a blog of things that sustain wonder in me. hopefully, they're do something similar for you.
View From the Top of the Washington Monument
If you’re scared of heights this video isn’t for you. On May 13, workers wore helmet cams as they repaired the last of the scaffolding around the 555-foot-tall monument. The next step is to wrap fabric around the monument and attach lights. The damage caused by the August 2011 earthquake should be completed in 2014.
Ed note: How engineers investigated the Washington Monument from hundreds of feet above the ground.
Astronaut Performs David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” While Floating in Space
Before he returns to Earth after five months aboard the International Space Station, Commander Chris Hadfield recorded this amazing cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.”
This isn’t Hadfield’s first foray into the world of YouTube. During his time in space he picked up quite the following here on Earth with his videos explaining what it’s like living for an extended period in space.
Ed note: We think this video should play on a loop in the National Air and Space Museum. What do you think of Hadfield’s cover?
BAM blog: Rodin and the Royal Cambodian Ballet
The story behind Sriracha
With a distinctive bottle and taste, Sriracha has gone from an unpronounceable challenge to a staple sauce for many Americans. In the U.S. alone, $60 million worth of the sauce was sold last year alone.
But it wasn’t always such a prevalent item on store shelves. David Tran, the man responsible for popularizing the hot sauce, had a long journey beforehand:
When North Vietnam’s communists took power in South Vietnam, Tran, a major in the South Vietnamese army, fled with his family to the U.S. After settling in Los Angeles, Tran couldn’t find a job — or a hot sauce to his liking.
So he made his own by hand in a bucket, bottled it and drove it to customers in a van. He named his company Huy Fong Foods after the Taiwanese freighter that carried him out of Vietnam.
Read more via our profile of Tran, and his beloved hot sauce.
Photos: Gina Ferazzi, Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times
Photo by David Morrow (Everett, Washington); Mount Rainer, Washington
Ueno - Tokyo
Science has shown us that a number of organisms use the stars for navigation: songbirds, harbor seals and, of course, humans. But a new study by a team of Swedish and South African researchers published today in the journal Cell Biology indicates that a rather unexpected creature can be added to this list—the lowly dung beetle.
The beetles are known for creating small balls made of animal feces (i.e. dung) and rolling them in straight lines over long distances. They do this because the dung is their main food source—and other beetles often try to steal the dung once it’s been rolled into a ball. The surest way of retaining the valuable dung once it’s been packed into a ball is to move it away from the original dung pile as quickly as possible.
Researchers, though, have long been mystified by the tiny beetles’ ability to roll the dung balls in straight lines at night. “Even on clear, moonless nights, many dung beetles still manage to orientate along straight paths,” said lead author Marie Dacke of Lund University in Sweden. “This led us to suspect that the beetles exploit the starry sky for orientation—a feat that had, to our knowledge, never before been demonstrated in an insect.” - Continue reading at Smithsonian.com.
Photo courtesy of Current Biology, Dacke et. al.
One of the most eloquent works of the 20th century, Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony still touches hearts and minds. Check out this video of the last movement, with Leonard Bernstein leading the Philharmonic, from 1979.