Research News

Magazine of the Month - Scientific American

Cover Scientific American

Maybe you heard the news that downtown Denver will be the site of a new regional U.S. Patent and Trademark Office scheduled to open by September 2014. But what you may not know is that the first branch of the U.S. Patent Agency was founded by Scientific American.

Started in 1845 by Rufus Porter, Scientific American is the oldest continuously published magazine in the U.S. Rufus Porter, an inventor himself, never stayed at any job for very long and in 1846 sold the weekly paper for $800 to Orson Desaix Munn and Alfred Ely.

Our Democracy Un-Spun! #4 - Money in Politics

Courtesy www.american.edu/media/news/20100907_2010_Primaries_Voter_Turnout.cfm/

Montana, 1890. Copper magnate William Clark runs for the U.S. Senate. He is not elected. In 1899, however, he wins the Senate seat, but opponents expose the financial corruption and bribery behind his election.

The Senate declares his election null and void. (You can read about the Senate process and the evidence in a digital image of the New York Times from April 24, 1900.

Our Democracy Un-Spun! #3 - Check Your Facts!!

Courtesy www.american.edu/media/news/20100907_2010_Primaries_Voter_Turnout.cfm/

It happens a lot during election years - a candidate confidently makes a statement of apparent fact and you wonder, “Can that possibly be true? What’s he or she basing that on?” Later, media pundits enter the fray, asserting or denying the claim’s validity with equal vehemence, muddying the water even more. What’s a conscientious voter to do?

It’s times like these when an on-call investigative journalist would come in handy to shed light on the issue before time and tide leave it behind and unresolved.

"A DAY IN POMPEII" COMING TO THE MUSEUM OF NATURE AND SCIENCE

August 24, 79 AD, started out like any other day in the thriving Roman town of Pompeii, with citizens socializing at the public baths, watching gladiator contests, preparing meals and going to school. The popular resort town was located in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius, which hadn't erupted in hundreds of years.

A series of small earthquakes in the last few days may have caused some uneasiness, however. Only seventeen years earlier, a big earthquake had caused massive damage, which the citizens of Pompeii were still trying to repair. At the time, the correlation between earthquakes and volcanic activity was unknown; but the longer a volcano is silent, the bigger the explosion when it finally does erupt.

Our Democracy Un-Spun! #2 - Beyond the Ballot Box

Democracy depends on informed citizens --- who vote!

What does it mean to you to be an American citizen?

What do you value most in our Democracy?

What issues are critical to you in the 2012 election?

If you want your views to count, you need to get involved and vote! Do you know who votes? Young people have a whole lot at stake, but typically those over 50 (about 70%) turn out in much greater numbers than those between 18-30 (about 50%). (Data from the Current Population Survey, of the U.S. Census Bureau)

Our Democracy Un-Spun! #1 - Register to Vote!

Democracy depends on informed citizens --- who vote!

Democracy - according to Webster: "...a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people .... usually involving periodically held free elections."

Voting is a fundamental right in our democracy, but that wasn’t always the case. It wasn’t even guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution!

Initially the Founding Fathers wanted voting only for wealthy, white landowners, and then only to vote for members of Congress – not for senators, or the president. What a long way we have come from the days of the original Constitution! It took many years of struggle for African Americans (15th Amendment 1870 - Voting Rights Act of 1965) to be able to vote.

PATRICIA HIGHSMITH

“Honestly, I don't understand why people get so worked up about a little murder!”
― Patricia Highsmith, Ripley Under Ground

Among the writers of crime novels and offbeat thrillers, few writers have managed to be as enduring in appeal among readers and critics alike as Patricia Highsmith, whose startlingly original creations includes one of the most singularly charming killers in all of fiction.

GIMME A BREAK - A COFFEE BREAK, THAT IS

Most Sunday mornings, I watch my favorite barista, Sonia, prepare lattes, cappuccinos, and cafe Americanos at the Market on Larimer Square. She remembers everyone's name and what they order, then proceeds to prepare it in blur of activity, all while catching up on her customers' lives or commenting on the relative difficulty or ease of the New York Times Crossword.

Sonia is one of 20 million people employed in this huge global industry; coffee is a commodity that is second only to petroleum in dollars traded worldwide. Per-capita global consumption works out to 400 cups annually, making it the world's most popular beverage.

LET THE PARTIES BEGIN - WATCHING THE SUMMER OLYMPICS

The first Olympic Games were held in 776 BCE in order to honor Zeus, while showcasing Greece's finest athletes and promoting goodwill among Greek cities. The event lasted for one day and consisted of a foot race for men only, who competed in their birthday suits and were coated in olive oil.

Today, more than 9 million spectators will watch over 10,000 athletes (nicely attired and oil-free) from more than 200 countries compete in everything from springboard diving to table tennis. Here are some tips for following the action and planning your own Olympic celebrations.

England, Great Britain, United Kingdom: What's the Difference?

Map of the UK: England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland.

Sometimes you find answers in unexpected places. I found the most succinct description I've ever seen of how England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom relate to each other in a library newsletter about travel guidebooks:

London is the capital of England.

England is a country.

Britain is an area that consists of England and the country of Wales.

  • Great Britain is the name of the island that is home to the countries of England, Wales, and Scotland.
  • The United Kingdom (UK) is a country that is a union of the countries on the island of Great Britain, along with the country of Northern Ireland (which shares the island of Ireland with the Republic of Ireland.)
  • [The Republic of Ireland is] a separate country that is not part of the UK.
  • London is also the capital of the UK.
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