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Saturday, January 10, 2015


1.  While the heart rate of a chipmunk might normally be 350 beats per minute, in hibernation, this drops to FOUR.  Good a time as any to note that Alvin and the Chipmunks made the Chipmunk Song popular. They were created by Ross Bagdasarian in 1958.  It is reported that the pulse rate for a ground squirrel can drop to as low as one/minute in hibernation.  However, no hit song.

2.  In the 1950's, astronomer Gerard Kuiper speculated that the space anywhere close to the orbit of Pluto should almost be empty.  However, in the '80's astronomers began to recognize many small bodies between Neptune and Pluto.  In 1992 this region was called the Kuiper Belt, and is now thought to have billions of objects.  Many of them, however, are frozen volatiles:  ice of methane, ammonia and water.  This is the worst case of credit in astronomy, for it was Kenneth Edgeworth of Ireland who in 1943 said that outer space beyond Neptune should have a large number of small bodies.

3.  Global warming is increasing the alcoholic content of wines.  Over the last 50 years the average temperatures where grapes are grown have risen noticeably.  This results in riper fruits with higher sugar levels.  More sugar, more ethanol is produced.  There are other reasons, of course, but it is interesting to note that cabernet sauvignon is grown both in Napa and Fresno, and the cost of Napa cab grapes is 15 times higher than Fresno's.  The average Fresno temperature is 5 F higher than Napa's.  Will global warming change the nature of wine?  As an aside, we know of red and white wines, but I always wondered why no blue wine.

4.  The Big Ten is the oldest Division 1 collegiate athletic conference.  Okay, maybe you knew that, but the Big Ten now has 14 teams, having added Penn State, Maryland, Rutgers and Nebraska.  Might as well also include The Johns Hopkins University, as they are  participating in lacrosse.  I wonder when they will be changing the logo from ten to fourteen or fifteen or 14.067?  That is their new logo to the left.  Hey, the Pac-10 became the Pac-12 with the addition of Utah and Colorado, and the league logo is up to date.


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