Tag Archives: degree

Pluto: The former planet still fascinates and intrigues

Pluto with moons:  Charon, Nix and Hydra

Pluto with moons: Charon, Nix and Hydra

Fun Facts About Pluto

 

1. Pluto has an atmosphere

Even though Pluto’s average temperature averages a mere 44 degrees above absolute zero, the dwarf planet has an atmosphere. Not an atmosphere as we know it, but an atmosphere, none the less.

It was first discovered back in 1985, when astronomers watched as Pluto passed in front of a star. They were able to calculate a slight dimming as its atmosphere passed in front of the star, before Pluto itself blocked the star entirely. From those observations, they were able to calculate that it has a thin envelope of nitrogen, methane and carbon dioxide.

As Pluto moves away from the Sun, this atmosphere gets so cold that it freezes onto the surface. And then as the dwarf planet warms again, the atmosphere evaporates again, forming a gas around it.

2. Pluto has 3 moons

You might have heard that Pluto has a large moon called Charon, but did you know that it actually has 3 moons in total. Charon is the large one, with a mass of roughly half that of Pluto’s.

Two additional moons, Nix and Hydra, were discovered by astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope on May 15, 2005. They were originally called S/2005 P1 and S/2005 P2, and then given their final names on June 21, 2006.

They took a long time to discover because they’re so tiny. Nix is only 46 km across, while Hydra is 61 km across.

3. Pluto hasn’t cleared out its orbit

Although Pluto orbits the Sun and it’s round, it’s not a planet. And that’s because Pluto hasn’t cleared out its orbit of material. This was the reason that the International Astronomical Union chose to demote it from planet to dwarf planet in 2006.

Just to give you an idea, if you added up the mass of all the other objects in Pluto’s orbit, Pluto’s mass would only be a tiny fraction of that total. In fact, it would only be 0.07 times as massive as everything else. For comparison, if you did the same thing with all the other material in the Earth’s orbit, our planet would be 1.5 million times as massive.

And that’s why Pluto’s not a planet.

4. Pluto is actually a binary system


You’d think that Charon orbits Pluto, but actually, Pluto and Charon orbit a common point in space. In the case of the Earth and the Moon, we actually orbit a common point, but that spot exists inside the Earth. In the case of Pluto and Charon, however, that common point is above the surface of Pluto.

Before Pluto was downgraded to a dwarf planet, astronomers were thinking of classifying it as a binary planet system. And then as a binary dwarf planet system. Perhaps that will help it recover some of its lost glory.

5. Pluto is named after a god, not a dog

If you think Pluto is named after a Disney character, you’re wrong. It’s actually named after the Roman god of the underworld. And Charon is the ferryman who carries souls across the river Styx.

When it was first discovered, Pluto was just given the name Planet X, but then the discoverers needed to come up with something better and more permanent. The name Pluto was suggested by Venetia Burney, an 11-year old school girl in Oxford, England. She thought it was a good name for such a cold, dark world. It was passed along to the discoverers and they liked it enough to make it official.

6. Pluto can be closer than Neptune

For most of its orbit, Pluto is more distant than Neptune, reaching out as far as 49 astronomical units (49 times the distance from the Earth to the Sun). But it has such an eccentric, elliptical orbit that it gets much closer, reaching a mere 29 AU. And during that time, it’s actually orbiting within the orbit of Neptune. The last time Pluto and Neptune made this switch was between February 7, 1979 and February 11, 1999. And give it another couple of hundred years and it’ll happen again.

7. Pluto is smaller than any planet, and even 7 moons

Pluto is small. How small? Astronomers recently calculated that its mass is 1.31 x 1022 kg (less than 0.24% the mass of Earth). And its diameter is only 2,390 km across.

At this point, it’s smaller than Mercury, and seven other moons including: Ganymede, Titan, Callisto, Io, Earth’s Moon, Europa, and Triton.

And now astronomers know that it’s even smaller than the recently discovered dwarf planet Eris. Here’s more information about how big Pluto is.

8. If it were closer to the Sun, Pluto would be a comet

Although this isn’t officially a reason for losing its planet status, Pluto wouldn’t last long if it got much closer to the Sun. It’s comprised of about half rock and half ice. This is a similar ratio to many rocky comets in the Solar System.

If you could somehow bring Pluto closer to the Sun, it would sprout a tail, becoming a spectacular comet. And over millions of years, the solar wind would blast away its icy structure, causing it to lose mass.

It’s lucky Pluto lives in such a cold, dark part of the Solar System.

9. Charon might have geysers

In the last few years, astronomers have discovered that several objects in the Solar System have ice geysers, including Saturn’s moon Enceladus, and maybe several others as well. But Pluto’s moon Charon could have this happening too.

Astronomers using the Gemini Observatory in Mauna Kea in Hawaii recently turned up evidence that geysers on Charon are spreading ammonia hydrates and water crystals across the surface of the moon.

Is this really happening? We’ll know soon, because… here’s the last Pluto fact.

10. There’s a spacecraft going to Pluto right now

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is making its way to Pluto right now. The spacecraft launched in 2005, and its expected to reach the dwarf planet in 2015. It will pass right through the system, imaging the surface of Pluto and its moons, and finally answering questions that have puzzled astronomers for nearly a hundred years.

 

Special thanks to www.universetoday.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Science

Elizabeth Blackwell: America’s First Female Medical Doctor

Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell

Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell

Fun Facts About Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell

  • Elizabeth Blackwell 1821-1910, American physician, b. England; sister of Henry Brown Blackwell .
  • She emigrated to New York City when she was eleven years old. During Elizabeth’s childhood she took all the subjects the boys did at school. It was said that she wouldn’t leave until all of her writing was perfect.
  • When Elizabeth was ready to start college she applied to many colleges. Before applying to college she had gone to many teachers’ houses and trained with them. After many tries, she finally was the first women accepted to Geneva Medical College (then part of Geneva College, early name of Hobart). Even though she was accepted, the school did not seem to take her seriously. Nonetheless, her perseverance led her to a medical degree, which she received in 1849.
  • After she finished college she went to France to get more training. Elizabeth tried to enter La Maternite as a student apprentice. Even though the hospital did not recognize her degree, they let her be a nurse. While she was working there she got to help some doctors. One time she was called to take care of a baby whose eyes were infected. When she bent over the baby, some of the liquid squirted into her own eye. It got infected and resulted in her losing sight in that eye.
  • After she recovered she came home to the US. Shortly after, she tried to start her own hospital. A big problem was that no one wanted to see a female doctor. After she treated each patient they would spread the word about how good she was, and soon lots of people were coming to her.
  • With her sister, Emily Blackwell (1826-1910) who was also a doctor, and Marie Zackrzewska (an assistant), she founded (1857) the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, which was expanded in 1868 to include a Women’s College for the training of doctors, the first of its kind.
  • In 1869, Dr. Blackwell settled in England, where she became (1875) professor of gynecology at the London School of Medicine for Women, which she had helped to establish.
  • She wrote Pioneer Work in Opening the Medical Profession to Women (1895) and many other books and papers on health and education. 

 

Special thanks to www.encyclopedia.com and  library.thinkquest.org

 

1 Comment

Filed under Historical Events & Figures, Science

Howard Cosell: One-time Lawyer Turned Sportscasting Legend

Howard Cosell

Howard Cosell

Fun Facts About Howard Cosell

  • Howard Cosell was a legendary American sports journalist, who actually made sports speak. A lawyer by profession but a sports journalist by choice, Howard Williams Cosell was born on 25th March, 1918. For Howard, Jackie Robinson was the major source of inspiration.
  • He was born in North Carolina but grew up in Brooklyn. Very early in his life his parents, mother Nellie and father Isidore, made it very clear to him that they want him to be a lawyer later in his life. For achieving the same goal, he first graduated in English from New York University. After getting his degree in English, he attended the School of Law at the University of New York and eventually earned his degree.
  • In 1941, Cosell joined the state bar of New York. When the United States of America fought during World War II, he joined the Army Transportation Corp. While there, Cosell was quickly promoted to the grade of Major. At that point, Cosell was the youngest cadet to become a major. Soon after the conclusion of the war, Cosell decided to practice law. He chose Manhattan to begin a practice in Union Law, and among the list of his clients were very famous actors and sportspeople, such as Willie Mays.
  • He soon came to realize that his true calling in life was sports commentary after hosting the Little League for over 3 years and he decided to leave Law for once and for all by pursuing broadcasting as a career.
  • Cosell with Muhammad Ali
    Cosell with Muhammad Ali

    He was asked by Robert Pauley to get sponsorship if he wanted a show weekly on ABC Radio. He surprised Pauley by getting sponsorship from his relative and Pauley gave him a show. In time, he would become a prominent personality on television, yet he never stopped working on radio. His popularity reached its zenith when he covered Muhammad Ali. Cosell was famous for narrating the facts ‘As it is like’ and his sense of style and facts actually changed the entire sports broadcasting industry. Unlike other reporters, Howard always involved a bit of intellectualism in his commentary and thus was able to give his personal analysis on the game instantly.

  • In 1970, the executive producer of ABC Sports hired Cosell a a commentator for Monday Night Football. Above and beyond Monday Night Football, Howard was also one of the commentators when ABC broadcast the Olympics. Cosell lent his voice to many other sports related shows on ABC. His colorful aura and idiosyncratic voice, is known, admired and remembered even today.
  • After a 14 year run, Howard Cosell retired from “Monday Night Football” on December 14th, 1984.
  • He got married in 1944 to Mary Abrams. Mary died in 1990 and Howard after the demise of his beloved wife, was seen only a few times in public. After 4 years, in 1995 Cosell also died due to heart embolism.

Special thanks to www.livetvcenter.com

2 Comments

Filed under Entertainment, Sports, Television