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April 2016

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: April 28, 2016

National Technical Information Service

Question: “Travels of Timothy Trent,” a film available through the National Technical Information Service, follows the journey of an Arctic explorer, a cab driver or a toddler roaming through a house?

Answer: A toddler

Among the 9,000 federally developed training and education audiovisual and media productions available through the National Audiovisual Center (NAC) of the federal government’s National Technical Information Service (NTIS) is a 1976 10-minute film produced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) titled “Travels of Timothy Trent.” The program follows Timothy, a robust crawling toddler who cannot resist putting everything he can reach into his mouth. The pint-size subject’s “travels” around the house are used to demonstrate the value of safety packaging in protecting children from accidental household poisoning. The narrative includes: “Next stop, the hall cabinet. It had become a catch-all for many odds and ends like that bottle of furniture polish. It was very inviting to Timothy but fortunately, the safety cap kept him out of it.”

For more information, go to:
http://www.ntis.gov/products/nac/nac-screening-room/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: April 26, 2016

Department of Education

Question: A Grade 8 science quiz evaluated by the U.S. Department of Education includes a question asking which liquid has same flow rate as water at 30 degrees Celsius: corn syrup, honey or olive oil?

Answer: Corn syrup

A 2009 science quiz for eighth graders evaluated by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), part of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES)—the statistics, research and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Educationincluded a question in which the students were asked to predict the effect of temperature on fluid flow. An interactive computer program presented the students with four test tubes, each filled with one of four liquids—corn syrup, honey, olive oil and water—with a metal ball suspended above each tube. By pressing a button, the students could virtually drop the balls into their respective tubes and record the time it took for each ball to reach bottom. When asked which liquid had the same flow rate as water at 30 degrees Celsius, 88 percent of the eighth graders correctly answered corn syrup, and also knew that the ball would drop most slowly in honey if the temperature for all tubes was reduced to 20 degrees Celsius. This question was part of the Department of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the “largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America’s students know and can do in various subject areas,” which had its last results published in 2009. The next NAEP (which also is known as “the Nation’s Report Card”) will be conducted in 2016 with students participating in one of six assessments: Grade 8 arts, Grades 4 and 8 mathematics, Grades 4 and 8 reading, and Grade 8 writing.

For more information, go to:
http://nces.ed.gov/blogs/nces/post/diversity-in-home-languages-examining-english-learners-in-u-s-public-schools

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: April 21, 2016

Library of Congress

Question: According to the Library of Congress, the bristle toothbrush was first used in which country: China, Italy or Japan?

Answer: China

Among the many “Everyday Mysteries” solved by the staff of the Library of Congress (LOC) is: Who invented the toothbrush and when was it invented? The answer, when considering the first bristle design—similar to the type of brush we use today—is the Chinese in 1498. The bristles were actually the stiff, coarse hairs taken from the back of a hog's neck and attached to handles made of bone or bamboo. Previous to this innovation, people often used a thin twig called a “chew stick” to remove food particles from teeth and gums. Boar bristle brushes were used until 1938, when the Dupont de Nemours Co. introduced “Doctor West's Miracle Toothbrush,” the first dental cleaner with nylon bristles. The nylon toothbrush has remained the standard ever since. “Everyday Mysteries” is an online resource managed by LOC’s Science Reference Services that provides the answers to some of “life's most interesting questions through scientific inquiry” and introduces interested parties to the library’s rich collections in science and technology.

For more information, go to:
https://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/tooth.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: April 19, 2016

United States Geological Survey

Question: According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a lahar is a: water-bearing rock layer, hydrothermal eruption or volcanic mudslide?

Answer: Volcanic mudslide

According to U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), “lahar” is an Indonesian term describing a hot or cold mixture of water and rock fragments that flows down the slopes of a volcano. A moving lahar looks like a rolling slurry of wet concrete, and as it rushes downstream, the size, speed and amount of material carried can constantly change. The initial flow may be relatively small, but a lahar may grow in volume as it swallows anything in its path—rocks, soil, vegetation, and even buildings and bridges. The flowing slurry may consume additional water through melting of snow and ice or by engulfing river or lake water. Voluminous lahars commonly grow to more than 10 times their initial size as they move downslope. In steep areas, lahar speeds can exceed 200 kilometers per hour (120 miles per hour). The power of a lahar should be respected. Lahars resulting from the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens in Washington State traveled 50 to 100 kilometers (30 to 60 miles) to the Columbia River, decreasing the depth of the navigational channel from 11 to 4 meters (36 to 13 feet). A small eruption of Colombia’s Nevado del Ruiz in 1985 caused a devastating mud flow that killed nearly 25,000 people. A geyser is geothermally heated water which is violently ejected when a portion of it suddenly flashes into steam; an aquifer is water-bearing rock that readily allows its liquid cache to reach wells and springs.

For more information, go to:
http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/vhp/lahars.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: April 14, 2016

Environmental Protection Agency

Question: To emphasize the need for an agency like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Senator Gaylord Nelson started what annual “eco-celebration” on April 22, 1970?

Answer: Earth Day

In early 1970, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-Wisc.) created Earth Day as a way to rally public sentiment for legal and regulatory measures against environmental pollution and pressure his fellow lawmakers to enact legislation for a federal agency to meet the challenge. Reflecting on the impact of campus activism in late 1960s, Nelson proposed a day, April 22, when citizens nationwide would host teach-ins to raise awareness of environmental problems. His proposal received overwhelming support from the media and the masses took on the cause, organizing marches, rallies, demonstrations and other events in cities across the nation. As Nelson recalled a decade later: “My primary objective in planning Earth Day was to show the political leadership of the nation that there was broad and deep support for the environmental movement. While I was confident that a nationwide peaceful demonstration of concern would be impressive, I was not quite prepared for the overwhelming response that occurred on that day. Two thousand colleges and universities; 10,000 high schools and grade schools; and several thousand communities in all—more than twenty million Americans participated in one of the most exciting and significant grassroots efforts in the history of this country.” President Richard M. Nixon definitely got the message. On July 9, 1970, he sent Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1970 to the U.S. Congress recommending the establishment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as an independent agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) within the U.S. Department of Commerce. The EPA officially began on Dec. 2, 1970, and its first administrator, William D. Ruckelshaus, was sworn in two days later.

For more information, go to:
https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/epa-history-earth-day

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: April 12, 2016

U.S. Forest Service

Question: According to the U.S. Forest Service, firefighters who parachute into remote areas to fight wildland fires are called: aerofiremen, parafighters or smokejumpers?

Answer: Smokejumpers

Smokejumping, the use of parachutes to deliver large numbers of highly skilled wildland firefighters over large distances in a short amount of time, was first proposed in 1934 by T.V. Pearson, a forester at the Intermountain Region (Region 4) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s U.S. Forest Service (USFS). Five years later, the smokejumper program officially began with an experimental project at the USFS Pacific Northwest Region (Region 6), and the successful testing there led to the first fire jump in 1940 on Idaho's Nez Perce National Forest within the USFS Northern Region (Region 1). The program rapidly became a staple of the USFS firefighting service and was even portrayed in the 1952 adventure film Red Skies of Montana starring Richard Widmark. In 1981, USFS employed its first woman smokejumper and smokejumper pilot, and in 1989—the 50th anniversary of smokejumping—the 200,000th parachute jump was made. Today, nearly 400 men and women smokejumpers travel all over the country, including Alaska, to provide quick initial attacks on wildland fires in remote areas. Firefighting tools, food and water are dropped by parachute to the smokejumping teams after they land near a fire, making them self-sufficient for the first 48 hours. Smokejumpers commonly serve from June through October, the peak of the wildland fire season.

For more information, go to:
http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/people/smokejumpers/index.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: April 7, 2016

National Archives and Records Administration

Question: According to the National Archives and Records Administration, the first process for transmitting colorized television signals—although not used—was created by which network: ABC, CBS, NBC or DuMont?

Answer: CBS

The history books state that the first color television technology—the National Television System Committee (NTSC) standard—was put into service in 1953 and that its developer was Radio Corporation of America (RCA), the parent company of the NBC network. However, "The Following Program …: How the FCC decided who got the nod to put color into our TV sets," an article in the Fall-Winter 2013 issue National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)'s Prologue Magazine, tells how CBS, not RCA and NBC, was supposed to be the pioneer of color TV three years earlier. In September 1950, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the color TV system developed by CBS—a rotating disc with red, green and blue filters that would spin rapidly in front of a camera to transmit an image in each of the three primary colors sequentially. The RCA-NBC system that had competed with CBS before the FCC scanned, rather than adapted, the image, simultaneously recording it in the primary colors and then sending the signal on three separate channels to be merged at the receiver (the TV set). The FCC felt that the RCA format was "exceedingly complex and bulky" and that the CBS system produced a better picture. Lawsuits from RCA and others blocked the implementation of the CBS color TV technology for three years, giving RCA time to fine tune its system. In December 1953, the FCC rescinded its earlier approval of the CBS disc method and voted instead for the "new and improved" NTSC as the official U.S. color TV standard. Therefore, NBC, rather than CBS, debuted color TV in America and proudly strutted its victory by taking the peacock as its network symbol.

For more information, go to:
https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2013/fall-winter/color-tv.pdf

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: April 5, 2016

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Question: Research by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and partners showed there is no sound at the ocean’s deepest point, true or false?

Answer: False

For three weeks in 2015, a titanium-encased hydrophone recorded ambient noise from the ocean floor's deepest point, the 10,971 meter (35,994 foot or 6.82 mile) abyss known as the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench near Micronesia. Researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Oregon State University (OSU) and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) were surprised by how much they heard. "You would think that the deepest part of the ocean would be one of the quietest places on Earth," said Robert Dziak, a NOAA research oceanographer and chief project scientist. "Yet there is almost constant noise. The ambient sound field is dominated by the sound of earthquakes, both near and far, as well as distinct moans of baleen whales, and the clamor of a category 4 typhoon that just happened to pass overhead." The hydrophone also picked up sound from ship propellers. Challenger Deep is close to Guam, a regional hub for container shipping with China and the Philippines. The project, which was funded by the NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, was designed to establish a baseline for ambient noise in the depths of the Pacific Ocean. Human-created noise has increased steadily in recent decades and getting these first recordings allows scientists in the future to determine if the noise levels are growing and how this might affect marine animals that use sound to communicate, navigate and feed, such as whales, dolphins and fish.

For more information, go to:
http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/16challenger/welcome.html

March 2016

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: March 31, 2016

Department of Defense

Question: ElectRx, a program of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, seeks ways to "self-heal" by electrically stimulating which body system: circulatory, digestive or nervous?

Answer: Nervous system

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)'s Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) program known as ElectRx (pronounced "electrics") is exploring the development of "self-healing" technologies based on electrical stimulation of the peripheral nervous system (PNS), the massive network of nerves and ganglia outside the brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system, or CNS). The PNS continuously monitors health status and triggers reflexive responses in the brain and spinal cord when an infection or injury is detected. These reflexes normally adjust organ function to initiate and control the healing process. However, some diseases can disrupt healthy functioning of these processes and produce nerve signaling that causes pain, metabolic disorders such as diabetes, and autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis. ElectRx fosters the development of "self-healing" technologies to (1) enhance the monitoring of peripheral nerve activity (known as "biosensing"); and (2) work with the PNS to deliver therapeutic electrical stimuli to specific PNS targets such as glands, organs and muscles (known as "neuromodulation"). If successful, ElectRx technologies could reduce dependence on traditional drugs and create new treatments that could be tuned automatically and continuously to the needs of individuals without side effects.

For more information, go to:
http://www.darpa.mil/program/electrical-prescriptions

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: March 29, 2016

Question: National Science Foundation-supported research at the University of Oklahoma uses a supercomputer to better predict: hailstorms, earthquakes or sandstorms?

Answer: Hailstorms

With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Severe Hail Analysis, Representation and Prediction (SHARP) project team at the University of Oklahoma (OU) is working on dramatically improving the forecasting of hailstorms. To predict hail storms, or weather in general, scientists have developed mathematically based physics models of the atmosphere and the complex processes within, and computer codes that represent these physical processes on a grid consisting of millions of points. The highest-resolution hailstorm forecasts from the National Weather Service (NWS) have a grid spacing of one point for every three kilometers. The model that the Oklahoma team has created for the SHARP project, on the other hand, uses one grid point for every 500 meters—six times more resolution. "This lets us simulate the storms with a lot higher accuracy," says Nathan Snook, an OU research scientist. "But the trade-off is, to do that, we need a lot of computing power—more than 100 times that of three-kilometer simulations." Therefore, the SHARP team must run their model on the Stampede supercomputer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center in Austin, Texas. Stampede provides a peak performance of nearly 10 petaflops, or nearly 10 quadrillion math operations per second. According to Snook, there's a major effort underway to move to a "warning on forecast" paradigm—that is, to use computer-model-based, short-term forecasts to predict what will happen over the next several hours and use those predictions to warn the public, as opposed to warning only when storms form and are observed. "How do we get the models good enough that we can warn the public based on them?" Snook asks. "That's the ultimate goal of what we want to do—get to the point where we can make hail forecasts two hours in advance."

For more information, go to:
http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=137978&org=NSF

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: March 24, 2016

Question: Which rock star served as a science collaborator on NASA’s New Horizon mission that flew by Pluto in July 2015?

Answer: Dr. Brian May of Queen

As lead guitarist for the legendary rock group Queen, Brian May has spent an entire career in the spotlight. But a few days after the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)'s New Horizons flyby of Pluto on July 15, 2015, May, who has a doctorate in astrophysics from Imperial College London, traded music for his other love—science—and helped the research team create the first high-quality stereoscopic image of Pluto. The image, which appears three dimensional when viewed through a stereoscope, blends the first full-planet view of Pluto taken as the flyby began with the "last look" photo snapped as the craft completed its encounter. May has been fascinated with stereoscopic photography for years and is the director of the London Stereoscopic Company, a group that is attempting to preserve this 19th century art form. As for his fame as an astrophysicist, it gained May a special honor in 2008 when an asteroid was named 52665 Brianmay.

For more information, go to:
http://www.nasa.gov/feature/rock-starastrophysicist-dr-brian-may-goes-backstage-with-new-horizons

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: March 22, 2016

Department of Transportation

Question: According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 75 percent of automobile rollovers occur on: highways, rural roads or urban streets?

Answer: Rural roads

As part of its New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)'s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has intensely studied rollover crashes, one of the deadliest forms of automobile accidents. NHTSA reports that 33 percent of all passenger vehicle fatalities are the result of rollovers and 75 percent of these crashes occur on rural roads. This is because rural roads are typically undivided, do not have barriers and the posted speed limit is often 88 kilometers per hour (55 miles per hour) or higher. Rollovers, more so than other types of crashes, reflect the interaction of the driver, road, vehicle and environmental factors. So, while vehicle type does play a significant role (taller, narrower vehicles such as SUVs, pickups and vans are the most likely rollover candidates), other factors such as driver behavior, such as distraction or alcohol impairment, and road conditions, such as soft soil on the road shoulder, also are contributors.

For more information, go to:
http://www.safercar.gov/Vehicle+Shoppers/Rollover/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: March 17, 2016

National Library of Medicine

Question: "Malaria Mike," the main character of a 1944 War Department health film in a collection at the National Library of Medicine, is a: flea, mosquito or tick?

Answer: A mosquito

"The Public Health Film Goes to War," an audiovisual collection at the National Library of Medicine (NLM), includes a five-minute, black and white animated World War II film called "Private Snafu vs. Malaria Mike." The 1944 War Department short was used to educate soldiers serving in the Pacific Theater about malaria prevention. The story revolves around Malaria Mike, a disease-carrying mosquito who repeatedly attacks Private Snafu in an effort to infect the soldier. However, the nefarious pest fails in his mission because of Snafu's use of protective clothing, insect repellent and mosquito netting. Private Snafu (SNAFU being a famous military acronym for "Situation Normal, All Fouled Up) was the star of a series of cartoons produced between 1943 and 1945 by the same animation team at Warner Brothers responsible for Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and other famous characters. The films were designed to instruct service personnel about security, proper sanitation habits, booby traps and other military subjects, and to improve troop morale. Private Snafu's creative team was a Who's Who of film, animation and literary legends, including Chuck Jones as director, Frank Capra as producer, voice characterizations by Mel Blanc, and writing by Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel.

For more information, go to:
http://collections.nlm.nih.gov/catalog/nlm:nlmuid-100960023-vid

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: March 15, 2016

Department of Homeland Security

Question: “Datacasting” technology from Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate and partners allows first responders to transmit data during an emergency via a commercial cellular network, land mobile radio network or broadcast TV network?

Answer: Broadcast TV network

In an emergency, first responders need timely and relevant data to make informed decisions. Commercial cellular networks can become overloaded or fail completely, as the network becomes saturated by public use. Land mobile radio networks are intended for voice communication and do not have the capacity to transmit large amounts of data. This leaves public safety agencies competing for the same network resources when trying to transmit their mission-critical information, especially video. The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) First Responders Group (FRG), in collaboration with academic and industry partners and several Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) television stations, are field testing a technology known as "datacasting" that uses existing broadcast TV signals to deliver encrypted data to targeted recipients. When broadcast television transitioned from analog to digital broadcast transmissions, it created the opportunity to allocate television spectrum in new ways, including delivering encrypted and targetable computer data. The DHS S&T-led pilot takes advantage of a portion of the public broadcasting station's bandwidth normally used for television programming. Datacasting reallocates a portion of this spectrum for transmitting video, data files and other critical incident information (e.g., building blueprints and live security video) to specific first responders anywhere in the TV signal coverage area without relying on or overwhelming other communication channels.

For more information, go to:
https://www.dhs.gov/publication/video-datacasting

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: March 10, 2016

Department of Energy

Question: Engineers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have created an invention that uses radiofrequency energy to inflate footballs, pasteurize eggs or treat sewage?

Answer: Pasteurize eggs

Engineers at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have developed and patented an invention that uses radiofrequency (RF) energy to pasteurize eggs by transmitting heat through the shell and into the yolk while the egg rotates. Streams of cool water simultaneously flow over the egg to protect the delicate white. Researchers then bathe the egg in hot water to complete the pasteurization process. According to David Geveke, a research chemical engineer and lead scientist at the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the invention can pasteurize shell eggs in one-third the time of traditional procedures. And unlike such methods, which heat the eggs in water for about an hour, the invention doesn't affect the appearance of the egg white. The aim, Geveke says, is to produce a pasteurized egg "that is hardly discernible from a fresh, nonpasteurized egg." RF energy, also known as radio waves, includes waves with frequencies ranging from about 3000 waves per second (3 kilohertz) to 300 billion waves per second (300 gigahertz). Among the uses for RF are telecommunications systems, microwave ovens and radar.

For more information, go to:
http://www.pppl.gov/news/2014/12/pppl-and-usda-engineers-win-patent-pasteurizing-eggs-shell

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: March 8, 2016

National Institute of Standards and Technology

Question: The National Institute of Standards and Technology predicted the Y2K computer problem in 1968, 32 years before it happened, true or false?

Answer: True

The year 2000 problem, also known as Y2K or the Millennium Bug, was the name given to the anticipated failure of computer programs and systems worldwide on Jan. 1, 2000, because it was feared that the "00" year designation in the software would be mistaken for "1900." People believed that computer malfunctions at midnight on January 1 would shut down power grids, disrupt commerce and even cause aircraft to drop from the sky. Thanks to the efforts of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and other groups in the decade leading up to 2000, companies and organizations around the globe checked, fixed, and upgraded their computer systems in time to avoid any major disasters. Interestingly, the National Bureau of Standards (NBS), NIST's predecessor, predicted the problem of computers using two-digit year designations 32 years before it happened on Nov. 1, 1968, when it issued Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 4. In the publication, NBS proposed a government standard for computer dates with a four-digit year to avoid any chance for confusion when reading the code. Other federal agencies preferred a two-digit code to save memory and data entry time, so the final standard featured a two-digit code first option and four-digit second. Unfortunately, most agencies opted for the "easy-now, pay-for-it later" designation and set the stage for Y2K.

For more information, go to:
http://www.nist.gov/itl/fipsinfo.cfm

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: March 3, 2016

National Technical Information Service

Question: A "Marine Accident Report," available through the National Technical Information Service, details the sinking of which vessel immortalized in song: the Edmund Fitzgerald, the Sloop John B or the Southern Cross?

Answer: Edmund Fitzgerald

Among the thousands of documents available through the National Technical Research Laboratory (NTRL) of the federal government's National Technical Information Service (NTIS) is the official "Marine Accident Report" by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) detailing the Nov. 10, 1975, sinking of the Great Lake bulk cargo vessel S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald. The wreck of the massive ore carrier, chronicled in the 1976 hit song, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot, occurred in Lake Michigan just 27 kilometers (17 miles) off the shore of Whitefish Bay, Mich. All of the vessel's 29 officers and crewmembers were lost. The NTSB concluded that the probable cause of the accident was a sudden massive flooding of the cargo hold due to the collapse of one or more hatch covers. Both the Sloop John B and the Southern Cross, headlined in songs by the Beach Boys (1966) and Crosby, Stills and Nash (1982), are fictional ships.

For more information, go to:
https://ntrl.ntis.gov/NTRL/dashboard/searchResults.xhtml?searchQuery=edmund%20fitzgerald

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: March 1, 2016

Department of Education

Question: Statistics from the U.S. Department of Education show that the fourth most common language spoken in homes of "English learner" students is English, true or false?

Answer: True

According to recently published data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), part of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the statistics, research, and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Education, English is surprisingly the fourth most commonly spoken home language for students—97,000 nationwide—classified as English learners (EL) in school. This may reflect children who live in multilingual households, and those who were adopted from other countries and raised to speak another language but currently live in English-speaking households. More than 4.9 million EL students were enrolled in U.S. public elementary and secondary schools during the 2013-14 school year, representing just over 10 percent of the total student population. Overall, there were 38 different home languages reported for 5,000 or more students, with Spanish leading the list with 3.8 million students, or 76.5 percent of all EL students and nearly 8 percent of all public K-12 students. Arabic and Chinese were the next most commonly spoken home languages, reported for approximately 109,000 and 108,000 students, respectively. 

For more information, go to:
http://nces.ed.gov/blogs/nces/post/diversity-in-home-languages-examining-english-learners-in-u-s-public-schools

February 2016

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: February 25, 2016

Library of Congress

Question: Within the Library of Congress collection of Samuel F.B. Morse papers is the first telegraph message sent between which two cities?

Answer: Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Md.

Among the 6,500 items in the Library of Congress (LOC) collection titled "Samuel F. B. Morse Papers at the Library of Congress, 1793 to 1919" is the world's first message transmitted by Morse's invention, the telegraph, on May 24, 1844. Morse (1791-1872) sent it from the Supreme Court chamber in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., to his assistant, Alfred Vail, at the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's Mount Clare Station in Baltimore, Md., over a 61-kilometer (38-mile) line built along the B&O right-of-way. The historic words transmitted by Morse were "What hath God wrought?," a phrase taken from the Bible (Numbers 23:23) and suggested by Annie Ellsworth, the young daughter of U.S. Patent Commissioner Henry Leavitt Ellsworth. The original telegraph device produced a paper copy with raised dots and dashes which had to be translated by an operator—unlike Morse's later version that sounded out the code and could be interpreted immediately.

For more information, go to:
https://www.loc.gov/collections/samuel-morse-papers/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: February 23, 2016

United States Geological Survey

Question: According to the U.S. Geological Survey, which lasts longer in drinks, glacier or refrigerator ice?

Answer: Glacier ice

Theoretically speaking, says the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the physical, chemical, thermal and electrical properties of "refrigerator ice" and glacier ice are identical. However, in reality, temperature, crystal size and even density may be different. For example, the temperature of Antarctic glacier ice is about minus 46 degrees Celsius (minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit) while the temperature of refrigerator ice may range from just below 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) to just above minus 18 degrees Celsius (0 degrees Fahrenheit). Glacier ice forms under great pressure, sometimes exceeding several hundred atmospheres. Therefore, for any given volume of ice, glacier ice will have larger crystals and much less air within crystals, resulting in a higher density. Consequently, glacier ice lasts longer in drinks. Crystals melt from the outside and large crystals expose less surface area per unit volume of ice. Therefore, ice with larger crystals and fewer air bubbles melts more slowly.

For more information, go to:
http://www.usgs.gov/faq/taxonomy/term/9750

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: February 18, 2016

Environmental Protection Agency

Question: Which of these chemical hazards did the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency go after first under the Toxic Substances Control Act: asbestos, DDT or PCBs?

Answer: PCBs

On Oct. 11, 1976, President Gerald Ford signed into law the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) that provided the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with "the authority to require reporting, record-keeping and testing requirements, and restrictions relating to chemical substances and/or mixtures." Ten days later, EPA Administrator Russell E. Train announced in a speech to the American Public Health Association (APHA) in Miami, Fla., that polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) would be the first chemicals to make the "attack list" under TSCA. Due to their non-flammability, chemical stability and electrical insulating properties, PCBs were used as coolants and lubricants in various types of electrical equipment including transformers, capacitors, fluorescent lamps and television sets. Additionally, PCBs were key ingredients in paints, plastics, rubber products, pigments, dyes, carbonless copy paper and many other products. PCB manufacture and use in the United States was banned under TSCA—described by Train in his APHA speech as "a preventive medicine" for eradicating the "environmental disease" of chemical hazards—starting on Jan. 1, 1977, because of scientific evidence that they accumulated in the environment and caused harmful health effects. In the nearly four decades since, the EPA has used its TSCA authority to work toward the removal of the more than 560 million kilograms (1.25 billion pounds) of PCBs produced in the United States between 1929 and 1977.

For more information, go to:
http://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/epa-history-toxic-substances-control-act

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: February 16, 2016

U.S. Forest Service

Question: According to U.S. Forest Service, Gulo gulo, an animal that shares its common name with a comic hero, needs snow to build its den. What is this creature?

Answer: The wolverine

Researchers at the Rocky Mountain Research Station (RSMS) in Fort Collins, Colo., a facility of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s U.S. Forest Service (USFS), have demonstrated that wolverines (scientific name: Gulo gulo) are dependent upon persistent spring snow for denning. Females dig snow dens that are used primarily during pregnancy and after birth for nursing their pups. When creating dens, wolverines tunnel into hardened snowdrifts near boulders or large fallen trees covered in deep snow. The wolverine's need for snow is a critical factor in determining the future extent and survival of the species. To build on this understanding, the National Forest System and the Department of the Interior's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) provided funding for RMRS to work with the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group to predict where suitable snow might exist for wolverine in the future. RMRS researchers have used data from climate change studies and wolverine genetic mapping to develop computer models that can predict which regions are suitable for successfully reintroducing the species. While current efforts are focused on wolverines, these newly developed tools can be applied to a variety of organisms to inform their potential future in a changing climate. Wolverine, as all Marvel Comics fans know, is the nickname of X-Men member James "Logan" Howlett who has retractable metal claws, the ability to heal quickly and a beast-like temper.

For more information, go to:
http://www.fs.fed.us/rmrs/science-spotlights/wolverine-futures-changing-climate

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: February 11, 2016

National Archives and Records Administration

Question: According to the National Archives and Records Administration, the first voice to be transmitted via a relay from space was: Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower or John F. Kennedy?

Answer: Dwight Eisenhower

The Dec. 19, 2012, edition of "PROLOGUE: Pieces of History," the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) blog, told the story of a Christmas wish for worldwide peace that was the first human communication broadcast to Earth from a satellite in space. The date was Dec. 19, 1958, and the voice delivering the message belonged to President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He said the following:

This is the President of the United States speaking. Through the marvels of scientific advance, my voice is coming to you from a satellite circling in outer space. My message is a simple one. Through this unique means, I convey to you and all mankind America's wish for peace on earth and good will to men everywhere.

The satellite transmitting the President's words was part of the U.S. Air Force's Project SCORE (Signal Communications by Orbiting Relay Equipment). The satellite used a tape recorder to store and forward voice messages sent to it from Earth. The Christmas message was a last-minute change of plans. SCORE had already been sealed with prerecorded messages when the director of the project persuaded President Eisenhower to include a message of peace. The new message was sent by radio transmission and recorded on the satellite after SCORE's launch the day before, Dec. 18, 1958.

For more information, go to:
http://prologue.blogs.archives.gov/2012/12/19/merry-christmas-from-space/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: February 9, 2016

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Question: According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the largest dorsal fin on a marine mammal is atop: blue, humpback or killer whale?

Answer: Killer whale

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s National Ocean Service, the male killer whale (Orcinis orca) has the largest dorsal fin of any marine mammal, up to 2 meters (6 feet) tall. On female orcas, the dorsal fin is a bit shorter (about 1 meter or 3 feet) and more curved. Actually, orcas are not whales at all and are the largest member of the Delphinidae, the family that includes dolphins (Porpoises, another toothed marine mammal often mistaken for dolphins, are in a different family, Phocoenidae.). The orca's dorsal fin is unique to each individual animal and acts like a keel. Neither the dorsal fin nor the flukes (the twin lobes of the tail) have any bone or cartilage. Instead, they're made up of collagen, a dense connective tissue. Longitudinal muscles in the back and caudal peduncle (the point where the flukes meet the body) move the flukes up and down to propel the orca forward. The orca's paddle-shaped pectoral (side) fins are used for steering and to work with the fluke for stopping.

For more information, go to:
http://oceantoday.noaa.gov/killerwhaleanatomy/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: February 4, 2016

Department of Defense

Question: Which Apollo command module, housed at the Department of Defense’s National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, was the only one manned by an all-Air Force crew: 11, 14 or 15?

Answer: Apollo 15

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)'s National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, near Dayton, Ohio, is home to Endeavor, the command module that transported the only all-U.S. Air Force (USAF) crew in the Apollo lunar exploration program during the Apollo 15 mission, July 26 – August 7, 1971. The fourth mission to successfully land astronauts on the moon, Apollo 15 was manned by USAF Col. David R. Scott, USAF Lt. Col. James B. Irwin and USAF Maj. Alfred M. Worden. Their command module—now on display in the Air Force museum's Space Gallery—was named Endeavor after the ship that carried Capt. James Cook on his famous 18th century scientific voyage. While Scott and Irwin spent 67 hours on the moon's surface in the lunar module Falcon, Worden remained aboard Endeavor in lunar orbit conducting experiments and taking photographs. Endeavor returned the crew to Earth on Aug. 7, 1971, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii. One of Apollo 15's three parachutes failed, and Endeavor hit the water somewhat faster than the anticipated 47-58 kilometers per hour (29-36 miles per hour), but no crewmen were injured.

For more information, go to:
http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Visit/MuseumExhibits/FactSheets/Display/tabid/509/Article/197685/apollo-15-command-module.aspx

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: February 2, 2016

Question: Which two colors of clay has recent National Science Foundation-sponsored research shown to be antibacterial?

Answer: Green and blue clays

Scientists have found that certain clays, particularly those with blue and green colors, possess germ-killing abilities, but how these work has remained unclear. A recent discovery by Arizona State University (ASU) scientists—funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF)—shows that two specific metallic elements in the right kinds of clay can kill disease-causing bacteria that infect humans and animals. "We think of this mechanism like the Trojan horse attack in ancient Greece," says Lynda Williams, a clay-mineral scientist at ASU. "Two elements in the clay work in tandem to kill bacteria." She explains that "one metallic element—chemically reduced iron, which in small amounts is required by a bacterial cell for nutrition—tricks the cell into opening its wall. Then another element, aluminum, props the cell wall open, allowing a flood of iron to enter the cell. This overabundance of iron then poisons the cell, killing it as the reduced iron becomes oxidized." The greens and blues of antibacterial clays come from having a high content of chemically reduced iron, as opposed to oxidized iron, which provides the familiar rust color associated with many clays. Such "reduced" clays are common in many parts of the world. In one study, Williams and her team identified a blue-colored clay from the Oregon Cascades that proved to be highly antibacterial. The research shows that it works against a broad spectrum of human pathogens, including antibiotic-resistant strains such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

For more information, go to:
http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=137239&org=NSF

January 2016

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: January 28, 2016

Question: Which NASA spaceflight was the first to be managed by the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas?

Answer: Gemini 4 in June 1965

Gemini 4 lifted off from Launch Complex 19 at the Cape Kennedy Air Force Station, Fla., (now known as the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station) on June 3, 1965, with astronauts James A. McDivitt and Edward H. White II. Most remember the flight for demonstrating the ability of astronauts to operate safely in space with an orbiting vehicle and for the first American spacewalk by White. Gemini 4 also was the first flight to be controlled by the newly built Mission Operations Control Room (MOCR) at the Manned Spacecraft Center (renamed in 1973 as the Johnson Space Center after President Lyndon B. Johnson) in Houston, Texas. Previously the Cape's Mercury Mission Control Center managed the Mercury flights and first manned Gemini mission, Gemini 3, in March 1965. The Houston control center was much larger than the old space, featuring new and faster computers, and surrounded by staff support rooms filled with spacecraft experts to help flight controllers during missions. The Mercury Mission Control Center was demolished in 2010; a replica is located inside the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex.

For more information, go to:
http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/history/special_events/Features/GeminiIV.htm

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: January 26, 2016

Department of Transportation

Question: The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that 2015 was the most heavily traveled year in history with over 3 ______ miles driven: million, billion or trillion?

Answer: 3 trillion miles

Data released in November 2015 by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT)'s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) reported that Americans had driven 2.88 trillion miles in passenger vehicles, buses and trucks in 2015, with projections stating that the final year total will be just over 3 trillion miles traveled. This makes 2015 the most traveled year in USDOT recorded history. The FHWA's November 2015 "Traffic Volume Trends" report states that more than 264 billion miles were driven in that month alone, a 3.4 percent increase compared to November 2014 but only 0.1 percent higher than one month earlier. The largest traffic increase in November 2015 was seen in Hawaii, while Washington, D.C. had the largest decrease. USDOT warns that if major improvements are not made in the nation's transportation infrastructure, increased gridlock nationwide can be expected with a rapidly growing population, increasing freight volume, demographic shifts in rural and urban areas, and a transportation system facing more frequent extreme weather events.

For more information, go to:
https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/pressroom/fhwa1605.cfm

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: January 21, 2016

National Library of Medicine

Question: According to a National Library of Medicine exhibition, animals were once used as "living factories" to make what?

Answer: Antitoxins and vaccines

Humans and animals have natural defense systems that produce antibodies in the blood to combat bacteria and other harmful substances invading the body. In the late nineteenth century, scientists investigating this immune response in animals developed new methods for treating diseases in humans. One of these early therapies used blood serum, collected from animals inoculated with toxins from bacteria. The natural protection these animals developed against the toxin could be passed to humans through injections of the serum. In commercial production, horses and other large animals served as living serum factories to grow the so-called "antitoxins" for human use. Serum therapy provided an effective cure for diphtheria, an often fatal childhood disease. The demand for serum established a new drug industry that required the use of large numbers of animals for production. The history of these "living factories" is chronicled in an online and traveling exhibition by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) called "From DNA to Beer: Harnessing Nature in Medicine and Industry." Along with the production of antitoxins, the exhibit also looks at how medicine and industry have created "nature-based" products from recombinant DNA, endocrine glands, antibiotic microbes and fermenting yeast.

For more information, go to: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/fromdnatobeer/exhibition-living-factories.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: January 19, 2016

Department of Homeland Security

Question: A new app developed by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate helps first responders find: buried mines, camouflaged vehicles or missing persons?

Answer: Missing persons

The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) recently released a mobile app, developed with the support of search-and-rescue (SAR) teams around the nation, that provides step-by-step instructions, protocols and strategies for first responders and response teams searching for missing persons. Using data from over 150,000 missing person cases across the country, the Lost Person Behavior mobile app provides guidance, tactical briefings, investigative questions and statistics for over 40 different scenarios. These include lost hikers, hunters, children, missing vehicles, despondent individuals, dementia patients and climbers. It also provides guidance for snow and water incidents. The app identifies high probability areas where an individual goes missing so searchers can initiate rapid response. It also breaks down the categories of lost people with related behavior profiles and provides a checklist of questions to ask friends and family of missing individuals. Using this data, the app uses the data to provide initial search locations.

For more information, go to:
http://www.dhs.gov/science-and-technology/lost-person-behavior-app

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: January 14, 2016

Department of Energy

Question: Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory recently 3-D printed a full-size, working Bell helicopter, Chris-Craft boat or Shelby Cobra sports car?

Answer: Shelby Cobra sports car

Using 3-D printing, a team of six researchers at the Department of Energy (DOE)'s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) constructed a full-size, working Shelby Cobra sports car in only six weeks, a project that would have taken over a year to complete using traditional manufacturing methods. The classic racing vehicle was produced with the Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) machine, a 3-D printer ORNL collaboratively developed with machine tool manufacturer Cincinnati Incorporated. BAAM was used to create the Cobra's 226 kilograms (500 pounds) of lightweight composite components—a process that took only 24 hours to complete. The parts were then assembled into the main body of the vehicle, along with the electrical components and engine which were not 3-D printed. In an article for 3-D print.com, correspondent Brian Krassenstein wrote that ultimately "the vehicle turned out to be half the weight, and three times as strong as the original Shelby Cobra, with increased performance and safety." According to Lonnie Love, leader of ORNL's Manufacturing Systems Research group, "When you look at how much energy it takes to make a car, this is one of the most energy efficient ways to do it. It's absolutely shocking."

For more information, go to:
https://www.ornl.gov/news/3-d-printed-shelby-cobra-highlights-ornl-rd-detroit-auto-show

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: January 12, 2016

National Institute of Standards and Technology

Question: Developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the 1940s, the Bat was the world's first: guided missile, jet pack or spy plane?

Answer: Guided missile

A forerunner of today's "smart weapons," the Bat of World War II was the first totally automated guided missile employed by the United States. Like its namesake which uses sonar (sound waves) for locating objects, the Bat emitted radar (radio waves) pulses that reflected off an enemy ship or other offshore object to target its path. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), then known as the National Bureau of Standards, was a major contributor in the missile's development during the 1940s. The Bat was usually carried by a Navy PB4Y-2 Privateer patrol bomber and measured 4 meters (12 feet) in length with a 3-meter (10-foot) wingspan. It flew at a speed of 260-390 kilometers per hour (140-210 miles per hour), packed a 450-kilogram (1,000-pound) general purpose warhead and did not require visual contact with its target. The Bat saw combat service in 1945, destroying several Japanese ships off the coast of Borneo and Japanese-held bridges in Burma. During the summer of 2000, the remains of a Bat missile were discovered in a NIST warehouse. It was tattered and worn after more than 50 years in storage, yet its fuselage, wings and tail assembly were still intact (the interior mechanisms including the warhead had been discarded years before). Aviation maintenance students at a local academic institution, Frederick Community College, worked with NIST staff to repair, clean, paint and reassemble the Bat. It now resides in the museum at NIST's Gaithersburg, Md., headquarters.

For more information, go to:
http://museum.nist.gov/panels/batmissile/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: January 7, 2016

National Technical Information Service

Question: A 2014 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report, available through the National Technical Information Service, studied erosion problems caused by burrowing: badgers, catfish or snakes?

Answer: Catfish

The August 2015 edition of the newsletter for the National Technical Research Laboratory (NTRL) of the federal government's National Technical Information Service (NTIS) references a 2014 research study that examined the environmental impact in Florida of burrows made by suckermouth armored catfish (also known as "plecos"). The study was conducted by the Aquatic Nuisance Species Research Program (ANSRP), a part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) in Vicksburg, Miss. Suckermouth armored catfish, a species native to Central and South America, are believed to have been introduced into Florida's freshwater lakes and rivers in the 1970s as "escapees" from home aquaria and tropical fish farms. By 2014, the ANSRP study states, the population had grown substantially with the species colonizing most freshwater habitats in peninsular Florida. This presents a dangerous ecological challenge because burrows built by the fish into the shores of Florida's waterways have resulted in "increased siltation, damage to banks, impaired shoreline stability and exacerbated erosion."

For more information, go to:
http://www.ntis.gov/assets/pdf/NTRNews8-2.pdf

December 2015

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: December 22, 2015

Department of Education

Question: Statistics from the U.S. Department of Education show that in the 2013-2014 school year there were how many states with a 90 percent or better graduation rate from public high schools: one, two or three?

Answer: One, Iowa

According to National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), part of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the statistics, research, and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Education, public high schools in the United States (the 50 states and the District of Columbia) had an overall graduation rate of 82.3 percent for the 2013-2014 school year—the highest mark since states adopted a uniform way of calculating graduation rates in 2010. The statistics also showed that the gap between white students and black and Hispanic students receiving high school diplomas continues to narrow, and that traditionally underserved populations like English language learners and students with disabilities continue to make gains. The 2013-2014 statistics indicate solid progress toward meeting the goal of 90 percent on-time graduation by 2020. One state, Iowa, is already there, having graduated 90.5 percent of its students in 2013-2014. Nebraska was just off the standard with a rate of 89.7 percent, while four additional states—New Hampshire, New Jersey, Texas and Wisconsin—each had rates above 88 percent.

For more information, go to:
http://blog.ed.gov/2015/12/u-s-high-school-graduation-rate-hits-new-record-high/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: December 17, 2015

Library of Congress

Question: According to the Library of Congress, hurricanes cannot occur at the Earth’s equator, true or false?

Answer: True

As part of its Science Reference Services, the Library of Congress (LOC) features a website of fun science facts known as "Everyday Mysteries." One of the featured questions discusses the Coriolis effect, the observed curved path of moving objects relative to the surface of the Earth. The phenomenon, incorrectly attributed to making the water in a toilet bowl swirl counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere (the amount of water is too small for the Coriolis effect to be present), does actually control the direction of tropical cyclones (better known as hurricanes and typhoons depending on their location), which are intense storms that rotate counterclockwise above the equator and clockwise below the equator. At the equator (or 0 degrees latitude), the Coriolis force is too weak to operate on the moving air. This means that tropical cyclones are not observed at the equator, although they have been observed at 5 degrees above the equator. In fact, the Coriolis force pulls hurricanes away from the equator.

For more information, go to:
http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/coriolis.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: December 15, 2015

U.S. Department of the Interior Geological Survey

Question: According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the biggest landslide in recorded history occurred where in 1980?

Answer: Mount St. Helens, Wash.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the world's biggest historic landslide occurred during the May 18, 1980, eruption of Mount St. Helens, a volcano in the Cascade Mountain Range in Washington State. The volume of material dislodged during the "debris avalanche" (moving masses of rock, soil and snow that occur when the flank of a mountain or volcano collapses and slides downslope) was about 2.5 cubic kilometers (3.3 billion cubic yards), equivalent to the volume of water needed to fill one million Olympic swimming pools. The landslide removed Mount St. Helens' northern flank, swept around and up ridges to the north, and eventually turned westward to travel as far as 23 kilometers (14 miles) down the valley of the North Fork Toutle River. The remains of the world's biggest prehistoric landslide (discovered so far on land) is the Saidmarreh landslide in southwestern Iran. Located on the Kabir Kuh anticline (a fold in the Earth's crust that has an upward convex shape and its oldest rock at the core of the formation), the landslide involved a volume of about 20 cubic kilometers (26 billion cubic yards), has a depth of 300 meters (650 feet) and a width of 5 kilometers (3 miles), and traveled 14 kilometers (9 miles) from its point of origin. About 51 billion metric tons (50 billion long tons) of rock moved in this single event, estimated to have occurred during an earthquake more than 10,000 years ago.

For more information, go to:
http://www.usgs.gov/faq/categories/9752/2606

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: December 10, 2015

Environmental Protection Agency

Question: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency annually dedicates a week in September to the septic tank, true or false?

Answer: True

Each year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) holds SepticSmart Week with outreach activities to encourage homeowners and communities to care for and maintain their septic systems. The latest SepticSmart Week took place the week of Sept. 21-25, 2015, and was officially proclaimed as such by the governors of six states: Idaho, Missouri, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington. During the annual event, EPA seeks to inform homeowners on proper septic system care and maintenance, assist local agencies in promoting homeowner education and awareness, and educate local decision makers about the infrastructure options available to improve and sustain their communities. Among the SepticSmart Week activities that EPA proposes for communities to consider are Boy-Girl Scout badge projects, video contests and lobby exhibits/information booths for public meetings, county fairs and government buildings.

For more information, go to:
http://www.epa.gov/septic/septicsmart-week

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: December 8, 2015

U.S. Forest Service

Question: According to U.S. Forest Service research, drought causes bees and other pollinators to visit plants less or more often?

Answer: Less often

Pollinators—animals such as bats, bees, beetles, birds, butterflies, flies, moths and wasps—assist 80 percent of flowering plants in their reproduction, which in turn, accounts for much of the food ingested by humans and wildlife. Investigators at the Rocky Mountain Research Station (RSMS) in Fort Collins, Colo., a facility of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s U.S. Forest Service (USFS), examined how drought, which is predicted to increase in the Western United States due to climate change, affected floral odors and pollinator attraction in four plant species in Montana. What the researchers found was that three of the four species showed reduced pollinator visitation due to stress from drought and all four had an altered floral scent. For example, drought-stressed bluebells lacked certain floral odors that attract pollinators and therefore, received only one-quarter of the visits that well-watered plants experienced. These findings suggest that some plants and pollinators will be negatively affected if the frequency and severity of droughts increase due to climate change.

For more information, go to:
http://www.fs.fed.us/rmrs/docs/research-highlights/2014/drought-stress.pdf

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: December 3, 2015

National Archives and Records Administration

Question: The National Archives and Records Administration has a 1775 letter from George Washington that accuses the British of a bioterrorist attack, true or false?

Answer: True

Among the numerous artifacts showcased in the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) online exhibit known as “Eyewitness: American Originals from the National Archives” is a letter dated Dec. 4, 1775, sent by General George Washington to John Hancock, the president of the Continental Congress, regarding an alleged plot by the British to spread smallpox among the American troops. Washington knew firsthand the misery of the disease having survived a smallpox infection years earlier; he was well aware that a smallpox epidemic would ravage his fledgling armies. Washington based his bioterrorism theory on a story he heard from a sailor who claimed that British General William Howe was sending people out from Boston who had been deliberately infected with smallpox so that they might pass on the disease to the Americans surrounding the city. After seeing an increased number of cases in people leaving Boston, Washington came to believe that smallpox was indeed “a weapon of Defence they Are useing against us.” Although it is impossible to determine whether or not the British actually practiced germ warfare against the Americans, the letter now held by NARA and others written by Washington around the same time show that the threat of biological warfare was sufficiently real in his mind. Ironically, the years of the American Revolution did coincide with a smallpox epidemic that spanned the North American continent claiming more than 130,000 lives from 1775 to 1782.

For more information, go to:
https://www.archives.gov/exhibits/eyewitness/html.php?section=4

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: December 1, 2015

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Question: According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the weather phenomenon known as El Niño was named for which religious icon: Buddha, Jesus or Moses?

Answer: Jesus

El Niño, a weather phenomenon characterized by unusually warm temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean (off the coasts of Peru and Ecuador) and a large scale weakening of the trade winds over those waters, was named by Peruvian fishermen and fertilizer merchants after the Spanish nickname for the baby Jesus (El Niño means The Little Boy in Spanish) because it occurs about once every 3-4 years in late December around Christmas, says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). According to the Tropical Atmospheric Ocean Project (TAO) of NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL), members of the two industries in Peru most dependent upon the ocean—fishing and fertilizer—were among the first to notice El Niño because it severely affected their livelihoods. The warming of the ocean surface would stop the upwelling of cold water, and the nutrients within it, from the depths of the Pacific. This would lead the fish that fed on the nutrients to leave their normal habitat and in turn, force the birds that fed on the fish—and produced droppings usable as fertilizer—to depart as well. Along with disrupting marine-based trade and commerce, El Niño dramatically affects the balance of the ocean-atmosphere system in the tropical Pacific and results in weather consequences around the world. Among these are increased rainfall and flooding across the southern United States and western coast of South America, and drought in the western Pacific leading to devastating brush fires in Australia. A phenomenon opposite of El Niño, known as La Niña (The Little Girl in Spanish), occurs when the Pacific Equatorial surface waters cool and there is an increase in the trade winds over those waters. It is not uncommon for La Niña to follow a strong El Niño.

For more information, go to:
http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/tao/elnino/nino-home.html

November 2015

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: November 24, 2015

Department of Defense

Question: The deadly Lassa fever virus, the genetic diversity of which is being studied by the Defense Department’s U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, was first seen on which continent?

Answer: Africa

Lassa fever, a viral hemorrhagic fever disease first seen in Lassa, Nigeria, in 1969, annually infects an estimated 100,000 to 300,000 persons in West Africa and results in approximately 5,000 deaths. Two researchers at the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)’s U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (USNRL), Michael Stockelman and Tomasz Leski, are studying the genetic diversity of the Lassa fever virus in the hopes that their wok can aid the development of vaccines, diagnostic tests and antiviral drugs. The scientists use a combination of techniques including a USNRL-developed microarray for detection of biothreat agents (called Resequencing Pathogen Microarray, or RPM, technology), and the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to detect Lassa virus in tissues of rodents (the natural host for the virus is a rat) captured in Sierra Leone. Fragments of the viral genome are sequenced and the genetic profile is compared to those from other viral samples. The results allow Stockelman and Leski to construct genealogical trees of Lassa fever viruses throughout Sierra Leone to characterize the degree of diversity and relationship between the different strains.

For more information, go to:
http://www.nrl.navy.mil/media/news-releases/2015/navy-researchers-explore-genetic-diversity-of-lassa-virus-in-west-africa

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: November 19, 2015

Question: Developed with National Science Foundation support, a new method detects toxic chemicals in materials using what "speedy" physics device?

Answer: A particle accelerator

For decades, chemical compounds with a strong carbon-fluorine bond, or perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), were valued for their ability to help make everyday materials stain- or water-resistant or nonstick, including textiles and food packaging papers. But industry was forced to re-evaluate its use of these compounds almost a decade ago, when scientists learned they were toxic, didn't break down in the environment and were bioaccumulative (their concentration builds up in animal and human bodies over time). To detect PFCs in the materials making up household goods, clothing and other products without having to destroy them in the process, Graham Peaslee, a chemistry professor at Hope College, devised and refined a nondestructive, reproducible and relatively quick technique called "Particle Induced Gamma Emission," or PIGE. The new method, developed with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), uses a small particle accelerator to beam ions at a sample suspected of having a specific element, such as lithium, beryllium, boron or fluorine. When one of the charged particles collides with a nucleus in that target sample, it transfers energy to that nucleus, exciting it. The nucleus gets rid of that excess energy by emitting a gamma ray—a high-energy photon. Because of the unique nuclear structure of each element, the emitted gamma rays are like fingerprints that allow scientists to identify exactly which element or isotope is present. PFCs, of course, would show up with a fluorine signature.

For more information, go to:
http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=135957

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: November 17, 2015

Question: Which U.S. astronaut was the first to perform a spacewalk in a Russian spacesuit: Jerry Linenger, Bruce McCandless or Kathryn Sullivan?

Answer: Jerry Linenger

On Apr. 29, 1997, U.S. astronaut Jerry Linenger and Russian cosmonaut Vasily Tsibliyev conducted a 4-hour, 59-minute spacewalk outside of the Mir space station to install an optical properties monitor (that exposed selected materials to the space environment with the effects being measured at a later date with in-space optical instruments) and a radiation dosimeter to the hull, and retrieve several externally mounted material-exposure panels. Both men were the first to wear the newly designed Russian Orlan-M spacesuit during an extravehicular activity (EVA). It also marked the first time that an American astronaut performed an EVA wearing a suit not designed and manufactured in the United States. Linenger's stay aboard Mir began on Jan. 12, 1997, and ended on May 24, 1997, a total of 132 days that was the longest continuous time in orbit for an American up to that time. The mission also was notable, albeit in a negative way, for one of the most dangerous situations ever faced by humans in space. On Feb. 24, 1997, fire broke out in one of the Mir modules and nearly forced the crew to abandon ship. The other two astronauts listed as possible answers to this trivia question also achieved firsts in the history of U.S. EVAs: McCandless was the first American astronaut to spacewalk untethered (Feb. 7, 1984) and Sullivan was the first American woman to spacewalk (Oct. 11, 1984).

For more information, go to:
http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4225/nasa4/nasa4.htm

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: November 12, 2015

Department of Transportation

Question: The Department of Transportation reports that diesel-powered vehicles account for what percentage of nitrous oxide and nitrous dioxide pollutants: 20, 50 or 70?

Answer: About 50 percent

A recent fact sheet issued by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) at the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) reports that while diesel-powered vehicles made up only 4 percent of the nation's total fleet of motor vehicles, they accounted for nearly 50 percent of the emissions of two prominent air pollutants, nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). According to the BTS, diesel-powered vehicles—primarily medium and heavy trucks—produced 2.1 metric megatons (approximately 2 billion kilograms or the equivalent weight of 1,000 space shuttles) of the noxious gases while gasoline-powered vehicles emitted 2.4 megatons. The good news is that newer ultra-low sulfur diesel fuels and advanced emission control systems should significantly reduce this output in the future.

For more information, go to:
http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/DieselFactSheet.pdf

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: November 10, 2015

National Library of Medicine

Question: Where is the "hyperbolic parabaloid" found at the National Library of Medicine's main building in Bethesda, Md.?

Answer: The roof

The current main building of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) opened on the campus of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., in 1962. Designed to shield the collection from a Cold War nuclear attack, the building features thick limestone walls, over 80 kilometers (50 miles) of subterranean bookshelves and a collapsible, saddle-shaped roof officially known as a 'hyperbolic paraboloid.' This is a geometric shape where the vertical cross sections are parabolas and the horizontal cross sections are hyperbolas. The NLM roof spans 30 meters (98 feet) and is supported by four steel columns set in a 19-meter (63-foot) square. It covers a structure of five floors—three below ground—totaling 21,540 square meters (231,855 square feet). The hyperbolic paraboloid roof was constructed so that, in the event of an atomic blast, it would collapse straight down and land on a concrete slab heavily reinforced with steel. This, in turn, would protect the floors below and their valuable contents.

For more information, go to:
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/tour/roof.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: November 5, 2015

Department of Homeland Security

Question: A new robotic technology developed by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate uses a single X-ray scan to find: broken welds, hidden bombs or stolen goods?

Answer: Hidden bombs

The X-Ray Scanning Rover (XSR), a novel robotic technology being developed by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T), may soon become the defense-of-choice against leave-behind improvised explosive devices (LBIEDs)—bombs deployed in public areas while hidden in packages and bags. Where conventional handheld scanning systems require multiple images of a hidden object to be stitched together, the XSR makes a single continuous scan that yields a three-dimensional, multi-view picture in real time, saving first responders precious seconds in a threatening situation. Another advantage is that bomb squads do not have to buy an additional robot to use the DHS S&T detection technology. The XSR is designed to be embedded within existing, commercially-available, midsize explosive-sensing robots that are widely used by law enforcement agencies. To increase the usefulness of its images, the XSR includes 3-D coordinates that mark the location of an explosive device within a suspicious package, a capability previously not found in scanners. DHS S&T plans for selected bomb disposal units across the nation to field test the prototype XSR in 2016.

For more information, go to:
http://www.dhs.gov/science-and-technology/x-ray-scanning-rover

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: November 3, 2015

Department of Energy

Question: Scientists at the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory discovered that artist Pablo Picasso used what substance to create some of his greatest masterpieces: beeswax, common house paint or garden soil?

Answer: Common house paint

Art historians have long suspected that master painter Pablo Picasso, famous for his avant-garde style, used ordinary house paint rather than traditional oil paints for many of his celebrated works of art. Art Institute of Chicago conservation scientist Francesca Casadio collaborated with Volker Rose, a physicist with the Center for Nanoscale Materials and the Advanced Photon Source (APS) at the Department of Energy (DOE)'s Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), to determine the truth. Using the Hard X-Ray Nanoprobe, developed by DOE, the scientists acquired an "unprecedented look at 30-nanometer-wide particles of paint and impurities from the paint manufacturing process. For comparison, a typical sheet of copier paper is 100,000 nanometers thick." Scientists were able to measure with "exquisite precision" the distribution of individual elements in the chemicals and paint particles not seen in conventional imaging techniques. This demonstrated conclusively that Picasso used the first commercial house paint, Ripolin, in some of his artwork.

For more information, go to:
http://www.anl.gov/articles/high-energy-x-rays-shine-light-mystery-picasso-s-paints

October 2015

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: October 29, 2015

National Institute of Standards and Technology

Question: True or false: The Julliard String Quartet once played in a sound absorbing room at the National Institute of Standards and Technology?

Answer: True

Once described as the "quietest place on Earth," an acoustic anechoic (sound absorbing) chamber was built in the early 1970s at the Gaithersburg, Md., headquarters of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The room was lined with large fiberglass wedges arranged in a pattern that absorbed more the 99 percent of the sound originating in it. Among the items tested in the special facility were hearing aids, microphones, loudspeakers and hearing protectors for firing ranges. Perhaps the strangest use of the room was in March 1976 when the string quartet from The Julliard School in New York played two sets of instruments—one from the 17th and 18th centuries and the other, a modern collection from a Massachusetts manufacturer—to compare their quality.

For more information, go to:
http://www.nist.gov/nvl/upload/SP955_09_CHAPTER_THREE.pdf (Type 90 in the page search blank)

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: October 27, 2015

National Technical Information Service

Question: A U.S. Department of Agriculture handbook, available from the National Technical Information Service, is actually a how-to manual for fixing streams, true or false?

Answer: True

The National Engineering Handbook, Part 654 (NEH-654), Stream Restoration Design Handbook, was published in August 2007 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to serve as a "how-to manual" for carrying out science-based solutions to ecological problems in streams and small rivers. These range "from simple stream bank protection to more complex plans covering watershed-scale stream and riparian [streambank or riverbank] restoration efforts involving multiple partners and agencies." NEH-654 includes 28 technical supplements, 18 case studies from 14 states, a terminology section and references; it focuses on the "engineering, landscape architecture, geology, hydraulics, hydrology, ecology and fluvial geomorphology [the science of rivers—how they transport sediment, migrate across the landscape, cut into bedrock, respond to environmental and tectonic changes, and interact with humans] necessary to analyze and design stream and riverine projects." NEH-654 is the applications companion to NEH-653, Stream Corridor Restoration: Principles, Processes, and Practices, an earlier (1998) USDA publication that focuses on the theory behind stream restoration. NEH-653 and NEH-654 are available together on CD-ROM from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS); order number PB2009-500007.

For more information, go to:
https://www.ntis.gov/products/stream-corridor

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: October 22, 2015

Department of Education

Question: According to the Department of Education, parents and teachers can help infants and toddlers acquire language skills by talking, reading and doing what else with them?

Answer: Singing

According to the U.S. Department of Education, research shows that parents and teachers who talk, read and sing with children every day provide a "language-rich environment" that fosters solid language, vocabulary, reading and math skills, as well as a child’s social and emotional development. Additionally, frequent talking, reading and singing with infants and toddlers exposes them to a higher number and greater variety of words than other children. The difference between the two groups is what researchers call the "word gap." To create a language-rich environment for children, the Department of Education recommends a number of strategies, including asking questions, using novel and interesting words, promoting interactive and dialogic reading (engaging a child in dialogue about a book) and facilitating "thick" conversations (characterized by multiple opportunities to speak, open-ended questions, back-and-forth exchanges and encouragement to think and imagine).

For more information, go to:
http://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/earlylearning/talk-read-sing/index.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: October 20, 2015

Library of Congress

Question: Who bequeathed rare tomes on magic to the Library of Congress before his Halloween 1926 death: Harry Blackstone or Harry Houdini?

Answer: Harry Houdini

Arguably the world’s greatest illusionist and escape artist, Harry Houdini mastered the art of magic, debunked the mediums of his time and applied the laws of science (e.g. chemistry, physics, and mathematics) to the magical arts. Throughout his life, he amassed a large number of books focused on the practice and science of magic and eventually, willed the collection to the Library of Congress.

Houdini died on October 31, 1926, and the following year, the Library of Congress Rare Books and Special Collections received 3,988 items from the magician’s personal library. Included in the collection are 18th century German books on natural magic, 19th and 20th century titles related to spiritualism, and periodicals that focused on psychology and the esoteric. Houdini also donated his scrapbooks documenting his life and prolific career. Selections from Harry Houdini’s library and scrapbook collections have been digitized and are available on the Library’s website. Along with these, one can read historical newspaper articles on Houdini as part of the Chronicling America: Historical American Newspapers digital collection.

Harry Blackstone Sr. (1885-1965), known as the Great Blackstone, was famous for tricks such as the Floating Light Bulb. The magician would take a lighted bulb from a lamp and float it, still glowing, through a small hoop. He would then come down from the stage and the lamp would float out over the heads of the audience. On the 100th anniversary of Blackstone’s birth in 1985, his son Harry Jr. (also a famed magician) donated the trick bulb to the Smithsonian.

For more information, go to:
http://www.loc.gov/rr/rarebook/coll/122.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: October 15, 2015

United States Geological Survey

Question: True or false: The U.S. Geological Survey Geomagnetism Program monitors magnetic storms that arise from the molten iron at the Earth’s core?

Answer: False

The mission of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)'s Geomagnetism Program is to monitor the magnetosphere, the magnetic field surrounding the Earth. Using ground-based observatories, the program provides continuous records of magnetic field variations covering long timescales; disseminates magnetic data to various governmental, academic and private institutions; and conducts research into the nature of geomagnetic variations for purposes of scientific understanding and hazard mitigation. Geomagnetic storms can interfere with radio communications, GPS systems, satellites and directional drilling for oil and gas. Large magnetic storms can even interfere with the operations of electric power grids, causing blackouts. The USGS Geomagnetism Program is an integral part of the federal government’s National Space Weather Program (NSWP), which provides timely, accurate and reliable space weather warnings, observations, specifications and forecasts. The USGS currently operates 14 magnetic observatories, ranging as far north as Barrow, Alaska; as far east as Guam; as far south as Honolulu, Hawaii; and as far west as San Juan, Puerto Rico. Magnetometer data collected at these facilities are relayed to the program headquarters in Golden, Colo. The observatories were extremely busy during a three-day period in June 2015 when three coronal mass ejections (CMEs, commonly known as solar flares) erupted from the Sun and unleashed a severe geomagnetic storm that struck the Earth’s magnetosphere. The storm caused the aurora borealis (“Northern Lights”), normally confined to northern latitudes, to be viewable by skywatchers as far south as North Carolina, Georgia and Texas.

For more information, go to:
http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2007/3092/pdf/FS07-3092_508.pdf

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: October 13, 2015

Environmental Protection Agency

Question: According to the Environmental Protection Agency, which of these is not a source of antimony contamination in water: aircraft exhaust, ceramics, petroleum refineries or solder?

Answer: Aircraft exhaust

Antimony, a silvery white metal (chemical symbol Sb from the Latin stibium), was known and used in Biblical times as a medicine and cosmetic. Antimony is commonly found in nature combined with sulfur as the mineral stibnite (Sb2S3). It is most often used to harden lead for storage batteries. The metal also finds applications in solders, in petroleum refining, and as a flame-retardant for products such automobile seat covers, ceramics, children's clothing, glass and toys. Under the authority of the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set the maximum contaminant level goal (MCLG)—the level of contamination in drinking water at which no adverse health effects are likely to occur—for antimony at 0.006 milligram per liter or 6 parts per billion. People who drink water containing antimony well in excess of the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for many years may experience increases in blood cholesterol and decreases in blood sugar.

For more information, go to:
http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/basicinformation/antimony.cfm

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: October 8, 2015

U.S. Forest Service

Question: According to the U.S. Forest Service, trees growing in urban areas sequester (remove) 5 million, 10 million or 25 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually?

Answer: 25 million

Trees growing in urban areas can impact local climate, carbon cycles, energy use and climate change through the storage and sequestration (direct removal) of carbon dioxide (CO2), the dominant greenhouse gas plaguing the atmosphere. For a 2013 study reported in the scientific journal Environmental Pollution, scientists at research laboratories of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS)'s Northern Research Station (NRS) in Syracuse, N.Y., and Durham, N.H., quantified the amount of CO2 stored and sequestered by urban trees in 28 cities and six states to define an "average carbon density per unit of tree cover." This average was then applied to urban tree cover measurements for each of the nation's 48 contiguous states to get urban forest CO2 storage and sequestration totals for each individual state and the entire United States. Annual tree carbon storage in U.S. urban areas is estimated at 643 million metric tons, a value estimated at $50.5 billion, with annual carbon sequestration estimated at 25.6 million metric tons, a $2 billion value. USFS is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

For more information, go to:
http://www.fs.fed.us/research/highlights/highlights_display.php?in_high_id=472

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: October 6, 2015

National Archives and Records Administration

Question: The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, part of the National Archives and Records Administration, once had a plaster cast of an alleged Bigfoot print as part of an exhibit, true or false?

Answer: True

In the summer of 2007, the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa, staged an exhibit called "American Mysteries, Riddles, and Controversies!" exploring 30 unanswered questions haunting American history that have perpetually fueled debates between skeptics and believers. Among the mysteries covered in the exhibit—with related artifacts—were: Did Betsy Ross actually sew the first American flag? (a later-made flag known to be her creation); Was George Custer responsible for the massacre at Little Big Horn? (a pair of moccasins worn by Custer's Crow scout Curley); What happened to aviatrix Amelia Earhart? (one of her flight jackets); and Does Bigfoot really exist? (a cast of a footprint purporting to be proof). The last item, a 36-centimeter (14-inch) plaster impression of a non-human foot, was taken from a print discovered near Bluff Creek, Calif., in October 1963 by Albert Hodgson. It was loaned to the Hoover Library by Idaho State University anthropology professor Jeffrey Meldrum, an expert on foot morphology and locomotion in primates and author of the book Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science. The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum is part of the Office of Presidential Libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration.

For more information, go to:
http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2007/summer/mysteries.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: October 1, 2015

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Question: According to NOAA Fisheries, the Spanish word used to describe the en masse, synchronized nesting of Kemp's and olive ridley sea turtles is: arribada ("arrival"), compañerismo ("companionship") or reunión ("meeting")?

Answer: Arribada

According to NOAA Fisheries (also known as the National Marine Fisheries Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an arribada, the Spanish word for "arrival," refers to the unique nesting behavior of two species of sea turtles. In an arribada, female Kemp's ridley and olive ridley sea turtles, both in the genus Lepidochelys, will swarm upon their respective nesting beaches to lay thousands of eggs. By overwhelming predators with more hatchlings than they can eat, the turtles increase the odds that enough offspring will survive to carry on the species There are many theories as to what triggers an arribada, including offshore winds, lunar cycles and the release of pheromones by female turtles, but no one knows for certain. Arribadas by Kemp's ridley turtles only occur in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas on the Gulf of Mexico coast (where 95 percent of the species nests). Olive ridley turtles nest along the Pacific, Indian and Western Atlantic shores, but not always in an arribada. Some are solitary nesters, while others employ a mixed strategy by nesting once during an arribada and another time alone during the same nesting season.

For more information, go to:
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/turtles/kempsridley.htm
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/turtles/oliveridley.htm

September 2015

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: September 29, 2015

Department of Defense

Question: The Department of Defense's U.S. Naval Research Laboratory is developing a robot firefighter for which of these vehicles: airplanes, ships or tanks?

Answer: Scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (USNRL), the corporate research laboratory for the U.S. Navy (USN) and the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC), are developing a humanoid-type robot to combat fires aboard vessels at sea. The mechanized first responder, called the Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot (SAFFiR), is designed to move autonomously aboard a ship, maneuvering easily through narrow passageways and scaling ladders—tasks that are challenging for older, simpler robots. The SAFFiR is equipped with advanced navigating technology that includes a camera, gas sensor and stereo infrared camera to enable it to see through smoke. Its upper body is capable of manipulating fire suppressors and throwing propelled extinguishing agent technology (PEAT) grenades. Like a sure-footed sailor, the Department of Defense (DoD) robot also is capable of walking in all directions, balancing in sea conditions and traversing obstacles. Most importantly, the SAFFiR can work cohesively with a ship’s damage control personnel thanks to algorithms enabling autonomous mobility and independent decision making. For example, it can understand and respond to gestures, such as pointing and hand signals. Researchers from Virginia Tech and the University of Pennsylvania are working with USNRL on the project.

For more information, go to:

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: September 24, 2015

Question: Developed partly with National Science Foundation funding, a novel wind turbine is found in what unusual location?

Answer: In the air

Most wind turbine manufacturers are competing to build taller turbines to harness more powerful winds above 150 meters (500 feet). However, the engineers at Altaeros Energies have been going much higher with their novel Buoyant Airborne Turbine (BAT), a combination airship and power generator, which can reach 600 meters (2,000 feet). At that altitude, wind speeds are faster and have five to eight times greater power density. As a result, the BAT can generate more than twice the energy of a similarly rated tower-mounted turbine. The BAT consists of a helium-inflatable shell that channels wind through a lightweight wind turbine. The shell self-stabilizes and produces aerodynamic lift, in addition to buoyancy. Multiple high-strength tethers hold the BAT in place and a single conductive tether transmits power to a mobile ground station. The BAT has the potential to bring affordable wind energy to remote communities and industries. To help get the BAT from the drawing board to the clouds, the National Science Foundation (NSF) provided Altaeros with Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants to test a low-cost, high-performance fabric suitable for the BAT's shell, and develop its modular wind turbine for power performance and ease of installation.

For more information, go to:
http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=134023

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: September 22, 2015

Question: Did NASA ever fly an STS-13 space shuttle mission, yes or no?

Answer: No, STS-13 was renamed STS-41C before it flew.

The April 1984 space shuttle Challenger flight originally designated by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as STS (Space Transportation System)-13 was renamed mission STS-41C. Scheduling changes eventually moved it forward to the 11th shuttle flight with STS-41G becoming the 13th when it was launched in October 1984. After the first nine flights (STS-1 through STS-9) were numbered in order, NASA switched in 1984 to a new coding system where the first number indicated the last digit of the federal fiscal year for the flight (ex: FY 1984 would be “4”), the second number identified the launch site (Kennedy Space Center in Florida was “1” and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California was “2,” although Vandenberg was never used) and the letter indicated the scheduled order (ex: “C” would be the third flight, “D” the fourth, etc.). After the STS-51L Challenger disaster in January 1986—the 25th space shuttle mission—NASA returned to a sequential numbering system. Therefore, the “Return to Flight” mission of Discovery in September 1988 was designated STS-26. When STS-41C was still known as STS-13, crew member Francis "Dick" Scobee designed an alternate mission patch as a “triskaidekaphobia” (fear of the number 13) joke that featured the space shuttle flying under the legs of a growling black cat with the number 13 on its side.

For more information, go to:
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/main/index.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: September 17, 2015

Department of Transportation

Question: According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration, which four state capitals are not directly served by the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways?

Answer: Juneau, Alaska; Dover, Del.; Jefferson City, Mo.; and Pierre, S.D.

From the day President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways (more commonly known by the simpler "Interstate System") has been a part of the American way of life. Currently, the Interstate System is 75,440 kilometers (46,876 miles) long and was estimated in 1991 to have cost nearly $129 billion to build. The Interstate System serves all but four U.S. state capitals: Juneau, Alaska; Dover, Del.; Jefferson City, Mo.; and Pierre, S.D. Carson City, Nev., was removed from the list in August 2012 when I-580 was opened between Reno and the capital. Construction, maintenance and preservation of the Interstate System is the responsibility of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)'s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

For more information, go to:
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/highwayhistory/interstate.cfm

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: September 15, 2015

National Library of Medicine

Question: Who is not Emmy Immunity's foe in a 1964 Public Service Announcement found in NLM's Digital Collection: Dippy Diphtheria, Lumpy Mumpy or Roly Polio?

Answer: Lumpy Mumpy

Among the 200 cataloged films about vaccination and immunization in the Digital Collections of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) is a series of 1964 animated public service announcements (PSAs) starring a pig-tailed girl named Emmy Immunity. Created by the South Carolina State Board of Health and the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS), Emmy Immunity was part of a "widespread public information campaign about the necessity of immunization." At the end of each of her seven TV appearances, Emmy Immunity sang her advice to viewers: "Keep your family safe, every age and size, protection can be yours when you immunize." Four pathogenic villains tried to thwart Emmy's crusade for healthy citizens: Dippy Diphtheria, Locky Lockjaw, Roly Polio and Whoopy Whooping Cough—all contagious diseases (diphtheria, tetanus, polio and pertussis) for which vaccines were available at the time. There wasn't a "Lumpy Mumpy" character because the mumps vaccine was not standardized until 1967, three years after the Emmy Immunity PSAs were created.

For more information, go to:
http://circulatingnow.nlm.nih.gov/2015/08/20/emmy-immunity/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: September 10, 2015

Department of Homeland Security

Question: A novel uniform designed by DHS S&T and partners for wildland firefighters protects them against: burns, heat stress or smoke?

Answer: Heat stress (heat exhaustion and heat stroke)

Surprisingly, first responders who battle wildland fires experience more injuries from heat stress—conditions such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke—than from burns. To combat the problem, a team with members from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), the University of California, Davis (UCD), the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the First Responders Group (FRG) of the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) developed a prototype uniform that increases comfort and breathability in high-heat conditions while maintaining current standards for fire protection. The design incorporates improvements to the whole garment ensemble—undergarments, socks, shirts and pants. For example, the undergarments are made from a cutting-edge U.S. Army fabric that breathes, does not melt or drip, and wicks away sweat. Along with such technical innovations, the development team brought in a clothing designer to solicit and incorporate firefighter input so that comfort and functionality weren't forgotten. The Advanced Personal Protection Equipment (APPE) uniform is now being transitioned into the commercial market.

For more information, go to:
http://www.dhs.gov/science-and-technology/wildland-fire-fighter-uniform-redesigned

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: September 8, 2015

Department of Energy

Question: Researchers with the Department of Energy's Office of Science have produced an effective diesel fuel from what Christmas icon: candy cane, fir tree or fruitcake?

Answer: Fir tree

Researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) in Emeryville, Calif., one of three Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Research Centers (BRCs) established by DOE's Office of Science in 2007, have inserted a gene from the Grand Fir tree (Abies grandis) into two different microbes, yeast and Escherichia coli, that enables them to manufacture an organic compound known as bisabolene from simple sugars. Bisabolene, a member of the terpene chemical family, can be hydrogenated to yield bisabolane, a biosynthetic alternative to D2 diesel fuel (also known as "road diesel"). In addition to being renewable, bisabolane fuel is noncorrosive and works well in cold temperatures. Work is currently under way at the Advanced Biofuels Process Demonstration Unit at the DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL) to scale up the bisabolane-making process in order to move the biofuel from the laboratory to the pump.

For more information, go to:
http://science.energy.gov/news/featured-articles/2011/12-06-11/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: September 3, 2015

National Institute of Standards and Technology

Question: True or false, the first major challenge for the fledgling NIST in 1904 was checking fire hydrants?

Answer: True

When Congress created the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology or NIST) in March 1901, it hoped that the new agency would soon address the problem of divergent measurements and standards (such as eight different definitions of the gallon). Little did the legislators know that within three years, a very different—and more dramatic—need for standardization would provide the first test of the fledgling national laboratory’s ability to make a difference. On the morning of Feb. 7, 1904, a fire broke out in a warehouse in the Baltimore harbor. As flames began spreading through the central business district, the Baltimore fire chief called for help from Washington, D.C. However, engine companies arriving by special train from the capital found themselves helpless when their hoses would not fit Baltimore hydrants. There was no standard thread size at the time for coupling hoses to hydrants. The blaze, which became known as the Great Baltimore Fire, raged for a total of 30 hours, while one by one, firefighting units from New York; Philadelphia; Annapolis, Md.; Wilmington, Del.; Atlantic City, N.J.; and Chester, York, Altoona and Harrisburg, Penn. all arrived to find their efforts cursed by incompatible equipment. Despite the 1,231 firefighters, 57 engines, nine trucks, two hose companies, one fireboat and one police boat used, the fire claimed 1,526 buildings over a 70 block area. Following the catastrophe, the Secretary of Commerce requested that NBS study the coupling problem. Before the investigation ended, more than 600 sizes and variations in fire-hose couplings were documented across the country. The following year, the National Fire Protection Association, with the assistance of the Bureau, adopted a national coupling standard along with an interchangeable device for non-standard couplings.

For more information, go to:

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: September 1, 2015

National Technical Information Service

Question: You can get a human male thorax from the National Technical Information Service, true or false?

Answer: True, as a digital image on DVD

Available from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) are DVDs with the complete set of digital images in the "Visible Human – Male" and "Visible Human – Female" collections from the National Library of Medicine (NLM). The dissected bodies of a convicted murderer from Texas and a Maryland housewife were immortalized in the 1990s by NLM as part of the Visible Human Project, a library of digitized images providing the complete, anatomically detailed, three-dimensional representations of the normal male and female human anatomies. Among the male and female body sections included are images of the thorax, abdomen, pelvis, thighs and legs. Since 1995, the Visible Human data sets have been used for a wide range of educational, diagnostic, treatment planning, virtual reality, artistic, mathematical and industrial purposes by nearly 2,000 licensees in 48 countries.

For more information, go to:
https://www.ntis.gov/products/visible-human/

August 2015

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: August 27, 2015

Department of Education

Question: According to the U.S. Department of Education, the performance in science for U.S. eighth-grade students between 2009 and 2011 decreased, increased or stayed the same?

Answer: Increased

Eighth-grade students in the United States improved their performance in science from 2009 to 2011, according to results from the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as "The Nation's Report Card." The 2011 science assessment was given to a representative sample of 122,000 eighth-graders in public, private and other types of schools, and measured their knowledge and abilities in physical science, life science, and Earth and space sciences. NAEP, which is administered by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) within the U.S. Department of Education (ED), is the only continuing and nationally representative assessment of what students in the United States know and can do in certain subjects.

For more information, go to:
http://www.nationsreportcard.gov/science_2011/science_2011_report/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: August 25, 2015

Library of Congress

Question: According to the Library of Congress, the heart stops during a sneeze. True or false?

Answer: False

According to the Library of Congress (LOC) "Everyday Mysteries" section on sneezes, a sneeze begins with a tickling sensation in nerve endings that sends a message to the brain that something must be removed that is irritating the nasal lining. It proceeds with the holding of a deep breath which tightens the chest muscles. As the air pressure in one's lungs increases, the eyes close and the tongue presses against the roof of the mouth. Finally, the held breath comes out fast through the nose and expels the irritant. At no time, does one's heart stop. It's believed that the myth may have resulted in the fact that changing pressure in a person's chest due to sneezing also changes blood flow, which also may change the rhythm of a heartbeat. So, while the heart may feel like it "skips a beat" during a sneeze, it actually keeps working throughout.

For more information, go to:
http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/sneeze.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: August 20, 2015

U.S. Geological Survey

Question: According to the U.S. Geological Survey, which of these states has the most lakes: Alaska, Florida, Michigan or Minnesota?

Answer: Alaska

Minnesota may call itself the "Land of 10,000 Lakes," Michigan is bordered by several large lakes, and Florida can boast plenty of swamp land, but according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), it's Alaska that contains more lakes than the other three states combined. Alaska features nearly 3,200 officially named natural lakes and more than 3 million unnamed natural lakes. The Alaskan lake tally includes 67 named artificial reservoirs and 167 named dams. Alaska also is home to over 100,000 glaciers—half of the world's total—including the Bering Glacier complex near the state's southeastern border which covers 5,830 square kilometers (2,250 square miles). Despite the impressive lake count, Alaska is so huge (1.72 million square kilometers or 665 thousand square miles) that the water-covered portion (245,000 square kilometers or 94,700 square miles) only accounts for 14.2 percent of the state's total area.

For more information, go to:
http://water.usgs.gov/edu/wetstates.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: August 18, 2015

Environmental Protection Agency

Question: Which of the following is listed by the Environmental Protection Agency as dangerous when produced by burning trash in the open: carbon monoxide, dioxins, hexachlorobenzene or all three?

Answer: All three

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), most people who burn their waste do not realize how harmful this practice is to their health and to the environment. Burning trash in the open produces many pollutants, including ash residue (which could contain toxic metals such as arsenic, chromium, lead and mercury), dioxins, particulate matter, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PACs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide (CO) and hexachlorobenzene (HCB). Inhaling or ingesting even small amounts of these pollutants may lead to serious health conditions in humans, such as an increased risk of heart disease, aggravation of respiratory ailments such as asthma and emphysema, and the onset of rashes, nausea or headaches.

For more information, go to:
http://www.epa.gov/wastes/nonhaz/municipal/backyard/index.htm

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: August 13, 2015

U.S. Forest Service

Question: What everyday product, of which 33 billion are produced annually, has U.S. Forest Service research made more recyclable?

Answer: The self-adhesive postage stamp

Thanks to the Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s U.S. Forest Service (USFS), there was something different about the tropical flower series of self-adhesive (also known as "peel-and-stick" or "no-lick") stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) on May 1, 1999. The stamps featured a new pressure-sensitive adhesive that was developed in a collaborative effort between USPS and the USFS Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) in Madison, Wisc. Unlike the adhesives on previous issues, the new formula was designed not to gum up the equipment used in recycling paper—including the 20 billion kilograms (20 million tons) associated with the 33 billion stamps distributed each year. Continuing USFS-USPS research and development efforts in this area seek to improve stamp performance (durability, longevity, etc.) while minimizing the environmental impact of the materials used in their manufacture. For example, FPL scientists conduct advanced aging tests on stamps and stamp adhesives by subjecting them to rapid and repeated cycles of laboratory-produced heat and humidity.

For more information, go to:
http://www.fs.fed.us/research/publications/fpl/newsline-2012-4.pdf

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: August 11, 2015

National Archives and Records Administration

Question: Declassified U.S. Air Force documents from 1956, now stored at the National Archives and Records Administration, detail the design and proposed development of a flying saucer, true or false?

Answer: True

"Project 1794, Final Development Summary," a recently declassified U.S. Air Force document from 1956 stored at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), describes the design and proposed development of a disk-shaped, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) plane that would reach a top speed of Mach 4 (approximately 4,900 kilometers per hour or 3,100 miles per hour), fly as high as 30,500 meters (100,000 feet) and have a range of over 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles). Artist's renditions and cutaway diagrams of the craft look remarkably similar to the flying saucers popularized in books, movies and TV shows of the time. In its document, the Air Force estimated that actually building the plane would take 18-24 months and cost $3.17 million ($27.6 million in 2014 dollars). The project was assigned to a Canadian company, Avro Aircraft Ltd. Canada (commonly known as Avro Canada), which scaled down the planned high-speed, high-altitude capabilities of the plane and built a hovercraft-like prototype in 1959 that was eventually designated as the Avro Canada VZ-9 Avrocar. In flight testing, the Avrocar proved to have unresolvable thrust and stability problems, leading to the project's cancellation in 1961. Avro Canada went out of business the following year.

For more information, go to:
http://blogs.archives.gov/ndc/2012/09/20/how-to-build-a-flying-saucer/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: August 6, 2015

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Question: According to NOAA's National Weather Service, which of the following is NOT affected by wind chill: person, car or bird

Answer: Car

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s National Weather Service (NWS), wind chill is the term used to describe what the air temperature feels like due to the combination of cold temperatures and winds blowing on the exposed skin of humans and animals. As the wind increases, heat is carried away from the body at an accelerated rate, driving the body temperature down. So, even when the temperature remains constant, it will actually feel colder if the wind speed increases. Wind chill has no effect on cars and other non-living objects. Because wind chill reflects the impact of cold temperatures and wind on exposed skin, a wind chill chart is used to determine frostbite risk. For example, a temperature of minus 18 degrees Celsius (0 degree Fahrenheit) and a wind speed of 24 kilometers per hour (15 miles per hour) will produce a wind chill temperature of minus 28 degrees Celsius (minus 19 degrees Fahrenheit). Under these conditions, exposed skin can freeze in 30 minutes.

For more information, go to:
http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ama/?n=windchill

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: August 4, 2015

Department of Defense

Question: Virtual reality helps Marines train for: beach landings, convoys or diving?

Answer: Convoys

Thanks to the Combat Convoy Simulator (CCS), developed by Lockheed Martin, U.S. Marine Corps personnel at Camp Pendelton, Calif., and Camp Lejeune, N.C., can train in a virtual environment to manage and operate convoys in all manner of tactical situations. Nearly 30 Marines can train simultaneously in two simulator buildings at each CCS, where large, 360-degree screens immerse the soldiers in scenarios based upon real events in Afghanistan and Iraq. Actual vehicles—both Humvees and 7-Tons (the all-terrain trucks officially known as Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacements, or MTVRs) are incorporated into the simulators to make the exercises as authentic as possible. The CCS keeps everyone in the convoy—commanders, crews and support teams—on their toes because simulator operators can hit them virtually with any situation, including bad weather, rough terrain and extreme hazards such as mobs and improvised explosive device (IED) attacks. Special effects worthy of a Hollywood film add to the realism. For example, pressurized air generates recoil in the virtual weapons as they are fired and shots are computer controlled to strike on-screen "insurgents" in real time so that trainees can react accordingly. The advantages of virtual convoy exercises are numerous because they allow for repetition, review and critique while saving time, maintenance, equipment, weapons and ammunition.

For more information, go to:
http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a589459.pdf

July 2015

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: July 30, 2015

Question: A National Science Foundation-funded study aims to increase the efficiency of what to yield more food and biofuel crops?

Answer: Photosynthesis

Three research teams, each comprised of scientists from the United States and the United Kingdom, are being funded respectively by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.K.'s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council to derive new methods for maximizing the efficiency of nature's ultimate life-giving process—photosynthesis. A photosynthesizing lifeform uses sunlight and carbon dioxide (CO2) to produce sugars that fuel the organism and release oxygen. However, the process is relatively inefficient when measured in terms of the entire natural world, capturing only about 5 percent of available energy. Individually, some species of plants, algae and bacteria have evolved efficiency-boosting mechanisms that reduce energy losses or enhance CO2 delivery to cells during photosynthesis. Each of the three funded research teams is working to improve, combine or engineer these "souped-up" photosynthetic systems, and then confer them on crops important as food or biofuel sources. For example, a team led by Stanford University is transplanting a highly efficient carbon-assimilating component, the pyrenoid, of the unicellular algae Chlamydomonas, into higher plants that are notoriously poor in this function.

For more information, go to:
http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=131514

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: July 28, 2015

Question: How many sunrises and sunsets do NASA astronauts and others aboard the International Space Station see in one day: 8, 16 or 24?

Answer: 16

Orbiting 386 kilometers (240 miles) above the Earth at a speed of 28,200 kilometers per hour (17,500 miles per hour), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronauts and other crew members aboard the International Space Station (ISS) circumnavigate the globe every 90 minutes. This means they could observe 16 sunrises and sunsets in a 24-hour period—if they were allowed to stay awake that long. By the 10th anniversary of continuous human occupation aboard the ISS on Nov. 2, 2010, the station had travelled (1.5 billion miles), made 57,361 orbits around the Earth, and had experienced one sunrise and sunset for each orbit during that time. Those wishing to see orbital sunrises and sunsets for themselves can go to a live ISS camera feed at http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/iss_ustream.html.

For more information, go to:
http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/179225main_ISS_Poster_Back.pdf

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: July 23, 2015

Question: To test high-speed train systems, the Department of Transportation's Federal Railroad Administration uses: virtual reality, scale models or a modified railcar?

Answer: A modified railcar

With the initiation of the Acela high-speed rail service between Washington, D.C., and Boston, Mass., in 2000, it became necessary to evaluate track-train system performance and behavior at speeds up to 258 kilometers per hour (160 miles per hour). The Department of Transportation (DOT)'s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) acquired a Metroliner passenger car from Amtrak that was refurbished and instrumented with advanced technology, including capabilities for measuring such factors as track geometry, ride quality and wheel-rail forces. High Speed Research Car T-16 allows the FRA to examine future high-speed corridors and routes that are intended for upgrading to higher maximum speeds. T-16 also is used on the high-speed test tracks at FRA's Transportation Technology Center (TTC) in Pueblo, Colo., to yield data in a controlled laboratory environment.

For more information, go to:
http://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0290

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: July 21, 2015

Question: According to an 1848 treatise on cholera at the National Library of Medicine, the disease was known in India as the: Asian Plague, Bengal Fever or Rapid Death?

Answer: The Rapid Death

Within the "Cholera Online, 1817 to 1900" digital collection at the National Library of Medicine (NLM) is a treatise published in 1848 by Thomas Allen, a member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, titled "Plain Directions for the Prevention and Treatment of Cholera." In his book, Allen states that the disease originated in India where it became known as "The Rapid Death." Allen also reported that while the origin of cholera was unknown during his time, it had been "… attributed to various causes: by some to a specific virus, by others to malaria, to vegetable or animal miasma, to emanations from the earth, to animalculae, to fungi, to volcanic or atmospheric changes, and to conditions of electricity." The unique library of 19th century works on cholera—part of NLM's Digital Collections—contains 546 documents, papers and publications including "How to Make a City Cholera Proof" (1893), "Cholera, How to Avoid It, and How to Treat It, in the Absence of a Competent Physician" (1866), and "Directions for Using Doctor White's Justly Celebrated Anti-Cholera Medicine" (1848).

For more information, go to:
http://collections.nlm.nih.gov/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: July 16, 2015

Question: PREDICT, a data repository created by the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate, helps researchers developing technologies to fight what type of crime?

Answer: Cybercrime

Researchers developing systems to protect against cybercrimes (e.g. hacking, malicious software) require current data on Internet security threats. Concerns over privacy, security, proprietary information and legal risks make the collection and distribution of such data difficult. Therefore, few organizations make datasets available for the development and testing of defensive technologies. The Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) has developed the Protected Repository for the Defense of Infrastructure Against Cyber Threats (PREDICT) data repository to provide approved researchers with voluntarily supplied, current network operational data in a secure and controlled manner. The repository is managed by an outside contractor serving as the PREDICT Coordination Center (PCC). The three primary goals of PREDICT are to: (1) develop, implement, and maintain a Web-based portal that catalogs current computer network and operational data and handles data requests; (2) enable secure access to multiple sources of data collected on the Internet; and (3) facilitate data sharing among PREDICT participants for the purpose of developing new models, technologies and products that increase cybersecurity capabilities.

For more information, go to:
http://www.dhs.gov/csd-predict

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: July 14, 2015

Question: How many researchers associated with the Department of Energy and its predecessors have received Nobel Prizes: 20, 47 or 115?

Answer: 115

It may not be widely recognized, but the Department of Energy (DOE) is a major federal science agency. Going back to the earliest days of the Manhattan Project, DOE and its predecessor agencies have blended cutting edge-research and innovative problem-solving to help keep the United States in the forefront of scientific discovery.  Over the years, researchers associated with DOE and the agencies that led to DOE have been awarded 115 Nobel Prizes. The annual prizes, in the fields of chemistry, physics, and physiology and medicine, are among the world's most prestigious scientific honors. Among the DOE-associated winners are: 1983 Physiology and Medicine—Barbara McClintock, for defining genetic transposition (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and DOE's Brookhaven National Laboratory); 1996 Chemistry—Richard Smalley, for discovering the C60 buckyball molecule (Rice University and DOE Office of Science's Basic Energy Sciences program); and 2011 Physics—Saul Perlmutter, providing evidence that the expansion of the universe is accelerating (DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley).

For more information, go to:
http://science.energy.gov/about/honors-and-awards/doe-nobel-laureates

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: July 9, 2015

Question: National Institute of Standards and Technology researchers isolated a new molecule, dioxirane, in 1977 during a study of the chemistry of what: fire, smog or water?

Answer: Smog

In 1977, two physicists at the National Bureau of Standards (NBS, now the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST), Richard Suenram and Frank Lovas, were using low-temperature microwave spectroscopy to study the mechanism of a key reaction between ozone and ethylene that leads to the formation of smog (smoke + fog). During their analysis, they detected a previously unknown molecule, dioxirane, which is a three-membered ring compound consisting of one carbon, two oxygens and two hydrogens. It eventually decomposes to form hydrogen and carbon monoxide. Suenram and Lovas postulated that dioxirane must have an extremely short lifespan at normal temperature and that cold temperatures—between minus 100 degrees Celsius and minus 84 degrees Celsius in their experiment—stabilized the compound long enough to be seen.

For more information, go to:
http://nistdigitalarchives.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p13011coll6/id/152933/rec/1

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: July 7, 2015

Question: The National Technical Information Service is the only authorized distributor of a Drug Enforcement Administration database that lists persons who can do what?

Answer: Handle and prescribe controlled substances

In 1970, the U.S. Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act  (CSA) that established the federal drug policy under which the manufacture, importation, possession, use and distribution of certain substances is regulated. Under the CSA, all individuals and firms authorized by the Department of Justice (DOJ)'s Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to legally handle and prescribe controlled substances must be registered in the DEA Active Controlled Substances Act Registrants Database. Access to the database—used by hospitals, clinics, health insurers, pharmaceutical companies and others to certify a practitioner's CSA authorization—is available by subscription through the National Technical Information Service (NTIS), the only DEA-sanctioned distributor of the list.

For more information, go to:
http://www.ntis.gov/products/dea/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: July 2, 2015

Question: TIMSS Advanced, an international project in which the U.S. Department of Education participates, is: a measurement tool, a teaching robot or a modern-style school bus?

Answer: A measurement tool

The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study Advanced (TIMSS Advanced) is an international assessment and research project designed to measure advanced mathematics and science achievement at the twelfth grade, as well as collect information about school and teacher practices related to instruction. TIMSS Advanced was administered in 1995 and 2008, with the United States participating previously in 1995. In 2015, TIMSS Advanced will involve students from 11 countries: France, Georgia, Italy, Lebanon, Norway, Portugal, the Russian Federation, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United States. TIMSS Advanced, whose U.S. component is managed by the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE) within the Institute for Education Sciences (IES) at the U.S. Department of Education (ED), provides a unique opportunity to compare the achievement of U.S. twelfth-grade students who have taken advanced mathematics or physics courses with that of their peers in countries around the world. TIMSS Advanced will provide educational policymakers with valuable information about how many students are excelling at highly specialized science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) content in a global context.

For more information, go to:
http://nces.ed.gov/timss/pdf/TIMSS_Advanced_2015_Brochure.pdf

June 2015

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: June 30, 2015

Question: A year-long senior research position at the Library of Congress focuses on what science that deals with the search for life in the universe and its impacts on society?

Answer: Astrobiology

Astrobiology addresses three fundamental questions: "How did life begin and evolve?" "Is there life beyond Earth?" and "What is the future of life on Earth and beyond?" Before the advent of modern science, these questions were largely in the realm of philosophy, theology and ethics. The John W. Kluge Center at Library of Congress (LOC) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) established the Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology in order to explore the intersection of the science of astrobiology and its implications for humanity and society—past, present and future—on Earth and beyond. One senior scholar is in residence annually at the Kluge Center conducting research in the Library of Congress collections on societal issues related to astrobiology, including how life begins and evolves, the future of life on Earth or in the universe, and the religious, ethical, legal, cultural and other concerns arising from scientific research on the origin, evolution and nature of life. The inaugural Chair in Astrobiology (2012-2013) was David Grinspoon, a well-known researcher in planetary science, author and former curator of astrobiology in the Department of Space Sciences at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. The second chair (2013-2014) is astronomer Steven J. Dick, who served as NASA Chief Historian from 2003 to 2009. The fellowship is named for Baruch S. Blumberg (1925-2011), 1976 Nobel Prize Laureate in physiology and medicine and NASA Astrobiology Institute director from 1999 to 2002.

For more information, go to:
http://www.loc.gov/kluge/fellowships/NASA-astrobiology.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: June 25, 2015

Question: According to the U.S. Geological Survey, geomagnetic storms don't interfere with which of the following: GPS, oil drilling or plant genetics?

Answer: Plant genetics

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)'s Geomagnetism Program, space weather—geomagnetic storms that occur when the solar wind interacts with Earth's magnetic field—can play havoc with the Global Positioning System (GPS), damage orbiting satellites, cause power blackouts and disrupt explorations for oil, gas and mineral deposits underground (which are detected by their magnetic signatures). They do not impact the genetic makeup of plants—or animals and humans, for that matter—residing on Earth's surface because the planet's atmosphere and magnetosphere provide shielding from the radiation. However, astronauts travelling to the Moon and beyond are outside this protective blanket, and therefore, could be exposed to potentially lethal doses of radiation if they are caught unprotected during a geomagnetic storm. The mission of the USGS Geomagnetism Program is to monitor the Earth's magnetic field. Using ground-based observatories, the program provides continuous records of magnetic field variations covering long timescales; disseminates magnetic data to various governmental, academic, and private institutions; and conducts research into the nature of geomagnetic variations for purposes of scientific understanding and hazard mitigation.

For more information, go to:
http://geomag.usgs.gov/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: June 23, 2015

Question: The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, executed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is better known as what?

Answer: Superfund

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as Superfund, was enacted by Congress on Dec. 11, 1980. The law created a federal program—to be executed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—that would address uncontrolled abandoned hazardous waste sites in the United States. It was spurred by the discovery of toxic waste dumps such as Love Canal near Niagara Falls, N.Y., and Times Beach, Mo. A Superfund cleanup process involves assessment of a location to determine if it is hazardous, placing the site on the Superfund National Priorities List if a significant danger to human health is found, and then, establishing and implementing an appropriate remediation plan. Through 2013, EPA actions under the Superfund have controlled a potential or actual exposure risk to humans at some 1,400 sites and stemmed the migration of contaminated groundwater through engineered remedies or natural processes at nearly 1,100 sites.

For more information, go to:
http://www.epa.gov/superfund

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: June 18, 2015

Question: True or false: The U.S. Forest Service manages a tropical rainforest within the U.S. National Forest System?

Answer: True

Located on the Caribbean Island of Puerto Rico, the El Yunque National Forest is the sole tropical rainforest (other national rainforests are in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest) in the U.S. National Forest System managed by the Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s U.S. Forest Service (USFS). The forest, formerly known as the Luquillo National Forest and the Caribbean National Forest, was established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903 and is located on the slopes of the Sierra de Luquillo mountains. It encompasses 113 square kilometers (44 square miles) of land and may experience as much as 508 centimeters (200 inches) of rainfall annually. El Yunque is home to thousands of plant species, including some that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. About 1.3 million people visit the forest each year, starting at the El Porto Rain Forest Center (with a treetop walkway 18 meters, or 60 feet, above the ground) that leads to 39 kilometers (24 miles) of recreational trials.

For more information, go to:
http://www.fs.usda.gov/elyunque

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: June 16, 2015

Question: The National Archives and Records Administration sent preservationists in 2003 to which war-torn nation to salvage historical Jewish documents: Afghanistan, Iraq or Sudan?

Answer: Iraq

On May 6, 2003, American soldiers serving in the Iraq War entered the flooded basement of the Iraqi intelligence headquarters in Baghdad. There, they found thousands of documents and books—materials related to Iraq's Jewish community—that were under four feet of water. The following month, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) received an urgent request from the Coalition Provisional Authority, the transitional government in Iraq, for help in rescuing and preserving the wet and moldy items. NARA preservationists Doris Hamburg and Mary Lynn Ritzenthaler flew to the Iraqi capital to assess the damage and determine how best to save the valuable collection of more than 2,700 Jewish books and thousands of papers dating from the mid-16th century to the 1970s. The documents, unofficially designated by NARA staff as the "Iraqi Jewish Archive" (IJA), was transported to the United States for preservation. The process involved: vacuum freeze-drying the IJA items, remediating mold, determining and documenting intellectual content, performing preservation treatment, digitizing the collection, and developing an exhibition/online database (http://www.ija.archives.gov). 

For more information, go to:
http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2013/fall-winter/ija.pdf

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: June 11, 2015

Question: How many times did NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory record a Great Lakes annual ice cover of 90 percent or higher during the period 1973-2014?

Answer: Four

The amount of ice covering the Great Lakes (Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario—the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth) varies from year to year, as well as how long it remains. Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL) in Ann Arbor, Mich., are observing long-term changes in the Great Lakes ice cover as a result of global warming. Studying, monitoring and predicting ice coverage plays an important role in determining climate patterns, lake water levels, water movement patterns, water temperature structure and spring plankton blooms. From 1973 to 2014, the average annual maximum ice coverage for the five Great Lakes overall was 51.4 percent. The coverage was recorded at 90 percent or higher four times: 1977, 1979, 1994 and 2014. The highest mark was 94.7 percent in 1979, the lowest at 9.5 percent in 2002.

For more information, go to:
http://go.usa.gov/5YGT/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: June 9, 2015

Question: The U.S. Army designed parachutes for carrier pigeons during World War II, true or false?

Answer: True

Carrier pigeons were used during World War II by the U.S. Army Signal Corps to transmit messages between command posts and the front lines when radio, telephone or semaphore were not possible. In fact, birds often offered the only means of getting information out from troops stationed behind enemy lines. To get the pigeons into those dangerous areas, the Signal Corps developed two methods of parachuting them: strapped to the chest of paratroopers or dropped separately in a four-bird container. For the latter system, War Department Technical Manual TM-11-410 ("The Homing Pigeon") published in January 1945 states in Section 36 ("Delivering Pigeons by Parachute") that "best results will be obtained when pigeons are launched between the altitudes of 200 and 1,000 feet with air speed not exceeding 125 miles per hour. Pigeons launched within these general limits are less likely to become lost because of excessive drift." The air-to-ground pigeon carrier is described by the same manual as "a collapsible, cylinder-type, 4-bird container and a 6-foot hemispherical baseball-type parachute with a quick release clip."

For more information, go to:
http://cecomhistorian.armylive.dodlive.mil/2013/01/10/parachuting-paratrooping-pigeons/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: June 4, 2015

Question: What animal—famous in cartoons—is being studied by National Science Foundation-funded research in order to help save it from extinction?

Answer: Tasmanian devil

A devastating, nearly 100-percent fatal cancer threatens the Tasmanian devil, the world's largest carnivorous marsupial, with extinction in as little as a decade. The devil, caricaturized in Warner Brothers cartoons by the whirling dervish beast named Taz, is plagued by an epidemic of devil tumor facial disease (DTFD). Since the first official case was reported in 1996, Tasmania's devil population has declined by 70 percent. Findings reported in 2010 show that 80 percent of the remaining devils are affected. To study DTFD and find ways to understand its emergence and spread, a research team led by Washington State University's Andrew Storfer has received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF)-National Institutes of Health (NIH) Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases (EEID) Program. The research team hopes that its work will not only help stave off the Tasmanian devil's extinction from DFTD, but also will lead to new insights about the spread of other diseases, including influenza in humans.

For more information, go to:
www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=129508

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: June 2, 2015

Question: The solid rocket boosters strapped to the side of the NASA's space shuttle could be shut down after ignition. True or false?

Answer: False

For the first two minutes after each launch of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)'s space shuttle, two solid rocket boosters (SRBs) strapped to the side of the external fuel tank and orbiter provided the additional thrust (a total of 6.6 million pounds) needed to escape the gravitational pull of Earth. The SRBs went to full power in 2/10th of a second, generating enough heat to warm 87,000 houses for one full day. Once ignited, the solid propellant—aluminum powder and ammonium perchlorate (to provide oxygen) cured into a rubber-like solid with polymers—burned until it was depleted. At an altitude of approximately 45 kilometers (28 miles), the boosters separated, descended on parachutes and landed in the Atlantic Ocean. They were recovered and refurbished for reuse. The SRBs were the heaviest objects ever to be parachuted safely back to the Earth's surface.

For more information, go to:
http://www.nasa.gov/centers/marshall/about/star/rsrb_11.html

May 2015

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: May 28, 2015

Question: A study by the Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration to identify an anti-corrosion coating for steel that will last 100 years performed exposure tests atop what famous landmark?

Answer: The Golden Gate Bridge

In 2009, the Department of Transportation (DOT)'s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) initiated a study to identify a coating system for steel components in bridges that could provide 100 years of virtually maintenance-free resistance to corrosion. Researchers at FHWA's Coatings and Corrosion Laboratory at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC) in McLean, Va., evaluated eight different coatings: three three-coat systems consisting of organic, inorganic and moisture-cured zinc-based primers; four two-coat systems with various combinations of zinc-based primers and organic top coats; and a single coat system of calcium sulfonate alkyd. The coatings were examined three ways: accelerated laboratory testing, outdoor exposure testing at the TFHRC and outdoor exposure testing at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Calif. The Bay Area's severe fog conditions, extreme winds, temperature variations and airborne salt content provided an ideal environment for assessing resistance to corrosion. After 3,600 hours (150 days) of accelerated laboratory testing, 10 months of exposure in Virginia and 6 months of exposure at the Golden Gate Bridge, the researchers concluded that none of the selected coating systems could provide corrosion protection for 100 years.

For more information, go to:
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/publicroads/14janfeb/04.cfm

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: May 26, 2015

Question: The National Library of Medicine's WISER system provides assistance to which group: first responders, librarians or teachers?

Answer: First responders

Developed by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders, or WISER, is designed to assist emergency responders in dealing with hazardous materials. WISER provides a wide range of information on dangerous chemical, radiological and biological substances, including identification, physical characteristics, effects on human health, and guidance on containment and suppression. WISER has helped with the management of toxic materials in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina and on the battlefield in Iraq. The foundation for WISER is NLM's Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB), a comprehensive toxicology database, and Chemical Hazards Medical Management (CHEMM) content. WISER is available for free as a standalone application on Microsoft Windows PCs, Apple's iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch), Google Android devices, BlackBerry devices (internet connectivity required), Windows Mobile devices and Palm OS PDAs.

For more information, go to:
http://wiser.nlm.nih.gov/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: May 21, 2015

Question: SQUID, a technology whose development was funded by the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate, may soon be used by law enforcement officers to stop what moving objects: cars, boats or airplanes?

Answer: Cars

Fleeing drivers are a common problem for law enforcers. Thanks to an imaginative design and engineering project funded by the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T), officers may soon be able to remotely spring a road trap that will stop anything from a compact car to a full-size SUV. Known as the Safe Quick Undercarriage Immobilization Device, or SQUID, it currently comes in two forms. The first, nicknamed Pit-BUL (for Pit-Ballistic Undercarriage Lanyard) is a speed bump that, when activated, extends spikes to puncture tires and releases a sticky, tendril-like netting to entangle the front axle. By stopping the axle, Pit-BUL absorbs the kinetic energy of a target and quickly brings it to a halt. The second SQUID device, NightHawk, is a remote-controlled spike strip disguised as a small suitcase. Before a fleeing driver has a chance to react, an officer can trigger the spiked arm to deploy across the road and puncture the vehicle's tires. The spikes are instantly retractable so that other traffic is not affected.

For more information, go to:
http://www.dhs.gov/arresting-fleeing-vehicle-push-button

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: May 19, 2015

Question: How many times hotter than the Sun's center was the highest manmade temperature recorded in 2010 by the Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory?

Answer: 250,000 times hotter

The highest temperature recorded by a manmade device—a scorching 4 trillion degrees Celsius (7.2 trillion degrees Fahrenheit, or 250,000 times hotter than the center of the Sun)—was achieved in a particle accelerator via the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at the Department of Energy (DOE)'s Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL). The Guinness Book of World Records recognized Brookhaven for this accomplishment in 2010. The temperature occurred when gold nuclei were sent speeding about the RHIC at near light-speed until they crashed into each other. The end result was a soup of quarks and gluons resembling the primordial plasma thought to have filled the universe nearly 14 billion years ago. Since then, scientists at CERN in Switzerland have created quark-gluon plasma at an even higher temperature with their Large Hadron Collider.

For more information, go to:
http://www.bnl.gov/rhic/news2/news.asp?a=1074&t=pr

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: May 14, 2015

Question: To test the durability of soft body armor used by law enforcement officers, National Institute of Standards and Technology researchers created a device that repeatedly did what?

Answer: Folded the armor

In 2010, materials researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) designed and built an apparatus to simulate repeated folding of the soft body armor used by law enforcement officers. This was done to study the impact of folding on fabrics containing "ballistic fibers" (very strong fibers that "catch" and deform a bullet, spreading its force over a larger portion of a body armor vest). For an examination of one such material, woven poly(benzoxazole), or PBO, the fabric was folded 80,000 times in succession—the equivalent of 10 years of wear. The researchers noted a 41 percent reduction in the ultimate tensile strength and strain to failure (the higher the strain to failure rate, the lower the tensile strength) of the PBO fibers. This research is part of NIST's ongoing collaboration with the Department of Justice (DOJ) National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to provide DOJ with its standards for ballistic resistance in body armor. Since these standards were first introduced in 1972—and repeatedly upgraded since then with NIST research support—the lives of thousands of officers have been saved.

For more information, go to:
http://www.nist.gov/customcf/get_pdf.cfm?pub_id=854025

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: May 12, 2015

Question: Available from the National Technical Information Service, a 1994 paper from Sandia National Laboratories describes "shaker" tests performed in the field on a highway bridge, a pipeline or a stadium?

Answer: A highway bridge

A 1994 paper from Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) titled "The Interstate-40 Bridge Shaker Project" describes how the federal agency assisted engineers from New Mexico State University (NMSU) who wanted to simulate extreme shaking on a 1960s-built bridge on Interstate 40 crossing the Rio Grande River in Albuquerque, N.M. The bridge was scheduled for demolition and replacement, therefore it offered the perfect "in-the-field" laboratory for the NMSU engineers to see if they could detect damage to a structure following shaking. Sandia's Randy Mayes and Michael Nusser designed and operated a shaker that could exert 1,000 pounds of force on the bridge to simulate two types of vibrations: sinusoidal (sine-wave vibrations such as those naturally inherent to a structure) and random (such as those applied to a bridge by vehicular traffic). "The Interstate-40 Bridge Shaker Project" is available from the National Technical Reports Library (NTRL) of the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) as NTIS Order Number DE94011409. It is one of more than 700,000 federal technical reports downloadable in PDF format from the library.

For more information, go to:
http://www.osti.gov/scitech/biblio/10148469

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: May 7, 2015

Question: According to the U.S. Department of Education brochure, "Helping Your Child Learn Mathematics," one should teach children that there is only one way to solve a math problem. True or false?

Answer: False

According to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) brochure for parents, "Helping Your Child Learn Mathematics," one of the key concepts that you should teach your child is that although most math problems have only one answer, there may be many ways to get there. "Learning math," states the brochure, "is more than finding the correct answer; it's also a process of solving problems and applying what you've learned to new problems." Other key ideas about math that the brochure recommends sharing with children are: wrong answers may be useful, take risks by exploring different approaches to solving problems, doing math in your head is important, and using a calculator is sometimes O.K.

For more information, go to:
http://www2.ed.gov/parents/academic/help/math/math.pdf

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: May 5, 2015

Question: Preservationists at the Library of Congress do not recommend which of the following plastics for storage of artifacts: polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyester (polyethylene terephthalate or PET) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC)?

Answer: PVC

The Preservation Directorate at the Library of Congress (LOC), through the library's Ask-A-Librarian online reference service, answers hundreds of questions each year on preserving a variety of artifacts. On its Collection Care pages and an extensive set of frequently asked questions, the experts provide basic information and simple steps for the care, handling and storage of various materials and formats found in library and home collections, including paper items (manuscripts, comic books, drawings, newspapers, prints, posters, maps, etc.); books; photographs; grooved media, magnetic tape and optical discs; and film. Other topics related to preservation are covered, including matting and framing, limiting light damage, digitizing collections and dealing with water damage. To the question "What kinds of plastic storage supplies are okay to use?," the LOC preservationists state that zip bags, sleeves or bins made with polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) or polyester (polyethylene terephthalate or PET) are good because these are stable and inert plastics. They advise collectors NOT to use polyvinyl chloride (PVC) storage systems because that chlorine-containing polymer can emit plasticizers, acids, and oxidizing gases that can harm many types of stored materials.

For more information, go to:
http://www.loc.gov/preservation/

April 2015

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: April 30, 2015

Question: A U.S. Geological Survey study reported that endangered corals have found a refuge from the ocean's recent threats by growing on and under what southern U.S. plant?

Answer: The mangrove

Certain types of corals, endangered by recent ocean threats such as warming temperatures, solar radiation and acidification, have found a way to survive by attaching to and growing under mangrove roots. Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Eckerd College (St. Petersburg, Fla.) recently discovered a refuge for reef-building corals in the mangroves of the U.S. Virgin Islands. More than 30 species of reef corals were found growing in Hurricane Hole, a mangrove habitat within the Virgin Island Coral Reef National Monument in St. John. Red mangroves, subtropical or tropical trees that colonize coastlines and brackish water habitats, have networks of prop roots that extend down toward the seafloor, and corals are growing on and under these roots.

For more information, go to:
http://www.usgs.gov/blogs/features/usgs_top_story/mangroves-protecting-corals-from-climate-change/
http://soundwaves.usgs.gov/2010/04/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: April 28, 2015

Question: In July 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a graphic for labels on insect repellents to help consumers do what?

Answer: Identify the length of time an application will repel mosquitoes and ticks

In July 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a new "repellency awareness graphic" for insect repellents to help consumers easily identify a product's repellency time for mosquitos and ticks, the two most prevalent insect carriers of human diseases. Use of the graphic—which resembles the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) labelling on sunscreens—is voluntary for qualifying insect repellent manufacturers. EPA reviews all products that are submitted for the graphic to ensure that scientific data support the repellency times claimed. All three versions of the graphic—for mosquitoes, for ticks and for both mosquitoes and ticks—include the words "Avoid Bites, Apply Correctly" and the documented repellency time.

For more information, go to:
http://www2.epa.gov/insect-repellents/repellency-awareness-graphic

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: April 23, 2015

Question: A 1942 U.S. Forest Service film about wood research starred what famous Hollywood duo?

Answer: Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy

During the early years of World War II, there was a need to conserve a number of natural resources including wood and wood products such as cellulose used to make paper. To encourage this effort, and inform the American public about the value of wood, the Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s U.S. Forest Service (USFS) commissioned the making of a short film starring the comedy team of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. The five-and-a-half-minute movie, The Tree in a Test Tube, was shot during Laurel and Hardy's lunch hour on the back lot of the Twentieth Century Fox studio in California on Nov. 29, 1941. It was released in the spring of 1942 and is the only surviving color film featuring the classic duo. Laurel and Hardy appear at the first of the movie, pulling out the contents of their pockets and suitcase—all manufactured from wood, of course—so that they could demonstrate the usefulness of wood in everyday life. The second half of the film shows research on wood, including historic footage from the USFS Forest Products Laboratory of an elephant being used to test wood strength.

For more information, go to:
http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/labnotes/?p=4085

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: April 21, 2015

Question: The Federal Records Center for the National Archives and Records Administration in Lee's Summit, Mo., once was: a bomb shelter, a limestone mine or an intercontinental ballistic missile silo?

Answer: A limestone mine

About eight miles east of Kansas City, Mo., is the Lee's Summit Federal Records Center (FRC), a National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) storage facility sitting 18 meters (60 feet) underground in caves that once served as a limestone mine. The 14,900 square meter (160,000 square foot) FRC was the first underground storage facility for NARA when it opened in 1998. With a constant temperature of 21 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit), the subterranean location has minimal environmental impact on the millions of cubic feet of stored records within its 4 million-year-old walls. The Lee's Summit FRC handles documents from federal agencies in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as most of the records from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

For more information, go to:
http://www.archives.gov/press/press-releases/1998/nr98-86.html
http://blogs.archives.gov/prologue/?p=9764

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: April 16, 2015

Question: True or false? NOAA's National Weather Service says there can be another hurricane named Katrina.

Answer: False

Hurricane naming follows a strict procedure established by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN). For storms in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s National Weather Service (NWS), has created lists of 21 names (alternating between male and female names, with the letters Q, U, X, Y and Z not used) that are rotated through a six-year cycle. However, if a hurricane is so deadly or costly that future use of its name would be inappropriate, the name is retired by the WMO and another one is selected to replace it. There have been 78 names retired since the 1954 hurricane season, including 2005's devastating Hurricane Katrina. This means there can never be another hurricane with that infamous name. In the event that more than 21 named hurricanes occur in the Atlantic basin in a season, additional storms will take names from the Greek alphabet. Interesting factoid: Years ending in "5" seem unusually susceptible to strong hurricanes warranting name retirements. There were four names retired in 1955, four in 1995 and five in 2005.

For more information, go to:
http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutnames.shtml

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: April 14, 2015

Question: Big Dog is the name for the Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-funded animal-like, four-legged: aircraft, car or robot?

Answer: Robot

Instead of using wheels or treads, the Big Dog "military robot mule" has four legs for movement in terrain too rough for conventional vehicles. Funded by the Department of Defense (DoD)'s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the quadraped robot—officially known as the Legged Squad Support System (LS3)—features some 50 sensors (including ones to determine joint position and ground contact), a laser gyroscope and a stereo vision system. The legs on Big Dog are articulated like an animal's, with each one relying on four low-friction hydraulic cylinder actuators to power its joints. Big Dog is nearly a meter (3 feet) long and 3/4 of a meter (2.5 feet) tall, weighs 109 kilograms (240 pounds), runs at 6 kilometers per hour (4 miles per hour), climbs slopes up to 35 degrees, can navigate through snow and water, and is capable of hauling a 154 kilogram (340 pound) load. Big Dog was developed by Boston Dynamics in collaboration with Foster-Miller (part of QinetiQ North America), NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the Harvard University Concord Field Station.

For more information, go to:
http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2013groundrobot/KILLEA.pdf

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: April 9, 2015

Question: According to a National Science Foundation-funded study, the gas clouds from coughs and sneezes travel in the air how many times farther than previously believed: 20, 200 or 2,000?

Answer: 200 times farther

A novel study by mathematicians at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) shows that coughs and sneezes have associated gas clouds that keep their potentially infectious droplets aloft over much greater distances than previously realized—up to 200 times farther. In their National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded work, the researchers used high-speed imaging, as well as laboratory simulations and mathematical modeling, to produce a new analysis of coughs and sneezes from a fluid mechanics perspective. They discovered that the expelled droplets—and the pathogens they carry—stay airborne within gas clouds longer than they would as individual particles. Specifically, the researchers found that droplets 100 micrometers (millionths of a meter) in size travelled five times farther than previously estimated, while ones 10 micrometers in size could go 200 times farther. Droplets less than 50 micrometers in size could easily remain airborne long enough to circle a room and reach ceiling ventilation units.

For more information, go to:
http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=131162

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: April 7, 2015

Question: The nickname given to NASA's passive thermal cooling maneuver for Apollo spacecraft travelling to the moon was: barbecue roll, freeze flight or ice dance?

Answer: Barbecue roll

Passive thermal control was a method used by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to protect the Apollo spacecraft from extreme temperature changes during the "coasting" periods to and from the Moon. The ship was rotated once per hour along its long axis to prevent any one side from facing the Sun for long periods. Because it reminded engineers of how meat is kept cooking evenly on a rotisserie, they nicknamed the maneuver the "barbecue roll." How important was this? In direct sunlight, the spacecraft could heat to over 200 degrees Celsius (nearly 400 degrees Fahrenheit); in shadow, the skin surface temperature could drop to minus 100 degrees Celsius (minus 150 degrees Fahrenheit). On the International Space Station, barbecue rolls are not needed. Temperature control is maintained by both active (a series of panels containing tubes circulating with ammonia to dissipate heat collected from machinery) and passive (insulation, special surface coatings, heaters and heat pipes to keep outer surfaces at appropriate temperatures) systems.

For more information, go to:
http://er.jsc.nasa.gov/seh/barbeque.htm

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: April 2, 2015

Question: The Department of Transportation-funded SmartBall® free-swimming leak detector for pipelines senses oil and gas leaks by: hearing, sight or smell?

Answer: Hearing

SmartBall® is an innovative leak detection technology for oil and gas pipelines larger than 100 millimeters (4 inches) in diameter. The free-swimming spheroid device consists of a urethane shell surrounding an aluminum core packed with a variety of instruments. These include a temperature sensor, a magnetometer, a microprocessor, and most importantly, an acoustic data acquisition system that "listens" for leaks as the ball travels through a pipeline. SmartBall® can detect pinhole leaks as small as 0.06 liters per minute (0.016 gallons/minute), several orders of magnitude more sensitive than conventional technologies. The device was developed by Pure Technologies with funding from the Department of Transportation (DOT)'s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

For more information, go to:
https://primis.phmsa.dot.gov/rd/articles/leakdetection1.pdf

March 2015

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: March 31, 2015

Question: A 6-meter (20-foot) tall totem pole at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Md., is dedicated to what Native American art?

Answer: Healing

In October 2011, a 6-meter (20-foot) totem pole was installed in the Herb Garden at the National Library of Medicine (NLM) on the campus of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Md., with carved stories that describe and honor traditional Native American healing arts. It was designed and carved from a 500-year-old red cedar by Jewell Praying Wolf James of the Lummi Indian Nation near Bellingham, Wash., to depict tales from his tribe and the Algonquin Nation about the connection between life, the environment and the collective knowledge of all races. The healing totem features symbols of the sky, earth, water, and the creative power and wisdom of women as leaders and healers. During the totem's three-week, 7,100-kilometer (4,400-mile) journey from Washington State to Maryland, it passed through a dozen states and was blessed at 14 different sites, including Little Big Horn, Mont.; Wounded Knee, S.D.; and the Mohegan Reservation in Connecticut. The totem is part of an exhibition still on view at NLM and open to the public; to learn more, go to http://www.nlm.nih.gov/nativevoices.

For more information, go to:
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/nativevoices/exhibition/healing-totem/index.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: March 26, 2015

Question: The Virtual Shooter, a device created by the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate, replaces what component of traditional ballistics testing?

Answer: Humans

The Armory Operations Branch (AOB), part of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Firearms and Tactical Programs (OFTB), evaluates most of the ammunitions and firearms used by agencies within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This equates to testing more than 200,000 rounds of ammunition and a variety of handguns annually before they are approved for field use. Repetitive firing takes a heavy toll on human shooters, resulting in stressed joints, debilitating pain and other physical ailments. To significantly reduce the problem, The Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) worked with OFTB to develop a mechanical Virtual Shooter. The prototype consists of three components designed to mimic a human firer: a mechanical arm and hand that mirrors human bone and muscular structure; air cylinders that imitate muscles that aim and resist recoil in the wrist, forearm, upper arm and shoulder; and a pressurized backboard mount simulating the shooter's torso.

For more information, go to:
http://www.dhs.gov/st-snapshot-virtual-shooter-technology-tests-ammo-and-saves-joints

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: March 24, 2015

Question: What Greek goddess shares her name with the acronym for the desktop human "body" developed by the Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory?

Answer: ATHENA

ATHENA, the Advanced Tissue-engineered Human Ectypal Network Analyzer, is a surrogate organ system being developed for drug and toxicity testing by a five-year, multi-institutional effort led by the Department of Energy (DOE)'s Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). There are four human organ constructs–liver, heart, lung and kidney–that are based on a significantly miniaturized platform. Each organ component will be approximately the size of a smartphone screen, allowing the entire ATHENA "body" of interconnected organs to fit neatly on a desk. Described as a "homo minutus," the ultimate goal is to build a lung that breathes, a heart that pumps, a liver that metabolizes, and a kidney that excretes–all connected by a tubing infrastructure much akin to the way blood vessels connect our organs.

For more information, go to:
http://www.lanl.gov/newsroom/news-releases/2014/March/03.26-athena-desktop-human.php

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: March 19, 2015

Question: What did National Institute of Standards and Technology researchers bury at 128 sites across the United States: metal samples, toxic waste or irradiated seeds?

Answer: Metal samples to study corrosion

The first study of the corrosive effects of soils on buried metals was begun by the National Bureau of Standards (NBS, now the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST) in 1911. During the 1920s, the agency buried 14,000 metal samples at 47 test sites around the country. This was increased to 36,500 specimens at 128 sites during the 1940s and 1950s. The burial locations were chosen to represent virtually every type of American soil, including Gulf Coast clay, California silt loam and South Carolina tidal marshland. The samples were unearthed periodically and assessed for corrosive damage. In 1957, a report was published on the underground sites that became the cornerstone of safety regulations for oil and gas pipelines, storage tanks for hazardous chemicals, and nuclear waste depositories. The data also are frequently used to evaluate the return on investment of structures with underground elements such as bridges and water pipes.

For more information, go to:
http://nvlpubs.nist.gov/nistpubs/jres/115/5/05-j115-5-ricker.pdf

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: March 17, 2015

Question: A 2011 NASA report, available from the National Technical Information Service, describes the first Mars spectral analyzer able to remove what from samples it examined?

Answer: Dust

A two-page, 2011 report from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)–available from the National Technical Reports Library (NTRL) of the National Technical Information Service (NTIS)–describes the first spectrometer (a device that analyzes and defines the chemical composition of a sample) ever sent to an extraterrestrial body with the ability to remove dust from the sample it is examining. The Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument package aboard the Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory) rover now exploring the Gale Crater/Mount Sharp region of Mars contains a Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectrometer (LIBS) that focuses powerful laser pulses on a small spot of a target rock or soil sample. The multiple laser shots first remove dust and weathered layers from the sample, then vaporize some of the underlying material into its component atoms and ions. The plasma light emitted by this process is analyzed by the LIBS to yield the sample's chemical identity. The report, "Dust Removal on Mars Using Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy," is available from the NTRL as NTIS Order Number N20110007830.  It is one of more than 700,000 federal technical reports downloadable in PDF format from the library.

For more information, go to:
https://ntrl.ntis.gov/NTRL/dashboard/searchResults.xhtml?searchQuery=N20110007830

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: March 12, 2015

Question: Name the U.S. Department of Education program to prepare high schools students for postsecondary education that will lead them to math and science careers.

Answer: Upward Bound Math and Science

The U.S. Department of Education (ED)'s Upward Bound Math and Science (UBMS) program is designed to strengthen the math and science skills of high school students. The program provides five-year grants to projects that help students recognize and develop their potential to excel in math and science, encourage students to pursue postsecondary degrees in math and science, and ultimately, pursue careers in a math and science profession. The types of projects funded include: summer programs with intensive math and science training; year-round counseling and advisement; exposure to university faculty members who do research in mathematics and the sciences; computer training; and participant-conducted scientific research under the guidance of faculty members or graduate students. The UBMS program, managed by the ED's Office of Postsecondary Education, is particularly interested in projects designed for students with limited English proficiency; students from groups that are traditionally underrepresented in postsecondary education; students with disabilities; students who are homeless children and youths; students who are in foster care or are aging out of foster care system; and other disconnected students.

For more information, go to:
http://www2.ed.gov/programs/triomathsci/index.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: March 10, 2015

Question: The Library of Congress National Jukebox digital collection website says that prior to 1925, sound recordings were made without a microphone: true or false?

Answer: True

To make a sound recording prior to 1925, says the website for the Library of Congress (LOC) National Jukebox, instrumentalists, singers and speakers performed in front of a flared metal horn which gathered and funneled sound waves toward a thin diaphragm at the small end of the horn. The energy of the sound waves caused the diaphragm to vibrate. The vibrating diaphragm caused an attached stylus to etch the sound waves onto a blank wax rotating cylinder or disc. There were no electronic tone controls. All adjustments to the sound were made by altering the performer's position relative to the horn or by trying horns of differing sizes or diaphragms of varied thickness. To play back an acoustic recording, a mechanical reproducing machine reversed the process. The National Jukebox collection was launched in May 2011 with more than 10,000 recordings made by the Victor Talking Machine Company between 1901 and 1925. These treasures–including recordings by march king John Philip Sousa, jazz musician Eubie Blake and cowboy philosopher Will Rogers–may be accessed free of charge.

For more information, go to:
http://www.loc.gov/jukebox/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: March 5, 2015

Question: From winter 2014 to summer 2015, 30 seismometers from the U.S. Geological Survey will monitor ground tremors in what U.S. city not known for earthquakes?

Answer: Washington, D.C.

In November 2014, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Virginia Tech installed 30 seismometers at various sites throughout the District of Columbia, including government facilities, parks and private homes. The extremely sensitive devices will remain in place until the summer of 2015 to record weak ground shaking from distant earthquakes, as well as vibrations from regional tremors, quarry blasts and background noise generated by sources such as automobile traffic. In time, the data collected should help define how much seismic shaking is amplified by D.C. geological conditions. The USGS wants to understand why in 2011, a relatively modest 5.8 magnitude quake centered 145 kilometers (90 miles) away in Virginia caused significant damage in D.C., including cracks in the Washington Monument.

For more information, go to:
http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=4028#.VE20dhZCA0I

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: March 3, 2015

Question: ToxCast, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chemical screening program, reduces the need for what traditional means of testing chemicals for potential toxic impacts?

Answer: Animal testing

The Toxicology Forecaster, or ToxCast™, is a multi-year effort launched in 2007 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s National Center for Computational Toxicology. It uses automated chemical screening technologies (called "high-throughput screening assays") to expose living cells or isolated proteins to chemicals. The cells or proteins are screened for changes in biological activity that may suggest potential toxic effects and eventually potential adverse health effects. These innovative methods have the potential to limit the number of required laboratory animal-based toxicity tests while quickly and efficiently screening large numbers of chemicals. By the end of 2013, ToxCast had evaluated over 2,000 chemicals from a broad range of sources, including industrial and consumer products, food additives and potentially "green" chemicals that could be safer alternatives to existing chemicals. The evaluations incorporated more than 700 high-throughput assays covering a range of high-level cell responses and approximately 300 pathways for cell signaling (a complex system of communication that governs basic cellular activities and coordinates cell actions). The NCCT is part of the EPA's Office of Research and Development (ORD).

For more information, go to:
http://www.epa.gov/ncct/toxcast

February 2015

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: February 26, 2015

Question: A 2013 U.S. Forest Service study found net forest density in the United States increased, decreased or varied with location for the period 1873-2001?

Answer: Varied with location

In 2013, three researchers at the Northern Research Station (NRS) in Newton Square, Pa., a facility within the Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s U.S. Forest Service (USFS), georeferenced (linked to modern geographical data and imaging) and digitized a map of U.S. woodland density that was produced by botanist and cartographer William H. Brewer in 1873 for the first national atlas. Then, using a contemporary digital forest map derived from satellite imagery, they created density categories that matched those on the historical map and calculated changes since 1873. Their final "net change in forest density" map showed a variety of patterns. The eastern United States revealed a "patchy mix of loss, gain and no change with slightly more increase than decrease" while the western part of the nation showed more loss than gain in most areas. Much of the Pacific Northwest and the Lakes States (Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan) saw no change because the forests have recovered from logging.

For more information, go to:
http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/43744

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: February 25, 2015

Question: Within the collections of the National Archives and Records Administration is a Jell-O box used as evidence in the 1951 trial of whom?

Answer: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were accused in 1950 of passing secrets about the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union that were obtained from the Manhattan Project work at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) by Ethel's brother, David Greenglass. During the Rosenberg's espionage trial the following year, Greenglass testified that he was given half of a Jell-O boxtop by the couple so that he could identify their courier, Harry Gold, who possessed the other half. Assistant U.S. Attorney Roy Cohn provided Greenglass with a box of strawberry Jell-O and asked him to demonstrate the technique. Greenglass tore off the flap featuring a recipe for Coconut Bavarian Cream, kept it and handed the remainder to Cohn. Both pieces of the box were entered into evidence and helped convict the Rosenbergs. They were executed in 1953. The famous Jell-O box is now part of the "Exhibits from the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg Case File, 03/13/1951 – 03/27/1951" at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

For more information, go to:
http://blogs.archives.gov/prologue/?p=4655

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: February 20, 2015

Question: According to NOAA, how much has the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere increased since before the Industrial Revolution?

Answer: About 120 parts per million, or more than 40 percent

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates that the CO2 level before the Industrial Revolution began in the mid-1700s was about 280 parts per million. Since then, the burning of fossil fuels and other human-related activities have increased the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere by more than 40 percent. In 2013, the atmospheric CO2 level measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory exceeded 400 parts per million for the first time. This is a startling fact when one considers that Antarctic ice core samples show the CO2 level never exceeded 300 parts per million for 800,000 years until the early 20th century. About half of the CO2 emitted to the atmosphere is taken up by vegetation, soils and oceans; the other half remains in the atmosphere.

For more information, go to:
http://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/2013-state-climate-carbon-dioxide-tops-400-ppm

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: February 18, 2015

Question: According to the Department of Defense's "U.S Navy Arctic Roadmap 2014-2030," what type of Arctic storm may become more frequent and more intense due to global warming?

Answer: Cyclones

In January 2014, the Department of Defense (DoD) and U.S. Navy (USN) released the "U.S. Navy Arctic Roadmap 2014-2030" to prepare naval forces for operations in the Arctic Ocean over the next 15 years. Part of the roadmap discusses global warming and the impact it is having on the Arctic environment. It states that "In the past 100 years, average Arctic temperatures have increased at almost twice the global average rate." This, the roadmap continues, has led to less sea ice cover and the Arctic Ocean absorbing more heat from the sun during the summer. The end result: an increased temperature contrast between the warm ice-free ocean and cold ice surfaces in autumn resulting in "the development of more frequent and more intense Arctic cyclones."

For more information, go to:
http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a595557.pdf

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: February 12, 2015

Question: By analyzing the chemical composition of stars, a National Science Foundation-funded researcher can more accurately predict which ones may have Earth-like planets: true or false?

Answer: True

Trey Mack, a graduate student astronomer at Vanderbilt University whose research is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), has developed a method that uses spectral data of a star to accurately identify its chemical composition, and then determine how that signature has been marked by the "ingestion" of rocky material from Earth-like planets. Stars consist of more than 98 percent hydrogen and helium, with iron and other elements heavier than hydrogen and helium making up less than 2 percent. Astronomers believe that a star with a higher percentage of "metals" (as astronomers call the non-hydrogen, non-helium elements) indicates that while it may have had rocky planets orbiting it at one time, they have long since been consumed. Stars closer to the 98/2 ratio, therefore, are stronger candidates for hosting "terrestrial" bodies. Mack took this theory a step further by obtaining spectral readings from stars for 15 specific elements that have melting points higher than 600 degrees Celsius (1,200 degrees Fahrenheit)—and would be most likely to be in the composition of rocky planets (including aluminum, silicon, calcium and iron). This allows him to model a star's chemical makeup element-by-element, more accurately define "98/2 stars" to move them higher up on the search list for Earth-like planets, and at the same time, eliminate "Earth-eating stars."

For more information, go to:
http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=131573

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: February 10, 2015

Question: Which NASA spacecraft was the first to send data from another planet: Mariner 2, Pioneer 10 or Voyager 1?

Answer: Mariner 2

When the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)'s Mariner 2 passed within 34,000 kilometers (21,000 miles) of Venus on Dec. 14, 1962, it became the world's first successful interplanetary spacecraft. Mariner 2 scanned the planet with infrared and microwave radiometers, revealing that Venus has cool clouds and an extremely hot surface (about 500 degrees Celsius or 900 degrees Fahrenheit). Because the bright, opaque clouds hide the planet's surface, Mariner 2 was not outfitted with a camera. The spacecraft's solar wind experiment measured for the first time the density, velocity, composition and variation over time of the charged particles streaming from the sun. Pioneer 10 was the first spacecraft to fly past Jupiter in December 1973 and Voyager 1 explored both Jupiter (1979) and Saturn (1980). In August 2012, Voyager 1 became the first vessel to leave the Solar System for interstellar space.

For more information, go to:
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/details.php?id=5898

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: February 5, 2015

Question: According to the National Wildlife Strike Database, managed by the Department of Agriculture for the Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration, aircraft collided most frequently between1990 and 2003 with which bird species: dove, gull or starling?

Answer: Gull

The National Wildlife Strike Database, managed by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the Department of Transportation (DOT)'s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), has kept track of all strikes between aircraft and birds, mammals and reptiles since 1990. During the 14-year period between 1990 and 2003, there were 51,154 collisions between birds and aircraft with the most commonly struck species being the gull; 5,323 incidents or 25 percent of the total. Doves and pigeons were responsible for 14 percent of the strikes while starlings and blackbirds were at 10 percent. Overall, bird strikes happened most often between July and October (51 percent), in daylight hours (63 percent) and during landings (58 percent). The first reported bird strike, probably a red-winged blackbird, took place on Sept. 7, 1905, over a cornfield near Dayton, Ohio. The pilot, who escaped unharmed, was none other than one of the inventors of the powered aircraft, Wilbur Wright.

For more information, go to:
http://www.faa.gov/airports/airport_safety/wildlife/faq/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: February 3, 2015

Question: According to the National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus database, "vog" is smog produced by: vacuums, vehicles or volcanoes?

Answer: Volcanoes

According to the National Library of Medicine (NLM)'s MedlinePlus database, volcanic smog, or "vog," is created when gases released from a volcano react with oxygen, moisture, dust and sunlight in the atmosphere. Vog contains a mixture of gases and highly acidic aerosols (tiny particles and droplets), mainly sulfuric acid and other sulfur-related compounds. These aerosols are small enough to be inhaled deep into the lungs. When people breathe in vog, it irritates the lungs and mucus membranes, and can affect lung function. Volcanic smog also is thought to interfere with the normal functioning of the immune system.

For more information, go to:
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007468.htm

January 2015

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: January 29, 2015

Question: A forensics library, created by the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate, has more than 10,000 digitized samples of what?

Answer: Ink

Since the early 1960s, the U.S. Secret Service has supported forensic examinations of ink by the law enforcement community with the world's largest collection—more than 10,000 reference samples—of ink at its International Ink Library in Washington, D.C. For nearly half a century, however, the search and identification of inks using this resource had to be performed manually. In 2009, the process was greatly simplified and made more effective when the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) teamed up to launch the Digital Ink Library. To create this online database, each vial of ink in the International Ink Library had to be analyzed using chromatography and the results uploaded. The searchable archive includes an advanced quality assurance system, as well as an electronic case file and lab management system. Users can work on several cases simultaneously with these features.

For more information, go to:
http://www.firstresponder.gov/Newsletters/June%202010.pdf

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: January 27, 2015

Question: What fruit inspired the newest lithium-ion batteries developed by the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University: coconut, guava or pomegranate?

Answer: Pomegranate

An electrode designed like a pomegranate—with silicon nanoparticles clustered like seeds in a tough carbon ring—overcomes several remaining obstacles to using silicon for a new generation of lithium-ion batteries, say its inventors at the Department of Energy (DOE)'s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC) and Stanford University. "While a couple of challenges remain, this design brings us closer to using silicon anodes in smaller, lighter and more powerful batteries for products like cell phones, tablets and electric cars," says Yi Cui, an associate professor at SLAC and Stanford who led the research. "Experiments showed our pomegranate-inspired anode operates at 97 percent capacity even after 1,000 cycles of charging and discharging, which puts it well within the desired range for commercial operation," he explains.

For more information, go to:
https://www6.slac.stanford.edu/news/2014-02-16-pomegranate-inspired-batteries.aspx

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: January 22, 2015

Question: The latest National Institute of Standards and Technology atomic clock neither gains nor loses a second in how many million years: 100, 300 or 500?

Answer: 300 million years

On April 3, 2014, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) officially launched a new atomic clock, called NIST-F2, to serve as a new U.S. civilian time and frequency standard. NIST-F2 will neither gain nor lose one second in about 300 million years, making it about three times as accurate as NIST-F1, which served as the standard since 1999. Both clocks use a "fountain" of cesium atoms to determine the exact length of a second. NIST-F2, currently the world's most accurate time standard, is the latest in a series of cesium-based atomic clocks developed by NIST since the 1950s. In its role as the U.S. measurement authority, NIST strives to advance atomic timekeeping, which is part of the basic infrastructure of modern society. Many everyday technologies, such as cellular telephones, Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite receivers and the electric power grid, rely on the high accuracy of atomic clocks.

For more information, go to:
http://www.nist.gov/pml/div688/nist-f2-atomic-clock-040314.cfm

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: January 20, 2015

Question: The "FDA Food Code," an annual document available from the National Technical Information Service, lists the muskrat as a "game animal," true or false?

Answer: True

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)'s "FDA Food Code" includes the muskrat on its list of animals that are considered "game." Among other FDA-designated game species are antelope, bison, deer, elk, nutria, opossum, rabbit, raccoon, squirrel and water buffalo. Species not considered game by the federal government include cow, sheep, swine, goat, horse, mule and fish. Available on CD from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS), the "FDA Food Code" has been issued annually since 1994 and serves as a model code and reference document for jurisdictions across the United States to use in regulating the safe handling, processing and serving of food at more than 1 million restaurants, retail food stores, vending operations and food service establishments.

For more information, go to:
https://ntrl.ntis.gov/NTRL/dashboard/searchResults.xhtml?searchQuery=2014500018
http://www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/retailfoodprotection/foodcode/default.htm

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: January 15, 2015

Question: According to the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics, what percentage of schools require students to wear uniforms: 9, 19 or 29?

Answer: 19 percent

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education, between the 2003–2004 and 2011–2012 school years, the percentage of public schools reporting that they required students to wear uniforms increased from 13 to 19 percent. In 2011-2012, the percentage of public secondary schools who reported requiring that students wear uniforms (12 percent) was lower than the percentages of elementary schools (20 percent) and combined schools (30 percent) with such a requirement. NCES is operated by the Institute for Education Sciences (IES) at the U.S. Department of Education (ED).

For more information, go to:
http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=50

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: January 13, 2015

Question: According to the Library of Congress, what film width did Thomas A. Edison's Kinetoscope use: 18, 35 or 40 millimeters?

Answer: 18 millimeters

According to the Library of Congress (LOC) online exhibit, "Inventing Entertainment: The  Motion Pictures and Sound Recordings of the Edison Company," renowned inventor Thomas Alva Edison proposed an idea for a device which would "do for the eye what the phonograph does for the ear"—record and reproduce objects in motion. Edison called the invention a "Kinetoscope," using the Greek words "kineto" meaning "movement" and "scopos" meaning "to watch." The device, first demonstrated in May 1893, was both a camera and a peephole viewer, and the film used was 18 millimeters wide. It consisted of an upright wooden cabinet featuring an opening with magnifying lenses in the top. Inside the box was a continuous band of film arranged around a series of spools. The film was drawn under the lens at a continuous rate. Beneath the film was an electric lamp, and between the lamp and the film was a revolving shutter with a narrow slit. As each frame passed under the lens, the shutter permitted a flash of light so brief that the frame appeared to be frozen. Persistence of vision made the rapidly passing series of still images appear to move.

For more information, go to:
http://www.loc.gov/collection/edison-company-motion-pictures-and-sound-recordings/articles-and-essays/history-of-edison-motion-pictures/#origins-of-motion-pictures

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: January 8, 2015

Question: According to the U.S. Geological Survey, which state hosts the geographic center of the contiguous United States: Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas or Iowa?

Answer: Kansas

According to Geographic Centers of the United States, a 1964 publication of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the recognized geographic center of the contiguous 48 United States is located about 4.2 kilometers (2.6 miles) northwest of Lebanon, Kans., approximately 19 kilometers (12 miles) south of the Kansas-Nebraska border. While any measurement of the exact center of a land mass can change over time due to changing shorelines and other factors, the coordinates for the geographic center—latitude 39 degrees 50 minutes north, longitude 98 degrees 35 minutes west—as originally defined by the National Geodetic Survey (now an agency of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)) are recognized on a historical marker in a small park. The geographic center of the continental 49 United States (the 48 contiguous states plus Alaska) is 18 kilometers (11 miles) west of Castle Rock, S.D., at longitude 44 degrees 59 minutes north, 103 degrees 38 minutes west, while the center of all 50 states (with Hawaii included) is just "down the road" at 44 degrees 58 minutes north, 103 degrees 46 minutes west, a point 32 kilometers (20 miles) north of Belle Fourche, S.D. Detailed digital maps of these points and more geographic or topographic information can be found on the freely available Topo maps produced by the National Geospatial Program (NGPO) of the USGS at http://nationalmap.gov/ustopo/index.html.

For more information, go to:
http://pubs.usgs.gov/unnumbered/70039437/report.pdf

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: January 6, 2015

Question: To study how a pregnant woman's exposure to chemicals may affect prenatal development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency researchers are creating a virtual: sperm, egg or embryo?

Answer: A virtual embryo

What role does a pregnant woman's exposure to chemicals in the environment play in disrupting the development of her baby? To help answer that question, scientists at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s National Center for Computational Toxicology (NCCT) are working on the Virtual Embryo Project (v-Embryo™).
v-Embryo™ is designed to replace slow and costly conventional laboratory testing by blending advanced computer models with established toxicology and embryonic development data. For example, three models were created to simulate development of the embryonic eye, blood vessel and limb. These are "virtually exposed" to a selection of everyday chemicals with known health effects in animals. Data used for these exposures are acquired from standardized tests on stem cells and zebrafish embryos, as well as from recognized sources such as ToxCast™, another EPA computational toxicology program. The NCCT is part of the EPA's Office of Research and Development (ORD).

For more information, go to:
http://www.epa.gov/ord/sciencematters/october2010/virtual-embryo.html

December 2014

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: December 18, 2014

Question: A bear cub rescued after a 1950 New Mexico fire and given to the U.S. Forest Service was made the living symbol for what animated character?

Answer: Smokey Bear

After a spring 1950 wildfire in in the Capitan Mountains of New Mexico, firefighters found an orphaned bear cub atop a charred tree. His climb had saved his life but left him badly burned on the paws and hind legs. A rancher, who had been helping the firefighters, agreed to take the cub home. A New Mexico Department of Game and Fish ranger heard about the cub and drove to the rancher's home to get the bear. The cub needed veterinary aid and was flown in a small plane to Santa Fe where the burns were treated. The news about the little bear spread swiftly throughout New Mexico. Soon, United Press International and Associated Press picked up the story and broadcast it nationwide. The state game warden wrote to the chief of the Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s U.S. Forest Service (USFS), offering the cub to the agency if he would be dedicated to a publicity program of fire prevention and conservation. The go-ahead was given to send the bear to Washington, D.C., where he found a home at the National Zoo, becoming the living symbol of Smokey Bear (the character first appeared in fire prevention ads from the USFS and the Ad Council in 1944). Upon his death on Nov. 9, 1976, Smokey's remains were returned by the USFS to New Mexico and buried at what is now the Smokey Bear Historical Park.

For more information, go to:
http://www.smokeybear.com/vault/story_main.asp

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: December 16, 2014

Question: According to the National Archives and Records Administration, President Lyndon Johnson's penchant for hosting foreign dignitaries at his Texas ranch was called what?

Answer: Barbecue diplomacy

According to the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas, a part of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), President Lyndon Baines Johnson's first official state dinner as Chief Executive was a barbecue at the "Texas White House" (the Johnson ranch near the President's birthplace, Johnson City, Texas) for 300 guests to honor West German Chancellor Ludwig Erhard on Dec. 29, 1963. First Lady Claudia Taylor "Lady Bird" Johnson wrote in her diary that "there were beans, delicious barbecued spareribs, cole slaw, followed by fried apricot pies with lots of hot coffee. And plenty of beer." It wasn't the first time Johnson had mixed BBQ and statesmanship, having held many politically motivated feasts while both a U.S. Senator and Vice President under John F. Kennedy. Johnson hosted so many ranch-style state events during his presidency (1963-1968), that the strategy was termed "barbecue diplomacy" by New York Herald-Tribune reporter W.D. Taylor.

For more information, go to:
http://www.lbjlibrary.org/press/lbj-in-the-news/barbecue-lbj-ranch

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: December 11, 2014

Question: How many fish stocks have been "rebuilt" since 2000 with assistance from NOAA Fisheries: 7, 16 or 34?

Answer: 34

Whenever the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s NOAA Fisheries (the official name is the National Marine Fisheries Service) determines that a fish stock has been "overfished" (a stock whose population has been so depleted that its capacity to produce a maximum sustainable yield is jeopardized), the agency works with regional fishery management organizations to design and implement a "rebuilding" plan. Such a plan can include actions such as shortened fishing seasons and catch limits. Once a stock has increased in abundance to the target population levels that support its maximum sustainable yield, the stock is considered "rebuilt." Since 2000, 34 fish stocks have been rebuilt, including two in 2013, the Sacramento River Fall Chinook salmon and the Southern Atlantic Coast stock of black sea bass.

For more information, go to:
http://1.usa.gov/1nbvuLn

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: December 9, 2014

Question: A recent Department of Defense study suggests that men and women do what differently: eat, talk or walk?

Answer: Walk

Do men and women walk differently? The common perception is that there is a distinct gait for both sexes but scientific evidence is limited. In 2013, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)'s 711th Human Performance Wing (711 HPW) commissioned a study to assemble and analyze to known research on the spatiotemporal (describing movement through space and time) and kinematic (describing the motion of the human body and its segments) aspects of male and female walks. The Department of Defense (DoD)-sponsored review paper stated that the pooled literature indicates gait speed decreases with age, and decreases more for women than men. It also suggests that the length of one's step is height-dependent, and that when men and women of matched height are compared, females walk at a slightly faster pace than males. Finally, the compilation of kinematic data provides evidence, as suspected, that pelvic and hip motions of the two sexes differ during walking.

For more information, go to:
http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a597428.pdf

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: December 4, 2014

Question: According to National Science Foundation-funded research, what common foodstuff may serve as power for future batteries: butter, salt or sugar?

Answer: Sugar

A National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded research team at Virginia Tech University has developed a battery that runs on sugar and has an energy density an order of magnitude higher than previous sugar battery designs, allowing it to run longer before needing to be refueled. The engineers constructed a device that combines fuel–in this case, maltodextrin, a polysaccharide created during the partial hydrolysis of starch–with air to generate electricity and water as its main byproducts. The sugar battery is neither explosive nor flammable, has a high capacity for energy storage, can be refilled as easily as one restores ink to a printer cartridge, and is totally biodegradable.

For more information, go to:
http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=130227

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: December 2, 2014

Question: Who is the only NASA astronaut to achieve a four-star ranking in the military: Kevin Chilton, Thomas Stafford or Richard Truly?

Answer: Kevin Chilton

Kevin "Chilli" Chilton, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration astronaut from 1987 until 1998, retired in 2011 from the U.S. Air Force with the rank of four-star general. He flew three times aboard the space shuttle, logging more than 700 hours in orbit. He served as pilot on STS-49, the maiden voyage of space shuttle Endeavour; and STS-59, which featured the deployment of the Space Radar Laboratory. He served as the commander of STS-76, which featured the third docking mission to the Russian space station Mir as well as the first spacewalk from the space shuttle while docked to Mir (by astronauts Linda Godwin and Michael Clifford). Chilton returned to the Air Force in 1998 and served in various positions for the next 13 years. He advanced in rank during that time from colonel to four-star general, becoming the first former astronaut to achieve that status. Thomas Stafford, commander of the Apollo 10 and Apollo-Soyuz Test Project missions, retired from the Air Force as a three-star lieutenant general, while Richard Truly, two-time space shuttle astronaut and former NASA administrator, retired from the U.S. Navy as a three-star vice admiral.

For more information, go to:
http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/news/ahof_induction.html

November 2014

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: November 25, 2014

Question: Now operated by the Department of Transportation (DOT)'s Maritime Administration (MARAD), the world's first nuclear-powered merchant ship was called the: Augusta, Macon or Savannah?

Answer: The Nuclear Ship (NS) Savannah

When President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced his plan for promoting the peaceful uses of atomic energy in 1953 (the "Atoms for Peace" program), the Maritime Administration (MARAD, now part of the Department of Transportation, or DOT) and the Atomic Energy Commission (the predecessor of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, or NRC) already had the showcase of the project in mind—a nuclear-powered commercial vessel. The goal was for the ship to sail the globe demonstrating that atomic energy did not only have to be a destructive force. Launched on July 21, 1959, the 181-meter (595-foot) long Nuclear Ship (NS) Savannah served until 1970, logged more than 834,000 kilometers (450,000 nautical miles), berthed at some 70 foreign and domestic ports, and entertained more than 1.5 million visitors. The Savannah was de-fueled in 1971 and its reactor made permanently inoperable in 1975-76. The ship—currently docked in Baltimore, Md.—is still licensed by the NRC and will remain so until the nuclear facilities are dismantled, removed and properly disposed.

For more information, go to:
http://www.marad.dot.gov/ships_shipping_landing_page/ns_savannah_home/ns_savannah_home.htm

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: November 20, 2014

Question: The National Library of Medicine's Digital Collections website has a 1945 U.S. Navy film about combat fatigue starring what dancing Hollywood legend?

Answer: Gene Kelly

In 2010, the curators of the National Library of Medicine (NLM)'s Digital Collections website were given a 16-millimeter copy of a 1945 U.S. Navy film titled "Combat Fatigue Irritability." The fictional drama portrays the post-World War II life of a troubled and angry Navy seaman named Bob Lucas whose ship was sunk in battle. Lucas suffers from combat fatigue irritability, an illness that today is known to as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Starring as Lucas and serving as the movie's director was Gene Kelly (1912-1996), the famed dancing and singing performer best known for musical blockbusters such as "Singin' in the Rain," "An American in Paris" and "Anchors Aweigh." To prepare for the role, Kelly had himself admitted to a naval hospital, posing as a sailor suffering from combat fatigue. Jocelyn Brando (1919-2005), Marlon's older sister, played Kelly's girlfriend in the film. "Combat Fatigue Irritability" is one of 17,000 historical audiovisual productions in Digital Collections, the free online archive of digitized biomedical resources—both film and text— maintained by NLM. All of the content is freely available worldwide and, unless otherwise indicated, in the public domain.

For more information, go to:
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/collections/films/medicalmoviesontheweb/combatfatigue.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: November 18, 2014

Question: A mobile app, whose development was funded by the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate, collects real-time data on what threat to animals: disease, pollution or urban sprawl?

Answer: Disease

With funding from the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate (DHS ST&T), researchers at the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases (IIAD) at Texas A&M University designed, developed and piloted the Enhanced Passive Surveillance (EPS) system to improve real-time situational awareness of animal diseases. The EPS system uses mobile applications, or apps, to capture information on both healthy and sick animals in real time. Veterinarians can document the number of animals observed or examined, describe clinical signs or symptoms that match certain endemic and high consequence diseases, and provide specific geographic locations—all while performing examinations and treating animals. The system automatically uploads and organizes information into an easy-to-use computer display and integrates it with data from veterinary diagnostic laboratories, wildlife biologists and livestock markets. Once made anonymous, data can be shared between veterinarians, state officials and federal government agencies based on established data sharing protocols that safeguard privacy.

For more information, go to:
http://www.dhs.gov/st-snapshot-preventing-disease-outbreaks-livestock---now-there's-app

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: November 13, 2014

Question: Research funded in part by the Department of Energy led to the development of the first Food and Drug Administration-approved artificial: bladder, esophagus or retina?

Answer: Retina

A decade of funding from the Department of Energy (DOE)'s Office of Science and research support from six DOE laboratories helped create the first-ever retinal prosthesis—or bionic eye—to be approved in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration. Dubbed the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System by its manufacturer, Second Sight Medical Products Inc., the device is designed to aid those blinded by end-stage retinitis pigmentosa. It operates by using a miniature camera mounted in eyeglasses that captures images and wirelessly send the information to a microprocessor (worn on a belt). This converts the data to an electronic signal and transmits it to a receiver on the eye. The pulses travel to the optic nerve, and, ultimately, to the brain, which perceives patterns of light and dark spots corresponding to the electrodes stimulated. Blind individuals can learn to interpret these visual patterns. The six DOE national labs the participated in the development of retinal prosthesis were Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge and Sandia. DOE also worked closely with the National Eye Institute at the National Institutes of Health to support development of the Argus II, while the National Science Foundation provided support for material design and other basic research.

For more information, go to: http://www.energy.gov/articles/fda-approves-first-bionic-eye-blind

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: November 6, 2014

Question: What did former National Institute of Standards and Technology director Lyman Briggs study with a wind tunnel and a baseball pitcher?

Answer: The physics of a curve ball

For the better part of the 20th century, the curve ball was a hotly debated topic among fans and players. Many dismissed the ball's sideward movement as an illusion. In 1959, renowned scientist Lyman Briggs, who had served as the third director of the National Bureau of Standards (NBS, now the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST) ended the debate with the aid of several pitchers from the major league Washington Senators and a wind tunnel he built in 1918 for pioneering research on aviation aerodynamics. Briggs demonstrated that a thrown ball can curve up to 44.5 centimeters (17.5 inches) over the 18.4 meters (60 feet 6 inches) that separate pitcher and batter. The unraveling of the mystery of the curve—the ball's spin, rather than speed, causes it to break—was reported in papers from coast to coast.

For more information, go to: http://www.nist.gov/centennial/baseball.cfm

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: November 4, 2014

Question: Available from the National Technical Information Service, the most recent "U.S. Pacific Marine Mammal Stock Assessments" report from NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service shows that the North Pacific population of humpback whales has increased or decreased since 1966?

Answer: Increased

According to the most recent edition of the "U.S. Pacific Marine Mammal Stock Assessments" report (2012), the humpback whale population in the North Pacific Ocean increased 6-7 percent annually from a low point of 1,200 in 1966 to approximately 18,000-20,000 in 2006. The report, produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and available from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS), states that the pre-1905 population estimate for the region's humpback whales was about 15,000. That was reduced by whaling to approximately 1,200 in 1966, four years before the species was declared endangered under the Endangered Species Conservation Act. Although humpback whales have shown a dramatic recovery in numbers in the past 50 years, they remain on the endangered species list.

For more information, go to:
https://ntrl.ntis.gov/NTRL/dashboard/searchResults.xhtml?searchQuery=PB2013108879
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/cetaceans/humpbackwhale.htm

October 2014

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: October 30, 2014

Question: How many studies has the U.S. Department of Education's What Works Clearinghouse reviewed to find effective educational practices, programs and policies?

Answer: More than 10,000

The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) was established in 2002 as an initiative of the Institute for Education Sciences (IES) at the U.S. Department of Education (ED). The WWC is administered by the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE) within IES to promote informed decision making by providing educators, policymakers, researchers and the public with a central and trusted source of scientific evidence about "what works" in education. The WWC identifies studies that provide credible and reliable evidence of the effectiveness of a given practice, program or policy (referred to as "interventions"), and then disseminates summary information and reports on the WWC website. During its lifetime, the WWC has reviewed more than 10,000 studies. It has produced over 700 reports, which are available via an online searchable database.

For more information, go to: http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: October 28, 2014

Question: According to the Library of Congress online exhibit, "Benjamin Franklin … In His Own Words," which musical instrument did Franklin invent: armonica, celesta or orpharion?

Answer: Armonica

According to the Library of Congress (LOC) online exhibit, "Benjamin Franklin … In His Own Words," the famous American author, printer, statesman, inventor and amateur musician sent a letter in 1762 to Italian philosopher Giambatista Beccaria describing a musical instrument he had designed, the armonica. It was Franklin's more sophisticated adaptation of musical glasses. He fitted a series of graduated glass discs on a spindle laid horizontal in a case. By rotating the spindle via a foot pedal and touching the moving discs with a wet finger, Franklin could create bell-like tones. A celesta resembles a small upright piano, has hammers that strike steel plates to produce a tone similar to that of a glockenspiel and was invented in France in the 1880s. The orpharion is a 16th century metal-stringed lute.

For more information, go to:
http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/franklin
http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/franklin/index.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: October 23, 2014

Question: According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there are just over how many counties in the United States: 3,000; 12,000 or 27,000?

Answer: Just over 3,000

According to U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), there are 3,141 counties and county equivalents in the 50 United States and the District of Columbia. These are:

  • 3,007 designated as "county"
  • 16 "boroughs" in Alaska
  • 11 "census areas" in Alaska (for areas not organized as boroughs by the state)
  • 64 "parishes" in Louisiana
  • 42 "independent cities" (1 in Maryland – Baltimore; 1 in Missouri – St. Louis; 1 in Nevada – Carson City; and 39 in Virginia
  • 1 "district" – the District of Columbia (also known as the Federal District)

The 3,141 total does not include the county-like equivalents in the U.S. commonwealths and territories. These include:

  • 78 "municipios" in Puerto Rico
  • 24 "districts" in the U.S. Virgin Islands (2), Northern Mariana Islands (17) and American Samoa (5)
  • 19 "election districts" in Guam

Forty-eight of the 50 states have operational county governments. Connecticut and Rhode Island are divided into geographic regions called counties, but they do not have functioning governments.

The most extensive county or county-equivalent is the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, Alaska, with a land area of 376,856 square kilometers (145,505 square miles). The least extensive county or county-equivalent is the independent City of Falls Church, Va., with a land area of 5.177 square kilometers (1.999 square miles). Most populous county or county-equivalent is Los Angeles County, Calif., with 9,962,789 residents in 2012; least populous: Loving County, Texas, with 71 residents in 2012.

The majority of county names, 94 percent, contain only one word. The award for longest county name (14 letters) is a tie between Northumberland County, Pa., and Northumberland County, Va. The most common county name, with 31, is Washington County.

For more information, go to: http://www.usgs.gov/faq/categories/9799/2971

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: October 21, 2014

Question: Scientists with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Research and Development are using satellite data to predict outbreaks of what aquatic scourge?

Answer: Algal blooms

Rapid growths of algae, primarily cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae), in marine and fresh water systems are known as algal blooms. The toxins produced by these blooms can cause human illness, threaten drinking water, and harm recreational areas and commercial fishing regions, including those for shellfish. Researchers with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s Office of Research and Development (ORD) use images from NASA's SeaWIFS satellite to measure the amount of a pigment in algae, chlorophyll-a, to monitor algal growth and predict blooms. They also compared 13 years of SeaWIFS data to measurements from field studies to see if the satellite's readings could be used to assess water quality. The result was that satellites are useful monitoring tools.

For more information, go to: http://www2.epa.gov/water-research/using-satellites-identify-and-predict-harmful-algal-blooms

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: October 16, 2014

Question: The U.S. Forest Service and others study how people make use of their native plants. Is this science called agrimony, ethnobotany or social farming?

Answer: Ethnobotany

Ethnobotany, or "plants sustaining people," is the study of how people of a particular culture and region make use of their indigenous (native) plant species. Throughout time, countless peoples have tested and recorded the usefulness of plants. Those plants with valuable uses—such as foods, dyes and medicines—were kept and cultivated, and the knowledge of their benefits passed from generation to generation. Ethnobotanists working for or collaborating with the Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s U.S. Forest Service (USFS) are helping document, preserve and foster some of these "human-plant connection" through projects such as the Zaagkii Project, an effort in the Great Lakes region to restore and preserve native plants and protect pollinators, and the Tribal Climate Change Project, a northwestern U.S. program exploring the role of traditional tribal knowledge about plants and other resources in climate change studies, assessments and plans. Agrimony is the name of an herb while social farming is the therapeutic use of farming to promote mental and physical health.

For more information, go to: http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/ethnobotany/index.shtml

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: October 14, 2014

Question: Records at the National Archives and Records Administration show that the U.S. Government once had regulations regarding searches for the Yeti, or Abominable Snowman, true or false?

Answer: True

Amongst the items preserved in the "Records of the Agency for International Development (USAID)" by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is a Nov. 30, 1959, Foreign Service Dispatch titled "Regulations Governing Mountain Climbing Expeditions in Nepal - Relating to Yeti." Issued by the U.S. Embassy in Katmandu, Nepal, the State Department document lists "three regulations applicable only to expeditions searching for the Yeti in Nepal": (1) buy a permit from the Nepalese government for 5,000 Indian rupees; (2) only photograph or capture the beast alive (however, the rules stated that force could be used in self-defense); and (3) clear any news about the search with Nepalese government before sending it out to the world. These regulations on the "Abominable Snowman" were originally issued by the Nepalese government in 1957. Their reissuance by the United States two years later was out of respect for Nepal and not because American officials felt the Yeti was real.

For more information, go to: http://www.archives.gov/historical-docs/todays-doc/?dod-date=1210

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: October 9, 2014

Question: True or false? A NOAA/NASA satellite can spot a wildfire event even before smoke is seen.

Answer: True

Fires can be detected by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), a set of extremely sensitive radiation sensors aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) satellite known as Suomi NPP, even before the craft's cameras observe smoke. VIIRS provides valuable information on the location and intensity of fires, which can be used to support smoke and air quality analyses and forecasts, help predict future fire behavior and direct fire suppression efforts. Suomi NPP (for National Polar-orbiting Partnership) is the first in a series of advanced Earth-observing satellites (the Joint Polar Satellite System or JPSS) that circle from pole-to-pole (hence "polar orbiting") at an altitude of about 824 kilometers (512 miles). Polar satellites are able to monitor weather as it takes shape around the globe, unlike geostationary satellites—orbiting at 35,800 kilometers or 22,300 miles so that they remain stationed over a fixed point—that see only within their limited domain. VIIRS features multi-band imaging capabilities to support the acquisition of high-resolution atmospheric imagery and the generation of a variety of applied products, including visible and infrared imaging of hurricanes along with detection of fires, smoke and atmospheric aerosols. It was the VIIRS' Day/Night Band sensor that captured the widely popular Earth at night "Black Marble" image.

For more information, go to: http://go.usa.gov/53GB

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: October 7, 2014

Question: What biomaterial is being studied by Department of Defense-funded research with potential applications for parachutes, body armor suits and underwater adhesives?

Answer: Spider silk

During the past decade, both the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) and the Office of Naval Research (ONR) have funded studies by molecular biologist Randy Lewis (the former when he was at the University of Wyoming and the latter at his current institution, Utah State University) to mass produce spider silks by inserting arachnid genes for silk protein production into alfalfa, bacteria, goats and silkworms. The proteins can be spun into strong, lightweight and extremely elastic silk for potential Department of Defense (DoD) applications in parachute cords, ballistic-resistant body armors, composite materials in aircraft and even adhesives that can work underwater. Medical uses for the lab-derived spider silk—which is five times stronger than steel, three times tougher than Kevlar and more elastic than nylon—include synthetic ligaments, tendons, skin and bone, as well as ultra-fine sutures for microsurgeries and delicate operations (such as facial reconstruction).

For more information, go to: http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a516656.pdf

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: October 2, 2014

Question: National Science Foundation-funded research in Iceland scientifically evaluated a drilled well with what world-record characteristic?

Answer: It was the hottest well in the world because of magma heating

As part of the National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported Icelandic Deep Drilling Project (IDDP), a borehole was drilled in 2009 at Krafla, Iceland, that unexpectedly penetrated into magma (molten rock) at only 2,100 meters (6,900 feet) deep. The temperature of the well, known as IDDP-1, was 900-1,000 degrees Celsius (1,700-1,800 degrees Fahrenheit) making it the world's hottest. The IDDP, in cooperation with Iceland's National Power Company, decided to evaluate the ability of the magma well to serve as a geothermal energy source. The well flowed superheated steam at 450 degrees Celsius (840 degrees Fahrenheit) into the existing power plant at Krafla for two years. This was far greater than the 60-80 degrees Celsius (140-180 degrees Fahrenheit) produced by traditional geothermal resources. The steam from the first-ever magma-enhanced geothermal site was capable of generating 36 megwatts of electrical power. While low compared to a typical 660 megawatt coal-fired power station, it was considerably greater than the 1-3 megawatts of an average wind turbine, and more than half of the Krafla plant's 60 megawatt output.

For more information, go to: http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=130319

September 2014

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: September 30, 2014

Question: A NASA-developed material, transparent polycrystalline alumina, is used in invisible braces. What was its original purpose?

Answer: Helping to track heat-seeking missiles

Transparent polycrystalline alumina (TPA) is a compound that is stronger than steel, allows infrared and microwave radiation to pass through it, and is so light absorbent that it is transparent. TPA was developed by ceramics manufacture Ceradyne Inc., in collaboration with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), as a material for the nose cones of heat-seeking missiles. TPA permitted tracking signals to reach the missile's sensitive guidance systems and sensors, while still being tough enough to protect those same mechanisms from the rigors of high-speed, high-altitude flight. In 1987, a dental products manufacturer, Unitek Corp. (now 3M Unitek), was searching for a strong, yet translucent material with which to create a line of "invisible braces." The company found its answer in TPA, designing the first-ever braces that would reflect the color of the teeth beneath them and withstand the stress and strain of daily use within a patient's mouth. It is one of NASA's best examples of "spinoff technology" from the space program.

For more information, go to: http://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=20020087639

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: September 25, 2014

Question: A robot designed and built by the Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration and Rutgers University is currently traveling through six states inspecting what?

Answer: Bridges

The Robotics Assisted Bridge Inspection Tool (RABIT™), designed and built by the Department of Transportation (DOT)'s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Rutgers University Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT), is currently inching its way across bridges in six states—Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia—and the District of Columbia to collect data on their surface and subsurface conditions. The robot complements conventional visual inspections in analyzing bridge decks, which typically deteriorate faster than other bridge components because of the direct exposure to traffic loads and environmental impacts. This includes using ground penetrating radar, electrical resistivity and acoustic arrays to assess such concerns as corrosion, degradation of concrete and delamination (division and separation of layers of concrete). The FHWA is currently fine-tuning RABIT™'s capabilities with the six state trial and hopes to inspect 1,000 bridges nationwide in a five-year period.

For more information, go to: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/research/tfhrc/programs/infrastructure/structures/ltbp/ltbpresearch/rabit/index.cfm

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: September 23, 2014

Question: According to the National Library of Medicine's ToxTown environmental health website, a haboob is a poisonous plant found in the southwestern United States, true or false?

Answer: False

According to the National Library of Medicine (NLM)'s ToxTown environmental health website, a haboob is an intense dust storm (the name is derived from the Arabic word for "wind"). Haboobs are most frequent in the southwestern United States from May through September. They have winds of higher than (30 miles per hour), may raise dust to higher than 900 meters (3,000 feet), and last for an average of less than three hours. ToxTown is designed to give the public information on:

  • everyday locations where you might find toxic chemicals;
  • non-technical descriptions of chemicals;
  • links to selected, authoritative chemical information on the Internet;
  • how the environment can impact human health; and
  • Internet resources on environmental health topics.

ToxTown uses colors, graphics, sounds and animation to add interest to learning about connections between chemicals, the environment and the public's health. ToxTown's target audiences are students above elementary-school level, educators and the general public.

For more information, go to: http://www.toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/text_version/locations.php?id=152

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: September 18, 2014

Question: BIOSwimmer, an autonomous underwater vehicle whose development was funded by the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate, has the shape of what marine creature?

Answer: A tuna

Mimicking the form and function of one of the world's speediest and most agile fish, the tuna, the Biomimetic In-Oil Swimmer (BIOSwimmer) is an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) created by Boston Engineering Corporation with funding from the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T). The bright-yellow mechanical robot is about 1.5 meters (5 feet) long and weighs just over 40 kilograms (90 pounds); has pectoral, dorsal and tail fins to aid in navigation; and gets its impressive maneuverability from a tuna-like, back-and-forth moving tail section. Remotely controlled by a laptop computer, BIOSwimmer can operate to depths of up to 90 meters (300 feet). It can inspect ship interiors (such as bilges and tanks), examine the hulls of vessels, patrol and protect harbors and piers, and perform underwater searches.

For more information, go to: http://www.dhs.gov/st-snapshot-bioswimmer

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: September 16, 2014

Question: What technology, developed at the Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, levitates the vehicle it propels?

Answer: Magnetic levitation or "maglev"

Magnetic levitation is a form of propulsion that uses magnets to levitate a vehicle—usually a train—a small distance above a track. There are currently two commercial trains in operation, one in Shanghai, China, and the other in Japan. In 1961, James R. Powell, then a researcher at the Department of Energy (DOE)'s Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), got the inspiration for maglev while sitting in rush hour traffic. He and BNL colleague Gordon Danby devised a form of transportation that used static magnets to cause electrodynamic lifting, allowing maglev trains to move much more efficiently and quickly than conventional trains. Powell and Gordon received the patent for their work in 1968, and the two are now part of Maglev 2000, a company which hopes to construct a maglev train in the United States that would travel a total of 16,400 miles and reach a maximum of 300 mph. In 2000, Powell and Gordon were awarded the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Engineering for their creation.

For more information, go to: http://www.bnl.gov/bnlweb/pubaf/pr/2000/bnlpr041800.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: September 11, 2014

Question: Since 2000, computer modeling software designed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology has been used to predict the behavior of what hazard: earthquakes, fire or lightning?

Answer: Fire

First released by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 2000 and now in its sixth version, the NIST Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) computer modeling software has been used worldwide to predict the spread, growth and suppression of fire by researchers, arson investigators, firefighter trainers and groups involved in the development of fire-protection designs and standards. FDS "has become the tool of choice by both the fire research and fire engineering communities," according to the International Forum of Fire Research Directors, an organization that promotes international cooperation in fire safety research. Combined with another NIST program, Smokeview, the software tools were essential to the NIST study that determined the factors that led to the collapse of the World Trade Center towers in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The software also has aided reconstructions and experimental studies of fires in houses and high-rises, mines, aircraft cabins, nuclear facilities, road tunnels, movie theaters, parking garages, subway stations and more. In addition, FDS and Smokeview have been used to investigate circumstances in line-of-duty deaths of firefighters, and architects and engineers employ the tools when designing fire-protections systems for buildings and other structures.

For more information, go to: http://www.nist.gov/el/fire_research/fds_smokeview.cfm

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: September 9, 2014

Question: Available from the National Technical Information Service's National Audiovisual Center is a film called "The World Beyond Zero" that's about: Arctic exploration, higher mathematics or spacecraft tracking?

Answer: Spacecraft tracking

Among the more than 9,000 multimedia items available from the National Audiovisual Center collection maintained by the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) is a 1961 NASA film called "The World Beyond Zero." The 28-minute documentary was directed by famed filmmaker Charles "Chick" Gallagher and featured two top actors at the time as narrators: Richard Burton and Robert Preston. It deals with the international tracking station network coordinated by NASA to monitor and communicate with orbiting spacecraft. The title of the film refers to the countdown used during spacecraft launches and indicates that the tracking network is critical to a mission "beyond zero." Locations with tracking stations seen in the film included Cape Kennedy, Fla., and Anchorage, Alaska, in the United States; Lima, Peru; Santiago, Chile; Johannesburg, South Africa; Winkfield, England; and Woomera, Australia.

For more information, go to: http://www.ntis.gov/search/product.aspx?ABBR=AVA18775VNB1

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: September 4, 2014

Question: The first journal articles indexed by the U.S. Department of Education's Educational Resources Information Center database were from: history, mathematics or special education?

Answer: Special education

Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2014, the U.S. Department of Education's Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) is an online digital library of education research and information providing access to some 1.5 million bibliographic records of journal articles and other education-related materials. The first articles were indexed in 1965 as part of a pilot document dissemination to special education teachers known as Project Fingertip. Packets each containing 1,746 resource items–including program descriptions, indices, resumes and full-text documents–were sent to all state Boards of Education, a school system in each Congressional district, and special education teachers in the 100 largest cities in the United States.

For more information, go to: http://eric.ed.gov/pdf/ERIC_Retrospective.pdf

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: September 2, 2014

Question: In which year, commonly referred to as the Annus Mirabilis, did Albert Einstein publish four papers and his dissertation setting the stage for all of modern physics?

Answer: 1905

While working as an examiner in a Swiss patent office at the start of the 20th century, Albert Einstein tackled some of the most important questions and problems in physics. In 1905, he published four papers in the scientific journal Annalen der Physik that contributed substantially to the foundation of modern physics and forever altered our views on space, time, mass and energy. The year in which Einstein created his quartet of breakthrough works is now commonly known as the Annus Mirabilis, Latin for "miracle year." The papers dealt with the photoelectric effect, Brownian motion, the special theory of relativity and mass-energy equivalence (in which Einstein developed perhaps the most famous equation in physics: E = mc2). All four documents and related information are listed in the Library of Congress (LOC) science guide, "The Annus Mirabilis of Albert Einstein."

For more information, go to: http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/SciRefGuides/einstein.html

August 2014

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: August 28, 2014

Question: Is the animal on the logo of the U.S. Department of the Interior (parent department for the U.S. Geological Survey): a bison, a buffalo or both?

Answer: Technically, a bison

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) logo consists of a male bison standing in the prairie, with mountains and a rising sun in the background. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the species Bison bison has become widely known as the American buffalo, although technically, the only two true buffalo species are the Asian water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) and the African, or Cape, buffalo (Syncerus caffer). The Cabinet Department for which the bison stands proudly was created on March 3, 1849, the last day of the 30th Congress–a date that appears at the bottom of the DOI logo. The bison seal dates from 1917, when it was used as the emblem on the initial department flag and replaced the original seal that featured a federal eagle. The eagle returned for a few years in the 1920s, and a different seal was used from 1968-69, but in both cases, the bison was eventually reinstated. Today, DOI employs more than 70,000 people in nine science and technical bureaus, including the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

For more information, go to: http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/utley-mackintosh/interior13.htm

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: August 26, 2014

Question: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Research and Development built a solar-powered park bench outside a North Carolina library that monitors which of the following: air quality, cloud cover or rainfall?

Answer: Air quality

A prototype of the Village Green Project, an innovative, low-cost, solar-powered air-monitoring system incorporated into a park bench, has been hard at work outside the Durham County (N.C.) South Regional Library since the summer of 2013. Designed and built by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s Office of Research and Development (ORD), in partnership with Durham County, this unique piece of outdoor furniture measures the airborne levels of pollutants such as ozone, black carbon and particulate matter; and collects information on pollution-impacting weather conditions such as relative humidity, temperature, wind direction and wind speed. The Village Green Project got its name from the New England term for the area that is the heart of a town where community members come together. The sensor-laden bench, part of EPA's next-generation air measuring research program, is meant to fit well into a modern "village green" environment, such as a playground, city park or running trail. The system's design minimizes its ecological footprint, requires little maintenance and avoids the need for outside electricity. Anyone who uses the bench can see real-time pollution and weather data, as well as educational materials on air quality, by scanning an onsite barcode with their smartphone or by accessing the Village Green Project website (http://villagegreen.epa.gov).

For more information, go to: http://www.epa.gov/research/priorities/docs/village-green-project-fact-sheet.pdf

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: August 21, 2014

Question: What tree, deemed by the U.S. Forest Service to be an invasive pest, "starred" in the book and movie titled "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn"?

Answer: Ailanthus, or tree-of heaven

Ailanthus, the so-called tree-of-heaven, is probably the most famous invasive tree in the United States. It's the title plant in Betty Smith's classic 1943 novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and the 1945 film of the same name, where it is used as a metaphor for persistence and toughness in the face of adversity. However, that toughness makes this tree–Ailanthus altissima (also known as stink tree and Chinese sumac)–a serious problem wherever it grows. It is most often found in urban settings, industrial wastelands and mine spoils, and along railroad and highway corridors. It survives in hot, dry and toxic soils, sending down its roots around and through concrete and paving cracks. Ailanthus grows very quickly, displaces native plants and is extremely difficult to eradicate. Scientists at, and collaborating with, the Northern Research Station (NRS) in Newton Square, Pa., a facility within the Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s U.S. Forest Service (USFS), are developing numerous methods to counter the Ailanthus threat. Among the tactics: computer models that predict the distribution and abundance of seed-spreading Ailanthus trees, combining aerial detection with targeted ground treatment, and cultivating a natural fungal enemy of Ailanthus to attack it biologically.

For more information, go to : http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/news/review/22

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: August 19, 2014

Question: According to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), how many of the four Army Air Force planes attempting a circumnavigation of the Earth in 1924 actually completed the voyage?

Answer: Two

According to "Magellans of the Sky," a story in the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)'s Prologue magazine, four Douglas World Cruiser aircraft–the Boston, the Chicago, the New Orleans and the Seattle–took off on April 6, 1924, from Lake Washington in Seattle with eight pilots on the initial leg of man's first circumnavigation of the Earth entirely by air. When the journey ended back in Seattle 175 days later on Sept. 28, 1924, only the Chicago and the New Orleans had completed the 44,342-kilometer (27,553–mile) voyage. The Seattle crashed into a mountain in Alaska a week after the trip's start; fortunately the two men aboard, Frederick Martin and Alva Harvey, made it out alive after 10 days in the wilderness. The Boston was forced down in the Atlantic Ocean on Aug. 3, 1924, and the pilots, Leigh Wade and Henry Ogden, were rescued by the U.S. Navy destroyer Billingsby. The crew of the Chicago, Lowell Smith and Leslie Arnold, and the crew of the New Orleans, Erik Nelson and Jack Harding, flew on, landed in Washington, D.C. and received a hero's welcome, and then made their way west on a multi-city tour until finally reaching their endpoint, Seattle.

For more information, go to: http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2010/summer/magellans.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: August 14, 2014

Question: According to NOAA's National Ocean Service, what percentage of the Earth's water is in the ocean: 24, 48 or 96?

Answer: 96 percent

It's hard to imagine, says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s National Ocean Service (NOS), but an astounding 96 percent of the Earth's water can be found in the ocean. That estimate, calculated by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), comes by dividing the amount of water stored in the ocean–1.34 billion cubic kilometers (321 million cubic miles) by the world's total water supply–1.4 billion cubic kilometers (333 million cubic miles). Although there are five named "oceans"– Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic and Southern–there actually only is one global ocean that covers more than 70 percent of the surface of our planet. About two percent of Earth's water is frozen in glaciers and ice caps while less than one percent is fresh. A tiny fraction of water exists as water vapor in our atmosphere.

For more information, go to : http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/oceanwater.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: August 12, 2014

Question: In the summer of 2014, the USS Ponce, a U.S. Navy vessel, will be the first ship in the fleet mounted with what type of advanced weapon?

Answer: Laser

In the summer of 2014, the U.S. Navy will outfit one of its vessels, the USS Ponce, with the first operational directed-energy gun, known as the Laser Weapon System (LaWS). The novel Department of Defense device is designed to protect a ship against drones (unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs) or small-boat attackers; it cannot at present engage incoming missiles, large aircraft, submerged objects or other ships. LaWS uses a solid-state infrared beam which is tunable from low power (to cripple the sensors of an approaching target) to high power (to destroy the target). For example, during field tests in May 2010, LaWS knocked two drones out of the sky. A major advantage of the laser gun over traditional projectile weapons is its low cost per shot because ammo for the latter must be handled, transported and stored. LaWS was developed by Kratos Defense & Security Solutions for the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Dahlgren Division and the U.S. Navy's Directed Energy and Electric Weapons Systems (DE&EWS) program.

For more information, go to: http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a583696.pdf

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: August 7, 2014

Question: A National Science Foundation-funded study discovered a potentially new state of matter, disordered hyperuniformity, in the eyes of what animal?

Answer: A chicken

A recent study funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) reports that an unusual arrangement of light-sensitive cells known as cones in the eye of a chicken constitutes the first known biological occurrence of a potentially new state of matter, disordered hyperuniformity. Researchers from Princeton University and Washington University in St. Louis found that nature has a way to cram four kinds of cones for color vision–violet, blue, green and red–and another type for detecting light levels within the retina of a chicken's eye so that the pattern appears to be simultaneously disordered over small distances and uniformly distributed (described as a "hidden order") over large distances. This natural model for disordered hyperuniformity could provide the basis for developing materials that can behave like crystal and liquid states of matter at the same time and have unique properties for transmitting and controlling light waves.

For more information, go to: https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=130709

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: August 5, 2014

Question: The first image ever transmitted by NASA to the moon by laser was: an Apollo 11 photo, the Mona Lisa painting or a picture of Bugs Bunny?

Answer: The Mona Lisa

In January 2013, scientists with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)'s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) program beamed an image of Leonardo da Vinci's famous painting, the Mona Lisa, to the spacecraft from Earth by piggybacking the signal on laser pulses routinely sent for tracking purposes. It was first time that one-way laser communication had been achieved at planetary distances. To confirm that LRO had received the image, it was returned to Earth via the orbiter's radio telemetry system. Based on the success of this pioneering event, NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) satellite was outfitted later in 2013 with the Lunar Laser Communications Demonstration (LLCD) device. The LLCD used highly reliable infrared lasers to transfer data across 386,000 kilometers (240,000 miles) at a rate of up to 622 megabits per second. The demonstration proved that two-way, high-rate laser communications was possible from lunar orbit. A second test is planned from Mars orbit in 2016.

For more information, go to: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LRO/news/mona-lisa.html

July 2014

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: July 31, 2014

Question: According to the Department of Transportation, sending or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for: 5, 10 or 15 seconds?

Answer: 5 seconds

According to studies conducted by the Department of Transportation (DOT)'s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), sending or reading a text message takes one's eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 89 kilometers per hour (55 miles per hour), that is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field (91 meters or 300 feet) blindfolded. NHTSA's research also indicates using a cell phone–even a hands-free device–is not any safer. The findings show that the cognitive distraction of having a hands-free phone conversation causes drivers to miss the important visual and audio clues that would ordinarily help them avoid a crash. How bad is the problem of texting/phoning while driving? NTHSA says at any given daylight moment in the United States, approximately 660,000 persons are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving.

For more information, go to:
http://www.distraction.gov/content/get-the-facts/faq.html
http://www.distraction.gov/content/get-the-facts/facts-and-statistics.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: July 29, 2014

Question: The National Library of Medicine's National Center for Biotechnology Information processes about 126 petabytes of data each year, enough to fill a bookshelf stretching how many kilometers: 400,000; 800,000; or 1.2 million?

Answer: 1.2 million kilometers

Each day, researchers from around the world submit approximately four terabytes of data for processing to the National Library of Medicine (NLM)'s National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). The center does extensive computing on the new data to integrate them into existing databases such as GenBank, PubMed and PubMed Central. At the same time, users of these databases download some 38 terabytes daily. When all of the incoming and outgoing flow of information is calculated, the total amount of data processing at NCBI is 365 terabytes daily or 126 petabytes (equivalent to 126,000 terabytes or 132 million gigabytes) annually. One petabyte is enough information to fill a bookshelf 9,600 kilometers (6,000 miles) long. Therefore, one year of data in and out of NCBI would fill a shelf that stretches 1.2 million kilometers (750,000 miles)–about three times the distance from the Earth to the Moon.

For more information, go to: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/factsheets/ncbi.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: July 24, 2014

Question: FINDER is a radar technology developed jointly by the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for locating victims trapped in rubble after a disaster. What body function does it detect: breathing, heartbeat or both?

Answer: Both

Remote-sensing radar technology used by NASA's Deep Space Network to locate interplanetary spacecraft has been adapted in a joint project between the space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) to locate persons trapped in rubble after a disaster. The prototype system, named Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response (FINDER), can locate disaster victims buried as deep as 9 meters (30 feet) in crushed materials, hidden behind 6 meters (20 feet) of solid concrete, and from about 30 meters (100 feet) in open spaces by picking up the breathing or heartbeat of those missing. FINDER works by beaming microwave radar signals into a disaster area and then using advanced data processing to distinguish human breathing and heartbeat signals from debris "noise" (by filtering the stronger radar signals bouncing back from wreckage) and from life signs made by non-human creatures.

For more information, go to: http://www.dhs.gov/detecting-heartbeats-rubble-dhs-and-nasa-team-save-victims-disasters

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: July 22, 2014

Question: How quickly can the ELITE detector, developed by the Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, spot trace explosives?

Answer: 2 minutes

The Easy Livermore Inspection Test for Explosives (ELITE) detector was developed in just three months in 2005 by scientists at the Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). The detector is the size of a credit card, weighs less than an ounce, has a shelf-life of two years, and can detect trace amounts from more than 30 different explosives in two minutes. Among the explosives and explosive precursors to which ELITE is sensitive are TNT, RDX, ammonium nitrate and black powder. The technology was licensed in 2006 to Field Forensics, the same year it won an R&D 100 Award for innovation. ELITE™ cards cost $10 to $20 each compared to other explosive detection products, which can cost up to $7,500.

For more information, go to: https://missions.llnl.gov/counterterrorism/easy-livermore-inspection-test-for-explosives

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: July 17, 2014

Question: A National Institute of Standards and Technology scientist helped save which country's crown jewels after World War II: England, Hungary or Poland?

Answer: Hungary

When the U.S. 86th Infantry Division liberated the town of Mattsee, Austria, near the end of World War II in May 1945 and captured the hiding Nazi minister of Hungary, they made an amazing discovery. Cloistered with the minister were the Holy Crown of Hungary (also called the Crown of St. Stephen), a scepter, an orb, a mantle and a coronation robe–royal objects collectively known as the Crown Jewels of Hungary. Hungarian officials, fearing that the centuries–old treasures might be lost or stolen during the post–war Allied occupation, asked the U.S. government to keep the Crown Jewels in Bonn, Germany, under their protection. When the occupation ended in 1952, the State Department assigned National Bureau of Standards (NBS, now known as the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST) organic materials expert Gordon M. Kline to secretly accompany the Crown Jewels across the Atlantic for storage in the United States. The plan was to keep the regal relics on American soil until it was deemed appropriate to return them to Hungary. They were taken to the United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox, Ky., and stored in protective containers designed and built by NBS. In January 1978, President Jimmy Carter authorized the return of the Crown Jewels to the Hungarian people.

For more information, go to: http://hungary.usembassy.gov/holy_crown.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: July 15, 2014

Question: True or false: available from the National Technical Information Service is a complete training course on how to catch drunk drivers?

Answer: True

Since the 1980s, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have trained police officers and other authorized persons to properly and legally administer and interpret Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST), the system used to detect and apprehend intoxicated drivers. The National Technical Information Service (NTIS) offers the complete 16-session course with manuals on CD and classroom lessons (featuring 17 video modules) on DVD. Among the training videos included are: "The Truth is in His Eyes," "Prosecuting the Impaired Driver" and "Courtroom Testimony."

For more information, go to: http://www.ntis.gov/products/dwi.aspx

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: July 10, 2014

Question: The USDA's U.S. Forest Service newest weapon to protect pine trees from bark beetles is what chemical from the bug itself?

Answer: Pheromones

Scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s U.S. Forest Service (USFS), along with partners from the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Alberta, have developed pheromone-releasing flakes that prevent bark beetle attacks on whitebark and limber pine trees. The pheromone flakes, derived from the pest's own behavioral chemical, are applied in two different ways: by aerial distribution for large areas and in stickers attached directly to individual trees. The pheromone convinces beetles that treated trees are not good places for them to reproduce. Protection ranges between 50-80 percent of the trees covered.

For more information, go to: http://www.fs.fed.us/research/highlights/highlights_display.php?in_high_id=86

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: July 8, 2014

Question: According to a National Science Foundation funded study, a new type of hydrocarbon fuel could come from which of these: a fungus, a fish or a seashell?

Answer: Fungus

While conducting a National Science Foundation funded study on endophytes–fungi that live inside plants–and their unique products, Gary Strobel of Montana State University and his colleagues discovered that an endophyte called Hypoxylon produces volatile organic compounds known as monoterpenes. Monoterpenes are known to make excellent gasoline, do not cause the engine problems often experienced with ethanol fuels and do not have to be produced by fermentation as ethanol does. Hypoxylon, the researchers reported, can utilize agricultural, forestry and urban wastes; grow nicely; and at the same time, make monoterpenes. However, the specialized enzymes that Hypoxylon uses to produce monoterpenes involve complex chemical processes that are difficult to reproduce in the laboratory, and therefore, they are currently difficult to adapt for mass production of monoterpenes for fuel. Strobel and his team are now looking for ways to bioengineer the fungus for greater hydrocarbon yields.

For more information, go to: http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=126518&org=NSF

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: July 3, 2014

Question: According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there are three types of sea ice: bergy bits, growlers and icebergs. Put them in order of size, starting with the largest.

Answer: Icebergs, bergy bits and growlers

According to the National Ice Center, jointly operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the United States Navy (USN) and the United States Coast Guard (USCG), ice formations drifting in the open ocean can be classified by size. The largest is the iceberg–which must originate from glaciers or shelf ice–that is defined by a height greater than 5 meters (16 feet) above sea level, a thickness of 30-50 meters (100-165 feet), and a minimum area of 500 square meters (5,400 square feet). The smaller fragments, bergy bits and growlers, can originate from glaciers or shelf ice, and also may result from an iceberg breaking up. A bergy bit is classified as having a height generally greater than 1 meter (3 feet) but less than 5 meters (16 feet) above sea-level and its area is normally about 100-300 square meters (1,100-3,200 square feet). Growlers are even smaller fragments of ice, roughly the size of a truck or grand piano. They extend less than 1 meter (3 feet) above the sea surface and occupy an area of about 20 square meters (200 square feet).

For more information, go to: http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/iceberg.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: July 1, 2014

Question: According to the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, all of the barbecue grills in the United States used on the Fourth of July produce greater than how many thousand metric tons of carbon dioxide: 50, 100 or 200?

Answer: Greater than 200,000 metric tons

In 2003, researcher Tristram West of the Department of Energy (DOE)'s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) calculated that when an estimated 60 million Americans fired up their barbecue grills on the Fourth of July, the total emissions would include nearly 225,000 metric tons (a metric tons is about 2,200 pounds) of carbon dioxide (CO2), considered a greenhouse gas, is believed to play a role in climate change. West, a researcher in ORNL's Environmental Sciences Division, assumed a 35,000 British thermal unit per hour output for the average grill and one hour of operation for each grill. In making his calculations, West took into account the carbon content and CO2 emissions for each type of fuel. However, even the increased CO2 holiday output is relatively insignificant compared to the approximately 6 billion tons of the gas emitted annually. In fact, West calculated that all of the BBQ grills in use July 4 would have to remain lit every hour of every day for three years to come close to the average annual U.S. CO2 emissions.

For more information, go to: http://www.ornl.gov/ornl/news/news-releases/2003/fourth-of-july-no-picnic-for-the-nation-s-environment

June 2014

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: June 26, 2014

Question: Available from the National Technical Information Service, AGRICOLA is: a vegetable-flavored soda, an agricultural information database or a handbook on growing plants?

Answer: An agricultural information database

The AGRICOLA (AGRICultural OnLine Access) database, available since 1970 through the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) and selected vendors, serves as the catalog and index to the collections of the National Agricultural Library and the research of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). AGRICOLA contains more than 4.5 million citations to journal articles, book chapters, monographs, theses, patents, software, audiovisual materials and technical reports. AGRICOLA encompasses all aspects of agriculture and allied disciplines, including animal and veterinary sciences, entomology, plant sciences, forestry, aquaculture and fisheries, farming and farming systems, food and human nutrition, and agricultural engineering and technology. The database covers materials from as far back as the 15th century.

For more information, go to: http://www.ntis.gov/products/agricola.aspx

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: June 24, 2014

Question: The USDA's U.S. Forest Service once conducted a study that defined the cost of a woodpecker. True or false?

Answer: True

In 2011, researchers at the Southern Research Station (Asheville, N.C.) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s U.S. Forest Service (USFS) used computer simulations to predict the value of timber production lost in order to preserve an endangered species, the red-cockaded woodpecker. Plans called for restoring a portion of the Ouachita National Forest (straddling Arkansas and Oklahoma) as a habitat for the bird. The authors of the USFS study found that the impact cost was either $10,550 per year for the desired 400 total pairs of woodpeckers or $16,880 per year for 250 reproducing pairs. In both cases, it was determined that rebuilding the woodpecker population would not cause adverse regional economic consequences.

For more information, go to: http://www.fs.fed.us/research/highlights/highlights_display.php?in_high_id=415

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: June 19, 2014

Question: In October 2012, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate's Plum Island Animal Disease Center announced the world's first molecular (no live virus) vaccine for what disease?

Answer: Foot-and-mouth disease

The world's first molecular vaccine for foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) was licensed for use in cattle in October 2012 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Developed by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T)'s Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC), it is the first FMD vaccine that can be manufactured on the mainland United States because it does not contain live virus. Unlike previous immunization measures based on infectious materials, the Plum Island vaccine does not have to be produced in expensive, high-containment facilities. The PIADC, located in Greenport, N.Y., is the only laboratory in the nation that can work on high-consequence foreign animal diseases. The laboratory helps protect U.S. livestock from the accidental or intentional introduction of foreign animal diseases that can seriously threaten livestock industries, food safety, economy and way of life. In operation for nearly 60 years, the PIADC became part of DHS S&T in 2002.

For more information, go to: http://www.dhs.gov/publication/st-piadc-press-release-oct-2012

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: June 17, 2014

Question: The National Library of Medicine's website, ClinicalTrials.gov, provides on average information for how many clinical trials worldwide: 50,000; 75,000; or 150,000?

Answer: 150,000

ClinicalTrials.gov is the National Library of Medicine (NLM)'s registry and results database of publicly and privately supported clinical studies of human participants conducted in all 50 states and 185 countries worldwide. While the total number of clinical trials at any time varies as individual studies start and finish, the database currently provides information on nearly 150,000 studies. ClinicalTrials.gov also helps users better understand what clinical trials are about, summarizes their history, describes laws and polices related to their operation, and provides a glossary defining relevant terminology.

For more information, go to: http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/home

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: June 12, 2014

Question: True or false? The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Advanced Driving Simulator incorporates actual vehicles to make virtual driving more realistic.

Answer: True

The National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS), located at the University of Iowa's Oakdale Research Park in Iowa City, Iowa, is the most sophisticated research driving simulator in the world. Developed by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)'s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the NADS consists of a large dome in which entire cars and the cabs of trucks and buses can be mounted. The vehicle cabs are equipped electronically and mechanically using instrumentation specific to their make and model. The motion system, on which the dome is mounted, provides 400 square meters (4,300 square feet) of horizontal and longitudinal travel with nearly 360 degrees of rotation in either direction. The driver effectively feels acceleration, braking and steering cues as if he or she were actually driving. Crash scenarios can be convincingly presented with no danger to the subject. Vehicle and driver data is accurately gathered and stored, and tests are repeated with exactitude.

For more information, go to: http://www.nhtsa.gov/Research/Driver+Simulation+(NADS)/The+National+Advanced+Driving+Simulator+(NADS)

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: June 10, 2014

Question: According to the National Archives and Records Administration, keeping records in their original format is the definition for "preservation" or "conservation"?

Answer: Conservation

Although the words are often used interchangeably, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has a distinct definition for the terms describing the agency's two primary functions: preservation and conservation. Preservation, NARA says, "encompasses the activities which prolong the useable life of archival records. Preservation activities are designed to minimize the physical and chemical deterioration of records and to prevent the loss of informational content." NARA defines conservation as the "attempt to preserve records in their original format." A conservator is described as someone who "examines records and assesses their condition and the materials which comprise them" and then "recommends remedial treatments to arrest deterioration or to improve condition." For example, the encasement designed and built in 1951 for the "preservation" of the Declaration of Independence included a display glass that rested directly upon the document. Nearly 50 years later, NARA staff discovered that this contact was lifting the ink from the paper, compromising the "conservation" of the cherished artifact. The problem, as well as other threats to the Declaration's survival from its outdated encasement, was solved when a state-of-the-art model replaced it in 2003.

For more information, go to: http://www.archives.gov/preservation/internal/index.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: June 5, 2014

Question: The USDA's U.S. Forest Service studies a group of mammals known as ungulates. These animals are defined by the character of which body area: hooves, skin or head?

Answer: Hooves

Ungulates are large mammals that use the tips of their toes, usually hoofed, to sustain their whole body weight while moving. Ungulate species include camels, deer, elk, giraffes, hippopotamuses, horses, llamas, pigs and rhinoceroses. Cetaceans (dolphins, porpoises and whales) share a common ancestry with these beasts and are sometimes considered ungulates despite the lack of hooves. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s U.S. Forest Service (USFS) explores the dynamics of ungulate populations and their habitats to develop management practices that sustain biological diversity, economic and ecological productivity, and forest health. For example, an ongoing USFS study is examining the impact of browsing by deer on forest vegetation.

For more information, go to: http://www.fs.fed.us/research/wildlife-fish/themes/ungulate.php

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: June 3, 2014

Question: What NASA term describes the "wearing away" of a heat shield during reentry: ablation, erosion or debrement?

Answer: Ablation

As defined by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), ablation is the "process by which a spacecraft's heat shield material is consumed by burning and vaporization, thus absorbing the intense heat created by air passing through the vehicle bow shock during atmospheric entry." This was the principle used in the design of heat shields that protected U.S. astronauts in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. Most of the early research on ablation was performed in the 1950s and 1960s at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. This research and other studies at Ames on recovered meteorites called tektites led to the development in the 1970s of the thermal protection ceramic tiles used on the underside of the Space Shuttle orbiter. Ames researchers are currently leading the advanced heat shield development effort for NASA's next manned spacecraft, Orion.

For more information, go to: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/research/area-entry-systems.html

May 2014

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: May 29, 2014

Question: What famous scientist, whose papers are now part of the Library of Congress, won three Emmys and was named the Humanist of the Year in 1981?

Answer: Carl Sagan

In June 2012, the Library of Congress (LOC) acquired the personal papers of American astronomer, astrobiologist and science communicator Carl Sagan (1934-1996). The Sagan collection came to the LOC through the generosity of writer, producer and director Seth MacFarlane, and is officially designated The Seth MacFarlane Collection of the Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan Archive. The LOC has created a digital collection, "Finding Our Place in the Cosmos: From Galileo to Sagan and Beyond," featuring a selection of works from the Sagan papers, as well as books on astronomical themes such as the origin of the universe, the plurality of worlds and space travel. Also included will be translations of seminal astronomical works, such as Newton's Principia. Additionally, Sagan's book Cosmos is featured in the LOC's ongoing "Books That Shaped America" exhibit.

For more information, go to: http://blogs.loc.gov/catbird/2012/07/sagans-papers-offer-a-window-into-his-literary-pursuits/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: May 27, 2014

Question: The U.S. Geological Survey's online service called Streamer lets users visualize what?

Answer: A downstream or upstream trace along America's major waterways

Streamer is a National Atlas of the United States–a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) product-online map service that lets anyone trace downstream and upstream along America's major waterways similar to how GPS helps drivers travel along the nation's roadways. With Streamer, one can:

  • Locate an area of interest by specifying names or latitude/longitude coordinates;
  • Enter the identification number for a USGS streamflow gauging station;
  • Find out the names of waterways by clicking on them;
  • Print maps and detailed reports of downstream and upstream traces; and
  • Learn about current or historic streamflow at thousands of waterways.

Streamer is fueled by digital hydrographic data for the United States at one millionth-scale (2.5 centimeters/1 inch is approximately 25.4 kilometers/15.8 miles).

For more information, go to: http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=3633

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: May 22, 2014

Question: Growing on the grounds of NIST's Gaithersburg, Md., campus is a direct descendant of which famous tree?

Answer: The apple tree which reportedly led Isaac Newton to theorize gravity

According to Sir Isaac Newton's biographer William Stukeley, the famous scientist formulated his theory of gravity in 1665 while watching an apple fall from a tree near his manor home in Woolsthrorpe, England (Contrary to the popular legend, it was not from the apple striking Newton on the head.). Before the original tree died in 1814, grafts were taken and planted in the English town of Belton. From these grafts, descendants were propagated by the United Kingdom's National Physical Laboratory, the national measurement and standards institute whose equal in the United States is the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). After a trip to England, National Bureau of Standards (NBS, the predecessor of NIST) scientist Irvine C. Gardner became obsessed with securing a genuine descendent of the apple tree for his agency. He persevered, obtained one of the English grafts through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and on March 15, 1957, NBS dedicated a Newton apple tree at its Washington, D.C. headquarters. When NIST moved to its current Gaithersburg, Md. location in 1966, a second Newton apple tree was planted there. 

For more information, go to: http://ww2.gazette.net/gazette_archive/1997/199714/gaithersburg/news/a55925-1.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: May 20, 2014

Question: A recent National Science Foundation-funded study found that a specific ecological balance at Yellowstone National Park depended on wolves, elk and what other animal?

Answer: Beaver

Elk and willows play a critical role in keeping a healthy wolf population within the Yellowstone National Park ecosystem because willows serve as browse for elk and elk as food for wolves. A recent study funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) found that a third animal species, the beaver, also was critical to the balance. The loss of wolves at Yellowstone from years of hunting resulted in more elk and fewer willows. With no willows to slow stream flow, creeks flowed faster and faster. Beavers prefer slow-moving waters, so they disappeared with the willows. When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone, the elk population dropped and willows returned. However, the trees did not come back as quickly or as plentifully as hoped. The reason? Ecologist Tom Hobbs and his research team at Colorado State University (CSU) showed that beavers were needed to build dams and create the sluggish streams preferred by willows. Their study offers new insights on the role of wolf-driven trophic cascades in the Yellowstone ecosystem, a domino effect that occurs when predators--or the lack thereof--in an ecosystem change the abundance or alter traits of their prey, in turn affecting the next lower trophic level.

For more information, go to: http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=126853&org=NSF

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: May 15, 2014

Question: Available from the National Technical Information Service, the Armed Forces Recipe Services features instructions for making how many different meals: 600; 1,700 or 2,300?

Answer: 1,700

The Armed Forces Recipe Services (AFRS) is a collection of 1,700 high-volume, restaurant-style recipes written and updated regularly by the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Mass., that is used by cooks worldwide, military and non-military. Each recipe within the ever-growing (by at least one recipe each week) volume features instructions for cooking portions that will feed 100 or more people. From appetizers to desserts, all recipes must meet consumer preferences; assure efficient use of personnel, ingredients and equipment; and meet the Office of the Surgeon General nutrition standards for lower salt, fat and cholesterol, and higher complex carbohydrates and fiber. For example, the "fudgy brownie" recipe uses dried plum puree instead of vegetable oil to make it moist and tasty, yet non-fat. The first edition of the AFRS was published in 1969; the current edition is available in CD-ROM format from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) at http://www.ntis.gov/products/recipes.aspx.

For more information, go to: http://www.natick.army.mil/about/pao/pubs/warrior/02/novdec/healthy.htm

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: May 13, 2014

Question: According to the USDA's U.S. Forest Service, which of these is NOT a forest disease that the agency is researching: butternut canker, guava rust or fir flu?

Answer: Fir flu

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s U.S. Forest Service (USFS) conducts research on a number of native and non-native forest pathogens.  Most are caused by bacteria or fungi; butternut canker is fungal and guava rust is microbial. While there are viruses that damage the forest ecosystem, "fir flu" is a made-up disease. Forest pathogens attack trees in a variety of ways, including root destruction that reduce water and nutrient uptake, cankers or wilts that reduce water flow, and leafspots/defoliation that threaten the plant's food supply.

For more information, go to: http://www.fs.fed.us/research/invasive-species/plant-pathogens/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: May 8, 2014

Question: How many Doppler radar sites are used by NOAA's National Weather Service to identify and track severe weather across the country: 39, 77 or 155?

Answer: 155

Operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s National Weather Service (NWS) and the Department of Defense (DoD), there are 155 NEXRAD (Next-Generation Radar) Doppler radars stationed across the 50 United States, Guam and Puerto Rico. NEXRAD obtains weather information (precipitation and wind) based on returned energy, since Doppler is a type of radar that can detect motions toward or away from it. The radar emits a burst of energy, the pulse strikes an object and is scattered, and a portion of the scattered energy then reflects back to the radar. Computers analyze the strength of the returned signal, the time it took to travel and its phase shift. The complete process takes place incredibly fast, some 1,300 times each second. This ability to precisely detect movement, including whether or not a storm has rotational activity, makes Doppler radar a valuable tool for meteorologists predicting severe weather tracks or the potential for tornado development.

For more information, go to:
http://radar.weather.gov/
http://www.srh.noaa.gov/jetstream/doppler/doppler_intro.htm

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: May 6, 2014

Question: Whose presidential library, part of the National Archives and Records Administration, has a solar panel on display that once served the White House: Nixon, Carter or Reagan?

Answer: Jimmy Carter

On June 20, 1979, President Jimmy Carter had 32 solar panels installed on the roof of the West Wing of the White House to heat water for the building. The panels were installed amid the oil crisis of the late 1970s as part of Carter's efforts to encourage alternative energy sources. The solar panels were taken down in 1986. Eventually, they made their way in 1992 to Unity College in Unity, Maine, through the government surplus donations program for use in heating water for the student cafeteria. Former President Carter sent a letter of congratulations to the school for its initiative. The solar panels were retired in 2004, 25 years after they were first used at the White House. Today, one of the panels is on display at the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum in Atlanta, Ga., part of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

For more information, go to:
http://www.jimmycarterlibrary.gov/newsreleases/2007/07-18.pdf
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=carter-white-house-solar-panel-array

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: May 1, 2014

Question: The world's first tri-generation facility–part of a collaborative effort between the Department of Energy, California state agencies and the private sector-produces what element for use in fuel cell electric vehicles: helium, hydrogen or oxygen?

Answer: Hydrogen

With rapid fueling, long range and zero harmful emissions, fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) have a lot to offer consumers. The world's first tri-generation facility–opened in 2011 in Orange County, Calif., as part of a partnership between the Department of Energy, state government agencies and private sector organizations–uses the anaerobic digestion of municipal wastewater to efficiently produce hydrogen, electricity and heat. The electricity and heat are used to power and warm the facility, while up to 100 kilograms of hydrogen per day are delivered to a nearby hydrogen fueling station–enough to fuel 25-50 vehicles. The station can quickly refuel a FCEV in only 3 minutes–fast enough to rival the time spent at any conventional gas station.

For more information, go to:
http://energy.gov/articles/energy-department-applauds-world-s-first-fuel-cell-and-hydrogen-energy-station-orange
http://energy.gov/articles/fueling-next-generation-vehicle-technology

April 2014

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: April 29, 2014

Question: A DHS S&T-coordinated project is creating what device found on every aircraft for ground transportation?

Answer: The black box

As part of its innovative public-private partnership known as the System Efficacy through Commercialization, Utilization, Relevance and Evaluation (SECURE), the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) is currently testing technologies that will hopefully lead to the development of a disaster-resistant recording device for ground transportation that will emulate the famous "black box" found on all aircraft. Tests conducted so far have subjected prototypes to explosions and high-intensity fires. The SECURE program partners the Department of Homeland Security with the private sector to develop products, systems or services aligned to the needs of its operating components, first responders and critical infrastructure/key resources owners and operators.

For more information, go to: http://www.dhs.gov/if-you-cant-stand-heat-get-bus

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: April 24, 2014

Question: Supported by the National Science Foundation, Yellowstone, Blue Waters and Stampede are all examples of what kind of device?

Answer: A supercomputer

Scientists increasingly are turning to powerful new computers to perform calculations they couldn't do with earlier generation machines, and at breathtaking speed, resulting in groundbreaking computational insights across a range of research fields. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has recently provided more than $200 million in acquisition and deployment funding for the three supercomputer systems: Yellowstone, based at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)- Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC) in Cheyenne, WY; Blue Waters, located at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Stampede, headquartered at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at the University of Texas at Austin. The three systems will provide the nation's research community with unprecedented computational capabilities, further enhancing the already potent union between technology and the human mind, and offering the opportunity to better test and advance great scientific ideas.

For more information, go to: http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=127385&org=NSF

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: April 22, 2014

Question: The launch of the National Library of Medicine's Genetics Home Reference in 2003 coincided with the golden anniversary of what scientific milestone?

Answer: The 50th anniversary of the discovery of the DNA double helix

On Apr. 25, 2003, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) launched the Genetics Home Reference (GHR), a website featuring consumer information about genetic conditions and the genes or chromosomes related to those conditions. The date marked the 50th anniversary of the day in 1953 when James Watson, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, Rosalind Franklin and colleagues published papers in the journal Nature describing the double helix structure of DNA. The GHR's start date also coincided with the completion of the Human Genome Project, a 13-year international effort to map the entire human genome. The GHR features many instructive images, a glossary and in-depth information on genetic diseases, genetic testing, newborn screening and other issues. The website began with 19 condition summaries and 16 gene descriptions. Today, there are summaries of about 850 genetic conditions; more than 1,000 genes; more than 80 gene families; all of the human chromosomes and mitochondrial DNA.

For more information, go to:
http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov
http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov
(to view papers of Crick and Franklin)

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: April 17, 2014

Question: U.S. Department of Transportation research hopes to replace ground-to-pilot voice transmissions with a combination of what two types of communication?

Answer: Text and synthetic speech

The Next Generation Air Transportation System Data Communications (NextGen Data Comm) system is expected to bring many benefits for pilots and air traffic controllers alike by the year 2025. The system, a project of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)'s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), uses text messages instead of today's voice communications to provide clear, unambiguous and permanent messages to pilots. The NextGen Data Comm is being designed to decrease a pilot's memory load, reduce requests for information to be repeated, lower radio frequency congestion and eliminate responses to wrong call signs. However, there is concern that a text-based communication system will increase the amount of time pilots look down at their instrument panel and not out the window. One solution being studied is to have speech synthesizers vocalize the text transmissions so that pilots keep their focus on flying safely.

For more information, go to:
http://www.volpe.dot.gov/our-work/air-traffic-systems-and-operations/nextgen-systems-development-program-office
http://www.faa.gov/news/fact_sheets/news_story.cfm?newsId=10261

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: April 15, 2014

Question: The Redstone booster that launched the first satellite in 1958 for NASA and the United States, Explorer I, had the letters "UE" painted on it. Why?

Answer: It was a code identifying which missile was used for the flight

America's first satellite, Explorer I, was launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the U.S. Army on Jan. 31, 1958, aboard a modified Redstone missile known as the Jupiter C. Painted on the side of the booster were the letters "UE." This was an Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) code identifying that this specific missile was the 29th in a series of launches. The code for numbering Redstones was based on the word "HUNTSVILLE," as in Huntsville, Ala., the town where they were built. Each letter in the name was assigned a number, after deletion of the second "l" to avoid confusion and addition of an "X" to go with zero. Therefore, "H-U-N-T-S-V-I-L-E-X" corresponded with "1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-0" and made "UE" the designation for "29."

For more information, go to: http://www.spaceline.org/rocketsum/jupiter-c.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: April 10, 2014

Question: According to the Library of Congress, the Thuronyi Bluff is the name of a poker strategy, an Antarctic geographical feature or a criminal case?

Answer: A geographic feature in Antarctica

The Thuronyi Bluff is a geographic feature located at the head of Mill Inlet between Gould Glacier and Balch Glacier on the east side of the Antarctic Peninsula. The name honors Geza Thuronyi (1919-2007), who worked for the Library of Congress (LOC) from 1966 to 1990 and headed the Cold Regions Bibliography Project (CRBP). The CRBP was started in 1950s by the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) with the mission of disseminating information on cold regions science and technology. The CRBP, which includes the Antarctic Bibliography and the Bibliography on Cold Regions Science and Technology, continues today under the auspices of NSF and the American Geosciences Institute (AGI). The Antarctic Bibliography covers all disciplines related to the region including biological and geological sciences, medical sciences, meteorology, oceanography, atmospheric and terrestrial physics, expeditions, logistics equipment and supplies and tourism.

For more information, go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thuronyi_Bluff

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: April 8, 2014

Question: How is Tasul, a polar bear at Portland's Oregon Zoo, helping the U.S. Geological Survey study climate change?

Answer: By wearing a motion-recording collar to monitor behavior

Scientists and wildlife managers need to understand how polar bears are responding as sea ice retreats. However, polar bears are notoriously difficult to study in the wild. So, Tasul, a polar bear at the Oregon Zoo in Portland, Ore., is spending the summer of 2013 wearing a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)-issued collar containing an accelerometer–a device found in most smart phones–that detects minute changes in motion and direction of movement. The device turns Tasul's everyday behaviors like walking, eating, sleeping and swimming into electronic signals. By recording video of her wearing the collar and matching the behavior to the signal, researchers will create a sort of digital fingerprint for polar bear behavior. Once the signals are calibrated, similar collars can be placed on free-roaming bears in the Arctic, allowing researchers to monitor their behavior without having to observe them directly. These collars will be equipped with quick-release mechanisms so scientists can open them remotely and let them drop off the bears after the necessary data has been obtained. This project is part of the USGS Changing Arctic Ecosystems initiative.

For more information, go to: http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=3653

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: April 3, 2014

Question: The National Institute of Standards and Technology's most prolific inventor, Jacob Rabinow, devised a technology to help the U.S. Postal Service do what?

Answer: Sort mail by optically "reading" addresses.

When the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) decided in May 1973 to honor its workers and the equipment they used to move billions of pieces of mail each year, a new stamp with a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) connection was issued. The 8-cent postage depicted the automatic letter-sorting machinery designed by National Bureau of Standards (NBS, the predecessor to NIST) researcher and inventor Jacob Rabinow (1910-1999). By the early 1950s, Rabinow had created a punched-card sorter, a magnetic disc memory device and an "optical character recognition" reading machine. Rabinow proposed to the USPS that the three technologies, linked together with computers, could be used to sort mail automatically. Such a system would need to read an address, look up the information for sorting or distributing the envelope, and then physically separate the individual letter from others and stack it for delivery or further sorting. Rabinow, who left NBS in 1954 to form his own company, was awarded a contract to make the device a reality. The firm worked closely with the NBS Computer Division to turn out a letter sorter, special memory devices, optical and magnetic envelope coders, equipment for encoding abbreviated addresses onto envelopes for subsequent machine processing, and computers to read and sort the coded mail.

Rabinow returned to NBS in 1972 and served the agency until 1998. By the end of his life, he held 230 U.S. patents and 70 foreign patents. Among these were mechanisms for the automatic regulation of clocks and watches, headlight dimmers, a pressurized container to keep tennis balls bouncy, the magnetic particle clutch, the world's first magnetic disc memory, numerous safety systems for ordnance devices, and the straight-line phonograph. For his creation of optical character recognition, Jacob Rabinow was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2005.

For more information, go to: http://museum.nist.gov/exhibits/rabinow/index.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: April 1, 2014

Question: NASA-developed nanotechnology was used to create "the world's first virtual ice cream" for Ben & Jerry's, true or false?

Answer: False, it was an April Fool's Day joke in 2010.

According to the Museum of Hoaxes, Ben & Jerry's invited visitors to its website on April 1, 2010, to try out "Ice Screen, the world's first virtual ice cream." The company stated that "NASA-developed nanotechnology can now be streamed into your PC operating system through any Internet browser." The site also declared that the NASA system was "merged with a state-of-the-art coding script to transform ice cream at a moo-lecular level." 

The April Fool Archive on the Museum of Hoaxes website details a myriad of April 1st gags from 1600 through 2013. Among other science-related April Fool's classics are the conversion to metric time (including the 100-second minute, 100-minute hour and 20-hour day) in 1975, the discovery of a new particle of matter known as the Bigon (that existed for a fraction of a second but was the size of a bowling ball) in 1996 and the taking of oral histories from dolphins retired from the U.S. Navy's speech experiments in 2013.

For more information, go to: http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/af_database/year/category/2010aprilfools

March 2014

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: March 27, 2014

Question: According to the NOAA's National Weather Service, how many inches of snow are needed, on average, to yield one inch of liquid water: 1, 5 or 10?

Answer: 10 inches (25 centimeters)

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s National Weather Service (NWS), a good rule of thumb for predicting the amount of water that will result from a snowfall–known as snowmelt–is 10 inches (25 centimeters) of snow yielding on average one inch (2.5 centimeters) of water. Some flooding from snowmelt occurs in the United States each year. When it does, it can be a major problem because unlike rainfall, which reaches the soil almost immediately, snow stores the water for some time until it melts. This delays the arrival of water at the soil for days, weeks or even months. Flooding can then occur whenever the rate of water input exceeds the ability of the soil to absorb it or when the amount of water exceeds natural storage capacities in soil, rivers, lakes and reservoirs.

For more information, go to: http://www.floodsafety.noaa.gov/hazards.shtml

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: March 25, 2014

Question: Research funded by the National Science Foundation has found which of these animals is not as monogamous as once believed: black vultures, prairie voles or emperor penguins?

Answer: Emperor penguins

Only a handful of animal species practice true monogamy–defined as pair bonding between a male and female, which exclusively mate with one another, raise offspring together and spend time together. The pair bonds of some monogamous species may last for the long term, even perhaps for a lifetime. Examples include the black vulture and the prairie vole. However, the monogamous relationship of other animals may last for just a short term, perhaps for only a single mating season. National Science Foundation-funded research has shown that the latter is true for emperor penguins, once believed to mate for life. Monogamy may have evolved in emperors in order to maintain the intense parental cooperation needed by their chicks (e.g. one parent protecting the young from the harsh Antarctic environment while the other gathers food). This theory is supported by the fact that once emperor chicks become independent of their parents and thereby outgrow their need for cooperative parental caregiving, the overwhelming majority of emperor parents (about 85 percent) permanently part ways.

For more information, go to: http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=126932&org=NSF 

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: March 20, 2014

Question: Researchers at the DOE's Ames Lab have designed nanospheres to help produce what useful substance from algae: biodiesel, cooking oil or detergent?

Answer: Biodiesel

An economically viable method of harvesting and extracting oil from algae for use in making fuel has eluded researchers. The difficulty lies in extracting the oil. Algal oil is stored between the organism's relatively thick cell walls and its membrane. Existing extraction methods rupture or erode the cell walls, killing the algae in the process. This requires that a new batch of algae be introduced each time oil is harvested. Recent research at the Department of Energy (DOE)'s Ames Laboratory has shown that fuel-relevant chemicals can be extracted from the lipids of algae without killing them. The key to the Ames process lies with millions of sponge-like nanospheres that do their work thanks to a proprietary collection of chemicals, which are embedded on each sphere's surface and within its nanoscale tunnels. The spheres comingle with the algae inside a pond or tank, where they are chemically drawn to come in contact with individual algal cells. The Ames Lab team was able to design the spheres so they only cause minimal damage to the organism while gaining access to the algal lipids. Chemicals embedded inside the sphere's tunnels begin to draw oil from the cell. Oil is then stored inside the tunnels of each sphere. Algae organisms grown on a single acre of land could yield as much as 10,000 gallons of fuel annually. By comparison, an acre of corn will produce an estimated 230 gallons of ethanol.

For more information, go to: http://www.ameslab.gov/files/Nanocatalyst_Foundation.pdf

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: March 18, 2014

Question: DHS S&T's Board Armor keeps patients in route to a hospital free from cross contamination, temperature rise or adverse drug reactions?

Answer: Contamination from the bodily fluids of previously transported patients

Board Armor is a disposable cover for a backboard–the medical device used to immobilize and transport patients–made of a non-porous material that prevents bodily fluids from one patient contaminating another and eliminates the need to clean the backboard between each use. The health care innovation was developed with funding from the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) TechSolutions program based on a concept submitted by Scott Neusch, a retired firefighter and paramedic. The TechSolutions program provides information, resources and technology solutions to address technology gaps identified by first responders. In the case of Board Armor, the TechSolutions staff researched the market to determine its potential value to the EMS community and conducted a focus group of first responders to validate and improve upon the idea.

For more information, go to: http://www.dhs.gov/when-clean-just-isnt-clean-enough

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: March 13, 2014

Question: Since 2008, how has USDA's U.S. Forest Service helped Major League Baseball make the national pastime safer?

Answer: By researching how to manufacture more shatter-resistant wooden bats

Since 2008, the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has teamed with Major League Baseball (MLB) to make the wooden bats used in professional games more resistant to shattering. By testing and analyzing thousands of bats broken during actual play, researchers at the USFS Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) in Madison, Wisc., have implemented changes in manufacturing that have led to significantly fewer shatterings during the past five years. FPL studies found that inconsistency of wood quality, primarily "slope of grain" (stronger bats have wood grain that is straighter along their length), was the main cause of breakage. Also, low-density maple bats were shown to shatter into multiple pieces more often than ash bats or high-density maple bats.

For more information, go to: http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/newsline/newsline-2013-3.pdf

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: March 11, 2014

Question: A telephone in the collection of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, a part of the National Archives and Records Administration, was used by President Nixon to make the "longest-distance call" in history. To where did the President call?

Answer: The moon

At 11:47 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on July 20, 1969, President Richard M. Nixon used a green touchtone telephone in the Oval Office of the White House to call and congratulate Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin as they walked on the surface of the moon during the first manned mission to another celestial body. The phone is now in the collection at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, Calif., part of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Nixon described the short conversation over 386,000 kilometers (240,000 miles) as "the most historic phone call ever made from the White House" while the president's daily diary listed the event as "an interplanetary conversation." Nixon told the astronauts that "for one priceless moment, in the whole history of man, all the people of this Earth are truly one." Armstrong replied that "it is an honor and privilege to be representing not only the United States, but men of peace from all nations." Nixon originally had a long speech prepared to read during the phone call, but Apollo 8 astronaut Frank Borman, who was at the White House as a NASA liaison, convinced the president to keep his words brief, to respect the lunar landing as President John F. Kennedy's legacy.

For more information, go to:
http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/american_originals/apollo11.html
http://www.nixonlibrary.gov/forkids/speechesforkids/moonlanding/moonlandingcall.mp3
http://www.nixonlibrary.gov/forkids/speechesforkids/moonlanding/moonlandingcall.pdf

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: March 6, 2014

Question: What did the National Library of Medicine do in the 1990s with the cadavers of a Texas convict and a Maryland housewife?

Answer: Both were used to provide a 3-D map of the human body

When they willed their bodies to medicine in the early 1990s, a convicted murderer from Texas and a Maryland housewife could not have imagined the legacy they'd leave behind. They have been immortalized in the National Library of Medicine (NLM)'s Visible Human Project, a library of digitized images providing the complete, anatomically detailed, three-dimensional representations of the normal male and female human anatomies. Since 1995, the Visible Human data sets have been used for a wide range of educational, diagnostic, treatment planning, virtual reality, artistic, mathematical and industrial purposes by nearly 2,000 licensees in 48 countries. Among the applications have been: the ability to practice surgery in a virtual environment, the creation of a 3-D tour of the human body, and the development of non-invasive cancer screening techniques such as the "virtual colonoscopy."

For more information, go to: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/research/visible/visible_human.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: March 4, 2014

Question: The U.S. Department of Transportation is responsible for which of the following U.S. zone systems: time, trade or climate?

Answer: Time zones

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) oversees the nation's time zones and the uniform observance of Daylight Saving Time. This was assigned to DOT because time standards are important for many modes of transportation. In 1883, U.S. and Canadian railroads adopted a four-zone system to govern their operations and reduce the confusion resulting from some 100 conflicting locally established "sun times" observed in terminals across the country. States and municipalities then adopted one of the four zones: Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific. Federal oversight of time zones began in 1918 with the enactment of the Standard Time Act, which vested the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) with the responsibility for establishing boundaries between the standard time zones in the continental United States. This responsibility was transferred from the ICC (which was abolished in 1995) to DOT when Congress created the latter in 1966. Today, the Uniform Time Act of 1966 (15 U.S.C. §§ 260-64) establishes a system of uniform Daylight Saving Time throughout the nation and its possessions, and provides that either Congress or the Secretary of Transportation can change a time-zone boundary.

For more information, go to: http://www.dot.gov/regulations/time-act

February 2014

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: February 27, 2014

Question: Can NASA's Hubble Space Telescope be used to observe Earth?

Answer: No

If the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), operated by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), could observe the Earth from its orbit of 570 kilometers (350   miles), its angular resolution–or sharpness–would in theory allow viewing of objects as small as 0.3 meters (30 centimeters). However, that has, and will, never happen for a number of reasons. First, the brightness of Earth would damage the instruments aboard the telescope. The HST also would have to look down through the atmosphere, which would blur the images and make the actual resolution worse. Finally, the HST orbits the Earth at a speed (27,000 kilometers per hour or 17,000 miles per hour) that any image it took would be blurred by the motion.

For more information, go to:
http://asd.gsfc.nasa.gov/archive/hubble/
http://hubblesite.org/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: February 25, 2014

Question: The Antikythera Mechanism, an ancient Greek computer, is featured in which Library of Congress "Science Tracer Bullet" research guide: archaeoastronomy, cryptology or time?

Answer: archaeoastronomy

The Library of Congress (LOC) "Science Tracer Bullet Series" contains research guides that help locate information on more than 100 science and technology subjects, ranging from aerodynamics to women in the sciences. One of the websites details archaeoastronomy, "the intersidsciplinary study of prehistoric, ancient and traditional astronomies within their cultural context." Included are links to resources on various aspects of archaeoastronomy such as architectural structures and monuments, calendars, ceremonies and myths. One featured archaeoastronomical artifact is the Antikythera Mechanism, recovered from a Greek ship sunk off the coast of Antikythera Island around 80 BCE and believed to be a mechanical computing device. Its wheels and gears created a portable orrery–a device that illustrates the relative positions and motions of the planets and moons in the Solar System in a heliocentric model–that was once used to track celestial locations as well as predict lunar and solar eclipses.

For more information, go to: http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/tracer-bullets/archaeoastronomytb.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: February 20, 2014

Question: In which state can one find Bokan Mountain and what is being studied there by the U.S. Geological Survey?

Answer: Alaska, rare earth elements

Rare earths elements (REE)–17 elements that include Yttrium, Scandium and the 15 members of the Lanthanide series–are important, but scarce elements used in components in many cutting edge electronic and defense technologies. Currently, very little is known about the geologic setting in which REE deposits form. Understanding these environments and how they come to be is a crucial step to being able to determine where mineable concentrations of REE might be found. Researchers from the U.S Geological Survey (USGS) Mineral Resources Program (MRP) recently teamed with geologists from Canada's Saint Mary's University to study one of the principal REE deposits in the United States, Bokan Mountain on Alaska's Prince of Wales Island (the largest deposit is located in Mountain Pass, Calif.). At the present time, the United States obtains its REE raw materials from foreign sources, almost exclusively from China. Import dependence upon a single country raises serious issues of supply security. This USGS/St. Mary's study of Bokan Mountain–called "Alaska's Billion Dollar Mountain" by Business Week–will help to define the domestic supply in the United States.

For more information, go to: http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=3610

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: February 18, 2014

Question: What universally used TV technology earned the National Institute of Standards and Technology an Emmy Award in 1980?

Answer: Closed-captioning for the deaf and hearing impaired

On Feb. 15, 1972, an episode of ABC's "The Mod Squad" made history when closed captioning–a technology that arose from National Bureau of Standards (NBS, now known as the National Institute of Standards and Technology or NIST) research into using a portion of the network TV signal to send time information nationwide–was first used on broadcast television during a preview of the system at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. The barrier-breaking advance for the deaf and hard of hearing made its formal public debut on March 16, 1980, when the "ABC Sunday Night Movie," NBC's "Wonderful World of Disney," and PBS's "Masterpiece Theatre" were all broadcast with captions. Today, all new English- and Spanish-language TV programming in the U.S. contains captioning. The creation and development of closed captioning earned NBS, along with collaborators PBS and ABC, a special Emmy Award for "Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development" in 1980. Today, the Emmy statuette may be seen in the administration building lobby of NIST's Boulder Laboratories.

For more information, go to: http://www.nist.gov/pml/div688/grp40/closed-captioning.cfm

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: February 13, 2014

Question: At what site managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries can one explore more than 50 underwater shipwrecks in a single place?

Answer: Thunder Bay, located offshore Alpena, Mich., in Lake Huron

Located in the northwestern section of Lake Huron near Alpena, Mich., is Thunder Bay, a region that is home to one of the most treacherous stretches of water within the Great Lakes system. Unpredictable weather, murky fog banks, sudden gales and rocky shoals have earned the area the nickname "Shipwreck Alley." Today, the 1,160-square-kilometer (448-square-mile) Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS), protects one of America's best-preserved collections of maritime vessel casualties  More than 50 shipwrecks have been discovered to date within the sanctuary's boundaries with an additional 30 wrecks just outside. It is the range of vessel types located in the sanctuary that makes the collection nationally significant. From an 1840s wooden side wheel steamboat to a modern 143-meter-long (470-foot-long) German freighter, the shipwrecks of Thunder Bay represent a microcosm of maritime commerce and travel on the Great Lakes.

For more information, go to: http://thunderbay.noaa.gov/shipwrecks/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: February 11, 2014

Question: Which type of safety is not covered in a training package offered by the National Technical Informational Service: biological, chemical, fire or kitchen?

Answer: Kitchen safety

As part of its Homeland Security Information Center, the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) offers for-fee access to research reports, training multimedia, guidelines and handbooks related to five different types of safety: biological, chemical, fire, hazardous materials and terrorism. These "safety training packages" provide the same materials used to educate and prepare federal law enforcement and emergency management staffs.

For more information, go to: http://www.ntis.gov/hs/safety-training.aspx

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: February 6, 2014

Question: What 15-meter (50-foot) in diameter, 45-metric ton (50-ton) object was moved 5,150 kilometers (3,200 miles) from one Department of Energy lab in New York to another in Illinois?

Answer: A giant electromagnet

A large, 15-meter (50-foot) in diameter electromagnet made of steel, aluminum and superconducting wire was used up until 2001 at New York's Brookhaven National Laboratory, an agency of the Department of Energy (DOE), to trap in a vacuum a subatomic particle known as a muon that pops in and out of existence in less than a second. In an experiment known as Muon-g-2 (pronounced G minus 2), the Brookhaven researchers used the muons to provide evidence of other unknown particles. But to conclusively prove the existence of these particles, a better source of muons was needed. The answer was to move the experiment's second phase to another DOE facility, the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), outside of Chicago, Ill., where a special particle accelerator can produce an intense beam of muons traveling at nearly the speed of light. However, Fermilab didn't have an electromagnetic ring, so the one at Brookhaven to Illinois was transported during the summer of 2013 by flatbed truck and barge on a 5,100 kilometer (3,200 mile) mostly-by-water journey. The "Big Move," as it was called, saw the electromagnet travel down the Atlantic seaboard, around the tip of Florida and up by waterways through Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Missouri and Illinois before reaching its new home.

For more information, go to: http://muon-g-2.fnal.gov/bigmove

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: February 4, 2014

Question: The DHS S&T smartphone app FiRST helps first responders deal with floods, earthquakes or bomb threats?

Answer: Bomb threats

The Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) and its partners have developed an application for smartphones and computers known as First Responder Support Tools (FiRST) that can be used when dealing with bomb threats. The app helps first responders quickly define safe distances to cordon off around a potential bomb location, suggest appropriate roadblocks, determine when mandatory evacuation or shelter-in-place circumstances apply, identify nearby areas of particular concern: schools, hospitals, care centers, etc., and roughly calculate potential impacts in terms of damage and injury. FiRST was developed in partnership with DHS's Office of Infrastructure Protection (within the National Protection and Programs Directorate), DHS's Office for Bombing Prevention and Applied Research Associates Inc.

For more information, go to: http://www.dhs.gov/bomb-threat-app-too

January 2014

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: January 28, 2014

Question: What "far out" technology was used by researchers from the USDA's U.S. Forest Service to estimate the age of remote forest areas?

Answer: Landsat satellite photography

The U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has been studying how best to assess the average age of forest trees in remote forests worldwide, and in turn, estimate the amount of carbon being stored by those forests. Growing forests help to address climate change by holding carbon on Earth. USFS scientists compared changes in the color of remote Brazilian forests, as shown by Landsat 5 satellite photographs, over a period of nearly 30 years. The color changes allowed scientists to estimate the forests' age and therefore, the amount of carbon they stored. The scientists then compared their Landsat-based age estimates with age measurements taken within the forests, finding that the former were about 88 percent as accurate. This rate is high enough to make Landsat photographs an economic and efficient option for estimating storage carbon in remote forests. Landsat 5, launched in March 1984, is recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the longest-operating (29 years) Earth-observing satellite mission in history. Officially decommissioned in June 2013, Landsat 5 orbited the planet more than 150,000 times while transmitting over 2.5 million images of land surface conditions. It was designed to last three years.

For more information, go to: http://www.naturalinquirer.org/Satellites-and-Changing-Tropical-Forests-a-109.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: January 23, 2014

Question: The oldest film in the custody of the National Archives and Records Administration is a kinetoscope made by what famous American?

Answer: Thomas A. Edison

The oldest film among the more than 100,000 motion pictures in the custody of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is a kinetoscope titled Carmencita, Spanish Dance made by American inventor Thomas A. Edison in 1894. Edison had submitted the patent for the kinetoscope, a forerunner to the motion picture camera, three years earlier. His goal was to "do for the eye what the phonograph does for the ear." A 1902 Edison application for an improved kinetoscope is part of the NARA collection of famous U.S. patents. The collection also includes the patents for two other Edison achievements: the phonograph and the incandescent light bulb. 

For more information, go to: http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2010/summer/frame-film.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: January 21, 2014

Question: What do Harry Potter, Frankenstein's monster and women doctors share in common thanks to the National Library of Medicine?

Answer: Each has been featured in a recent National Library of Medicine exhibition

The National Library of Medicine (NLM)'s Exhibition Program develops traveling and online exhibitions in conjunction with temporary displays featured at the library's headquarters in Bethesda, Md. These exhibitions and educational resources engage diverse audiences and explore a variety of topics in the history of medicine. Exhibitions are featured in the NLM Rotunda Gallery and the History of Medicine Division Reading Room. Additionally, NLM produces traveling exhibitions, which are made available free of charge to public, university and medical libraries, as well as cultural centers across the country. The library's permanent online exhibitions are augmented by resources for educators and students in grades K through 12, and in colleges and universities. NLM exhibitions cover four different categories: medicine and the arts, science and society, patients and practitioners, and the technology of medicine.  Since 1986, exhibitions have included "HARRY POTTER'S WORLD: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine," "FRANKENSTEIN: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature," and "CHANGING THE FACE OF MEDICINE: Celebrating America's Women Physicians." Currently, the library in Maryland is featuring NATIVE VOICES: Native Peoples' Concepts of Health and Wellness. A touring version of the exhibition will be crossing the United States soon.

For more information, go to: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/about/exhibition/index.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: January 16, 2014

Question: According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, which state had the most miles of toll highways and toll structures (bridges and tunnels) in 2009?

Answer: Florida

When the statistic was last calculated by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) in 2009, there were 1,057 kilometers (657 miles) of toll highways and toll structures in Florida, putting it nearly 160 kilometers (100 miles) ahead of the runner-up, New York. Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and New Jersey rounded out the top five. The longest toll road in Florida is the 502-kilometer (312-mile) Florida's Turnpike.

For more information, go to: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/pubs/hf/pl11028/chapter1.cfm#fig13

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: January 14, 2014

Question: Tang, Teflon and Velcro are all spinoffs from products developed originally for NASA, true or false?

Answer: False

Tang, Teflon, and Velcro, are not spinoff technologies from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). General Foods developed the orange-flavored powdered breakfast drink, Tang, in 1957, and it has been on supermarket shelves since 1959. In 1962, when astronaut John Glenn performed eating experiments in orbit, Tang was selected for the menu, launching the drink's heightened public awareness. NASA also raised the celebrity status of Teflon, a material invented for DuPont in 1938, when the non-stick coating was applied to heat shields, space suits and cargo hold liners. Velcro was used during the Apollo missions during the 1960s and 1970s to anchor equipment inside the spacecraft cabin while in zero gravity. The fabric hook-and-loop fastener technology was invented in 1948 by the Swiss electrical engineer George de Mestral. An actual "NASA spinoff" is a technology, originally developed to meet NASA mission needs, that has been transferred to the public and now provides benefits for the nation and world as a commercial product or service. NASA spinoffs enhance many aspects of daily life, including health and medicine, transportation, public safety, consumer goods, energy and environment, information technology, and industrial productivity. As of 2012, NASA had documented nearly 1,800 spinoff technologies.

For more information, go to: http://spinoff.nasa.gov/index.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: January 9, 2014

Question: About how many items does the Library of Congress have in its collections: 1 million, 50 million or 150 million?

Answer: More than 150 Million

The Library of Congress (LOC) is the largest library in the world, with more than 150 million items on approximately 838 miles of bookshelves. The collections include more than 35 million books and other print materials in 470 languages, 3.4 million recordings, 13.6 million photographs, 5.4 million maps, 6.5 million pieces of sheet music and 68 million manuscripts. The LOC is home to the largest rare book collection in North America and the world's largest collections of maps, atlases, newspapers, music, motion pictures, photographs, and microforms. The LOC receives some 15,000 items each working day and adds approximately 11,000 items to the collections daily.

For more information, go to: http://www.loc.gov/about/facts.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: January 7, 2014

Question: What is the largest reservoir by volume in the United States?

Answer: Lake Mead

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), Lake Mead, located on the Arizona-Nevada border, is the largest United States reservoir with a volume of 36 cubic kilometers (29 million acre-feet), or approximately 36 trillion liters (9.3 trillion gallons) of water. When it was first filled in 1935 after the completion of Boulder Dam (now known as Hoover Dam), Lake Mead stored greater than 40 cubic kilometers of water (32 million acre-feet). Sediment accumulation reduced this to its current level.

The reservoir with the second largest volume in the nation (32 cubic kilometers or 27 acre-feet), Lake Powell in Utah, boasts its own distinction-it is the longest reservoir in the United States with a length of 299 kilometers (186 miles).

For more information USGS water programs, go to: http://www.usgs.gov/water/

December 2013

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: December 19, 2013

Question: What National Institute of Standards and Technology experiment left on the moon by the Apollo 11 astronauts in 1969 is still operating?

Answer: A laser reflector used to measure the Earth-moon distance

One of NASA's longest-running experiments–and one with a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) connection–continues to return data to this day. During the Apollo 11 moon landing in July 1969, the astronauts set up a laser reflector on the surface. The still-operational experimental station reflects a powerful laser pulse aimed at it from terrestrial telescopes. By measuring how long the pulse takes to return to Earth (the round trip takes about 2.5 seconds), scientists have defined the Earth-moon distance to within 2.5 centimeters (1 inch). The device, which works in principle like a bicycle safety reflector, was designed primarily by NIST physicist James Faller. The Apollo 14 and 15 missions in 1971 delivered two other Faller-designed reflectors. All three are still used to monitor the Earth-moon distance as well as study continental drift (by triangulating the distance between lasers on two different continents striking the same reflector).

For more information, go to: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/lunar/missions/apollo/apollo_11/experiments/lrr/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: December 17, 2013

Question: The U.S. Weather Bureau, predecessor of the NOAA's National Weather Service, used history's first weather satellite in 1960. What was it named: Echo, NAVSTAR or TIROS?

Answer: TIROS

TIROS (Television Infrared Observation Satellite) I was launched April 1, 1960, from Cape Canaveral, Fla. The main objective was to demonstrate the feasibility and capability of observing the Earth's weather patterns from space. The TIROS program, a collaborative effort by NASA, the U.S. Weather Bureau (predecessor of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service) and other agencies, proved that space-borne systems could acquire data for immediate use by meteorologists. TIROS I and the nine successive satellites in the program pioneered the techniques that led to today's sophisticated, worldwide meteorological satellite network. The spacecraft was 106 centimeters (42 inches) in diameter, 48 centimeters (19 inches) high and weighed 122 kilograms (270 pounds). It was made of aluminum alloy and stainless steel, covered by 9,200 solar cells and operated for 78 days.

Echo was a communications satellite; NAVSTAR was used for navigation.

For more information, go to: http://www.lib.noaa.gov/collections/TIROS/tiros.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: December 12, 2013

Question: A classic National Science Foundation-funded study used an optogenetic "light switch" to examine the function of which type of cells: muscles, neurons or bones?

Answer: Neurons

Optogenetics is a bioengineering technique that combines genetics and optical science so that scientists can selectively turn on and off neurons- electrically excitable cells that convey information through electrical and chemical signaling-in living organisms so that resulting behavioral changes can be observed in real time. In a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded study, the team of Stanford professor Karl Deisseroth developed methods for introducing light-sensitive proteins into specific neurons in neural circuits of various species to make them light sensitive-a method he named optogenetics. The neurons and circuits could then be turned on merely by shining a light on them, and turned off by other types of simple light manipulations. Better understanding of neuronal function through this optogenetic "light switch" is being used to help identify appropriate targets for drugs or technologies that address brain disorders such as Parkinson's disease. In another important and potentially life-changing example, NSF-funded researchers envision using optogenetics to switch a heart beat on and off with light.

For more information, go to: http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=114611

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: December 10, 2013

Question: A database created by the National Technical Information Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is the repository for all digitized data on what disaster and its impacts?

Answer: The Deepwater Horizon oil spill

On April 20, 2010, an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon mobile drilling unit in the Gulf of Mexico 60 kilometers (40 miles) southeast of Louisiana set off a chain of events that led to its sinking and to the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. In 2011, the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) partnered to create a federal database for storing and making available all scientific and technical documents, images and videos about the disaster in digital format. Known as the Deepwater Horizon Institutional Repository (DWH-IR), the site is a searchable, online collection of data captured and generated by public and private sector agencies, organizations and groups involved in response and restoration efforts.

For more information, go to: http://noaa.ntis.gov/site/home.php

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: December 5, 2013

Question: What device developed by the Department of Energy has made interplanetary exploration possible since 1961?

Answer: Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG)

The radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG), nicknamed the "space battery," provides an uninterrupted and reliable source of heat and electricity in remote and harsh environments such as deep space. Developed by the National Laboratories of the Department of Energy (DOE), the RTG generates energy through the radioactive decay of nuclear material. The first RTG was launched into Earth orbit on June 29, 1961, aboard Transit 4A, a Navy navigation satellite. Since that time, RTGs have powered probes outward into the Solar System and beyond, including visits to the Moon, Mars (such as the current mission of the Curiosity rover), Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus, and the upcoming (2015) first encounter with Pluto and its moons by the New Horizons craft.

For more information, go to: http://www.osti.gov/accomplishments/rtg.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: December 3, 2013

Question: DHS S&T's "smart crumbs" are waterproof and heat-resistant electronic devices for police officers, firefighters or pilots?

Answer: Firefighters

The Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) is currently developing a one-inch square, half-inch thick wireless router that is waterproof and heat-resistant up to degrees 260 degrees Celsius (500 degrees Fahrenheit) known as the Wireless Intelligent Sensor Platform for Emergency Responders (WISPER) and nicknamed the "smart crumb." WISPER is designed to provide a strong, consistent and unblocked signal for two separate devices that track a firefighter's location and monitor his vital signs. Each firefighter enters a burning building with five WISPER routers loaded into a belt-mounted canister. If a firefighter steps behind signal-blocking wall (such as concrete) or moves beyond radio range, a base station on the firetruck orders his canister to drop a router, just like the crumbs Hansel and Gretel used to make a trail home. The dropped routers arrange themselves into a network. If a router accidentally gets kicked down a stairwell or firehosed under a couch, the WISPER network automatically reconfigures.

For more information, go to: http://www.dhs.gov/where-there's-smoke-theres-signal

November 2013

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: November 26, 2013

Question: According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the planet Earth has how many oceans?

Answer: One

It's not a trick question. The Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic and Southern (Antarctic) Oceans are not separate bodies of water; they form one continuous oceanic mass. The boundaries between the five "map oceans" arose over time for a variety of historical, cultural, geographical and scientific reasons. The ocean is the lifeblood of Earth, covering more than 70 percent of the planet's surface, driving weather, regulating temperature and ultimately supporting all living organisms. Throughout history, the ocean has been a vital source of sustenance, transport, commerce, growth and inspiration. Yet for all of our reliance on the ocean, about 95 percent of this realm remains unexplored, unseen by human eyes.

For more information, go to: http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/howmanyoceans.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: November 21, 2013

Question: What native Hawaiian tree, studied by USDA's U.S. Forest Service, was used to make a guitar for singer Taylor Swift?

Answer: The koa tree (Acacia koa)

Wood from the native Hawaiian Acacia koa tree is prized for furniture, surfboards, canoes and musical instruments; in fact, singer Taylor Swift often performs with a koa wood guitar. Concerned at how extensive harvesting of koa trees might impact the Hawaiian environment, the Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has been studying the species at the 13,000 hectare (33,000-acre) Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge (located on the slopes of Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii) to better understand its relationship with other flora and fauna. The research has shown that a loss of nitrogen-fixing koa trees reduces the available amount of that nutrient in soil, making it more difficult for other native plants to become established. Koa trees also provide a habitat for some endangered Hawaiian bird species.

For more information, go to: http://www.fs.fed.us/psw/topics/ecosystem_processes/tropical/restoration

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: November 19, 2013

Question: The Charters of Freedom (the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights) are displayed at the National Archives and Records Administration in high-tech encasements filled with which gas: oxygen, argon or helium?

Answer: Argon

In 1995, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) engaged the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), along with NASA and Heery International, to design and make new state-of-the-art encasements to secure the Charters of Freedom documents-the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights-against all types of environmental assault (harmful light, oxygen, humidity, etc.). In all, NIST built nine glass encasements for NARA. Five hold the four pages of the Constitution and its transmittal page (which was signed by George Washington). One each is used for the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. The two prototype encasements built at the start of the project are used as spares. The interior of the encasements have been purged of air and are filled with humidified argon gas. Argon, an inert gas, replaced the helium used in the encasements that were in place from 1951 until 2003 (which also were designed and built by NIST). Argon atoms are larger than helium atoms, making them less likely to diffuse out of the encasement. The relative humidity inside the encasement is 40 percent, preventing the parchment from becoming brittle.

For more information, go to:
http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/charters_preservation_04.html
http://www.100.nist.gov/Charter/charters_of_freedom_project.htm

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: November 14, 2013

Question: How many citations are found in PubMed, the world's largest biomedical database, provided by the National Library of Medicine?

Answer: More than 22 million

PubMed, the world's largest biomedical database, comprises more than 22 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals and online books. PubMed is a free resource, available 24/7, that is developed and maintained by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a division of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in Bethesda, Md. PubMed citations and abstracts include the fields of biomedicine and health, covering portions of the life sciences, behavioral sciences, chemical sciences and bioengineering. PubMed also provides access to additional relevant web sites and links to the other NCBI molecular biology resources.

For more information, go to: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: November 12, 2013

Question: Which Secretary of Transportation also served as Secretary of Labor and president of the American Red Cross?

Answer: Elizabeth Dole

Elizabeth Dole was appointed Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) by President Ronald Reagan. She served from Feb. 7, 1983, to Sept. 30, 1987. She was appointed by President George H. W. Bush to head the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) in January 1989, a post she held until Nov. 23, 1990. In 1991, she became president of the American Red Cross, the first woman to achieve that position since the organization's founder, Clara Barton, stepped down in 1904. Dole also served as a U.S. senator, representing the state of North Carolina from 2004-2008.

For more information, go to: http://ntl.bts.gov/historian/bios.htm

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: November 7, 2013

Question: Who is the famous explorer that served as the second director of the United States Geological Survey?

Answer: John Wesley Powell

Powell was born in 1834 at Mount Morris, N.Y. Interested in botany and geology at an early age, he began his scientific investigations with a series of self-directed field trips, including a rowboat voyage that covered the length of the Mississippi River. In 1861, Powell enlisted in the Union Army. He lost his right arm at the elbow in the Battle of Shiloh but returned to active duty and was promoted to the rank of major.

In the spring of 1869, Powell led an expedition down the Colorado River into a great uncharted territory. Ninety-nine days later, he emerged from the Grand Canyon as an American hero. Powell served as the second director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) from March 1881 until May 1884.

In 1877, Powell published a pioneering work on Indian languages that led to his appointment in 1879 as the first director of the U.S. Bureau of Ethnology at the Smithsonian Institution (now the Department of Anthropology at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History), a post held simultaneously while serving as the USGS director. Powell died in 1902 and is buried in Arlington Cemetery.

For more information, go to:
http://www.usgs.gov/blogs/features/usgs_top_story/john-wesley-powell-explorer-geologist-geographer/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: November 5, 2013

Question: Approximately what portion of the materials in the Library of Congress is in a language other than English: 1/4, 1/3 or 1/2?

Answer: 1/2

The Library of Congress (LOC)'s international collections comprise materials from all over the globe and its foreign-language materials are stunning in their scope and quality. For many areas of the world, such as China, Russia, and Latin America, the collections are the finest and most comprehensive research collections outside the country of origin. For several regions in the world, where preserving materials takes a back seat to more immediate human needs, the collections are superior to what is available locally. Approximately one half of the book and serial collections are in languages other than English, with more than 470 languages and 35 scripts represented.

For more information, go to:
http://www.loc.gov/rr/coll-international.html

October 2013

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: October 31, 2013

Question: Who was the only NASA astronaut to fly on all five Space Shuttle orbiters: John Young, Sally Ride or Story Musgrave?

Answer: Story Musgrave

Dr. Story Musgrave, selected as a scientist-astronaut by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1967, flew six Space Shuttle missions and rode at least once on all five of the orbiters that went into space: Atlantis (1991), Challenger (1983 and 1985), Columbia (1996), Discovery (1989) and Endeavour (1993). He spent more than 1,200 hours in orbit. John Young, commander of the first Shuttle mission aboard Columbia in 1981, piloted the ship a second time in 1983. America's first woman in space in 1983 aboard Challenger, Sally Ride, flew on the same orbiter again in 1984.

For more information, go to:
http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/musgrave.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: October 29, 2013

Question: As postulated by a National Institute of Standards and Technology metallurgist, the failure of which of these parts—rivets, hull plates or masts—likely caused the RMS Titanic to sink in under three hours after striking an iceberg in 1912?

Answer: The rivets

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) research on materials has many practical applications, such as an explanation for the rapid sinking of the ocean liner RMS Titanic after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic in April 1912. A NIST metallurgist, Timothy Foecke, analyzed steel and rivet samples recovered from the Titanic's remains on the ocean floor. His examinations revealed that the wrought iron in the rivets contained three times today's allowable amount of slag (the glassy residue left behind after the smelting of ore), making it less ductile and more brittle than it should have been. This finding provides strong evidence that Titanic's collision with the iceberg caused the rivet heads to break off, popped the fasteners from their holes and allowed water to rush in between the separated hull plates. Photographs of Titanic's sister ship, the RMS Olympic, back up the rivet failure theory. Taken after the Olympic collided with another vessel in 1911, the photos clearly show dozens of vacant holes in the hull where rivets once sat.

For more information, go to:
http://www.nist.gov/mml/msed/titanic_021798.cfm

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: October 24, 2013

Question: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration asks: What is different about dolphins and porpoises? Is it their faces, fins, body shapes or all three characteristics?

Answer: All three

While dolphins and porpoises both are members—along with whales—of the mammalian order Cetacea, the two species do have distinct differences in their faces, fins and figures. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s National Ocean Service, dolphins tend to have prominent, elongated "beaks" and cone-shaped teeth, while porpoises have smaller mouths and spade-shaped teeth. The dolphin's hooked or curved dorsal fin (the one in the middle of the animal's back) also differs from the porpoise's triangular dorsal fin. Generally speaking, dolphin bodies are lean compared to the more stocky porpoise. Dolphins are by far the more prevalent species. Most scientists agree that there are 32 dolphin species (plus five closely related species of river dolphin) and only six porpoise species.

For more information, go to:
http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/dolphin_porpoise.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: October 22, 2013

Question: How many times each hour is the air changed in the records storage areas at the Archives II building of the National Archives and Records Administration: 2, 4 or 6?

Answer: Six

Completed in 1993, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)'s Archives II building in College Park, Md., was designed and built with state-of-the-art systems and environments that provide the strict conditions necessary for the long-term protection of up to (2 million cubic feet) of federal government records. Removal of harmful particulate materials and gaseous pollutants from the air of the storage areas (called stacks) was a priority design element. Gas removal presents the greatest challenge because NARA requires the filtering of gases such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone and aldehydes to levels ranging from 1.0 to 12.5 parts per billion. Therefore, the outside air provided to the stacks for ventilation and pressurization has to be filtered, as does the stack return air, which contains gases originating from the stored materials. With a total outside air movement of (70,000 cubic feet) per minute and a total recirculation of (678,000 cubic feet) per minute, the air within the stacks is changed a minimum of six times per hour.

For more information, go to:
http://www.archives.gov/preservation/technical/tip13.pdf

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: October 17, 2013

Question: What was the number one ancestry claimed by Americans on the 2000 Census–German or Irish–as reported in the U.S. Census Bureau's Census Atlas of the United States, available from the National Technical Information Service?

Answer: German

According to the U.S. Census Bureau's Census Atlas of the United States, released in January 2008 and available from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS), 42.8 million people, or 15 percent of the U.S. population in 2000, considered themselves to be of German or part-German ancestry. Irish was second on the list as the ancestry claimed by 30.5 million Americans or 11 percent. Others in the top seven ancestries were African-American (24.9 million or 9 percent), English (24.5 million or 9 percent), American (20.2 million or 7 percent), Mexican (18.4 million or 7 percent) and Italian (15.6 million or 6 percent). The top three ancestries in the 2000 Census–German, Irish and African-American–also led the list for the 1990 Census. The Census Atlas of the United States, a 314-page, 7-pound volume, presents data from 1790 through 2000 and contains more than 700 maps. It was the first general population and housing statistical atlas published by the U.S. Census Bureau since 1925.

For more information, go to:
http://www.census.gov/population/www/cen2000/censusatlas/pdf/9_Ancestry.pdf
http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/census_2000/cb08-cn05.html
http://www.ntis.gov/products/censusatlas.aspx

September 2013

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: September 26, 2013

Question: USDA's U.S. Forest Service scientists found that fewer spring snow packs are reducing the population of which burrowing mammal?

Answer: The wolverine

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has been studying the range of the wolverine, the largest member of the weasel family. Little is known about them because these nocturnal mammals are rarely seen by humans. Some groups have petitioned for the wolverine to be listed as an endangered species, yet lack of knowledge about their habitat range has hindered attempts to protect them. USFS scientists compiled hundreds of verifiable and documented records dating back to 1827 of wolverine occurrence (specimens, DNA detections, photos and accounts of wolverines being killed or captured) in the contiguous United States from museums, literature and institutional archives. This helped them determine that climate change and human development have reduced the amount of spring snow packs–where wolverines build dens in which they bear and raise their young–and as a result, have shrunk the wolverine's habitat range and the animal's numbers in the northern United States.

For more information, go to:
http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs_other/rmrs_2007_aubry_k001.pdf

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: September 24, 2013

Question: Developed with funding from the National Science Foundation, what item is being used as a microelectronic health monitor?

Answer: A tattoo

With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), engineers John Rogers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Yonggang Huang at Northwestern University have been developing "electronic tattoos," microelectronic health monitors so thin, light and portable that they can attach right to the surface of skin and go wherever a person goes. The tattoos incorporate "elastic electronics," a technology where the tiny monitors are fashioned from tiny, wavy silicon structures containing circuits that are thinner than a human hair. The devices are applied directly to the surface of the skin in the same way as a child's temporary stick-on tattoo. As the skin moves and deforms, the circuit can follow those deformations in a completely noninvasive way. This innovation has the potential to revolutionize the field of healthcare technology, yielding miniature monitors for muscle movement, heart function, brain waves and other body activities.

For more information, go to:
http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/innovation/electronictattoo.jsp
http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/science_nation/skinmountedelectronics.jsp

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: September 19, 2013

Question: In 1996, where did President Bill Clinton urge NASA to search for signs of extraterrestrial life?

Answer: Mars

On Aug. 7, 1996, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced that it had found possible microscopic fossils of primitive, bacteria-like organisms inside of an ancient Martian rock that fell to Earth as a meteorite. That afternoon, President Bill Clinton delivered an televised statement about the announcement in which he said, "I am determined that the American space program will put its full intellectual power and technological prowess behind the search for further evidence of life on Mars." The meteorite behind all of the excitement, designated ALH 84001, was discovered in in the Allan Hills region of Antarctica in 1984. It is a 1.93 kilogram (4.3 pound) mass believed to be about 4.5 billion years old that was blasted from the Martian surface some 16 million years ago and struck the Earth about 13,000 years ago. Of the 24,000 or so meteorites that have been discovered on Earth, only 34 have been identified as originating from the planet Mars. While the evidence of fossilized bacteria in ALH84001 remains controversial, it stimulated a concerted effort by NASA to search for life or the remnants of life on Mars.

For more information, go to:
http://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/snc/alh.html
http://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/snc/clinton.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: September 17, 2013

Question: Which U.S. president signed the legislation that created the U.S. Department of Transportation: Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon?

Answer: Lyndon Johnson

On Oct. 15, 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law Public Law 89-670, establishing the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). On Nov. 8, 1966, Johnson nominated Under Secretary of Commerce for Transportation Alan S. Boyd to become the nation's first Secretary of Transportation. He took office on Jan. 16, 1967, a little under four months before his department officially opened for business on Apr. 1, 1967. Boyd served as Secretary until Jan. 20, 1969, when President Richard Nixon was inaugurated.

For more information, go to: http://ntl.bts.gov/historian/chronology.htm

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: September 12, 2013

Question: According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, the August full moon brings about an "underwater snowstorm." What is it really?

Answer: The spawning of a coral reef

Seven-to-10 days after the full moon each August, the reef-building corals of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS), put on a fantastic spawning display that resembles an underwater snowstorm. Each coral species in the sanctuary–located in the Gulf of Mexico some 160 kilometers (100 miles) off the coast of Louisiana–time their gamete (egg and sperm) release for maximum benefit by avoiding the simultaneous spawning of other species. Most scientists agree that these mass spawning events are designed to allow genetic mixing and dispersal of offspring over large distances. The sheer volume of the gametes spawned allows for the fertilization and survival of a significant number of larvae despite the best efforts of predators.

For more information, go to: http://flowergarden.noaa.gov/science/fgbcoralspawning.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: September 10, 2013

Question: For what purpose did DHS S&T develop an inflatable cylinder, 32 feet long by 16 feet wide, which fills with 35,000 gallons of air or water?

Answer: To plug tunnels

The Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T)'s Resilient Tunnel Project (RTP) recently designed and tested an enormous (32 feet long by 16 feet wide), pill-shaped inflatable cylinder that can be filled with 35,000 gallons of water or air (about the same capacity of a medium-sized swimming pool) in minutes to contain flooding or dangerous gases in a mass transit tunnel. The giant plug was developed in partnership with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), West Virginia University (WVU) and ILC Dover—the longtime maker of space suits for NASA astronauts. When not in use, the plug stores within a small space in a tunnel, ready to respond in an emergency by being remotely inflated from the tunnel system's command center.

For more information, go to: http://www.dhs.gov/35000-gallons-prevention

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: September 5, 2013

Question: Which Department of Energy laboratory was the birthplace of #video games?

Answer: Brookhaven National Laboratory

William Higinbotham, head of the Instrumentation Division at what is now the Department of Energy (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), created an interactive game called "Tennis for Two" for the annual visitor day in 1958. The game was run by an analog computer hooked up to an oscilloscope. Simulated on a screen was a vertical side view of a tennis court. Each player had a knob and a button. Rotating the knob changed the angle of the ball and a press of the button sent the ball toward the opposite side of the court. If the ball hit the net, it rebounded at an unexpected angle. If the ball went over the net, but was not hit back, it would hit the floor and bounce again at a natural angle. If it disappeared off the screen, a reset button could be pressed, causing the ball to reappear and remain stationary until a hit button was pressed.

For more information, go to: http://www.osti.gov/accomplishments/videogame.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: September 3, 2013

Question: An isolated, freestanding wall at the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Gaithersburg, Md., campus tests the long-term effects of weather exposure on what?

Answer: Stones from nearly all 50 states and 16 foreign nations

In 1880, the Census Office and the National Museum (now the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution) conducted a study of building stones of the United States and collected a set of reference specimens from working quarries. Sixty-two years later, a federal committee decided that it would be valuable to study the actual weathering of such a great variety of stone. In 1948, a test wall was constructed at the National Bureau of Standards (NBS, now known as the National Institute of Standards and Technology or NIST) headquarters in Washington, D.C. It was moved to Gaithersburg, Md., in 1977, where the agency had relocated 11 years earlier. The NIST Stone Wall contains 2352 individual samples of stone, of which 2032 are domestic stone from 47 states, and 320 are stones from 16 foreign countries. Over 30 distinct types of stones are represented, including marble, limestone, sandstone, and granite.

For more information, go to:
http://stonewall.nist.gov/

August 2013

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: August 29, 2013

Question: Which January 17th earthquake was more catastrophic, the 1995 one in Kobe, Japan, or the 1994 one in Northridge, Calif.?

Answer: The Kobe, Japan, earthquake

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the Great Hanshin earthquake, more commonly called the Kobe earthquake, occurred on Jan. 17, 1995, in the southern part of Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan. It had a magnitude of 6.8 on the Richter scale and was responsible for 5,530 deaths; 37,000 injuries; and over $100 billion in economic loss. By comparison, the Jan. 17, 1994, Northridge, Calif., earthquake (magnitude 6.7) was responsible for approximately 60 deaths; 9,000 injuries; and over $40 billion in damage.

For more information, go to: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: August 27, 2013

Question: True or false? The Library of Congress has a copy of every book published in the United States.

Answer: False

Contrary to popular belief, the Library of Congress (LOC) does not contain a copy of every book published in the United States. It does, however, house more than 155 million items on approximately 838 miles of bookshelves. The collections include more than 35 million books and other print materials, 3.4 million recordings, 13.6 million photographs, 5.4 million maps, 6.5 million pieces of sheet music and 68 million manuscripts. The misconception that the LOC "has every book published" may have started during the tenure (1864-1897) of Librarian of Congress Ainsworth Rand Spofford, the man who opened the LOC to the public and greatly expanded its collections. Spofford successfully advocated a change in the U.S. copyright law so that the LOC would receive two free copies of every book, map, chart, dramatic or musical composition, engraving, cut, print or photograph submitted for copyright. Copyrighted items, of course, do not include every book published, but isn't hard to see how the confusion might have arisen.

For more information, go to:
http://www.loc.gov/about/faqs.html#every_book
http://www.loc.gov/about/librarianoffice/spofford.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: August 22, 2013

Question: Which is older, the National Library of Medicine, or its parent federal agency, the National Institutes of Health?

Answer: The National Library of Medicine is 51 years older than the National Institutes of Health

Now the world's largest medical library, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) originated in 1836 as the Library of the Surgeon General of the Army. Congress would officially designate it as the National Library of Medicine in 1956 under Public Law 84-941. The predecessor of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Laboratory of Hygiene, was founded in 1887. The two would not become connected until NLM moved into its current facility on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Md., in 1962. Interestingly, the collections of NLM's History of Medicine Division had to be reunited with the rest of the library once the building was completed. The collections were transported from Cleveland under the watch of Pinkerton guards and with insurance coverage by Lloyd's of London.

For more information, go to: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/175

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: August 20, 2013

Question: According to NASA, what is the largest living organism visible from Earth orbit?

Answer: Australia's Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef extends for 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) along the northeastern coast of Australia. It is not a single reef, but a vast maze of reefs, passages and coral cays (islands that are part of the reef). The white calcium carbonate that coats the living coral reflects light, making the water above the reef appear bright blue from space. This phenomenon allows the reef to be the largest living organism visible in National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) satellite photos and videos. Imagery from NASA satellites is being used to track the extent of coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef. Coral bleaching is the whitening of living coral due to a disruption of the symbiosis (two organisms whose living together benefits both) with its zooxanthellae, tiny photosynthesizing algae.

For more information, go to:
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA03401
http://www.greatbarrierreef.org/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: August 15, 2013

Question: Who held the patent, viewable on the National Archives and Records Administration website, for "anti-gravity illusion" shoes?

Answer: Michael Jackson

U.S. Patent 5,255,452—viewable on the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) website—was issued on Oct. 26, 1993, to the "King of Pop," singer Michael Jackson, for a "method and means for creating anti-gravity illusion." The application abstract describes the patent as: "A system for allowing the shoe wearer to lean forwardly beyond his center of gravity by virtue of wearing a specially designed pair of shoes which will engage with a hitch member movably projectable through a stage surface. The shoes have a specially designed heel slot which can be detachably engaged with the hitch member by simply sliding the shoe wearer's foot forward, thereby engaging with the hitch member." The shoes enabled Jackson to lean forward to an exaggerated angle while dancing backward on stage, a move that became known as the "moonwalk." The patent for Jackson's invention expired on Oct. 26, 2005.

For more information, go to:
http://research.archives.gov/description/5742940

http://blogs.archives.gov/aotus/?p=2574

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: August 13, 2013

Question: What Web technology used by millions today—and funded in its early development stages by the National Science Foundation—was called BackRub in the 1990s?

Answer: Google

In 1994, the National Science Foundation (NSF) made its first six awards under the multi-agency Digital Library Initiative (DLI). One of those awards supported a Stanford University project, which in turn, funded the development of a novel Web search engine by graduate students Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Brin was supported by an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship). While search engines at the time ranked results by counting how many times the search terms appeared on the page, the two theorized about a better system that analyzed the relationships between websites. Their prototype search engine used well-established technology to crawl from page to page by following links. However, in addition to compiling a standard text index, the prototype also mapped out a vast family tree that reflected the Web links among pages. Page and Brin originally nicknamed their new system "BackRub," because it checked backlinks to estimate the importance of a site. Eventually, they changed the name to Google, originating from a misspelling of the word "googol," the number one followed by one hundred zeros, which was picked to signify that the search engine was intended to provide large quantities of information.

For more information, go to: http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=100660

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: August 8, 2013

Question: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration diving manual, available through the National Technical Information Service, says what type of chamber is used to treat injured divers: decompression or recompression?

Answer: A recompression chamber

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Diving Manual 4th Edition–available in print or CD-ROM from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS)–"recompression chamber is the term used to denote a chamber that is used to treat injured divers." On the other hand, the manual states that a "decompression chamber generally denotes a chamber that is deployed for the primary purpose of conducting surface decompression." In other words, a decompression chamber prevents diving-related maladies such as decompression sickness (also known as "the bends") and carbon monoxide poisoning, and a recompression chamber is used to take care of divers already suffering from these problems.

For more information, go to: https://www.ntis.gov/products/noaadive.aspx

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: August 6, 2013

Question: The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says what type of vehicle can have two or three wheels?

Answer: A motorcycle

The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), a nationwide census providing annual data regarding fatal injuries suffered in motor vehicle traffic crashes, defines a motorcycle as "A two- or three-wheeled motor vehicle designed to transport one or two people, including motorscooters, minibikes and mopeds." FARS, operated by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)'s National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) since 1975, contains data on a census of fatal traffic crashes within the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. To be included in FARS, a crash "must involve a motor vehicle traveling on a trafficway customarily open to the public and result in the death of a person (occupant of a vehicle or a non-occupant) within 30 days of the crash."

For more information, go to: http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Help/Terms.aspx

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: August 1, 2013

Question: DHS S&T researchers worked with private and public experts on dams to develop a software tool that can simulate what type of disaster?

Answer: Flooding

A software tool that can virtually simulate catastrophic flooding—whether from a breached levee, failed dam, surging tide, landslide or tsunami—was recently developed through a collaborative effort between researchers at the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) and dam experts at DHS's Office of Infrastructure Protection (within the National Protection and Programs Directorate) and the University of Mississippi's National Center for Computational Hydroscience and Engineering (UM-NCCHE). The flood simulation tool allows users to forecast consequences, develop counter measures and even train emergency responders. It's so fast that a flood taking 24 hours to inundate downstream areas can be modeled in less than 24 minutes.

For more information, go to: http://www.dhs.gov/katrina-changed-everything-new-software-flooding-protection

July 2013

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: July 30, 2013

Question: Which radioactive element, discovered in 1944 at what is now a Department of Energy laboratory, makes it possible for ionization smoke detectors to work?

Answer: Americium, Element 95 on the periodic table

Americium was discovered in 1944 by a research team led by Glenn T. Seaborg. The scientists bombarded plutonium-239, an isotope of plutonium, with high-energy neutrons. This formed plutonium-240, which they also bombarded with neutrons. The plutonium-240 changed into plutonium-241, which then decayed into americium-241. This work was carried out at the University of Chicago's Metallurgical Laboratory, now known as the Department of Energy (DOE)'s Argonne National Laboratory.

The most common use of americium is in ionization smoke detectors. When americium-241 decays, it gives off alpha particles that ionize the air between two electrodes. This generates a very small electric current flow across the gap. When smoke enters, the alpha radiation is absorbed by the soot particles and the current is interrupted, sounding the alarm.

For more information on Americium see DOE Jefferson Laboratory's science education site "It's Elemental: The Element Americium."

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: July 25, 2013

Question: In 2007, the National Institute of Standards and Technology celebrated the 50th anniversary of what computing achievement involving a baby?

Answer: A photo that was the world's first digitally scanned image

In 1957, computer pioneer Russell Kirsch and his colleagues at the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) now known as the National Institute of Standards and Technology or NIST, created a rotating drum scanner and programming that allowed images to be fed into the nation's first programmable computer, the Standards Eastern Automatic Computer (SEAC)—also developed at NBS. The first image scanned was a head-and-shoulders shot of Kirsch's 3-month-old son Walden. The ghostlike black-and-white photo only measured 176 pixels on a side—a far cry from today's megapixel digital snapshots—but it would become the Adam and Eve for all computer imaging to follow. In 2003, the editors of Life magazine honored Kirsch's image by naming it one of "the 100 photographs that changed the world."

For more information, go to: http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/releases/image_052407.cfm

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: July 23, 2013

Question: What is the largest volcano on Earth?

Answer: Mauna Loa in Hawaii

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii has the largest volume of any volcano on Earth. Mauna Loa consists of about 80,000 cubic kilometers (19,000 cubic miles) of lava and rises more than 17,000 meters (56,000 feet) above its base on the Pacific Ocean floor. Because of its massive size, the volcano has depressed the Pacific tectonic plate upon which it sits by about 8 kilometers (5 miles). More than half of the area of the island of Hawaii, some 5,000 square kilometers (2,000 square miles) is attributed to Mauna Loa.

For more information, go to: http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: July 18, 2013

Question: What is the age of the oldest written material held by the Library of Congress: 250 years old, 900 years old or 4,000 years old?

Answer: 4,000 years old

The oldest written material in the Library of Congress (LOC) is about 4,000 years old, a cuneiform tablet from the reign of the Sumerian king Gudea of Lagash (2144-2124 B.C.E.). Cuneiform was developed by the Sumerians, who influenced culture and development beyond their original borders in Mesopotamia (present-day southern Iraq), site of the world's earliest civilization. Originally, cuneiform signs were pictograms, later, it also became syllabic. Reeds were used as writing implements. The tip of a reed stylus was impressed into a wet clay surface to draw the strokes of the sign—thus acquiring a "wedge-shaped" appearance. The clay was then either baked in a kiln or dried by the sun. The word cuneiform is derived from Latin—cuneus for wedge and forma, meaning shape. The LOC acquired its collection of cuneiform materials in 1929 from Kirkor Minassian, an art dealer.

For more information, go to: http://memory.loc.gov/intldl/cuneihtml/cuneihome.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: July 16, 2013

Question: What's the subject of the oldest book in the National Library of Medicine's "Turning the Pages" online collection of digitized rare and historic manuscripts?

Answer: Surgery

The Edwin Smith Papyrus, the world's oldest surviving surgical text, was written in Egyptian hieratic script around the 17th century BCE, but probably based on material from a thousand years earlier. The papyrus is a textbook on trauma surgery, and describes anatomical observations and the examination, diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of numerous injuries in exquisite detail. American archaeologist Edwin Smith discovered the papyrus in Egypt in the 1860s, and his daughter donated the papyrus to the New York Historical Society after his death. The papyrus is one of 11 rare and historic manuscripts available online and via an Apple iPad app on the National Library of Medicine (NLM)'s popular "Turning the Pages" website. Among the other virtual volumes offered are: Elizabeth Blackwell's tome on medicinal plants, A Curious Herbal (1737); Robert Hooke's observations of the microbial world, Micrographia (1665); and the book considered the world's first modern zoological treatise, Historia Animalium (Latin for "Studies on Animals" and published in 1551) by Conrad Gessner.

For more information, go to: http://archive.nlm.nih.gov/proj/ttp/intro.htm

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: July 11, 2013

Question: Which of NASA's Mercury 7 astronauts later became an aquanaut who explored the ocean floor: Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper or John Glenn?

Answer: Scott Carpenter

One of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) original Mercury 7 astronauts, Scott Carpenter, also lived and worked on the ocean floor as an aquanaut on board the U.S. Navy's SEALAB-II in the summer of 1965. Carpenter spent 30 days in the underwater habitat stationed at a depth of 62 meters (205 feet) off the coast of La Jolla, Calif. He commanded two of the three teams that conducted deep-sea diving activities on what became known as the "Tilton Hilton" because of the tilted angle at which the SEALAB module rested. Along with testing the psychological rigors of living beneath the waves, the SEALAB teams tried out new tools, experimented with novel salvage methods and evaluated an electronically heated diving suit. A bottlenose dolphin named Tuffy from the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program ferried supplies to the lab from the surface. Carpenter's only trip into space was a three-orbit journey on May 24, 1962, aboard the Aurora 7 Mercury spacecraft.

For more information, go to:
http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/carpenter-ms.html

http://www.scottcarpenter.com/sealab.htm

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: July 9, 2013

Question: In the film "National Treasure," the heroes uncover invisible clues to a treasure, including a cipher, on the back of the Declaration of Independence. What's actually on the back of the real document housed at the National Archives and Records Administration?

Answer: The words "Original Declaration of Independence dated 4th July 1776"

There is writing on the back of the original signed Declaration of Independence housed at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C. However, it is not invisible, it does not provide clues to a treasure, and it does not include an Ottendorf cipher (which is used to decode a message hidden in another document) as the feature film, "National Treasure," suggests. The writing on the back simply reads "Original Declaration of Independence dated 4th July 1776." It appears upside down on the bottom of the page. In its early life, the large parchment—75.57 centimeters (29.75 inches) by 62.23 centimeters (24.50 inches)—was rolled up for storage, so it's likely that the notation was added simply as a label. The identity of the inscriber is unknown.

For more information, go to:
http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/treasure/back_of_declaration.html
http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/treasure/flip_side_of_history.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: July 2, 2013

Question: Researchers funded by the National Science Foundation blindfold snakes to study what ability?

Answer: Thermal imaging, also known as "seeing heat"

With funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Directorate for Biological Sciences, biologist Michael Grace and his team at the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) study infrared (thermal) sensors in snakes. Pit vipers, pythons and boas possess special organs that form images in the brain of the thermal environment, much like vision occurs in the human brain. Thus, these snakes "see" heat, and this amazing system is the most sensitive infrared detector on Earth, natural or artificial. Research in this area will advance the development of artificial sensor technologies for industrial, defense and biomedical applications.

For more information, go to: http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/science_nation/infraredsnakes.jsp

June 2013

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: June 27, 2013

Question: The National Technical Information Service was created as a result of which war: World War II, the Korean War or the Vietnam War?

Answer: World War II

In late 1945, President Harry Truman set up a program to distribute the results of government and government supported-research which had been kept secret during World War II. Early in the following year, the Office of the Publication Board (OPB) was organized to distribute reports and The Bibliography of Scientific and Industrial Reports (BSIR) was issued to announce the materials available. Among the earliest items included in the OPB collection were captured German and Japanese industrial and military technology secrets. They were microfilmed and sold at the cost of reproduction to American entrepreneurs hoping to capitalize on advanced production methods for medicines, chemicals, textiles, etc. The current federal technical reports system and the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) arose from the OPB effort. In 1950, the OPB became the Commerce Department's Office of Technical Services (OTS). The agency was charged with making "the results of technological research and development readily available to industry and business, and to the general public." In 1965, OTS became the Clearinghouse for Federal Scientific and Technical Information (CFSTI) and then, in 1970, was renamed NTIS.

For more information, go to: http://unllib.unl.edu/Bolin_resources/bsir-xml/What_is_BSIR.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: June 25, 2013

Question: According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the longest road in the United States stretches between which two states?

Answer: Massachusetts and Oregon

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the longest road in the United States is US 20 which stretches 5.415 kilometers (3,365 miles) from Boston, Mass., to Newport, Ore. US 20 passes through the following states: Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho and Oregon. From 1937 until 1963, US 20 was actually the second longest road behind U.S. 6, which began in Provincetown, Mass and ended in Long Beach, Calif., 5,877 kilometers (3,652 miles) away. However, in 1963, California requested that U.S. 6 be terminated at Bishop, Calif., shortening the route to 5,193 kilometers (3,227 miles) and making U.S. 20 the longest road in the country.

For more information, go to: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/longest.cfm

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: June 20, 2013

Question: In which city's subway system did DHS S&T test biological agent detection sensors in 2012?

Answer: Boston, Mass.

The Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) conducted a series of tests in the Boston subways in August 2012 to measure the real-world performance of new sensors developed to detect biological agents. The tests, part of DHS S&T's "Detect-to-Protect" (D2P) Bio Detection project, involved releasing small amounts of a harmless, food-grade bacteria, Bacillus subtilis, into the air after the subway stations had closed. Then, sensors from different manufacturers were evaluated on their respective abilities to identify and confirm the presence of the released bacteria within minutes.

For more information, go to: http://www.dhs.gov/st-snapshot-detect-protect

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: June 18, 2013

Question: What was discovered in 1998 by Department of Energy and NASA scientists that completely changed how we view the universe?

Answer: Dark energy

Dark energy was discovered in 1998 by scientists funded by the Department of Energy (DOE) and NASA who worked at DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and other institutions. Dark energy is the name given to the cause of the accelerating expansion of our universe and comprises more than 70 percent of its total mass and energy. It was named by Science magazine as the scientific breakthrough of the year because it was previously believed that the expansion of the universe was slowing, not accelerating. LBNL physicist Saul Perlmutter shared the 2011 Nobel Physics Prize for the finding. DOE and NASA are now developing the Joint Dark Energy Mission to explore the properties of dark energy and measure how cosmic expansion has changed over time using a large-aperture optical/near-infrared wide-field telescope operating in space. LBNL has lead responsibility for the DOE work. The mission, scheduled to begin in 2016, will be managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

For more information, go to:http://jdem.lbl.gov

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: June 13, 2013

Question: In the 2002 Winter Olympics held in Salt Lake City, Utah, the National Institute of Standards and Technology calibrated the timers for what competition?

Answer: Bobsledding

Racers in the bobsled, luge and skeleton events reach some of the highest speeds of any Olympic Winter Games competitors—up to 130-145 kilometers per hour (80-90 miles per hour). Since winners are often decided by mere milliseconds, the timing system for these events must be highly accurate and consistent. That wasn't a problem at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, thanks to experts from National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The timing system for the runs at Utah Olympic Park was calibrated against the national time standard provided by the NIST-F1 atomic clock in Boulder, Colo.

For more information, go to: http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/techbeat/tb2002_0102.htm

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: June 11, 2013

Question: How much did the U.S. Congress pay for Thomas Jefferson's personal library to restock the Library of Congress collection destroyed in 1814: $5,998; $23,950; or $75,236?

Answer: $23,950

On April 24, 1800, President John Adams approved legislation that appropriated $5,000 to purchase "such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress." The first books, ordered from London, arrived in 1801 and were stored in the U.S. Capitol, the Library of Congress (LOC)'s first home. The collection consisted of 740 volumes and three maps. In 1814, the British army invaded the city of Washington, D.,C., and burned the Capitol, including the now 3,000-volume LOC. Former U.S. president Thomas Jefferson, in retirement at his Virginia mansion, Monticello, offered to sell his personal library to Congress to "recommence" the library. The purchase of Jefferson's 6,487 volumes for $23,950 was approved in 1815. Not only was the collection more than twice the number of volumes that had been lost, it also expanded the scope of the LOC far beyond the bounds of a legislative library.

For more information, go to: http://www.loc.gov/loc/legacy/loc.html

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: June 6, 2013

Question: Where and when did the deadliest recorded earthquake occur?

Answer: China, 1556

The world's deadliest recorded earthquake occurred in 1556 in the Shaanxi Province, central China. It struck a region where most people lived in caves carved from soft rock. These dwellings collapsed during the earthquake, killing an estimated 830,000 people. In 1976, another deadly earthquake struck in Tangshan, China, where more than 250,000 people were killed. Worldwide earthquake activity is monitored by the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

For more information, go to: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: June 4, 2013

Question: The National Library of Medicine main building was designed and constructed in the late 1950s to protect its collection from what type of disaster?

Answer: A nuclear attack

The National Library of Medicine (NLM), on the campus of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Md., is the world's largest biomedical library housing more than 19 million books, journals, artworks, manuscripts, audiovisual productions and other materials. Because the NLM main library facility was built in the late 1950s during the height of the Cold War between the United States and the USSR, the building incorporated many design characteristics that, at the time, were considered state-of-the-art means for protecting the collection from a nearby (but not direct) nuclear strike. These included a collapsible roof, floors and walls that would equalize the pressure of an explosion, and over 50 miles of bookshelves stored on three football field-sized underground levels.

For more information, go to http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC200608/pdf/mlab00197-0165.pdf