Octopuses (or octopodes) are mollusks in the Cephelopoda (literally “head-feet”) Class, along with squids, cuttlefish, and nautilus. Unlike their relatives, most octopuses lack an external or internal shell; their squishy bodies can easily squeeze through small spaces. These creatures sport eight muscular arms used for swimming, usually lined with suction cups for walking, climbing, and grasping prey. At the center point of its arms, there’s a hard beak used to crush and eat.
Friday, July 29, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Are you longing for another ride on the punctuation train? Well, long no longer! Today’s learnalittle is dedicated to the dash!
Believe it or not, there are three main types of dash, denoted by slightly different lengths and uses. The first and shortest kind is a figure dash, so named because it’s the same width as a digit in most fonts. Fittingly, the figure dash is used when joining together a series of digits, like in a Social Security number or phone number.
Monday, July 25, 2011
Make sure your laptop is fully charged, because today’s learnalittle is all about batteries.
A battery reacts two different kinds of metal to convert stored chemical energy into electricity through a series of ionic reactions. Batteries produce a strong, consistent current of electricity, ideal for powering electronic devices in a closed electrical circuit.
Friday, July 22, 2011
They say beauty is in the eye of the bee holder. Well, learnalittle… holds… um. Today’s post is about bees.
Bees are flying insects, closely related to ants and likely descended from wasps. Some bees are highly eusocial: one queen breeds for the entire colony, while female workers guard the hive, collect resources, produce honey, and tend to the queen and her young. A handful of male drones – which hatch from unfertilized eggs – exist primarily to mate with the queen. To raise new queens, workers feed select larvae protein-rich royal jelly, making them larger than the average bee and sexually mature. These new queens may leave the hive with a swarm entourage to form a new colony.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Do you have that 2:30 feeling? Forgo the energy drink and learn a little about sleep.
Sleep is a restful state of reduced or absent consciousness that occurs in all mammals, all birds, and most reptiles, amphibians, and fish. The sleep cycle is divided into two broad categories: REM (rapid eye movement) and Non-REM (or NREM) sleep; NREM sleep is further divided into three stages. In Stage 1 sleep (N1), breathing slows and the brain’s electrical activity transitions from bursts to regular brains waves. Individuals in N1 are easily woken, and may not realize they’ve been asleep. This stage is sometimes accompanied by a “falling” sensation, that may cause a hypnic jerk or sleep start – an involuntary twitching of the muscles that might wake the sleeper.
Monday, July 18, 2011
Friday, July 15, 2011
To mark this significant date in the fake magical community, today’s post dabbles in the dark past of the Salem Witch Trials.
The Salem Witch Trials were a series of court hearings held in 1692-93, addressing allegations of witchcraft in several colonial Massachusetts towns. In 1692, Betty Parris and Abigail Williams – the young daughter and niece (respectively) of Reverend Samuel Parris – began suffering episodes of uncontrollable convulsions, screaming, and grunting. Doctors could find no physiological cause, and when two other girls started reporting the same symptoms, they turned to more supernatural explanations.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
If you thought the world of hats had some ridiculously specific knowledge, wait ‘til you meet baseball statistics.
Baseball stats are the main component of sabermetrics, the objective analysis of baseball performance. The field is fraught with abbreviations and equations, so let’s start with the most basic batting stats: AB denotes the number of times per season a player is at bat, H records how often a batter reaches first base due to an uncaught hit, and R measures how often a player crosses home plate to score a run. Similarly, HR reflects total homeruns – a hit that allows the batter to circle all bases in one play.
Monday, July 11, 2011
Today on a learnalittle, get to know Mormonism (well-dressed twenty-something not included).
Mormonism is a branch of Christianity and the most prevalent religious tradition of the Latter Day Saint movement. This movement began in the 1820s Western New York, when – according to Mormon belief – Joseph Smith, Jr. discovered a set of buried golden plates inscribed with an Ancient language. Guided by God, Smith translated the plates into the Book of Mormon, one of the primary texts of the LDS movement.
Friday, July 8, 2011
Readers beware: today’s post is not for the faint of heart. If you don’t mind a little blood, then why not learn a little more about it.
Blood is a bodily fluid that plays several vital functions in animals. While humans have several types of blood cells, more than half is plasma – a solution primarily composed of water that also contains floating proteins. In addition to circulating the body’s blood cells, Plasma also distributes sugars and hormones, and removes waste such as carbon dioxide, urea, and lactic acid. Plasma also contains platelets (or thrombocytes), which form blood clots at wounds and cuts to preventive excessive bleeding.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Embrace your inner tree hugger and learn a little about the one-of-a-kind Ginkgo tree.
The Ginkgo biloba is a non-flowering plant species with no close living relatives, easily recognizable by uniquely fan-shaped leaves. When grown in sunny, well watered, and well-drained locations, ginkgoes can grow over 100 feet; some Chinese specimens are over 150 feet tall!
Monday, July 4, 2011
Friday, July 1, 2011
Let’s get biblical. Today on learnalittle, we take a good look at the Good Book.
The Bible is the central religious text of Christianity, composed of Judaic and early Christian texts written over centuries. Its name comes from the Greek biblia, meaning “books.” The plural is quite appropriate: the Bible itself is composed of many individual books, the total number varying across denominations – ranging from 66 to 81.