Author: Karen Harris

ink, color

The Colorful Medieval World: Mixing Ancient Ink Colors

Fortunately for us, many medieval-era documents, books, and manuscripts have survived the ten or twelve centuries since the Middle Ages. Not only do these artifacts provide scholars and historians with vital information about life, laws, culture, and society of the Middle Ages, but they provide scientists and chemists with tangible evidence to tell us how …

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sharks, hammerhead

The Nose Knows: Crazy Animal Schnozzes

From elephants to star-nose moles to proboscis monkeys to hammerhead sharks, some animals have really odd noses. Let’s talk noses. For humans, noses enable us to smell and breath, as well as providing us a place to perch our sunglasses. Animals rely more on their noses, particularly their sense of smell. It enables them to …

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death ray, archimedes

Greek Fire and the Archimedes Death Ray: Could These Ancient Weapons Have Actually Worked?

Legends from antiquity talk of two different weapons used in warfare, Greek fire and the Archimedes death ray. In fact, both of these weapons have been mentioned in some of the popular medieval fantasy books, movies, and television series, like Game of Thrones. But what exactly were these two cool-sounding ancient weapons and could they …

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alligator, gator, animals

Chilly Alligators and the Process of Brumation

As reptiles, alligators are cold-blooded and need the heat of their surroundings for their body warmth. Fortunately, alligators are found in tropical and subtropical habitats so it is not uncommon for them to experience freezing temperatures. Weather patterns in recent years, however, have gone awry and occasionally, a cold snap hits a normally balmy region. …

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Petoskey stones, stones, rocks

Michigan’s State Rock is an Ancient Sea Creature

More than 350 million years ago, warm, shallow seas covered many parts of North America, including much of the Midwest. During this time period, known as the Devonian era, these shallow waters were teaming with salt water marine life. Fish, mussels, crustaceans, and micro-organisms flourished in the region. In addition to the other sea animals, …

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The Pickerel Frog: Not Your Ordinary Amphibian

The Pickerel frog, Lithobates palustris, is unique among North American frogs. Common in the clear, cool ponds and streams of the northeastern and eastern United States and Canada, as well as the coastal swamps and marshes of the south, the Pickerel Frog is plentiful in the wild. In fact, International Union for Conservation of Nature …

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mountains, geology

Why Was the Volcano Mount St. Helens So Deadly?

When Mount St. Helens in the cascade mountain range in Washington State erupted on May 18, 1980, the landscape of the mountain was forever changed. The eruption blew off the top 1,000 feet of the volcanic mountain’s summit and sent ash and debris nearly 10,000 feet into the air. The volcano had been rumbling back …

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Bradford Pear: A Lesson in Toying with Invasive Species

Today, we know that introducing a foreign species into a habitat, no matter how benign it seems to be, is a really bad idea. The Bradford pear is one prime example of this. The small and decorative tree was a staple of the thousands of new subdivisions that sprung up across the country between the …

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Carlos Finlay: Mosquitoes, Yellow Fever, and a Big Case of “I Told You So”

Pop Quiz – What animal is responsible for the most human deaths every year? If you said “shark” or “alligator” or “snake”, you would be wrong. Sure, these animals are dangerous, but they actually result in very few human deaths each year. The animal that poses the biggest threat to humans is the mosquito. Mosquitoes …

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