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Drug Store Magic – Chapter 1: (1) Wine to Water

Fill a small pitcher full of water and dissolve a small amount of ferric ammonium sulfate in the water. Then make up a small amount of sodium salicylate solution. Get two wine glasses, and in the first wine glass do not put anything; in the second wine glass put a few drops of sodium salicylate solution. Then you pour some water from the pitcher into your first wine glass. It will remain clear, but when you pour from the pitcher into the second wine glass it will take on the color of wine.

Ingredients required:

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Good light show coming…you just won’t be able to talk about it

Watch for some fascinating Northern Lights coming this Friday.

Satellites have just detected a powerful X1.6-class solar flare. The source was active sunspot AR2158, which is directly facing Earth. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the extreme ultraviolet flash. Ionizing radiation from the flare could cause HF radio blackouts and other communications disturbances, especially on the day-lit side of Earth. In the next few hours, when coronagraph data from SOHO and STEREO become available, we will see if a coronal mass ejection (CME) emerges from the blast site. If so, the cloud would likely be aimed directly at Earth and could reach our planet in 2 to 3 days.

[Source, Slashdot, X-Class Solar Flare Coming Friday]

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Sourcing my lab

From a book I purchased for $3.95 when I was about twelve years old.

Fill a small pitcher full of water and dissolve a small amount of ferric ammonium sulphate in the water. Then make up a small amount of sodium salicylate solution. …

Other recipes include permanganate of potash, sulphuric acid, solution of sodium hyposulphite, sodium carbonate, phenolthalein solution, tartaric acid solution and the list goes on.
Time to start sourcing chemicals for my lab.

My full shopping list can be found at Anyone want to help me source this?

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Preservation of species

It has long been said that to ensure the survival of the human species, we must migrate from Earth. Right now, if something catastrophic happened to our planet, our human race would be extinct. However, if we can spread out, and inhabit other planets and particularly other galaxies, if something happened to Earth, our species continues to exist. But what if we are wrong? What if it is not the planet we must escape to preserve human life? I conjecture that to preserve the human species, we may need to escape the universe.

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SCIENCE! That planets are aligning in the sky

This is a great week to wake your children early and peer into the sky. Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter are visible to the naked eye. Binoculars or a small telescope will allow you to see Uranus and Neptune. Any camera with a telephoto lens should be able to capture all 6 at once.

For the last two months, almost all the planets have been hiding behind the sun, but this week they all emerge and are arrayed in a grand line above the rising sun.

[Source, LiveScience, Six Planets Now Aligned in the Dawn Sky by Geoff Gaherty]

Picture credit: Starry Night Software. Picture borrowed from LiveScience

Inspire your children. Awe them with the wonders of the universe. Arise early. Hear the birds. See the planets.

If you get confused looking at objects in the sky, consider the iPhone/iPad app "GoSkyWatch" It is undeniably one of my favorite applications. I spent most of my life with astronomy books unsure if I was correctly identifying objects in the sky. GoSkyWatch removes all doubt, adds factoids, and makes star gazing so much more fun. [Link to app]

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The sun rose 48 hours early in Greenland and, yes Virginia, there is global warming

For a month and a half, there’s absolutely no Sun in Greenland because of Earth’s angle in relation to our home star. People there eagerly await for January 13, when the Sun rises again, every year. Except this one. This year, the Sun rose 48 hours ahead of its projected date. … [Source, Gizmodo]

Read more

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I do dance with the Devil in the pale moonlight

I know some of you get twitches in your toes with the weather is changing, or migraines when the storm is approaching. The full moon sets me off. Perhaps there’s a little werewolf in me. As Luna grows large, I am struck with insomnia, passionate energy, and animalism. Tonight promises to be quite sleepless.

This lunar eclipse falls on the date of the northern winter solstice. How rare is that? Total lunar eclipses in northern winter are fairly common. There have been three of them in the past ten years alone. A lunar eclipse smack-dab on the date of the solstice, however, is unusual. Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory inspected a list of eclipses going back 2000 years. "Since Year 1, I can only find one previous instance of an eclipse matching the same calendar date as the solstice, and that is 1638 DEC 21," says Chester. "Fortunately we won’t have to wait 372 years for the next one…that will be on 2094 DEC 21." [Source, NASA Science, Solstice Lunar Eclipse]

Blessed be!

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DC Universe Merges with Reality

This sounds like the stuff of comic books but it’s real. Designer Bacteria Can Heal Cracks in Concrete Buildings

The genetically modified microbe has been programmed to swim down fine cracks in concrete and once at the bottom it produces a mixture of calcium carbonate and a bacterial glue. This glue combines with the filamentous bacterial cells, ultimately hardening to the same strength as the surrounding concrete and essentially “knitting” the building back together. [Source, LiveScience, Designer Bacteria Can Heal Cracks in Concrete Buildings]

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CRS disease related to 20-30 years of stress

Stress hurts memory. And my memory is undeniably in a less than adequate state. The memories are there. The recollection is poor. After feeding me a few clues, the memories surface. Clues can be reminding me of your name or where we last bumped into each other etc.

An experimental drug developed by researchers at the University of Edinburgh reverses age-related memory decline in mice, returning their brains to a more youthful state of cognitive function. The compound is designed to dampen the production of glucocorticoids, stress hormones that are thought to damage the brain’s learning and memory centers over time. [Source, Technology Review, Experimental Drug Preserves Memory in Rodents]

"What’s most surprising is that even short-term inhibition was able to reverse memory loss in old mice. I don’t think people had realized this was so reversible. It takes [the animals] back to being relatively young." Sign me up! I hereby declare my readiness to be a human subject in this testing of this drug!


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Rare East Coast rocket launch tonight at 7:35

Launch currently scheduled for 7:35pm tonight.Launch completed successfully! No sign of it in the sky from Knoxville but live stream was beautiful. Friend in Delaware was able to see the 2nd stage separation.

NASA is again going to attempt to launch an Air Force Minotaur I rocket carrying the Air Force Research Laboratory’s TacSat-3 satellite, NASA’s PharmaSat microsatellite, and NASA’s CubeSat Technology Demonstration experiments, which includes three four-inch cubed satellites, developed by universities and industry. [Source] The launch will be from the NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. I read that if the skies are clear, the launch will be visible up to 800 miles away (but I could be misinformed). Knoxville is roughly 450 miles as the crow flies. If you don’t want to leave the house, NASA has the most exceptional webcasts available. The Wallops launch is already streaming live. Read more at the Wallops site or follow @NASA_Wallops on Twitter. Be sure to also follow @ATKRocketNews Trina Patterson of ATK who gives additional Twitter commentary on the launch.

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2nd Place: “Women Were Designed For Homemaking”

Maybe the Creationists are onto something!

Jonathan Goode (grade 7) applied findings from many fields of science to support his conclusion that God designed women for homemaking: physics shows that women have a lower center of gravity than men, making them more suited to carrying groceries and laundry baskets; biology shows that women were designed to carry un-born babies in their wombs and to feed born babies milk, making them the natural choice for child rearing; social sciences show that the wages for women workers are lower than for normal workers, meaning that they are unable to work as well and thus earn equal pay; and exegetics shows that God created Eve as a companion for Adam, not as a co-worker. [Source, OBJECTIVE: Ministries, Fellowship Baptist Creation Science Fair 2001 Article by Dr. Richard Paley & FBCSF Staff]

Other winners:

Elementary School Level
1st Place: "My Uncle Is A Man Named Steve (Not A Monkey)"
2nd Place: "Pine Cones Are Complicated"
Middle School Level
1st Place: "Life Doesn’t Come From Non-Life"
2nd Place: "Women Were Designed For Homemaking"
High School Level
1st Place: "Using Prayer To Microevolve Latent Antibiotic Resistance In Bacteria"
2nd Place: "Maximal Packing Of Rodentia Kinds: A Feasibility Study"

The Creation Science Fair honorable mentions are equally as great with my favorite being a tie between "Pokemon Prove Evolutionism Is False" and "Thermodynamics Of Hell Fire."

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And I made a cloud

Cold. -4°C outside. Brrr. So I took Amy and Noah out on the porch and threw a pot of boiling water into the air. Both children enjoyed seeing the water turn to vapor and float across the yard like a scene from a Scooby Doo swamp. I let them have their moment and did not bother with the science lesson.

Temperature conversion by