Wandering and Wondering

Exploring the wonders of Science in everyday life!

Levitating Slinky!

My husband sent me this crazy video earlier this morning that I just had to share! When you hang a Slinky by one end and let go of the top, the bottom will not move until the top catches up to it! Check it out!

Why does this work? Here’s the complicated explanation: http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2007/ph210/kolkowitz1/

Here’s my (simple) explanation: A Slinky is just a big, floppy spring.  Springs like to compress to a relaxed state, and will “rebound” to their relaxed state when they are stretched out and then released. Think about stretching a Slinky out on a table and letting both sides go at the same time…they’ll meet in the middle, right? Right.

Now stretch that Slinky out by holding one end and letting the other one dangle down so it is being stretched out by gravity. When you let go of the top, gravity is still holding the bottom end in place so it looks like the Slinky is levitating. Watch the video again…Pretty cool, huh?

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Living in Los Angeles, we are surrounded by cinematic culture. Movie theaters, movie studios, movie stars…everything that seems to  keep this industry going is located within a 10 mile radius of our apartment! One of the most iconic Hollywood features is the Hollywood sign. But what is the history behind this icon?

The sign was dedicated on July 13, 1923, and actually read “HOLLYWOODLAND”, to advertise a new housing development that was going in the hills above the Hollywood area of Los Angeles (that’s right, Hollywood is actually NOT its own city! Crazy!). The sign has gone through quite a few changes since then, because it was not put up with the intention of being permanent.

By 1978, the sign was in REALLY bad shape, so nine of Hollywood’s most influential people (including Alice Cooper and Hugh Hefner) gave money to completely refurbish the sign.

The Hollywood sign remains a classic cultural icon, and I have to say, even after living in LA for as long as I have…I still get excited to see it!

Find out more and see pictures of imitators all over the world: http://bit.ly/Mrr58U

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I’ve posted before about my aunt who lives up on a farm in Oregon (see here: http://wp.me/s26Zer-llamas) and raises her own  sheep and alpacas for their wonderful fiber. Today’s Wonder is about knitting and crocheting, and that got me thinking of my aunt Kip (http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/how-are-knitting-and-crocheting-different/).

My aunt Kip is an amazing lady, and her farm is one of the greatest places on earth (second only to my mom’s farm which is about 4 miles away from Kip’s!). Amazing views of Smith Rock make this an idyllic setting for a farm with sheep, goats, chickens, 2 cats, 2 alpacas, and one feisty llama.

Kip has her sheep and alpacas sheared and then takes the fibers and prepares them for dying herself. In the back of her farm she has a whole studio dedicated to dying and preparing these fibers for turning into yarn. Once the fibers are ready, she is able to spin them into yarn using her spinning wheel. With this yarn she makes gloves, socks, sweaters, beanies, anything you can think of! She even knit us this adorable little pumpkin hat for our October baby girl!

Kip has even started her Facebook page showing some of her handiwork, along with pictures of the farm and the sheep that give her the fibers! If you are interested in knitting, check out her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/smithrockhandwork

I’ve never been much a knitter, but maybe I will start…with a scarf. Or a potholder. That seems easy enough.

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Happy Anniversary!


One year ago today, I was fortunate enough to marry my best friend in the whole world. We have had an amazing year, and I hope we have many more to come! We got married on a ranch outside of the Sequoia national park on a slightly gloomy (but cool!) June day. It was a perfect day, and I could not have asked for more!

A few weeks ago, I started thinking about an anniversary present…my husband is lucky. Mother’s Day, my birthday, and our anniversary are all within 3 weeks of each other so he has rolled it into one holiday- “Mother-birth-iversary”. I, however, do not have that luxury.

I started looking into anniversary presents, and came across something I hadn’t thought of in years…my mom used to have an address book that also listed all the traditional gifts for an anniversary. Silver, gold, china, etc.–all great presents! However, for the first year present? Paper.

Yup, paper. I guess it could be worse, 11 years is steel. This started me thinking, where did all of this come from? I completely understand the big-ticket items like silver for the 25th, or diamonds for your 60th. But paper?

I did a little digging, and found out the origins of this blessed tradition. Apparently the anniversary gift movement began in medieval Germany where friends and family of a couple would make the wife a silver wreath on their 25th anniversary, and a gold wreath on their 50th anniversary. The traditions have changed over time, but in 1937 the American National Retail Jeweler Association (Jewelers of America) published a comprehensive list of gifts for anniversaries every year until the 20th, and every fifth anniversary after that.

I suppose giving paper for a first anniversary gives ample opportunity for creativity. Scrapbooks, novels, photo albums, and…money 🙂 Thankfully, for “Mother-birth-iversary” he went against tradition and really splurged on a beautiful Tiffany necklace!


For him? We are celebrating “Father-versary”…he’s getting a grill.


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