Any bug lovers out there?

The periodical cicada has invaded the Midwest by the billions over the past few weeks- particularly in parts of llinois, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin. These red-eyed beauties (yes, I said beauties!) spend 17 years underground before they emerge, and when they emerge, boy are they en masse! Some people find them amazing, others find them loud and messy. You can be your own judge of that. Find more cicada facts, and colorful pictures too, here. Happy reading, and don’t let them bug you too much!

Rarely Seen are Now Readily Accessible

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This is not a zigzag bladderwort, it's a Blanchard's cricket frog, one of the more than 600 rare plants and animals featured in the new Michigan Rare Species Explorer. The curious of all ages can search by habitat, location, name, best time to view or browse the beautifully illustrated entries for all the species. Kudos to the team at the Michigan Natural Features Inventory for this wonderful new resource.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #67

Critics are calling Rebecca Stott’s academic thriller Ghostwalk* “hypnotic”, “intelligent”, and “stunning”, (where) “Isaac Newton joins Dracula and Leonardo da Vinci”. Curious? I was.

Elizabeth Vogelsang, a Cambridge University scholar at work on a potentially controversial biography of Isaac Newton is found drowned and clutching a prism in her hand (a clue?). Lydia Brooke, a successful screenwriter is asked by Cameron Brown, her former lover and Elizabeth’s son to ghostwrite the last chapter of Elizabeth’s manuscript.

Lydia soon finds that Elizabeth’s cottage might be haunted and she is drawn into solving two series of murders centuries apart, both connected to 17th Century alchemy and present-day animal rights.

This well-researched and intricately crafted debut novel by British historian Stott (bio.) is a clever whodunit that entertains and instructs - of such varied subjects as optics, neuroscience, and animal testing. More interesting trivia on 17th Century Cambridge could be found on her website.

* = Starred Reviews

Can yodeling cause an avalanche? The MythBusters find out!

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Have you ever wondered why pirates with two good eyes might wear an eye patch? Or if a Ninja really can stop a sword blade with his bare hands? The MythBusters on the Discovery channel have tested out these myths and others. NPR has a fun interview with Jamie and Adam (the lead mythbusters), and the official website for the show can be found here. Watch out! You may become addicted to myth busting!

NASA and the Queen

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Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, will visit NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. today. The Queen has been visiting the U.S. in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown settlement in Virginia.
What does NASA have to do with the Queen? This visit follows a signing on April 19 of a statement of intent between NASA and the British National Space Centre that confirmed a mutual desire for discussions on specific areas of potential collaboration involving lunar science and exploration. The visit will include a tree planting ceremony at the Goddard visitor center and the Queen will have an opportunity to speak with the crew aboard the International Space Station.

See a Moon Rock in Michigan!

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On Saturday, June 9, the Kalamazoo Air Zoo will be opening its new Michigan Space Science Center. You can visit Ann Arbor astronaut Jack Lousma’s space suit (he spent 59 days in space on the crew of Skylab 3 and was spacecraft commander on STS-3. Russian Cosmonaut Alexandr Kalri's suit will also be on display, along with a Moon Rock, a full-size replica of a Gemini space capsule, a Gemini crew-training simulator, F1 rocket engine, J-2 rocket engine (both from a Saturn V rocket), plus a bunch of interactive exhibits.

Composting Extravaganza

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Yes, composting can be extravagantly entertaining to watch when the science wizards at the MRF turn 12,000 tons of leaves into dark, yummy mulch. Join them this Saturday, April 14th, from 10:00 a.m. - noon, and receive a coupon for a free, yes free, bushel of compost. But wait there's more. You can also tour the recycling center for free.

Expedition 15 Launch!

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The launch of Expedition 15, the next crew to the International Space Station, is scheduled to takeoff today at 1:31PM (EDT) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. You can watch it live on NASA TV. On board will be the fifth space tourist to be launched into space, Charles Simonyi. He is President, CEO, and co-founder of International Software and worked for Microsoft from 1981 to 2002. While onboard ISS, Simonyi will be performing a series of experiments for the European Space Agency (ESA), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Hungarian Space Office.

Climate Change Report

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The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has released a summary of the Climate Change 2007 report. The report details how climate change will affect every region of the earth. The full 1,572-page report will be available on the IPCC web site.

Team Moon

Most people have seen the historic footage of Neil Armstrong's first step on the moon (July 20, 1969) and are familiar with the crew of Apollo 11:Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins. But not many have heard of Eleanor Foracker who was a seamstress for ILC Dover, the company that made the spacesuits, or Richard Ellis who tested the suits. Neil “Fox” Mason worked the Parkes Radio Telescope in Australia, Kirby Hinson worked on the parachute recovery systems, and Joe Gavin was vice president of Grumman Aerospace Corporation. Thousands of people worked long, hard hours and most never received recognition even though they also played a vital role in one of the greatest projects of the 20th century. Meet some of them in Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon by Catherine Thimmesh.

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