the name Brontosaurus was removed as a type of dinosaur species.
But that is not the end of the story, a recent study looked at the differences between the Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus fossils. Emanuel Tschopp, a vertebrate paleontologist at the New University of Lisbon in Portugal, concluded that the neck is where differences between the Brontosaurus and the Apatosaurus are most noticeable. The Apatosaurus has a wider, shorter neck compared to the Brontosaurus, suggesting they were from different species.
by Eleanor Pleasnick, age 12
There are many illnesses in the world, such as the novel Coronavirus, which is currently fueling a global pandemic. Between 1918-1920, there was another pandemic: the Spanish flu pandemic. These are just a couple of examples of the diseases that epidemiologists study by observing these illnesses and their patterns.
According to National Geographic, epidemiologists study infectious surfaces and spread within communities, as well as injuries acquired in the workplace and as a result of crimes. Aside from studying such illnesses, epidemiologists also focus on the effects of environmental exposures to pollution and substance abuse and how they relate to people's mental and physical health. They do this so that they can figure out more about the effects of people’s surroundings on human mortality and illness.
To describe illnesses, epidemiologists explain mortality rates, prevalence, and incidence using statistics from the communities. Prevalence is the total number of current cases, incidence means the number of new cases within a certain time frame, and the mortality rate is the number of deaths overall within a community. Using measurements and calculations, epidemiologists can use the data from individual communities and apply them to the whole population.
by Moises A. Hernandez, age 16
About 66 million years ago, an asteroid struck the Yucatán Peninsula and caused apocalyptic ecological havoc, including tsunamis, an overheated atmosphere, darkened skies, and a cold wave. It is estimated that this event wiped away seventy-five percent of known life on Earth, including dinosaurs. But, is this the whole story?
Paleontologists are studying life of past geological periods as shown from fossil remains. This disaster, which marks the shift from the Cretaceous geological time period to the Paleogene geological time period, has been named by scientists as the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event (K/Pg). To have a better understanding of this event, researchers have begun to examine the patterns of life before and after the impact, as opposed to only at the moment.
“In order to get an idea of what happened in the wake of the asteroid impact, we need solid baseline data on what rates of background extinction were like before the K/Pg took place,” said Paul Barrett, a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in London, England. Having this baseline data would help scientists determine whether the asteroid strike was the primary cause of the extinction of so much of life on Earth or was simply the coup de gre of destructive events already underway.
by Jazmin Becerril Gonzalez, age 13
Bacteria are perhaps the earliest form of life on Earth and can be found everywhere. Earlier this year, scientists accidentally discovered something pretty crazy: a metal eating bacteria that they had suspected existed for decades but were unable to identify.
Dr. Jared Leadbetter, a microbiologist at California Institute of Technology, discovered the bacteria after leaving a glass jar covered with chemicals used in other experiments to soak in tap water in his office sink. When he returned after several months, he found a dark material covering the jar. At this point, he and his team conducted experiments trying to figure out what caused this chemical reaction. They concluded that the dark material was oxidized manganese caused by newly discovered bacteria which probably exists in tap water.
What makes this bacterium so unique is that it feeds and survives off metal by converting carbon dioxide into biomass in a process called chemosynthesis. Since the bacterium is found in tap water, scientists theorize that a chemical reaction between manganese oxides and the bacterium is responsible for clogging the water system pipes with manganese. Scientists are hoping this knowledge about the chemical reaction between the manganese oxides and bacteria will help solve the problem of clogged pipes. Researchers also want to use this discovery to further understand manganese nodules, metallic balls that contain rare metals found on the seafloor.
by Aissata Bah, age 10
Did you know that there is a kind of lightning called ball lightning? It does exist but it is really rare.
Ball lightning, also known as globe lightning, appears as a floating sphere with lightning coming out of it. Ball lightning ranges in color from blue to orange to yellow but is only visible for a few seconds. Sometimes it has a hissing sound and a bad odor.
People have speculated about ball lightning for centuries. One of the first times that ball lightning was sighted happened in 1638 when a “great ball of fire” flew through a church window in England, according to National Geographic. Some people think that ball lightning occurrences are hallucinations but most scientists think that it is real even if they don't know what causes it.
by Camila Cruz, age 13
Have you ever rubbed a balloon against your hair, causing it to stand up? This happens because of static electricity. This type of electricity is stationary, meaning it does not flow or move.
Hair has a positive charge. So when a person rubs a balloon on their hair, negative charges transfer to the balloon from the hair, leaving it positively charged and the balloon negatively charged . Because positive and negative charges attract each other, the hair is drawn towards the balloon causing it to look like the hair is standing up.
Static electricity can be much more forceful than just making hair stand up. For example, lightning is made with static electricity. When the clouds rub against each other, they charge up, creating an enormous spark called lightning.
by Gabriella Shell, age 14
Woolly mammoths are an extinct branch of the elephant family that once roamed the Ice Age landscape from from Spain to Canada. In prehistoric times, Asia was connected to North America by a natural landbridge running from what is now Russia to Alaska. And glaciers covered most of modern-day Eurasia and Canada.
Most scientists say mammoths became extinct 10,000 years ago. Nevertheless, some still believe that mammoths roam the Earth to this day, tucked away in the dense taiga, a coniferous forest, in Yakutia, Russia.
There are a few stories of these ancient beasts roaming in small groups deep in the heart of the Siberian taiga. There have even been some documentaries dedicated to finding out if the woolly mammoths really are extinct.
by Devika Pal, age 15
In February, researchers at three institutions developed a breakthrough process to potentially conserve the cheetah population worldwide. The institutions involved in making this accomplishment possible were the Columbus Zoo in Ohio, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI), and the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, Texas.
Using in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer, biologists and zoologists were able to deliver two cheetah cubs. In Vitro fertilization is the process by which the eggs of one female are fertilized by the sperm of a male, and the embryo is carried by a surrogate mother. Such a process comes as the cheetah population faces lowering numbers and the risks of inbreeding.
This accomplishment “...really opens the door to many new opportunities that can help the global cheetah population,” said Jason Ahistus, a Carnivore Curator at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center.
by Devika Pal, age 15
A study published recently in the biomedical journal Cell, paints a new picture of human history. Omer Gokcumen, a geneticist at the University at Buffalo, describes early human genetics as “almost as a spider web of interactions, rather than a tree with distinct branches.” This new way of looking at history explains how Neanderthal genes integrated into the human race throughout the years.
Neanderthals have a reputation for being unintelligent, when in fact, they were a refined species. They were skilled hunters and showed artistic abilities. Archaeologists originally found Neanderthal fossils in Europe and Eurasia from 200,000 to 40,000 years ago. The common ancestors of Neanderthals and humans left Africa around 600,000 years ago.
Dr. David Reich, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School was the first to create a Neanderthal genome. A genome shows the DNA present in a cell. The comparisons between the Neanderthal genome and that of humans have suggested that Asians and Europeans have more Neanderthal DNA than Africans do. In 2010, a study using Neanderthal fossil DNA found that humans and Neanderthals only crossed paths 60,000 years ago, after humans left Africa. This reinforced the notion that modern-day Africans have hardly any Neanderthal DNA. However, this year’s study challenged that theory.
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For centuries in human history, one of the biggest problems in health has been the race to find a cure for major life-threatening diseases like cancer. Recently, the rise of genome sequencing research has alleviated some pains of illnesses and some even suggest the field has the potential to eradicate these epidemics altogether. [read more...]
Imagine it is the year 2514. A scientist had arrived at the University of Edinburgh, unboxed a container, and grew glass vials of bacteria left by a scientist of today’s world. [read more...]
Did you know that the snow leopard is capable of killing prey three times its own size? A snow leopard is a kind of leopard that can be found throughout the mountains of Asia, Afghanistan, Russia, and many other places. [read more...]
If you have experienced or heard of a 100-year flood, you might think that there won’t be a flood like this in another 99 years, but you are wrong. [read more...]
Food takes longer to cook at altitudes higher than 3,000 feet above sea level. The key factor is the decrease in air pressure. Lower air pressure drops the boiling point of water by approximately 1-degree Fahrenheit for every 500 feet in increased elevation. [read more...]
Daily hygienic products such as deodorant, perfume, and soaps turn out to be some of the world’s biggest pollutants. Ironically, these products that enhance good smells contaminate the atmosphere at rates and levels similar to those of cars and other motor vehicles. [read more...]
Pluto’s status as a full-fledged planet was fleeting, lasting only a few decades. The planetary object was later classified as a dwarf planet in 2006. But only a few people know what a dwarf planet is, much less why the label played such a big role in Pluto’s fate. [read more...]
The Sun is a star that gives humans living on Earth light and heat so that they can survive. Without the sun, there would be no life and everything would be cold and dark. [read more...]
When you hear about an asteroid hitting Earth, you probably think about Hollywood movies. But have you ever thought of what would happen if an asteroid actually struck Earth? The chances are slim, but it is possible. And if it did happen, the human race as we know it would be obliterated. [read more...]
In physics, a culturally perceived “man’s science,” only two women had ever won the Nobel Prize, according to Rachel Ivie from the Statistical Research Center at the American Institute of Physics. This past year, in the fall of 2018, a third took home one of the most prestigious awards in science. [read more...]
In the winter months, people miss valuable time at school and work due to the unbearable sniffles and itchy throats caused by the common cold. The thought that there is a correlation between cold weather and sickness is so prevalent that many people question if cooler weather can really leave people feeling under the weather. Dr. Stan Spinner, chief medical officer for Texas Children’s Pediatrics, says cold weather does not make people sick; however, the environmental changes that come along with the change in temperature have the ability to leave people feeling ill. [read more...]
The space capsule was once the safest form of transportation. This was because the amount of money and expertise put into the United States’ space research made sure that the program was, statistically, safer than driving on a freeway during rush hour. [read more...]
Earthquakes are powerful, dangerous, and terrifying natural disasters and they can also be the cause behind bigger and more dangerous disasters. [read more...]
Scientists have recently discovered an animal fossil dating nearly 20 million years earlier than the Cambrian explosion of life. This first known fossil existed 558 million years ago, while the Cambrian explosion happened 540 million years ago. That’s when modern looking animals such as snails and arthropods emerged. [read more...]
Bugs do not survive without protection for very long. Unlike other animals, bugs have an exoskeleton on the outside of their bodies. This is a shield that protects the bug. When the bug grows and the shell becomes too tight, it molts. When a bug molts, it means the bug sheds its shell. [read more...]
In the lower Rio Grande River Valley, there is great biodiversity that will be negatively affected due to the construction of the border wall. [read more...]
Have you ever noticed that when someone near you yawns, you yawn too? Scientists have noticed the same reaction with scratching, and they are using mice to test this theory. [read more...]
Stem rust, a fungus disease affecting cereal crops such as wheat, is raising concern among pathologists. An issue that plant scientists thought was resolved resurfaced, and they are currently working to develop different types of resistance to this disease. [read more...]
Zimbabwean high school student, Macdonald Chirara recently developed a device to power his community with waste. [read more...]
Hurricanes threaten millions of people all over the globe. From formation to the naming process, Simpson Street Free Press is here to answer all your questions about hurricanes. [read more...]
At age 24, Matt Hiznay, a second-year medical student at the University of Toledo, was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. Stage IV means that the cancer is deadly and survival is slim. Only one percent of stage IV cancer survivors can say they beat cancer. [read more...]
According to Dictionary.com, a boulder is “a detached and rounded or worn rock, especially a large one.” Back in the early 1600s, fur traders who were crossing Lake Superior heard stories of a large rock that was lying on the edge of the Ontonagon River. It was said that the boulder weighed five tons, was as big as a house, and was made of solid copper. [read more...]
Going to the dentist has traditionally been a dreaded activity for adults and kids alike. But until recently, we weren’t aware of just how long people have been practicing dentistry, nor their strange methods of care. [read more...]
It was an agonizing 6.5 seconds. The members of the InSight lander mission team and NASA officials waited with bated breaths as the $850 million lander shot through Mars’ atmosphere at 12,300 mph, entering at precisely 12 degrees. InSight’s heat shields endured temperatures of 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit. Atmospheric forces managed to decelerate the lander before it parachuted down, towards the surface of the Red Planet. [read more...]