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INTERESTING STUFF -29 December 2012

Posted Dec 29 2012 8:30am

THE CHEMISTRY OF SNOWFLAKES
A whole lot I didn't know about how snowflakes work.

THE LAST CHRISTMAS STORY OF 2012
On Christmas Eve 2011 in Manhattan, writer Anelise Chen found a teeny-tiny frog in a bag of supermarket lettuce.

”I wasn’t prepared to discover wildlife in my kitchen. Luckily, I have a husband, who caught the frog with a piece of cheesecloth. We punched holes through the top of a plastic Tupperware container and put him inside with some water and a piece of the lettuce he rode in on.”

Next thing, they were taking the frog on a bus trip to Boston. The story is a charmer and you can read the whole thing here . (Hat tip to Tamar Orvel of Only Connect )

THE GREAT ESCAPE REVISITED
In 1945, after a year of digging three tunnels 30 feet underground, 76 allied POWs, mostly RAF, escaped from the German prison camp, Stalag Luft III. There cannot be many readers of this blog who don't remember the classic 1963 film, The Great Escape, with Steve McQueen at the head of a stellar cast.

The escape did not end well. Seventy-three were caught and 50 of them were executed by Nazi soldiers. The main tunnel, nicknamed Harry, was filled in by the Germans.

”So effective was the cover-up that when the remaining prisoners wanted to build a memorial for the 50 men who died, the exact site of the tunnel could not be agreed on.”

Now it has been found and thousands of artifacts left inside have been dug up including this pistol and homemade shovel.

Great escape artefacts

Channel 4 in Great Britain broadcast a documentary about it all earlier this month. Those who missed it or don't live there, can read this detailed story about the discovery here . (Hat tip to Canadian TGB reader Keith Meaden)

A CAT, A RAT AND A DISH OF MILK
Amazing how well the little rat holds its own in competition for the treat.

EXERCISE AND COGNITIVE HEALTH
Forget those expensive brain games; they don't work. But evidence of the relationship between physical activity and brain health keeps piling up.

Recent research suggests that it was our early ancestors' need for meat that created our large brains:

”Early humans had to plan and execute hunts as a group, which required complicated thinking patterns and, it’s been thought, rewarded the social and brainy with evolutionary success. According to that hypothesis, the evolution of the brain was driven by the need to think...

“The broad point of this new notion is that if physical activity helped to mold the structure of our brains, then it most likely remains essential to brain health today, says John D. Polk, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and co-author, with Dr. Raichlen, of the new article.

“And there is scientific support for that idea. Recent studies have shown, he says, that 'regular exercise, even walking,' leads to more robust mental abilities, 'beginning in childhood and continuing into old age.'”

Aside from reaffirming the healthy-brain benefits of exercise, it's a fascinating report on the latest anthropological thinking in regard to human development from the excellent fitness expert, Gretchen Reynolds. You can read it here .

UNDERSTANDING MUSIC
This remarkably beautiful and thoughtful animation is from a recently-founded, German design studio named finally. Watch the video and then you might want to see what else the group is doing at their Vimeo website .

Hat tip to John Starbuck of For a Dancer

QEII ON INTERNET LONG BEFORE THEE AND ME
Although she broadcast her Christmas message this year in 3D, Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain has a bit of a stodgy image. But look at this: she had her own email address way back in 1976 when the internet was still called the Arpanet:

Queen-opening-arpanet-link-1976

The photo was taken in March 1976 by Peter Kirstein...

”...who set up her mail account, choosing the username HME2. That’s Her Majesty, Elizabeth II. 'All she had to do was press a couple of buttons,' he remembers, 'and her message was sent.

You can read more about the Queen and Arpanet here .

MORE BRITISH ROYALTY
I was amused by this letter to Harper's quoted in December in a weekly newsletter I receive from the magazine:

“Dear Harper’s Magazine,

"I am a fervent subscriber (if there can be such a thing) to your excellent magazine: we have nothing equivalent in England, and I am very grateful to you for being so challenging and thought-provoking.

“However, the English pedant in me is reeling at your otherwise excellent Harper’s Weekly in which you announce that “Prince WIlliam and Princess Kate" are having a baby.

“Yikes! They’re the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. She’s not Princess Kate, as she’s not a princess in her own right; she’s Princess William of Wales, otherwise known as the Duchess of Cambridge, until the Prince of Wales dies, when she’ll be the Princess of Wales, and not Kate, Princess of Wales.

“Sigh. I know I am fighting a long and hopeless battle. Even British journalists can’t get it right these days."

And I know I never will.

WHAT COULD BE BETTER THAN PUPPIES PLAYING IN THE SNOW


Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” in the upper left corner of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I probably won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog if you have one.

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