Science.gov Trivia Answers

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

Department of Transportation

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

National Aeronautics and Space Admiistration

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

Library of Congress

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

United States Geological Survey

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

National Institute of Standards and Technology

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

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

National Oceanics and Atmospheric Administration

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

National Science Foundation

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

Department of Energy

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

Department of Homeland Security

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

United States Forest Service

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

National Archives and Records Administration

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

National Library of Medicine

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

US Department of Transportation

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

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

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

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

Library of Congress

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

U.S.  Geological Survey

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

National Institute of Standards and Technology

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

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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

National Technical Information Service

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

Department of Energy

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

Department of Homeland Security 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

 

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

US Forest Service 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

National Archives and Records Administration 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

National Library of Medicine 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

US Department of Transportation 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

National Aeronautics and Space Administration 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

Library of Congress 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

United States Geological Survey 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/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: December 19, 2013

National Institue of Standards and Technology 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

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 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

National Science Foundation 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

National Technical Information Service 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

US Department of Energy 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

US Department of Homeland Security 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

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: November 26, 2013

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 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

U.S. Forest Service 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

National Archives and Records Administration 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

National Library of Medicine 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

US Department of Transportation 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

United States Geological Survey 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

Library of Congress 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

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: October 31, 2013

National Aeronautics and Space Administration 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

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) 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

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 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

National Archives and Records Administration 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

National Technical Information Service (NTIS) 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

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: September 26, 2013

U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service 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

National Science Foundation 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

National Aeronautics and Space Administration 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

Department of Transportation 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

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 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

U.S. Department of Homeland Security 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

U.S. Department of Energy 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

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) 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/

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: August 29, 2013

United States Geological Survey 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

Library of Congress 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

National Library of Medicine 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

National Aeronautics and Space Administration 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

National Archives and Records Administration 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

National Science Foundation 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

National Technical Information Service (NTIS) 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

U.S. Department of Transportation 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

U.S. Department of Homeland Security 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

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: July 30, 2013

U.S. Department of Energy 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

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) 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

United States Geological Survey (USGS) 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

Library of Congress 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

National Library of Medicine 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

National Aeronautics and Space Administration 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

National Archives and Records Administration 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

National Science Foundation 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

Science.gov Trivia Question of the Day: June 27, 2013

National Technical Information Service 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

Department of Transportation 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

Department of Homeland Security 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

Department of Energy 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

National Institute of Standards and Technology 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

Library of Congress 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

United States Geological Survey 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

National Library of Medicine 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