March 18, 2008

Butterflies are Returning

This is not the first I've seen, but he spent the whole day exploring. I first noticed him on these pink hyacinths.

March 15, 2008

The Runners Up

I limited my photos for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day to three. You have to stop somewhere. These are the other two that I really wanted to post. One is a closer up view of the white azalea that is tumbling down the hill, looking over a bunch of purple violas in the bottom foreground. The other is a view of the garden on the other side of the azalea trail with the first Pink Charm just opening. Another week or two and there'll be so much color your eyes might cross. Click on the photos to see them full size. Thanks.

March 14, 2008

Happy Birthday, Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein 1879 - 1955

Einstein's theories of special and general relativity drastically altered man's view of the universe, and his work in particle and energy theory helped make possible quantum mechanics and ultimately, the atomic bomb.

In "On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light," which earned him the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics, Einstein theorized that light is made up of individual quanta (photons) that demonstrate particle-like properties while collectively behaving like a wave. The hypothesis was arrived at through Einstein's examination of the photoelectric effect, a phenomenon in which some solids emit electrically charged particles when struck by light.

In a second paper, he devised a new method of counting and determining the size of the atoms and molecules in a given space, and in the third he offered a mathematical explanation for the constant erratic movement of particles suspended in a fluid, known as Brownian motion. These two papers provided indisputable evidence of the existence of atoms.

Einstein's fourth scientific work in 1905 addressed what he termed his special theory of relativity. In special relativity, time and space are not absolute, but relative to the motion of the observer. Thus, two observers traveling at great speeds in regard to each other would not necessarily observe simultaneous events in time at the same moment, nor necessarily agree in their measurements of space. In Einstein's theory, the speed of light, which is the limiting speed of any body having mass, is constant in all frames of reference.

In the fifth paper that year, an exploration of the mathematics of special relativity, Einstein announced that mass and energy were equivalent and could be calculated with an equation, E=mc2.

In 1916, he published "The Foundation of the General Theory of Relativity," which proposed that gravity, as well as motion, can affect the intervals of time and of space. According to Einstein, gravitation is not a force, as Isaac Newton had argued, but a curved field in the space-time continuum, created by the presence of mass. An object of very large gravitational mass, such as the sun, would therefore appear to warp space and time around it, which could be demonstrated by observing starlight as it skirted the sun on its way to earth. In 1919, astronomers studying a solar eclipse verified Einstein's predictions in the general theory of relativity, and he became an overnight celebrity. Later, other predictions, such as a shift in the orbit of the planet Mercury and the probable existence of black holes, were confirmed by scientists.

March 09, 2008

Mendel Was Right About the Peas

Midlife Crisis: Can Barbie Hide Her Past?

Barbie is 49 years old! On this day in 1959, the first Barbie doll went on display at the American Toy Fair.

Barbie was modeled on a German doll based on a comic strip character. The Lilli doll was marketed as a racy gag gift
for adult men. Mattel bought the rights to Lilli and made its own version, named Barbie for the daughter of the doll's creator.

Mattel released a boyfriend for Barbie named Ken in 1961, named for the dollmaker's son, and other characters later. Since 1959 more than 800 million dolls in the Barbie family have been sold around the world.

March 06, 2008

Butterflies are Returning

I rushed out into the twilight to take photos of the hyacinths. It was a point and click episode, because I could see very little. I'd point, click and watch the little window to see if my subject was in the frame. Imagine my surprise when I came in and the first photo of the mixed hyacinths showed something on one of the flowers. The next frame confirmed: butterflies! Two yellow sulphurs.

I hardly saw yellow sulphurs last year until late in the season.

Take Two Aspirin and Call Me in the Morning

Today is the 109th anniversary of the registration of the brand name, aspirin, for acetylsalicylic acid by the German pharmaceutical company Friedrich Bayer & Co.

Acetylsalicylic acid was originally made from a chemical from the bark of willow trees. In its primitive form, the active ingredient, salicin, was used in ancient Greece. Hippocrates used it to relieve pain and fever. Used for centuries in folk medicine and known to doctors since the mid-19th century, it was used sparingly because it tasted bed and tended to damage the stomach lining.

In 1897 a Bayer employee found a way to create a stable powder form that was more pleasant to take. The name came from "a" for acetyl, "spir" from the spirea plant (a source of salicin) and the suffix "in," commonly used for medications. It quickly became the number-one drug worldwide.

Aspirin was made available in tablet form, without a prescription, in 1915. Bayer lost the trademark rights to aspirin when the patent expired during WWI.

My Aunt Ruth, who lived to be 88 years old, and Aunt Bertha, who lived to be 99, always claimed that St. Joseph's Aspirin was superior to other brands.

March 05, 2008

A New Place to Shop

We have a new store in town, Tractor Supply. Lots of interesting things to see, but the prices seemed a little high, or is it that I don't get out much and inflation...?

They had zinc tubs set up with heat lamps and shavings, ready for the inevitable baby chicks that appear in farm supply stores in spring. Rhode Island Reds will be 1.59 and Bantams and Rock Cornish will be more than two dollars. Add the price of feed and chicken wire and it will be cheaper to get your chicken at Kentucky Fried and your eggs at the store, I'm afraid.

Remember the 'Frog Band' that K-Mart had last year? A metal frog or three, each playing a different instrument and finished in faux patina? TS had farm animals in a band: pigs, cows at 22.99 each. The frogs were 9.99 each, last year.

We also noticed the big increase in the price of tractor tires, adaptors and valves, and plumbing supplies. I recommend they place a guard by the copper fittings.

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