Did you know...

Monday
Aug192013

...pigeons are doves?

All these fun facts about city animals are from the September 2013 issue of “Discover”—not my first choice for accurate science info but definitely for fun science!

So here goes--

Did you know...

  • Pigeons navigate by the stars and can count to nine?
  • Opossums have about the same number of teeth as a T-Rex, 50—more than any other North American mammal?
  • Musky death-scented liquid oozes from an opossum’s mouth and anus glands when it “plays ‘possum” but its metabolism does not slow down?
  • Moles’ fur is soft and has no nap? You cannot rub a mole the wrong way. This supposedly helps with its burrowing, allowing it to go backwards with the same ease as it goes forward in its tunnels.
  • Squirrels outwit us constantly using multistep problem-solving that is beyond the capability of most mammals and probably some humans? (as evidenced by an entire commercial industry devoted to keeping them out of our bird feeders.)
  • Rats can learn their names and will come when called?

Urban animal facts brought to you by:

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Tuesday
Mar262013

...you can figure out when Easter will be?

Every year Easter is on a different day. We all know that happens because it is based on a different calendar, but it need not be such a mystery.

Every year, Easter Sunday is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox. Therefore, the earliest it can be is 22 March and the latest it can be is April 25th.

Nobody alive today has, or ever will, witness it occuring on March 22nd . The last time that happened was in 1818 and it won't happen again until 2285.

The last time Easter was on April 25th (the latest possible date) was 1943. You may have been around to see that and you may be around when it happens again in 2038.

Happy Easter!

 

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Friday
Mar152013

curlers talk to their rocks?

In the game of curling, jargon runs rampant.

What does it mean when a curler says, "Sit! Sit!" It means s/he is talking to the curling rock that has just been thrown and telling it to stop moving.

Despite the lack of scientific evidence that this works, it is a strategy employed by curlers at all levels of play.... :)

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Wednesday
Oct172012

...that fingerprints...

I attended a presentation by my local RCMP Forensic Ident officer this evening and learned things about fingerprints, footprints, DNA and other crime scene clues. Here's a few fun facts I picked up:

  • fingerprints are particularly easy to lift from potato chip bags because
  • it is grease and oil one gets from touching body parts, such as face or hair (or from chips you eat), clinging to the fingers that creates fingerprints
  • this grease sticks to the fingers because we have many sweat pores on our fingers. We can see these if we look closely. They look like tiny holes.
  • fingerprints can be easily lifted from paper. It is heated and then treated and voila! Prints appear!
  • put superglue in a heating chamber with a plastic bag and the glue will become gaseous and cling to the oily finger prints on the bag, making them visible. This is a valuable technique as many illicit drugs are stored, traded, transferred in ordinary plastic Ziploc bags.
  • a technique has yet to be discovered for lifting prints from rocks...which means if a rock smashes through your window, it likely won't be useful in the ensuing vandalism investigation.
  • Despite digitalization of fingerprints, computerized transmission of fingerprints, and the national fingerprint data base Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), it still takes a human to do the ultimate match up. The computer can only narrow it down to a dozen or so similar prints. It is a labour-intensive job and truly does still involve lab techs staring at prints through magnifying glasses.
  • A partial print on a revolver leads investigators to suspect young Katrina Buckhold played a part in a horrific gang slaying in FATAL ERROR, my new crime novel. Sequel to The Traz.

 

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Monday
Sep242012

...that lynx swim?

Lynx are good swimmers. At least this one was. We spotted it from our boat this past weekend the middle of Wolf Lake, which is quite a large lake in Northern Alberta, Canada.  He had a long way to get to shore, but was swimming quickly.

It looked odd to see a cat in the water.

Lynx have distinctive tuffs on their ears. They are double to triple the size of the average house cat.  In some places they are called bob cats because they have a short tail. Most people, though, call them lynx and call the other species of short-tailed cats without the ear tuffs bob cats.

 

 

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Here are some more pictures of beautiful Wolf Lake. We were fishing for Pike and Walleye.