The Kid Should See This Smart videos for curious minds of all ages: Science, art, nature, animals, space, technology, DIY, food, music, animation, and more Mon, 24 Apr 2017 06:40:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The three different ways mammals give birth Mon, 24 Apr 2017 06:23:10 +0000

All mammals share certain characteristics, like warm blood and backbones. But despite their similarities, these creatures also have many biological differences — and one of the most remarkable differences is how they give birth. Kate Slabosky details the placental, marsupial, and monotreme methods of giving birth.

Read more about this lesson at TED Ed.

Next: Rare baby platypus footage + a closer look at monotremes, a baby echidna (a puggle) hatches from an egg, and The Science of Milk.

Bonus reptile footage: An anaconda gives birth underwater. ]]> 0 Cheesecake the Capybara Fosters Puppies Mon, 24 Apr 2017 04:36:22 +0000 At Rocky Ridge Refuge animal sanctuary in northern Arkansas, a mix of around 50-60 rescued animals are given care and shelter. Many live there temporarily as the sanctuary looks to place them in permanent homes. Other animals are permanent residents who help make the shelter unique… like Cheesecake the Capybara.

The capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) is the largest rodent in the world… Close relatives are guinea pigs and rock cavies, and it is more distantly related to the agouti, chinchillas, and the coypu. Native to South America, the capybara inhabits savannas and dense forests and lives near bodies of water. It is a highly social species and can be found in groups as large as 100 individuals, but usually lives in groups of 10–20 individuals.

Capybaras are known for their communal parenting. In this 2013 clip from Animal Planet’s The World’s Oddest Animal Couples, Liz Bonnin speaks with Rocky Ridge Refuge founder Janice Wolf about Cheesecake’s role as a foster mother to puppy litters that stay at the refuge.

There are more capybaras and more mothers on this site, including a mother orangutan cuddling her baby and a mother raccoon teaches her kit how to climb a tree.

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Drones help scientists study Guatemalan volcanoes Fri, 21 Apr 2017 13:24:28 +0000

A team of volcanologists and engineers from the Universities of Cambridge and Bristol has collected measurements from directly within volcanic clouds, together with visual and thermal images of inaccessible volcano peaks at Volcán de Fuego and Volcán de Pacaya in Guatemala.

Collected by a custom fixed wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), the data may help researchers better understand what’s going on inside volcanoes, as well as help them predict the timing and size of future eruptions. Dr. Emma Liu narrates as the drone flies through the clouds, approaching these geological wonders as they erupt.

Next: Flying over Yasur Volcano as it erupts, time lapse eruption videos of Chile’s Calbuco Volcano, Eruption at Iceland’s Bardabunga Volcano, and Building a Volcano-bot.

via Gizmodo. ]]> 0 A woodworker creates ‘Fibonacci Spiral shavings’ Fri, 21 Apr 2017 12:31:51 +0000 With a freshly sharpened chisel, woodworker Paul Sellers creates what he calls ‘Fibonacci spiral shavings,’ shaved pieces of wood that resemble Fibonacci spirals, “an approximation of the golden spiral created by drawing circular arcs connecting the opposite corners of squares in the Fibonacci tiling.”

For examples in nature, check out logarithmic spirals and How Stuff Works’ How are Fibonacci numbers expressed in nature?

Watch more math, more geometry, more carving videos, and more workshop videos, including The art of Japanese marquetry and making a wooden lampshade from a tree stump.

via Colossal.

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The Heart of Maker Faire, a community-inspired light installation Thu, 20 Apr 2017 17:17:52 +0000 Within each of these jars, someone has written and enclosed a note about what is in their heart. The blinking lights, RGB LEDs that illuminate the sealed jars from below, are set to echo the heart rate of each note writer, measured and programmed in that moment. As the shelves are filled with more notes, The Heart of Maker Faire beats stronger and brighter, a pulsating, poetic time capsule of the event and of those who “each left a little of themselves behind.”

The installation, conceived and built by Jonathan Sanderson and Joe Shimwell of NUSTEM at Northumbria University, premiered in early April 2017 at Maker Faire UK in Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s Centre for Life science museum. It was created with five Raspberry Pis, FadeCandy boards, 2,200 RGB LEDs (NeoPixels), ESP8266 controllers, and the heartfelt contribution of 450 Maker Faire UK attendees. Visit for the technical nitty gritty on how the heart works.

Previously from Sanderson: How to build your own Wave Machine physics demo, Electromagnetic Induction, How to make Pearls of Water, and a LEGO Dragon self-assembles with stop motion animation.

Plus: More art installations, including Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors, CLOUD: An Interactive Sculpture Made from 6,000 Light Bulbs, a time lapse of Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing 797, and Karina Smigla-Bobinski’s ADA. ]]> 0 How many nails can you balance on the head of one nail? Thu, 20 Apr 2017 04:33:42 +0000 One large nail is securely nailed into a piece of wood. A handful of identical nails are laying on the table. How many of those loose nails can you balance on the head of that first nail?

Try it, then watch knife maker and YouTuber Patrick Roehrman as he demonstrates this Unbelievable Carpentry Trick.

Learn more cool tricks and activities, including these 10 easy & amazing paper stunts, How to Make Balancing Sculptures, and how to make Leonardo da Vinci’s self-supporting bridge.

Bonus inspiration: Rigolo Swiss Nouveau Cirque artist Maedir Eugster and Beethoven’s Ninth on a Toolbox Glockenspiel.

via @wmsartteacher.

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POLI’AHU, a time lapse at Mauna Kea’s Astronomical Observatories Wed, 19 Apr 2017 15:22:08 +0000 presents POLI’AHU, a time lapse trip above the clouds to Mauna Kea in Hawaii, an inactive volcano 14,000 feet above sea level. Much of the mountain is under water; when measured from its oceanic base, Mauna Kea is over 10,000 m (33,000 ft) tall. In Hawaiian mythology, Poliʻahu is one of the four goddesses of snow, thought to reside on Mauna Kea. Today, the mountain is known as one of the most important land-based astronomical research centers in the world.

The Skyglow Project is a time lapse series and astrophotography book by Harun Mehmedinovic and Gavin Heffernan that explores North America’s Dark Sky Preserves and the proliferation of light pollution.

Learn more about the Mauna Kea Observatories (MKO).

Previously from SkyGlow: Dishdance. Plus, more Hawaii and more videos about light pollution, including Borrowed Light, Star Parties, why we put telescopes in space, and What Happened to the Milky Way?

via Laughing Squid. ]]> 0 Each Tree Is Its Own Adventure: Climbing giant sequoias for science Wed, 19 Apr 2017 05:02:58 +0000 Among the planet’s longest-living organisms—3,000+ years and growing—giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum) can seem pretty indestructible. They’re thought to be mostly disease, fire, and drought resistant thanks to their brilliant biology, but California’s years of severe drought have caused the browning of trees across the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

Enter UC Berkeley forest ecologists Wendy Baxter and Anthony Ambrose. They mix science with adventure, climbing these incredible giants to collect foliage samples that can help determine the sequoias’ health and conservation needs. From

Giant sequoias, like all trees, play a central role in the hydrologic cycle. Storms drop rain and snow, which giant sequoias can chug to the tune of 800 gallons per day—more than any other tree. As the trees draw water out of the ground, the air surrounding the leaves draws water through the trees and, eventually, back into the atmosphere. That process, called transpiration, creates tension within the tree’s water columns. The drier the atmosphere and the less groundwater available, the higher the tension. Under extreme drought conditions, when that tension grows too high, those columns of water can snap like a rubber band. Gas bubbles form, creating an embolism that prevents the flow of water up the trunk. If this happens enough, a tree will shed its leaves and can, eventually, die.

To measure water tension and other biological processes, climbers sample each tree twice a day, once under cool pre-dawn conditions when the tree is least stressed, and once under the heat of the midday sun. The scientists clip foliage from the lower and upper canopies, which allows them to assess conditions at different parts of the tree.

Read more about this awesome work at bioGraphic: Last Tree Standing.

Plus: An illuminating illustration of how giant sequoias overcome gravity by Jane Kim, who illustrated the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Wall of Birds.

Related videos: Why the Giant Sequoia Needs Fire to Grow and Magnificent Giant Tree: Sequoia in a Snowstorm.

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How to wait for a very long time Tue, 18 Apr 2017 05:08:35 +0000

How to wait for a very long time is a short film about a fisherman who is obsessed with catching a certain fish. His whole life he tries to make a big haul, but just catches other fishes instead. Over time he gets frustrated and is not able to value the beautiful nature around him. He forgets that the journey is the reward.”

The animated short is by Salzburg, Austria-based artist Jill Goritschnig. See more of her process on Behance.

Next: The Girl and the Fox & Stay In Queue: A lesson about staying in line.

via The Awesomer.

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Readying the Webb Telescope for Launch Tue, 18 Apr 2017 04:35:32 +0000 Launching “the most sophisticated space science telescope ever constructed” into space is a complex process, and testing is a huge part of it. The James Webb Space Telescope‘s intricate hardware and technical systems must endure both the vibrations of take-off and the extreme cold of space. JWST Program Director Eric Smith explains via

“Webb has many interconnected parts of different stiffnesses. All those parts – including the folded, stowed instruments and mirrors – have to survive launch at room temperature. These elements must then all come together seamlessly in extreme cold to form perfect optical images. All materials change shape as they cool. A flower blossom, a marshmallow, even some metals, will shatter or break if hyper-frozen and dropped onto a hard surface or bent.”

“All of Webb’s components, once assembled, must cool and move in precisely the right way so that the ultra-fine optical tolerances are met when everything is cold. Think of being able to repeatedly parallel park your car and know the position of your back bumper to within a 10th of a diameter of a human hair. That’s how accurate we must be in knowing the position of our mirror surfaces.”

JWST is scheduled to launch in October 2018 after further assembly, as well as critical cryogenic, vibration, and acoustic testing rounds. Read more about this telescope at Wikipedia and NASA.

Follow this with the 1995 Hubble photo that changed astronomy, The Beauty of Space Photography, and Why Do We Put Telescopes in Space?

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Why peregrine falcons are the fastest animals on earth Mon, 17 Apr 2017 19:08:03 +0000

Peregrine falcons are the fastest animals of the land—and it’s no wonder, their bodies are built for speed. While cheetahs can run up to 70 mph on land, peregrine falcons can dive at speed of over 200 mph. That’s faster than a 100 mph sneeze and around the same speed as a Formula One racing car. Peregrines are light in weight, aerodynamically shaped, and have robust respiratory systems; all of which allows them to be the fastest birds of prey, and animals in general. Peregrine falcon numbers took a massive hit during much of the 20th century in North America. They became nearly extinct because of pesticides, specifically DDT. The chemical made the falcon’s—and many other birds — eggshells thinner, preventing the embryos from developing, in addition to poisoning adult falcons. In 1972, DDT was banned and recovery efforts for peregrine falcons began soon after. By 1999, with concerted effort peregrine falcons saw their numbers increase dramatically and were removed the Endangered Species list.

From Gina Barton and Vox: Why peregrine falcons are the fastest animals on earth. Read more at Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s

Next: The silent flight superpower of a stealthy predator, the Kingfisher hunts for fish on the River Shannon, and how small of a space can a Northern Goshawk fly through?.

Bonus: The American Kestrel falcon’s head stabilization skills.

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Catching butterflies with the longest butterfly net in the world Mon, 17 Apr 2017 17:37:02 +0000 Travel into the rainforest of Pimpilala, Ecuador with conservation educator and naturalist Phil Torres as he looks for butterflies with Dr. Susan Finkbeiner. As an entomologist and evolutionary biologist, she uses the longest butterfly net in the world to catch Heliconius butterflies so that she can research their coloration, behavior, and vision.

Previous travel with Torres: A night adventure to see Nicaragua’s sea turtles.

Next: Blue morpho butterflies emerge from their chrysalises and What Gives the Morpho Butterfly Its Magnificent Blue? ]]> 0 Oxygen’s surprisingly complex journey through your body Fri, 14 Apr 2017 06:11:53 +0000

Oxygen forms about 21% of the air around us. In your body, oxygen forms a vital role in the production of energy in most cells. But if gases can only efficiently diffuse across tiny distances, how does oxygen reach the cells deep inside your body?

Oxygen’s journey through our bodies is surprisingly complex! Enda Butler and TED Ed explain in this video.

Next, watch The Cycle: Carbon and Oxygen and You and They Might Be Giants’ The Bloodmobile. Plus, more videos about the human body.

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Swarm Of Locusts Devour Everything In Their Path Fri, 14 Apr 2017 05:29:37 +0000 Behold this incredible footage of a desert locust swarm, captured for the BBC’s Planet Earth and narrated by Sir David Attenborough. Some background from Wikipedia sets the stage:

Plagues of desert locusts have threatened agricultural production in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia for centuries. The livelihood of at least one-tenth of the world’s human population can be affected by this voracious insect.

The desert locust is potentially the most dangerous of the locust pests because of the ability of swarms to fly rapidly across great distances. It has two to five generations per year. The last major desert locust upsurge in 2004–05 caused significant crop losses in West Africa and had a negative impact on food security in the region. While the desert locust alone is not responsible for famines, it can be an important contributing factor…

It is estimated that desert locusts consume the equivalent of their body weight (2 g (0.07 oz)) each day in green vegetation. They are polyphagous and feed on leaves, shoots, flowers, fruit, seeds, stems and bark. Nearly all crops, and noncrop plants, are eaten including pearl millet, maize, sorghum, barley, rice, pasture grasses, sugarcane, cotton, fruit trees, date palms, banana plants, vegetables and weeds.

File under: Food chain and swarms. Next, watch an Epic Catapulting Locust In Slow Motion.

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Rests: Sometimes Music is Silence – Classical MPR Fri, 14 Apr 2017 04:41:19 +0000 The next time you’re listening to your favorite song or piece of music, try listening for the pauses within it. Those pauses are musical rests, and they’re just as important to the music as the musical notes are. You can see rests in sheet music, too. From wikipedia:

Rests are intervals of silence in pieces of music, marked by symbols indicating the length of the pause. Each rest symbol and name corresponds with a particular note value, indicating how long the silence should last, generally as a multiplier of a measure or whole note.

Ulysses the unicyclist helps demonstrate these pauses in Rests: Sometimes Music is Silence from Classical Minnesota Public Radio‘s Class Notes series. They also have corresponding curriculum (pdf).

Watch these next: Jazz Fundamentals, how to read music, and how playing an instrument benefits your brain. ]]> 0