Science and Technology

The Power of Magnetism

What do the Earth, electric motors, and your computer all have in common?
These things are all influenced by magnets.

The Earth has a liquid metal core that acts like a bar magnet. It gets its magnetism from being near electrical currents beneath the surface. Because the Earth is not perfectly shaped, every so often the direction of the field will change. Scientists have found evidence that this has occurred at least 171 times over the past 71 million years. How do they know that? Magnets!

Good Germs, Bad Germs

The microbes we call germs have been around for a loooong time, and, tiny as they are, they are excellent survivors. You can find traces of microbes in meteorites that have crashed to Earth from other planets and moons, on the tops of the coldest mountains, and bubbling merrily in deep sea volcanic vents. Microbes are survivors. If they "know" anything, it's how to spread and how to live in the most unlikely places.

Netbooks for Newbies

It has been fascinating to observe the rising adoption rates of netbooks. Think of netbooks as filling the technological niche between smartphones (such as the Blackberry and the iPhone) and full-sized laptops: they are compact, light-weight, and inexpensive computers for the price-conscious mobile user. Netbooks generally feature a diagonal screen size of 7–10 inches, wi-fi, a slower processor which consumes less power (resulting in often considerably longer battery life), a smallish hard drive, and no built-in optical drive (CD/DVD).

Discovering Jacques Cousteau

Naval officer, inventor, explorer, environmentalist, filmmaker, writer, and international media sensation—Jacques-Yves Cousteau's life was the stuff of legends. He was born in June of 1910. In our modern era of environmental concerns and done-nothing celebs, it's time to revisit the life and work of an extraordinary man.

Childhood among the Rich

Matthew Fontaine Maury: Pathfinder of the Seas

This article was first printed in the May 1978 issue of the Fredericksburg Times magazine and appears here with the author's permission.

This American who is truly deserving of the terms "great" and "famous" was born January 14, 1806 in Spotsylvania County. He was the seventh child of Richard and Diana Minor Maury.

365 Days of Astronomy

The 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast is a project that will publish one podcast per day, for all 365 days of 2009. The podcast episodes are written, recorded and produced by people around the world.

Blogging Away

Blogs, a contraction of "Weblogs," are the common person's publishing tool. You can sign up for a free blog account today and immediately start publishing your daily journal, random musings, orderly lists of books, or favorite recipes. Anything and everything has been tucked into millions of blogs all over the Web.

Inside Ozone Alerts

As our area grows, the wide, open fields and shady woods that covered the counties and even some parts of the city in long-time residents' memories are becoming a thing of the past. Bulldozers replace tractors as common sights along the road. It's the pavement, buildings, and the inevitable traffic that comes along with both that guarantees a rise in air pollution. The future looks hazy from here—as well as hot and humid.

What's in Your Water?

Water, water everywhere…but is it safe to drink?
With bottled water costing well over a buck at the convenience store, budget-conscious folks have been switching to tap water. After all, the argument goes, tap water goes through filtration, too, and has the added benefit of fluoride. News stories blamed the rise in kids' cavities on a switch to bottled water. Surely it made more sense to stick with tap water. Now we find out that tap water and perhaps bottled water contain traces of prescription medications, causing people to reconsider their daily water source.