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 Sat, 03 Oct 2015 01:47:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Quiet swim with a Mola Mola Fri, 02 Oct 2015 19:14:07 +0000 The Mola Mola or ocean sunfish is a gentle giant, a peaceful head of a fish with a large dorsal and ventral fin, and a clavus instead of a tail. It’s the heaviest bony fish that we know of, at 545 to 2,205 lbs (247 to 1,000 kg) on average. Mola is Latin for millstone, which refers to its gray, flat, and roundish appearance. From National Geographic:

Mola are found in temperate and tropical oceans around the world. They are frequently seen basking in the sun near the surface and are often mistaken for sharks when their huge dorsal fins emerge above the water. Their teeth are fused into a beak-like structure, and they are unable to fully close their relatively small mouths.

Ocean sunfish can become so infested with skin parasites, they will often invite small fish or even birds to feast on the pesky critters. They will even breach the surface up to 10 feet (3 meters) in the air and land with a splash in an attempt to shake the parasites…

Their food of choice is jellyfish, though they will eat small fish and huge amounts of zooplankton and algae as well. They are harmless to people, but can be very curious and will often approach divers.

This one in the video seems alright with having some temporary company. Plus, watch how their fins move (at 2m17s) when a few of them swim quickly away.

Related reading:

Check out more cartoon-like fish, like the The Lumpsucker Fish, the Starry Handfish, and these Banggai Cardinalfish eggs.

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Woolly mammoth remains discovered in a Michigan field Fri, 02 Oct 2015 16:45:41 +0000 Farmer James Bristle discovered the remains of a woolly mammoth in his newly acquired soy field near Chelsea, Michigan. In this video from the University of Michigan, you can see the skull and tusks being lifted from the excavation site, as well as other muddy ancient animal bones. Via TIME:

Dan Fisher, a University of Michigan professor who studies the extinctions of mastodons and mammoths, drove out to the site and confirmed the discovery on Thursday. He said the creature was about 40 years old and was probably killed by humans, who then stashed the remains in a pond as a means of meat storage 10,100 to 15,000 years ago.

The discovery is a major one. Fisher said there are only 10 sites in Michigan where such significant remains of a mammoth skeleton have been uncovered. reports that the University’s Museum of Paleontology team will next wash and study the bones for cut marks, a possible indication of early humans butchering the mammoth for food.

This slideshow has additional photos:

Related reading: 10 fascinating facts about woolly mammoths.

Watch this next: The life and evolution of the Woolly Mammoth. Plus, Dietary Detective & Smithsonian Scientist Briana Pobiner.

via @RachelFeltman. ]]> 0 How to grow a giant pumpkin for a giant pumpkin contest Thu, 01 Oct 2015 12:28:58 +0000 Go behind-the-scenes with competitive pumpkin grower Don Young of Des Moines, Iowa. Young’s largest pumpkin weighed in at 1,662 pounds (754 kg) in 2007, and in this Iowa Public Television report from 2012, he goes for another record, despite being up against a few challenges: The heat, a drought, and some pretty big competitors. From The New York Times:

With the right seeds and soil preparations, veterans say, it’s fairly easy to grow an impressively large pumpkin. But the hobby’s elite, while still amateurs, operate on a different playing field. These growers spend hundreds of dollars on laboratory analyses of soil and plant tissues to help them decide whether to add more nitrogen, say, or calcium. And they speed photosynthesis by spraying their plants’ leaves with carbon dioxide…

Extreme gardening involves money and sacrifice. Mr. Young wakes up in the middle of the night to check his pumpkins. He uses 27,000 gallons of water a month — nearly enough to supply a family of four for a year — and he has 80 sprinkler heads. He runs heat lamps all night after planting seeds in the chilly April ground, and cools his gourds with fans in sweltering midsummer heat. He can’t remember the last time he took a vacation.

Watch Young enter his giant squash into the 2012 Iowa State Fair contest, a follow-up to his months of work in the garden:

Now for the record books: The heaviest pumpkin in the world was 2,323 pounds (1,054 kg), grown in Switzerland by Beni Meier in 2014. The largest in North America is a 2015, 2145.5 pound (973.2 kg) gourd grown by Gene McMullen from Streator, Illinois.

Next: Carve them! Ray Villafane turns pumpkins into artfully carved Jack-o’-lanterns and How to make Halloween pumpkins with scary teeth. ]]> 0
The Journey of Vanilla – From Plant to Extract Thu, 01 Oct 2015 08:38:33 +0000 Mix 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract into the cookie dough, order Vanilla Caramel Fudge at the ice cream shop, or take a closer look at some vanilla beans at the store. What is vanilla and where does it come from? This Eater animation explains: The Journey of Vanilla – From Plant to Extract. From Wikipedia:

Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican people cultivated the vine of the vanilla orchid, called tlilxochitl by the Aztecs. Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés is credited with introducing both vanilla and chocolate to Europe in the 1520s.

Initial attempts to cultivate vanilla outside Mexico and Central America proved futile because of the symbiotic relationship between the vanilla orchid and its natural pollinator, the local species of Melipona bee. Pollination is required to set the fruit from which the flavoring is derived. In 1837, Belgian botanist Charles François Antoine Morren discovered this fact and pioneered a method of artificially pollinating the plant. The method proved financially unworkable and was not deployed commercially. In 1841, Edmond Albius, a slave who lived on the French island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean, discovered at the age of 12 that the plant could be hand-pollinated. Hand-pollination allowed global cultivation of the plant.

Watch these next: Cinnamon – Harvesting Cassia in the Jungles of Sumatra, Who grows the cocoa in your chocolate bar?, and How does garlic grow? ]]> 0
Jelly Tennis – The Slow Mo Guys Thu, 01 Oct 2015 07:30:31 +0000 When Gav and Dan were told about a still photo that showed Jell-O (or jelly in the UK) being hit by a tennis racket, they decided to recreate it in slow motion. This Slow Mo Guys video is the colorful, sticky, splattery, gummy wormy result.

Related reading at Physics Central: If you fell into a swimming pool full of Jello, would you be able to swim to the other side?

Watch these next: A racket flattens a tennis ball at 142 mph in slow motion and more Jell-O slow mo: Gelatin cubes dropped onto solid surface in slow motion.

Also: More Slow Mo Guys on this site. ]]> 0 AIDAprima time lapse cruise ship construction Thu, 01 Oct 2015 03:46:44 +0000 In March, 2015, this full construction time lapse of the AIDAprima cruise ship was posted to YouTube. In October, 2015, the flagship will have left the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ shipyard in Nagasaki, Japan to embark on its maiden voyage from Yokohama to Hamburg, Germany. The price tag: 535 million euros.

In service, the ship will accommodate 3,300 passengers in 1,643 staterooms, with 900 crew. The ship’s 984 ft long by 123 ft wide (300 m by 37,6 m) body weighs 124,500 tons and can travel at 22 knots or around 25 mph.

AIDAprima appears to have been constructed in large pre-built sections in rain or shine, hauled in by giant cranes and secured by workers that often look as small as ants. Also: Tugboats!

Watch this next: Building the World’s Largest Ship (in 76 seconds). ]]> 0
How do plants grow in space? – Science Friday Wed, 30 Sep 2015 17:39:39 +0000 Microgravity, different kinds of light, extreme conditions… Growing while in orbit or on Mars are two experiences that earthbound organisms have never needed to adapt to in our evolutionary history. How do our bodies react to long-term weightlessness and radiation, and can we grow food in these conditions? How do plants behave when they’re in space?

Dr. Anna-Lisa Paul and Dr. Robert Ferl are studying just that in Florida at the Space Plants Lab, as well as on parabolic flights, and with experiments that have traveled to the International Space Station and back. From The Conversation: Taking plants off planet:

Plants make especially great research subjects if you’re interested in environmental stress. Because they’re stuck in one spot – what we biologists call sessile organisms – plants must cleverly deal in place with whatever their environment throws at them. Moving to a more favorable spot isn’t an option, and they can do little to alter the environment around them.

But what they can do is alter their internal “environment” – and plants are masters of manipulating their metabolism to cope with perturbations of their surroundings. This characteristic is one of the reasons we use plants in our research; we can count on them to be sensitive reporters of environmental change, even in novel environments like spaceflight.

In this episode of The Macroscope, Science Friday reports on the Lab’s findings as we try to better understand Plants in Space… and on Earth.

Watch this SciFri next: Unwinding the Cucumber Tendril Mystery. ]]> 0
LeVar Burton Takes a Ride in a Driverless Car – Reading Rainbow Wed, 30 Sep 2015 16:22:47 +0000 Self driving car videos often focus on the possible fun of rider experiences or the usefulness of computerized driving, but we’d also like to know more about the technology. How do driverless cars avoid crashing into things around them?

In this Reading Rainbow field trip to Israel, LeVar Burton gives us a glimpse at collision-avoidance technology when he takes a ride in a car that’s equipped to drive autonomously.

Watch more Reading Rainbow and more driverless car videos on this site.

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Quirkology’s 10 Amazing Optical Illusions (and how to make them) Wed, 30 Sep 2015 06:58:25 +0000 From former magician/current author and British psychologist Richard Wiseman, enjoy these 10 amazing DIY optical illusions that you can try at home: A LEGO impossible object, a kiwi triangle, an appearing straw, an upside down photo, sad and happy money, an infinity photo, a reversing glass of water, a checkerboard optical illusion, and finally, a floating dice (or cube) illusion, which includes a template (pdf).

Previously: Three quirky sleight of hand illusions by Richard Wiseman, the reversing arrow illusion, and How to make the Amazing T-Rex Illusion.

via Laughing Squid. ]]> 0 Rescuing Leftover Cuisine & working together to reduce food waste Tue, 29 Sep 2015 17:06:10 +0000 Rescuing Leftover Cuisine co-founder Robert Lee is working with a team of volunteers to deliver excess restaurant food to food pantries and homeless shelters in New York City. This video from Mic explains RLC’s mission, one of a long list of excellent solutions to the challenge of food waste.

As reported by The New York Times in February 2015, “a third of all food produced in the world is never consumed, and the total cost of that food waste could be as high as $400 billion a year.” It happens during harvesting at farms, when food is transported, when it’s packaged, when it’s in our grocery stores, and in our homes. This waste is especially challenging when food insecurity — not having reliable access to a proper amount of healthy, affordable food — is something that affects one in every nine people on the planet.

RLC is not alone in its mission to reduce food waste. There are high-tech solutions and practical, local solutions available to all of us: buying locally, reducing food portions, storing food more efficiently, composting, and more. With A Few Simple Changes, Denmark Is Radically Reducing Its Food Waste, and there’s a French campaign that celebrates “Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables” to raise awareness that not-so-picture-perfect food is still nutritious food:

Related DIY: Chocolate and Zucchini’s Clean-Out-the-Fridge Soup Recipe, Fridge-Clearing Cooking Without a Recipe at The Kitchn, and more hints and tips for wasting less at home.

And if it’s too old to eat, compostable food scraps can be used to power and heat homes and/or to transform worn out farm dirt into nutrient-rich soil.

Learn more with these excellent videos: The Surprising Places We Waste Energy and Love Food Hate Waste. ]]> 0
Discovered! A “glowing” biofluorescent hawksbill sea turtle Tue, 29 Sep 2015 15:49:43 +0000 You’re on a night dive in the Solomon Islands to film biofluorescence in small sharks and corals. Your underwater camera system includes a blue light and a yellow filter that blocks out blue light, allowing you to see biofluorescent organisms. Suddenly, a “bright red-and-green spaceship” glides by. It’s a sea turtle. And it’s fluorescing, too.

This is what happened to marine biologist David Gruber, who recorded the critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle “glowing” on video. It’s the first time that a reptile has been shown to fluoresce — to absorb light and re-emit it at a lower energy level as a different color — and further investigation of other local hawksbills have shown the same ability.

What use might biofluorescence be to a sea turtle? Perhaps it helps with finding mates, or camouflaging, or perhaps it works to their advantage in a way that we haven’t imagined yet, but we do know that any creature with a yellow intraocular filter sees the glowing patterns on the sea turtle’s shell and head.

Watch this next: The Difference Between Bioluminescence and Fluorescence. Plus: More turtle videos.

via @NatGeo.

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Fold & Cut Theorem – Cut any shape from only one cut Mon, 28 Sep 2015 07:36:34 +0000 Can you cut a square from the center of a piece of paper with just one straight cut? Spoiler: YES, you can. In this Numberphile video, Manchester-based mathematician Dr. Katie Steckles demonstrates an idea that dates back to 1721 in Japan: The Fold and Cut Theorem. It states that “any shape with straight sides can be cut from a single (idealized) sheet of paper by folding it flat and making a single straight complete cut.” Any polygon, just one snip.

Stars? Yes. Jackolanterns? Yes. All 26 letters of the alphabet? Dr. Steckles demonstrates that! Plus, be sure to check out these DIY printable examples at, and/or try making up a few on your own.

File under: origami, paper cutting, and math.

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How the Baccarat crystal studio makes a blown crystal chandelier Mon, 28 Sep 2015 06:17:06 +0000 Made from melted silica sand, potash, lead (over 24%), and other ingredients, crystal is heavier and more sparkly than glass, making it a perfect material for this light refracting decorative ceiling lamp: The chandelier. Watch how the Baccarat crystal studio makes a blown crystal chandelier in this episode of How It’s Made.

Watch these next: The Chandelier Tree – Silver Lake’s twinkling neighborhood gem, more glass, and more glass blowing videos.

via Colossal.

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Why Do We Put Telescopes in Space? – MinutePhysics Mon, 28 Sep 2015 05:24:23 +0000 If we have excellent telescopes here on Earth, why is it so important to put telescopes like the Hubble Space Telescope into space? This MinutePhysics video explains the challenges of being an earthbound telescope, from daylight, to light pollution, to the weather, to the air itself.

Related reading: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to Hubble, slated to launch in October, 2018.

Watch this next: The Hubble Space Telescope Reflects the Cosmos. Plus, the Giant Magellan Telescope in the Chilean desert, due for completion in 2025.

via @thephysicsgirl. ]]> 0 Millipedes: The First Land Animals – The Brain Scoop Fri, 25 Sep 2015 17:20:30 +0000 Famous for their many legs, millipedes are arthropods that date back more than 420 million years. As detritivores, their vegetarian diet of leaf litter and other organic matter helps to keep our ecosystems in balance on every continent except Antarctica.

In this episode of The Brain Scoop, Emily Graslie meets with The Field Museum‘s Associate Curator Dr. Petra Sierwald, arachnologist and millipede expert, to get a close up looks at these mysterious, multi-legged creatures.

Watch more Brain Scoop videos and more videos about detritivores on this site.

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