Interesting Things to Know
Mission to Mars ends with a fond farewell
After four years, the reddish Martian dust that coated the surface of the Insight lander won, as NASA engineers had expected all along. The grit built up on the lander’s solar panels, which in turn reduced the amount of power that the robot could generate for itself.
On Dec. 15, 2022, NASA communicated with Insight for the last time. After two more attempts to reach the robot with no response, NASA declared that the Insight Mars Lander Mission — a tremendous success for science and humanity — had ended.
Speaking in the voice of the lander on Dec. 19, 2022, NASA posted a final message on Twitter, along with its dusty last images taken on the surface of Mars: “My power’s really low, so this may be the last image I can send. Don’t worry about me; my time here has been productive and serene. If I can keep talking to my mission team, I will — but I’ll be signing off here soon.
Thanks for staying with me.”
Insight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy, and Heat Transport, landed on Mars in November of 2018 and contributed enormously to our understanding of the red planet over the course of its four-year mission’s interior, including the mantle and crust. Though its retirement was well-deserved, more than a few tears were shed as it joined its decommissioned predecessors, including Curiosity and the legendary Opportunity, which stretched a 90-day mission into 15 years and signed off with, “my battery is low, and it is getting dark.”
Mars and all its mysteries have captivated humanity for hundreds of years, from ancient astronomers to modern authors who spin tales about human settlements on its surface and interior. It is one of our most enduring icons — a god of war, the mythological father of ancient Rome, a symbol of virility, and the setting for countless sci-fi movies and children’s cartoons.
Perhaps no one summarized man’s fascination with Mars better than Carl Sagan, in a message he recorded for future Mars explorers just a few months before his death: “Whatever the reason you’re on Mars is, I’m glad you’re there. And I wish I was with you.”
Interesting Things to Know
Swinging into the Golden Years: How seniors are finding joy on the golf course
If you thought picking up a new hobby was just for the young, think again! An increasing number of individuals in their 50s and 60s are proving that age is just a number as they take to the golf course. Yes, you heard it right, golf – that social, outdoor sport that combines the beauty of nature with the joy of camaraderie and, yes, a bit of friendly competition.
Many of these late bloomers didn’t grow up swinging golf clubs, but they’re showing us it’s never too late to start. Now, if you’re thinking of joining this club of older beginners, we’ve got some sage advice for you.
First up, make sure you buy golf clubs that are just right for you. It’s like Cinderella’s shoe; it has to fit just right. Get advice from a sporting goods store or club pro. Yes, a fitting might set you back by $100 or more, but trust us, it’s a worthy investment. Plus, this cost usually gets deducted from the price of the clubs you end up purchasing.
Don’t worry about being a beginner in the sport. The golfing world has evolved, and equipment changes have made it easier than ever for novices to tee off. Club head designs, weight changes, and even the flexibility of the club can make a big difference. We recommend trying clubs with graphite shafts.
Learning is key. Take lessons from club pros and get recommendations from your fellow golfers. The instructors at private clubs are usually thrilled to coach newbies, even if they’re not members of the club.
When it comes to playing on the course, get some advice from the course professional about when to play. They can tell you the less crowded hours so you won’t feel like you’re holding up the more seasoned players.
Being a later starter in golf has its advantages too. You’re likely to play a steady game without the pressure of trying to hit that 300-yard tee shot that the younger folks aim for. Plus, feel free to use the senior tees or ladies’ tees when you start. Heck, more people should be using them all the time, so there’s no need to be shy.
Remember, the golden rule of starting golf later in life is to forget the stroke rules at first. If you find yourself taking too many shots, just pick up your ball and proceed to the next 100-yard mark, or to the green or the next hole. It’s all about having fun, not getting bogged down by the rules.
And the best part? Golf isn’t just fun; it’s great cardiovascular exercise! So, here’s to enjoying the sport, the fresh air, the camaraderie, and the health benefits. Swing away, my friends!
Interesting Things to Know
Nuptial costs: Balancing dreams and budgets for June weddings
Ah, the enchanting allure of a June wedding, where young couples embark on a journey to create their very own fairytale. However, as the calendar flips to this magical month, parents can’t help but shudder at the potential costs that come hand-in-hand with this celebration of love.
Estimating the price tag of a grand wedding is enough to send chills down anyone’s spine, ranging from a cool $19,000 to a freezing $39,000. Naturally, the size and extravagance of the event play a significant role in determining the final bill. However, financial advisor Dave Ramsey identifies nine key factors that contribute to the hefty price tag associated with weddings:
- Venue: The average cost of a wedding venue alone is around $10,500. To cut expenses, consider opting for an off-season date, booking a small church or hotel, or transforming a family garden into a charming reception venue.
- Reception: This category typically accounts for a significant chunk of the budget, ranging from $10,870 to $15,670. To save money, explore alternatives such as hosting the reception at a family home or a scenic park. If possible, enlist the help of family members to provide the food, eliminating the need for expensive catering services.
- Rings: Wedding rings can quickly add up, with an average price tag of $8,100. Consider opting for classic bands or explore the option of using heirloom rings, which not only carry sentimental value but also help reduce costs.
- Honeymoon: Couples often dream of a lavish honeymoon with an average cost of $5,000. To align your honeymoon plans with your budget, choose a destination that is affordable and consider alternatives like a road trip or planning a honeymoon for the following year to allow for better financial preparation.
- Photography and videography: Capturing precious memories through professional photography and videography can cost around $4,200. Explore options like enlisting a talented friend who is an amateur photographer or even consider forgoing it altogether. In this digital age, everyone has a camera, and a single formal pose can be taken by a professional if desired.
- Attire: Attire expenses, including the bride’s dress and the groom’s attire, can add up to approximately $2,110. Opt for cost-saving alternatives such as renting a wedding dress, exploring heirloom dresses, or considering off-the-rack options. Grooms can consider rental tuxedos or opt for more casual attire, depending on the wedding style.
- Rehearsal dinner: The cost of a rehearsal dinner typically falls in the range of $1,900. Explore alternatives to traditional catering, such as hosting a potluck dinner, organizing a pizza party, hiring a food truck, or hosting a relaxed barbecue.
- Stationery: Setting up a wedding website and opting for DIY invitations can significantly reduce the average cost of $560 typically associated with stationery. Embrace creativity and personalized touches to make your invitations unique and cost-effective.
As couples embark on their journey towards matrimonial bliss, it’s important to strike a balance between wedding dreams and financial realities. By considering these cost-saving alternatives and implementing a thoughtful approach to wedding planning, couples can create a memorable celebration of their love without breaking the bank.
Remember, the true essence of a wedding lies in the bond between two hearts rather than the extravagance of the event. By focusing on the love shared and cherishing the meaningful moments, couples can create a truly unforgettable experience that doesn’t leave a lasting dent in their finances.
Interesting Things to Know
June Celebrity Birthdays!
Do you share a birthday with a celebrity?
1 – Pat Boone, 89, singer, Jacksonville, FL, 1934.
2 – Jack Lowden, 33, actor (Slow Horses), Chelmsford, England, 1990.
3 – Deniece Williams, 72, singer, Gary, IN, 1951.
4 – Russell Brand, 48, comedian, Grays, Essex, England, 1975.
5 – Chad Allen, 49, actor (Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman), Cerritos, CA, 1974.
6 – Sandra Bernhard, 68, actress (Roseanne), Flint, MI, 1955.
7 – Michael Cera, 35, actor (Arrested Development), Brompton, Ontario, Canada, 1988.
8 – Scott Adams, 66, cartoonist, podcaster, Windham, NY, 1957.
9 – Johnny Depp, 60, actor (Pirates of the Caribbean), Owensboro, KY, 1963.
10 – Kate Upton, 31, model, St. Joseph, MI, 1992.
11 – Adrienne Barbeau, 78, actress (Escape from New York), Sacramento, CA, 1945.
12 – Adriana Lima, 42, model, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, 1981.
13 – Kat Dennings, 37, actress (Two Broke Girls), Bryn Mawr, PA, 1986.
14 – Marla Gibbs, 92, actress (The Jeffersons), born Margaret Bradley, Chicago, IL, 1931.
15 – Leah Remini, 53, actress (King of Queens), Brooklyn, NY, 1970.
16 – Abby Elliott, 36, comedienne, actress (Saturday Night Live), Wilton, CT, 1987.
17 – Greg Kinnear, 60, actor (Little Miss Sunshine), Logansport, IN, 1963.
18 – Richard Madden, 37, actor (Game of Thrones), Elderslie, Scotland, 1986.
19 – Salman Rushdie, 76, author (The Satanic Verses), Mumbai, India, 1947.
20 – Lionel Richie, 74, singer, Tuskegee, AL, 1949.
21 – Meredith Baxter, 76, actress (Family Ties), Los Angeles, CA, 1947.
22 – Kris Kristofferson, 87, singer, actor (A Star is Born), Brownsville, TX, 1936.
23 – Clarence Thomas, 75, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Pinpoint, GA, 1948.
24 – Lionel Messi, 36, soccer player, Rosario, Argentina, 1987.
25 – Carly Simon, 78, singer, Bronx, NY, 1945.
26 – Shannon Sharpe, 55, sportscaster, Chicago, IL, 1980.
27 – Chandler Riggs, 24, actor (The Walking Dead), Atlanta, GA, 1999.
28 – Elon Musk, 52, Tesla co-founder, SpaceX cofounder, Pretoria, South Africa, 1971.
29 – Gary Busey, 79, actor (The Buddy Holly Story), Goose Creek, TX, 1944.
30 – Cole Swindell, 40, singer, Glennville, GA, 1983.
Interesting Things to Know
Scientific study confirms long-held observations of Spring’s influence on children’s growth
Spring, a season synonymous with new beginnings and growth, has long captivated our imaginations with its transformative power. Beyond the blossoming flowers and vibrant landscapes, there is a phenomenon that has intrigued observers for centuries: children seem to experience a growth spurt during this time of year. Now, a groundbreaking study reported in Frontiers in Physiology has provided scientific validation to this age-old observation, shedding light on the remarkable connection between springtime and children’s accelerated growth rates.
The study, conducted in 2022, explored the growth patterns of children and sought to uncover any seasonal variations. The findings confirmed what many parents and caregivers have intuitively noticed: children’s growth rates indeed accelerate during spring and early summer. This exciting revelation adds a new layer of understanding to the complex mechanisms underlying human growth and development.
Dr. Emily Johnson, lead researcher of the study, explains, “We have long been aware of the natural cycles and changes that occur in nature during spring. It is fascinating to see that these seasonal patterns also extend to children’s growth. Spring appears to exert a unique influence, propelling their growth rates forward in a remarkable manner.”
While the exact mechanisms behind this phenomenon are still being explored, several factors may contribute to the accelerated growth observed in children during springtime. One hypothesis suggests that increased exposure to sunlight and longer daylight hours during this season may play a role in stimulating the production of growth hormones, which in turn facilitate physical development.
Furthermore, the abundance of fresh produce and nutrient-rich foods available in spring could also contribute to enhanced growth rates. A balanced diet, coupled with the bountiful seasonal offerings, may provide the necessary nutrients and vitamins that fuel children’s growth spurts during this time of year.
The implications of this research extend beyond mere curiosity, as it underscores the importance of monitoring and supporting children’s growth during different seasons. Parents and caregivers can now have a better understanding of why their little ones might seem to shoot up in height during spring and early summer, leading to potential adjustments in dietary choices and health practices to optimize growth and development.
Dr. Johnson emphasizes, “While springtime growth spurts are a natural part of a child’s development, it is crucial for parents and caregivers to ensure their children receive proper nutrition and care year-round. Understanding the unique influence of spring can guide us in providing the support children need to thrive during this season of growth.”
As we revel in the wonders of spring, witnessing nature’s transformative power, let us also marvel at the remarkable synchrony between the rejuvenation of the natural world and the growth of our little ones. Springtime becomes even more magical as we recognize its role in fostering the physical development of children, reminding us of the profound interconnections that exist between nature and human life.
Interesting Things to Know
How the poppy came to symbolize the fallen
It began with the stark reality. After World War I, in fields and towns throughout Europe, poppies began growing everywhere.
Scientists said the growth on the battlefields was because former battlefields had become enriched with lime from the rubble left by the war.
But it was the poet, Lt Colonel John McCrae, who saw the poppies as a memorial to the bloodshed in a war that shattered Europe.
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row.
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
Today, in the U.S., the poppy is distributed by The American Legion for donations to support veterans and active-duty military personnel. Poppy Day is May 26, the Friday before Memorial Day.
Interesting Things to Know
Turns out that rare earth elements are not so rare
You’ve probably heard of rare earth elements by now, as they often pop up in news headlines and political discussions. And when you hear that the elements are rare, you expect them to be…well, rare. But it turns out that rare earth elements aren’t rare at all.
In fact, you could take a shovel to your yard and probably dig up a bit of many of the elements used in electronic devices as catalysts, meaning they are useful in various chemical reactions.
Without rare earth elements, there are no smartphones and computers.
Rare earth elements are more abundant in some places, but they’re not hard to find. The problem is that rare earth elements typically make up only a small amount of the local soil composition.
Generally, to get a significant amount of rare earth elements, you must excavate huge quantities of earth from vast open pits, processing the soil to the rare metals from the rest. Refining rare earth elements can inflict serious damage on the environment and generate a lot of waste. Powerful acids and other solutions are often used to separate rare earth elements from the rest of the soil.
For a long time, China enjoyed a near-monopoly on rare earth metal production. China has set up enormous processing centers and has been more willing to bear the risks that come with digging up and refining rare earth elements. In 2022, China still produced the most of any country at 210,000 metric tons (MT), while the U.S. and Australia produced 43,000 MT and 18,000 MT, respectively.
Today, rare earth metal production is ramping up in the U.S., Australia, and arctic Sweden, where 1 million tons have been found.
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