Mixing Holiday Traditions With Science

Putting up the Christmas tree is one of my beloved holiday traditions. For many years, I went to a tree farm a couple of weeks before Christmas. We’d cut down a tree, bring it home, and decorate it. I wasn’t mixing holiday traditions with science back then. But the science of Christmas trees is fascinating.  The Traditions The Romans decorated their temples with fir trees for the festival of Saturnalia. Christians used fir trees as a sign of everlasting life with God. Many people credit the Germans with bringing the Christmas tree into their homes.  Records show that Martin Luther, a 16th century preacher, was one of the first to bring a Christmas tree into his house and put lights on it. Read more about the first Christmas trees. Oh Christmas Tree When shopping for a Christmas tree, we want the right shape, the right height, and color. We want the tree to hold on to its needles as long as possible. And we want the tree to look fresh for weeks. These are the traits Christmas tree growers want to foster in their trees. Fraser and noble firs are the most popular species for Christmas trees. Christmas trees are […]

Is the Truth in Asteroid Dust?

Is the truth in asteroid dust? Perhaps we’ll soon learn the answer. This month, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully brought asteroid dust back to Earth for the second time in history. A small asteroid doesn’t have a heated interior. Scientists believe that means that since the materials on an asteroid have never experienced that intense heat and altered, they have the “initial characteristics of the solar system.” Studying this material could lead to a new understanding of the history and development of our solar system. What Is an Asteroid It’s an irregularly shaped celestial body usually found between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. (See the illustration above.) They can be as small as pebbles or hundreds of miles in diameter. Most asteroids are rocks, but some have clays or metals in them. There are currently 1,038,96 known asteroids. Scientists believe that during the formation of our solar system some rocks and materials were “left overs.” These left overs are what we call asteroids.  How Do Scientists Study Asteroids? Astronomers have spent years observing celestial bodies like asteroids with powerful telescopes. Some scientists have been fortunate enough to work with meteorites, tiny bits of asteroids that survived the […]

Why we Believe in the Impossible

Since the beginning of time, people have believed in the supernatural to explain things they did not understand. As scientific knowledge and understanding grew, one would think belief in the supernatural would lessen or disappear. Turns out that’s not true. Why do we hold on to false beliefs? Why do we believe in the impossible? The bottom line? Why? We want to believe. (Every one of us.) What Are False Beliefs? According to the American Psychological Association, the definition of false beliefs is “a mental proposition that is asserted with high confidence but lacks a basis in reality.”  What is Reality?  1: the quality or state of being real 2 a (1): a real event, entity, or state of affairs his dream became a reality (2): the totality of real things and events trying to escape from reality   b: something that is neither derivative nor dependent but exists necessarily in reality: in actual fact Merriam-Webster Dictionary Myths We Believe A common myth many of us believe is that multi-tasking works. The facts show multi-tasking doesn’t work. “Research reveals that there are capacity limits when engaging in cognitively demanding tasks.” We also like to believe that a loving and healthy environment can and will change any genetically […]