FCT Library Blog



Meteor Sparks “Gold Rush” in Russia 

meteor-from-neighborhood-smOn Friday, February 15, 2013, a meteor crashed near the city of Chelyabinsk in Russia. It occurred about 9:20 AM local time, as people were driving to work and others already at work. More than 1000 people were injured (400 treated) by shattering glass and other injurious effects. The effects were caused not by the crash itself, but when shockwaves from the incoming meteor broke the sound barrier. NASA estimates the energy release from the actual crash was about 500 kilotons.

NASA: Russia Meteor Not Linked to Asteroid Flyby

Russian Meteor Blast Bigger Than Thought (nice, short video and short article here)


The gold rush begins for fragments of Russian meteor selling for up to
£6500 each as astronomers warn UK had a lucky escape

Meteorite fragments spark Russia's newest gold rush

U. S. Political Cartoon

Meteor Showers in 2013
(Data from meteorscan.com)

Quadrantids - January 3rd       meteor-contrail-sm
Lyrids - April 21/22
Eta Aquarids - May 5/6th
Perseids - August 12th
Orionids - October 21st
Leonids - November 17th
Geminids - December 13th


Aaron Schwarz Memorial

At age 14, Aaron Schwartz co-created RSS,aaron-swartz Really Simple Syndication, a software communications technology now used 100's of millions of times a day, the world over. A few years ago, Aaron led a people's movement against Congress, and surpassed the computer industry's flagging attempts, to defeat SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act. He also co-founded Reddit. Last Friday, January 11, 2013, this remarkable 26-year-old committed suicide. 

All suicides are a tragedy for, at the very least, those who knew and loved the deceased. In this case, it is a tragedy for the world, especially for those of us who cherish youthful idealism and genius. More about this story will surely emerge. Yet, it is known that he was being hounded by federal prosecutors in great disproportion to the impact of his illegal acts. A person interviewed on NPR stated he believed that Aaron felt "his back was against the wall."

Here is a viewpoint from the Remembrance/Memorial Page, written by someone named Brian McConnell: "His crime was basically to photocopy obscure academic articles, not to make a profit, but to make the point that rent-seeking “publishers” shouldn’t be granted a monopoly to charge for access to other people’s research that the public has already paid for."

I do not know the facts of the legal case or whether Mr. McConnell's remards address the essence of it. However, the issue he addresses is about keeping the freedom of the Internet while also protecting intellectual property rights. The quote refers to a not-new and growing topical movement, rising among private and academic researchers of all ages. When the taxpayer has--in many cases--and certainly the researchers' institution has, paid for research, why should it be ethical and right that information vendors own the copyright to this information and/or be allowed to reap disproportionate revenue, and for many decades? (This means, disproportionate to the amount of value they have added to the information product.)

This death breaks my heart.  You may or may not feel the same. If you would like to comment (now or later), please write me your thoughts and feelings. It might be helpful, especially if you, like I, were not aware of Aaron as a person before this happened, to read some of the content on the Remembrance/Memorial Page, link below, prior to writing your thoughts.

Carol Bell
Fountainhead Librarian


1. NPR News Article on the death: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/01/12/169235633/aaron-swartz-reddit-cofounder-and-online-activist-dead-at-26

2. Memorial/Remembrances Page: http://rememberaaronsw.tumblr.com/.  There are photos of Aaron and eulogies.

3. Wikipedia article about  SOPA and the alternative legislation that Wikipedia supports: OPEN (Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act) : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_Online_Piracy_Act.

4. Wikkipedia article about Reddit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reddit


January Notes 2013

The word “January” means door. In Latin, it’s Ianua (Yahn-you-ah)—referring to “the doorway into the new year.” So, January was named after the door concept and also the god of the doorway Ianuarius (Yahn-you-ahr-ee-us). In English, this name is transformed into “Janus.” You probably have heard that Janus also means two-faced. That stems from the fact that there are two ways of looking through a door. Supposedly, January and February were added to the Roman calendar about 713 BCE. Before that, there were only 10 months plus a period each year during the cold time that was not considered a month. March was the first “month.” In other places and times in old Europe, this time of year was called variously, Wolf Month (Saxon lands), Winter Month (Charlemagne’s empire), and Millet Bread Month (Slovenia). [All this, according to Wikipedia.]



Carnation is the January flower. They are of the genus Dianthus. Also called Cottage Pink.





 In the United States, January 1 is the anniversary of the signing by President Abraham Lincoln of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. About a century later, the month of January came to contain the memorial holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. respecting and honoring him for his leadership and sacrifice to advance the civil rights of people of color. In so doing, he helped to liberate us all from the psychological and spiritual bonds and burdens associatmartin-luther-kinged weak personal and collective integrity. We were all freed from that  state which unavoidably accompanied that worldview in which all people were not treated equally in the sight of the law and in the values of the greater society.









On a lighter note, January contains the anniversary of the post-WWII invention by Walter Frederick Morrison that he originally called a Pluto Platter. When he sold the rights to the Wham-O Company in 1957, they renamed it the Frisbee. This is trademarked name which, like Coca Cola and Kleenex, has passed into common parlance as a generic name.



December Trivia 2012

Holidays and More Holidays.

Holly, a "December flower," has separate male and female plants (is dioecious).






Above, female holly flowers with green pistils.    
Below, male holly flowers with yellow stamens. 







These photos are not from the same species, but are chosen for their clarity. There are somewhere between 400-600 species of holly in the world.

December in the Northern Hemisphere is the month of shortest days and longest nights. For this reason, humans on this side of the earth have for thousands of years celebrated rituals and ceremonies pertaining to the loss and return of light, both physically and spiritually, at this time of the year. These include: Solstice, Yule, Christmas, Hannukah (Festival of Lights), and New Year’s. Hannukah, however, is mainly a celebration of a historical liberation of the Jewish people of from poltical oppression by the Romans by way of a miracle.

Another holiday held about the same time is Kwanzaa (December 26-January 1). This is a celebration created primarily by and for members and descendants of the African Diaspora, and focusing on positive values. Finally, Festivus (December 23) was created in the U.S. in 1966 as a non-religious and non-commercial celebration for those who preferred it. There is a slogan: “Festivus for the rest of us.” Festivus received a large boost in popularity when it was celebrated in a Seinfeld episode in 1997.

In the U.S., other December remembrances, unrelated to the season, include:

   Bill of Rights Day (15th) and
   Pearl Harbor Day (6th).

December 10th is the day that Nobel Prizes are awarded.
December 23rd is the traditional Emperor's Birthday in Japan.

December 16th is Day of Reconciliation in South Africa. It was created in 1994 to foster national unity and reconciliation, when apartheid came to an end.







Holly shrub with berries.
Holly berries are poisonous to humans.





November Trivia 2012

Chrysanthemums. And, on the lighter side, No Shave month.

For people of the United States, not only is November the month of Thanksgiving (4th Thursday), it is also the month of Veterans Day (11th) and the day that Christopher Columbus discovered, for Europeans, the island of Puerto Rico (19th in 1493). By ironic (?) contrast, November is also Native American Heritage Month.  

Elections. Every four years, on doubly even-numbered years, a presidential election is held in the United States on the Tuesday that falls between November 2 and November 8. Every two years, coincident with the presidential cycle, about one-third of all U.S. senators are elected.

The Leonids Meteor Shower reaches its peak around November 17th

On the lighter side, November is No Shave month. November also provides a day of choice. On the day following Thanksgiving, one may either participate in Black Friday, the major shopping day of the year, or protest commercialism by observing Buy Nothing Day. The Monday following Thanksgiving should be of interest to some of our students, as it is the on which Cyber Monday is observed.

The flower for November is Chrysanthemum.

 mums-pinkChrysanthemums are known to have been grown as far back as the 1400s BCE in China. The chrysanthemum is the official emblem of the royal dynasty of Japan. The installation of a new emperor is known as "assuming the Chrysanthemum Throne." In India, many tons of chrysanthemums are grown each year; and as they are very popular, blossoms are sold by street vendors by weight.


mums-white-by-weight  mums-in-field

 mums-lite-purple   mum-white-pompom










Robot Horses. Original inventors of the Internet, the Defense Research Projects Agency site.  Lots of cool photos and videos posted on official DARPA Facebook site. Photos from the 50s and 60s. Wall photos. Cover photos. Rockets.




Spider Math



"Spider Math and Bat Physics."  A fun article discussing which superhero feats are realistic and which are not.






Gambian Epauletted Fruit Bat


"Red Jersied Football Player"

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