Don’t forget to fall back this Sunday! Daylight saving time ends for most of the U.S. on November 6 this year. The law says that people must set their clocks back to standard time at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday in November. That means changing the clock back one hour at 2 a.m. During the winter months, there will be a bit more light in the morning, but the sun will set earlier in the evening.
Some places, like American Samoa, Hawaii, and most of Arizona, don’t mess with Father Time. But why do we move our clocks one hour forward in the spring anyway? There was no standardized time until train travel became common. The U.S. railroad industry established time zones with standard times in 1883, and Congress made the railroad’s system a law in 1918. The next year, the decision of whether or not to observe daylight saving time was left up to individual jurisdictions.
When updating legislation in the 1980s, Congress noted that daylight saving time has many benefits, including “more daylight outdoor playtime for the children and youth of our Nation.” Not everyone agrees that this is beneficial, however. Till Roenneberg, a chronobiologist at Ludwig-Maximillans University in Munich, Germany, says that our bodies never really adjust to the different light schedule during daylight saving time.
Photograph by Christian Loidl, My Shot
The last adult Javan rhino in Vietnam was killed last year, making the animal extinct on the Asian mainland. The rhino was probably killed by a poacher. Only about 50 Javan rhinos remain and live in a park in Indonesia.
Habitat loss and hunting caused the population of Javan rhinos to drop during the 20th century. The rhino was thought to be extinct on mainland Asia until a population of about 15 animals was discovered in 1988. With this recent death, conservationists are sure that there are no Javan rhinos left in Vietnam.
Photograph courtesy WWF Greater Mekong
It would be easier to find animals after dark if they glowed, wouldn’t it? Actually, scorpions found in Saguaro National Park do (at least with special equipment). During last weekend’s BioBlitz in the park, researchers used black lights to count scorpions. Black lights give off ultraviolet light, which reacts with a nitrogenous substance in the scorpion’s cuticles, giving it a green glow. “You go out at night into the Sonoran Desert with one of these UV lights and … these scorpions light up and glow like a little star field on the ground,” says Paul Marek, an entomologist at the University of Arizona.
The 2011 BioBlitz in Saguaro National Park in Arizona was a 24-hour effort to count different species within the park. The count added more than 400 species to the park’s species lists.
Photo courtesy of Paul Marek
Some snails surf across the ocean! Instead of using a surfboard, they hang upside down on rafts made with the snail’s mucus. There are fewer than ten species of these snails gliding across the oceans. Scientists have discovered that these snails are descendants of bottom-dwelling snails called wentletraps that use mucus to make egg masses.
Celia Churchill, a Ph.D. student a the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, described the bubble rafts as having a consistency similar to bubble wrap. “You can pop it if you get a fresh one,” she said.
Photograph courtesy Denis Riek
Meet Shelby, a nine-year-old girl who lives in Louisiana. Her life is pretty normal… except she lives with alligators! Her father runs an alligator farm, and there are also wild alligators roaming around her yard. She spoke with Andrew Evans, National Geographic’s Digital Nomad, to talk about what it’s like living around gators.
Shelby helps her dad with the gators when they hatch. She holds the baby alligators when they come out of their shells. “Holding a baby alligator is like holding a baby dinosaur,” she says. Is Shelby scared by being around alligators all the time? Nope! She told Andrew that as long as you don’t tease them, they won’t hurt you.
Photographs by Andrew Evans
Nine-banded armadillos are expanding into areas of the United States where they have never lived before. The animals have been spotted in South Carolina and Illinois, and experts predict that they may someday be seen around Washington D.C. or New Jersey! Why are the animals moving northward?
Colleen McDonough, a biologist at Georgia’s Valdosta State University, says armadillos have been moving north for a variety of reasons, including changes in land use and fewer predators, and not necessarily due to climate change. “Because this movement has been consistent over the years, I think it is a continuation [of a longer-term trend] and not directly the result of recent climate change,” she says.
Whatever the reason, these adaptable animals may be coming soon to a neighborhood near you!
Photograph by Bianca Lavies, National Geographic
Next Tuesday and Wednesday, join National Geographic Kids and First Lady Michelle Obama in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most people doing jumping jacks! We need more than 20,000 people to do jumping jacks to break the record. So get your friends, sports teams, afterschool groups, or even your entire school to participate!
Photograph by Sara Zeglin
The team at the National Geographic Kids website is always looking to give kids more of what they want. That’s why we need your help! If you’re under the age of 18, you can participate in our survey. It takes about 15 minutes to answer all the questions. You can sit with your Mom or Dad if you want, but we really want to see YOUR opinions. Remember, we want you to be honest–there are no right or wrong answers!
Photograph by Michelle Sullivan
College students from around the world are competing at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon this week on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. During the ten-day competition, each team created and displayed model homes that harness solar energy to heat, cool, and power the homes.
The Solar Decathlon began on September 23 and runs through October 2.
Photograph courtesy Lauren Rogers
How does a cow digest its lunch? “Eat, upchuck, chew the barfed-up cud.” That’s just a sample of a weird fact you’ll pick up at the cow station at the Animal Grossology exhibit at National Geographic in Washington, D.C.
This new exhibit is filled with all kind of gross facts. You’ll get the scoop on your cat’s hairballs, a cow’s four stomachs, weird undersea creatures, and more. You’ll also learn the science behind the yucky tidbits so you can explain the fact to your friends! The exhibits are interactive, and there are a bunch of games to play. Special demonstrations held every day will show you the science behind bioluminescence and how germs are spread between people.
Animal Grossology opens at the National Geographic Museum today. The exhibit will run through January 2, 2012.
Photographs courtesy of Advanced Exhibits
Two red panda cubs born this summer at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. just got their names. The two female red panda cubs were born on the stormy evening of June 17, 2011. Their new names reflect the wild weather on the night of their birth. One of the cubs is named Pili, which means “clap of thunder” in Chinese. The other is named Damini, which means “lightning” in Nepalese.
Red pandas are endangered animals that live in the mountains. They are much smaller than giant pandas, growing to about the size of a housecat. They live in Nepal, Myanmar, and China.
Photograph courtesy Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian’s National Zoo
Scientists have discovered a new species of dolphin in Australia, and it lives near Melbourne, the second largest city in Australia (by population). About 100 of these dolphins have been found in Port Phillip Bay.
What makes these dolphins different than bottlenose dolphins? Their skulls have a different shape, their dorsal fin is more curved, and they are “tricolored.” Their coloration includes dark gray, mid-gray, and white. The new dolphin has been named the Burrunan dolphin, after an Aboriginal phrase meaning “large fish of the porpoise kind.”
Photograph by Adrian Howard/AFP/Getty Images
Scientists studying rock samples have evidence that gold was delivered to Earth’s surface by meteors! The evidence indicates that about 3.9 billion years ago, a huge “firestorm” of meteors brought gold and other precious metals to the planet.
Photograph by Wally Pacholka, TWAN
Sunday is the tenth anniversary of 9/11. On September 11, 2001 terrorists hijacked four planes and flew two of them into the World Trade Center in New York City, another crashed into the Pentagon building near Washington, D.C., and the remaining plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. The National Geographic Society was directly affected that day, as two Society employees were on one of the planes. Many people will be remembering the events of that day. The memorials at the World Trade Center site and at the Pentagon will continue to help people remember 9/11 long into the future.
National Geographic Kids magazine interviewed students from a school four blocks away from the World Trade Center when they returned to their school five months after 9/11. In the September 2011 issue, you can find out what some of the students are doing ten years later.
Photograph by Matt McClain, The Washington Post/Getty Images
Did you know that your ears work even while you’re asleep? It’s true–your brain filters out the sounds for you. Your ears are able to hear an incredible amount of things, but noises that are too loud can damage them. Some common noises can be damaging to your hearing. Even cicadas can be hard on your ears. How do you know if a sound is too loud? Check out the interactive sound ruler on the It’s a Noisy Planet website to learn what kinds of sounds can damage hearing and learn more about how to protect your ears.
Image courtesy the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, “It’s A Noisy Planet. Protect Their Hearing” campaign
This past weekend, Hurricane Irene swept up the East Coast of the U.S. The Category 1 hurricane first touched land in North Carolina. People living in Virginia to New York experienced flooding and downed trees. By the time it reached New York City and New England, Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm.
Hurricanes get weaker after they pass over land. Irene did slow down, but it remained large and destructive much longer than most hurricanes as it moved north through Vermont.
Photograph by Hyunsoo Leo Kim, The Virginian-Pilot/AP
Things got a little shaky at National Geographic headquarters yesterday! A 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck the U.S. East Coast, shaking Washington D.C., New York City, and beyond. The earthquake’s epicenter was in Mineral, Virginia, which is near Richmond. Earthquakes are rare in this part of the country, but their effects can be felt farther away than ones that strike the West Coast.
Humans weren’t the only ones shaken up by the quake. Animals at the National Zoo exhibited unusual behavior before and after the earthquake.
Photograph by Justin Lane, European Pressphoto Agency
Earlier this year, many of you submitted designs for the official patch for one of Dr. Ballard’s expeditions on the ship, Nautilus. Today, you can “ride along” on the Expedition Vessel Nautilus as the team members explore the depths of the ocean and search for shipwrecks! Visit the Nautilus Live page on National Geographic to watch the live expedition and check out video highlights of things the team has already discovered.
Image courtesy Sea Research Foundation
Mosquitoes like smelly socks. Or more specifically, they are attracted to chemicals that people produce from their legs and feet. Researchers in Tanzania are testing mosquito traps that use smelly socks to lure mosquitoes into traps, where they are poisoned. Why is it so important to trap mosquitoes in Tanzania? Many mosquitoes in Africa carry the parasite that causes malaria.
Photograph by Mimi Klein, My Shot
Astronomers say three space rocks found near Pluto might actually be new dwarf planets. Astronomer Scott Sheppard and his colleagues used the reflectivity of the space rocks to determine their size. However, because the space rocks are so far away, scientists are not sure if they are spherical (which means they would need to be to be named dwarf planets). There are currently five dwarf planets: Pluto, Eris, Ceres, Haumea, and Makemake.
Illustration courtesy Dana Berry, Kepler/NASA
Mount Etna, the most active volcano in Europe, has been erupting off and on since early July. Although the volcano erupts often, the lava moves slowly, so there almost never any danger. The volcano has become more active during the last 50 years.
Photograph by Marcello Paternostro, AFP/Getty Images
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar designated six new national natural landmarks last week. One of the new landmarks, Lake Billy Chinook in Oregon, is pictured above. In a statement, Salazar said “By designating these remarkable sites in Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington as national natural landmarks, we help establish and pass down to future generations those awe-inspiring places that make America truly beautiful.”
Photograph by Buddy Mays, Alamy
The Russian team won the 10th National Geographic World Championship at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California yesterday. Russia has entered the competition every year. The Canadian team came in second place (Canada came in first last year), and Chinese Taipei came in third. The teams were awarded gold, silver, and bronze medals.
The World Championship is held every two years.
Some tiny snails in Japan can survive a trip through a bird’s digestive tract. When graduate student Shinchiro Wada and his colleagues at Tohoku University fed the Tornatellides boeningi snails to captive white-eye birds and brown-eared bulbuls birds, they noticed that about 15% of the snails passed through the birds and were pooped out alive! How do the snails survive? Wada isn’t sure. The snails are very small, which may help keep their shells from cracking. Wada says that the snails have the ability to seal off their shells with a mucus film, which may help keep the birds’ digestive fluids out.
Photograph courtesy Shinichiro Wada
Space shuttle Atlantis landed this morning, ending its mission and bringing the 30-year-old shuttle program to a close. The retired space shuttles Enterprise, Discovery, Endeavor, and Atlantis will be displayed in museums around the United States.
Photograph by Joe Skipper, Reuters