From our place beneath the heavens, the stars seem to be tiny pinpoints of light. People have seen patterns in the stars for thousands of years. In the storytellers' imaginations, warriors and princesses, flying horses and laughing coyotes all found their way to the stars. Some soothsayers still tell fortunes based on the mysteries of astrology, or the alignment of the planets.
Astronomers know that the real mysteries of space are much greater than the accidental alignments of the stars. Stars, in all their blazing glory of red, blue, green, yellow, and more, are pulsing and moving, swirling around in their galaxies which, in turn, move around the Universe. The stars themselves may be ages old, but we continue to learn more about them all the time. Recently, scientists discovered ten new planets--one of which is orbiting a very young star.
Media ownership in the 21st century is a trickier concept than ever before. In light of the growing percentage of our books, music, movies, and software that is purely digital, that is to say, downloaded directly from the Internet, how is ownership defined? When music came on CDs and other physical formats, it was pretty easy to say, “This is my CD. I bought it. I do with it as I please.” Of course, the recording industry would disagree, to the extent that while you might have purchased the medium, you only licensed the media. Now that the medium is largely ephemeral, so too is ownership. Add onto that digital rights management (DRM) that locks down and controls what you do with your “licensed” goods and ownership becomes a ghost of its former self. But do we really care?
There's your basic paper airplane, the one that's folded fast out of sheet of notebook paper cribbed from your buddy. It will go well enough to fly the few feet to the front of the class --not that we at the library are promoting any such thing, mind you! But the design of your basic paper airplane lacks features that could carry it higher and farther than you might imagine.
Kids who like car books soon outgrow the ones with nice pictures and simple diagrams—and then what? What do you give a car-crazy kid who – might – be drawn into the fascinating world of science and engineering if he had the right teacher? Most car books for older kids are chock full of dull details and have no excitement whatsoever. They drone. They drag. They discourage with their very verbiage. We’ve got a cure for that. Richard Hammond, star of the BBC’s Top Gear and past host of Brainiac: Science Abuse, has teamed with picture-mad DK publishing to bring off Car Science: An Under-the-Hood, Behind-the-Dash Look at How Cars Work.
The book is divided into four very fun, very illustrated sections: Power, Speed, Handling, and Technology. There’s never a dull moment as Mr. Hammond divulges details of “…everything you need to know to be a real driving expert. How a turbocharger works, how gasoline is made; we’ll look inside gearboxes and learn why a Formula 1 car’s brakes glow pink when it’s stopping. And, at the end, we’ll look at the kind of cars that we might be driving in the future.”
Wouldn't it be cool if even a few of the old stories were true? Legends say that giants walked the Earth, Atlantis vanished under the sea, and Greece and Troy fought a devastating war over a beautiful woman. Amazing, but true: all these stories are based on facts.
Archaeologists digging in China discovered the fossils of Gigantopithecus, a giant ape standing 9 or 10 feet tall. These huge but probably gentle apes died off 500,000 years ago. Traditionally, villagers collected their bones and made them into medicines. They called their finds dragon bones. Some have wondered whether pockets of the animals may have survived into later centuries, giving rise to the legend of Big Foot.
Modern computers are many times more powerful than they need to be for most of the things we use them for. Simply writing papers, surfing the Web, watching videos, playing games, etc. . . such tasks don't take full advantage of these machines' potential and when they're not in use, well . . . they're not in use. They could be doing so much more.
The Gulf oil spill, terrible though it is, has focused attention on one of the least-known environments on earth. Scientists used to believe that the deep ocean was uninhabited. As scientist Tim Flannery explains, “The eternal dark, the almost inconceivable pressure, and the extreme cold that exist below one thousand meters were, [scientists] thought, so forbidding as to have all but extinguished life. The reverse is in fact true....(Below 200 meters) lies the largest habitat on earth.”
While less than 10% of this area has been explored by humans, what we have discovered to date has found its way into children’s books filled with tantalizing glimpses of ten-foot-long red worms and the enormous clams, crabs and tube worms that thrive around deep hydrothermal vents.
If you love to try out new iPhone apps (and who doesn’t, when they’re free?), you’ll want to download two new apps that now include CRRL’s results. Called pic2shop and Book Bazaar, the apps are free and help you find library books when you’re out shopping. For example, if you’re at a bookstore and wondering if we have a title, scan the barcode with your phone and pic2shop will tell you if we have it. (Pic2shop is also great for comparison shopping for other items.) With Book Bazaar you can type in the title, author, keyword or ISBN. Either way, both apps are free and downloadable through Apple’s iTunes App Store.
This short video shows Pic2shop in action at a Border's book store.
If you've already purchased the RedLaser app ($0.99 in iTunes App Store) you can also get results from our library.
The results are in! Our first ever Teen Video Contest brought us six funny and informative videos, all made by our super-talented local teens. The theme was, “Why My Library is Important to Me.” From dogs who know best to fireside chats, each video was unique and enjoyable. We applaud all the great work! What was most heart-warming was seeing how many ways our teens use and appreciate the Central Rappahannock Regional Library. Some pointed out that it’s a safe place to hang out with friends or work on group projects. Many admired the free Internet access, computer use, databases and online searching. They see their library as a quiet study retreat, a place to get professional research help, and most of all, a treasure trove of free books, music, and movies.
So, without further ado, here are the winners.
In first place, receiving the prize of a Flip digital video camera is Erik Martinsen, creator of the video, “Libraries are Doggone Fun!”
On Tuesday, April 6, 2010, Paul Israel of Rugters University and author of Edison: A Life of Invention will give a talk on the inventor. This lecture, part of the university's Great Lives series, is free and open to the public. For more information on "The Wizard of Menlo Park," check out this list of materials recommended by the reference staff of the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.