‘Science and Nature’

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Hand Me the Phone

March 10, 2013 3:00 pm


On this day in 1876, Alexander Graham Bell finally got his invention working: the telephone.  It worked nothing like our phones today: the very first phones were sold in pairs, where each phone could call only that one other phone (you had to pick that other person carefully).  Then came the “switchboard,” which let you call any other phone, but the “operator,” a phone company person in the middle of town, had to plug in wires to connect your call for you.  Now we can call anyone anywhere on our own within seconds, and through the air.  But that first phone, that first time talking to someone through a wire, must have looked like magic.

Having a (Snow)Ball

January 25, 2013 4:00 pm


When it snows outside and you get that really wet, sticky kind of snow, it’s easy to pack it with your hands into a solid white ball that just begs to be thrown.  Sure, you can roll it along the ground to make it bigger, and pile up a few to make a snowman…but it might be even more fun just to chuck it at someone.  We’re not exactly sure who invented the snowball fight, but we do know that in 1863, during the American Civil War, when a few soldiers started chucking friendly snowballs at each other, it turned into a giant fight involving 9,000 soldiers. If serious grownups can get sucked in like that, it’s clear the snowball fight is here to stay.

Extreme Refrigeration

January 20, 2013 4:00 pm


The last week of January often marks the coldest week of the year, at least for the northern half of our planet.  We’ve been tilted away from the sun for weeks, we’ve had short days of sunlight, and in some places cloudy gray skies make matters worse.  So it’s no surprise that many states have had their coldest temperature ever in late January or early February.  When you see some of the records set over the decades, you might find that a bowl of ice cream at 3 degrees F could warm you up.