Science

Two students launch a legonaut into space.
News Science Technology

Toronto Teens Send Legonaut Into (Near-) Space

Two teenagers in Toronto, Ont. have taken a giant leap – for themselves, and for one little Lego man.

The teens launched a Lego figure into near-space.

They hooked a helium weather balloon, a home-sewn nylon parachute and four cameras to the figure. And then they went out to a soccer field and let their contraption go.

The cameras were set to take pictures every 20 seconds.

When their figure came back to Earth, they looked at the pictures the cameras had taken.

They were shocked to see their little Lego figure, clutching his Canadian flag, with a picture of the curved horizon of the Earth in the background.

Zebra
Animals News Science

Zebra Dung May Be New Fuel Source

Thanks to zebra dung, cars could one day run on fuel made from old newspapers.

Today, we use mostly oil and gas to run our cars; oil and gas come from fossilized plants and animals. But fossil fuels are expensive, and there aren’t enough of them. Scientists are looking for cheaper and more plentiful fuels.

David Mullin is a biology professor at a university in New Orleans. He and his students are trying to make a fuel from plants. Plant-based fuels are called “biofuels.”

He knew that if he could break down “cellulose,” he could turn it into a fuel that could run vehicles.

School children
Kids Lighter Science

Are Parents Smarter Than Their Kids In Math And Science? Maybe Not

Do you think you know more about science than your parents do? You could be right.

At a big science fair in England last November, 2,000 moms and dads were asked what sort of questions their kids had about science, and how they answer them.

Most of the parents said they found it hard to answer their children’s questions. A few of them said they think their kids know more about science than they do.

Stephen Hawking (1980s)
News Science

Stephen Hawking Turns 70

Stephen Hawking turned 70 on Jan. 8.

Cosmologists – scientists like Hawking who study the origins of the universe – gathered in Cambridge, UK, to pay tribute to him.

Hawking was a mathematics professor at the University of Cambridge for 30 years. He retired from that job in 2009. He still works for Cambridge, in cosmology research.

Hawking is a mathematical genius, who changed the way scientists think about the universe.

Kepler space telescope; image: NASA
News Science

Two Earth-Sized Planets Discovered

Two planets have been discovered, about 1,000 light years away from Earth.

Both of the planets are about the size of Earth. Kepler-20e is slightly smaller, and Kepler-20f is slighty larger than Earth.

The surface of the planets are too hot for water to exist on them; it would not be possible for life to exist on them either. They are hot because they orbit close to a star very much like our sun.

Kepler-20e has a termperature of about 760 degrees Celcius. (In contrast, Earth’s average surface temperature is 14 degrees Celsius.)

The planets were discovered during a mission by NASA using the Kepler space telescope. They have been combing the skies searching for planets since about 2009.

Rhinos; Image: Princess. Tilly
Animals News

Rhinos Being Poached For Horns

Rhinos are being poached in South Africa.

“Poaching” is when people (“poachers”) illegally kill a wild animal.

This year so far 341 rhinos have been poached in South Africa.

That’s the most, ever, for one year.

Rhino horns are believed by some people, particularly in Asia, to be able to cure ailments like nosebleeds and fevers.

No one knows if this is actually true.

Canadian polymer $100 note; Image: With permission from the Bank of Canada
Science Technology

New $100 Canadian Bill Has A Window

The Bank of Canada introduced a new $100 bill recently – and it has a window in it.

It’s Canada’s first “polymer” (a type of flexible plastic) bill.

The new $100 bill features a picture of Sir Robert Borden, who was the Prime Minister from 1911 and 1920.

The back of the bill celebrates innovation in medical research, including the Canadian discovery of insulin, which is used to treat diabetes.

Truck in Thai flood, 2011
Environment News

TKN Exclusive: How Thailand’s Floods Have Affected Me

Nat Atherton is a Canadian living and working in Thailand. He gave TKN a first-hand account of the day-to-day havoc this year’s floods have caused.

The flooding here has been horrible. It hasn’t yet come into the centre of the capital (Bangkok), where I live, but has affected many of the people I work with.

Many of the poorer Thais live in the surrounding areas, which are flooded chest deep (1.5 metres) in some places.

I know a great many people who have lost their houses.

Many others haven’t been able to go home to check on their homes since rivers of dirty water separate their work from their houses.

Many well-known tourist districts have also been affected, including the world’s largest outdoor market, Chatuchak.

Phobos-Grunt Russian space vehicle
News Science Technology

Phobos-Grunt Mission To Mars Misfires

In the 1970s, a space project called the Phobos-Grunt project was proposed by Russian space experts.

At the time, it represented a dream for the Russian space program. To build a vehicle that could go all the way to Mars, to collect information from one of its moons, Phobos. It would be Russia’s first deep-space mission, developed entirely in the post-Soviet era.

The project had lots of problems over the years. They include mismanagement, political issues and serious technical problems, according to Russian journalist Anatoly Zak.

However, the Russian space agency persisted, and eventually the Phobos-Grunt became a reality.

The Phobos-Grunt launched on Nov. 9.

Unfortunately, the unmanned vehicle would not make it to Mars.

Shark Lagoon at the proposed Toronto Aquarium
Animals Entertainment Environment

New Toronto Aquarium — 13,500 Creatures, Shark Tunnel

The people who are building a huge new aquarium in downtown Toronto have released some exciting new details about it.

Ripley’s Entertainment Corporation – which publishes Ripley’s Believe It Or Not – plans to open the aquarium in 2013.

It will be one of the largest aquariums in North America.

It will be located near the base of the CN Tower.

More than 13,500 underwater creatures from around the world will be on display at the aquarium.

There will be exhibits on jellyfish, seahorses, stingrays, the Great Lakes, tropical reefs and more.

The aquarium is designed to be fully interactive.