The awards and rewards of grasping infinity

We may “know” infinity.

From a 2017 opinion article by the editorial board of CSMonitor:

A discovery in theoretical math, by two mathematicians in 2016, illustrates a steadily growing  recognition among scholars that infinity may be knowable.

The award, called the Hausdorff medal, was given to Maryanthe Malliaris of the University of Chicago and Saharon Shelah of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Rutgers University for a 2016 paper in the Journal of the American Mathematical Society.”

The two scholars solved a problem that has stumped mathematicians for seven decades: whether two variations of infinity expressed in sets of numbers are the same . . . .

Says the opinion piece: “By its very nature, infinity is inexhaustible and has been a source of wonder since ancient times. The desire to grasp infinity has contributed to progress in many fields, from science to religion. In fact, the ability to come up with new understandings about reality may itself be infinite.”

For the entire article visit the link below.

The Hasanlu Lovers: Skeletons Locked In An Eternal Kiss

Published on the site All That Is Interesting, the story linked below touches on two skeletons among hundreds discovered in an ancienty city in what is now northwest Iran. The city, it seems, was wiped out by an invading army over 2,800 years ago and the two may have taken refuge in the grain bin in which they were ultimately found.

Scientists don’t know if the two figures were lovers, a father and son, or a mother and son.  At the end, they died in an embrace comforting one another. Such a sad story that connects us to the humanity of those in the past. We often forget that they are not just archeological finds but the remains of living human beings.

By Gabe Paoletti
Published September 21, 2017
Updated December 20, 2017

“The University of Pennsylvania first discovered this skeletal couple during an archeological excavation of an ancient city in northwest Iran in the 1970s. The two skeletons were discovered in the remains of the ancient city of Teppe Hasanlu, which stood in the area that is now Iran 2,800 years ago.”

For the story in its entirety, visit the link below.

Become a Citizen Scientist During Total Solar Eclipse | NASA

NASA wants you to be a citizen scientist. They are inviting members of the public to assist them with collecting data during the August 21, 2017, eclipse. Even if you are not in the path of the total eclipse, you can still gather important information.

NASA has developed an app that walks participants through the research project and will enable them to capture needed data during the eclipse.

From the NASA website:

“The public will have an opportunity to participate in a nation-wide science experiment by collecting cloud and temperature data from their phones. NASA’s Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program Observer (NASA GO) is a citizen science project that allows users to record observations with a free app.

“On Aug. 21, NASA GO will feature a special eclipse experiment. With the app and a thermometer, citizen scientists can help observe how the eclipse changes atmospheric conditions near them, and contribute to a database used by students and scientists worldwide in order to study the effects of the eclipse on the atmosphere. Observers in areas with a partial eclipse or outside the path of totality are encouraged to participate alongside those within the path of totality. ”

Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Rich Melnick


Citizen scientists are a valued but often hidden partner in scientific research.  If you are interested in more citizen science projects, visit Zooniverse, an online platform that matches volunteers to academic research across many fields.

Says the Zooniverse website:

“The Zooniverse is the world’s largest and most popular platform for people-powered research. This research is made possible by volunteers—hundreds of thousands of people around the world who come together to assist professional researchers. Our goal is to enable research that would not be possible, or practical, otherwise. “



10 Historic Women Scientists You Probably Don’t Know

 In 2011, science writer Sarah Zielinski shared biographies of 10 women scientists lost to history.

As a huge fan of dinosaurs, it was a pleasure to see her list included Mary Anning,  (1799 – 1847),  a prolific fossil hunter whose finds included Ichthyosaurus, the “fish-lizard.”

According to Zielinski, she also found long-necked plesiosaurs, “a pterodactyl and hundreds, possibly thousands, of other fossils that helped scientists to draw a picture of the marine world 200 million to 140 million years ago during the Jurassic. ”

Like many women scientists in history, she was self-taught. Her studies included anatomy, geology, paleontology and scientific illustration.

Read more:

Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12!
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter

Library of Congress’ 25 Million Digital Catalog Records

The Library of Congress has made 25 million digital catalog records available for anyone to use at no charge. The free data set includes records from 1968 to 2014.

They range from readings from poetry and literature by the original artists to historical cartoons to Abraham Lincoln Papers to papers from Clara Barton’s life. It’s massive and comprehensive and all Free!



Armenia’s Zorats Karer Site an Intriguing Mystery

Zorats Karer, according to, ” consists of a prehistoric mausoleum and nearby, over two hundred neighboring large stone monoliths, eighty of which have distinctive, well-polished holes bored near their upper edge.” The site has probably been inhabited on-and-off from the prehistoric to medieval civilizations.

Located in the continent of Asia, Armenia covers 28,203 square kilometers of land and 1,540 square kilometers of water, making it the 144th largest nation in the world with a total area of 29,743 square kilometers, according to the World Atlas.

Helicopter image of Karahundj

Tourist agencies may plug the site as the Armenian Stonehenge but the resemblance is superficial.  According to Professor Pavel Avetisyan, an archaeologist at the National Academy of Sciences in Armenia, “was mainly a necropolis from the Middle Bronze Age (1,500 to 1,200 BC) to the Iron Age (around 600 to 900 BC ). Enormous stone tombs of these periods can be found within the area.”

Avetisyan’s team dates the monument to no older than 2000 BCE, after Stonehenge, and also suggests that it served as a refuge during times of war in the Hellenistic period (332 BC to 32 BC), reports

Read more:

Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12!
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter – Free, Amazing, University Level Classes ( is an amazing web site supported by Harvard University, MIT, University of Texas and other top universities around the world. They offer free online courses on everything from World of Wine from the University of Adelaide to Introduction to Computer Science from Harvard to Introduction to Human Evolution from Wellesley.

For a small fee, you can get a certificate. But, you don’t have to do that. The courses are FREE. Love, love, love this website. And yup, they even have a mobile app too.



One of my new favorite apps is from NASA. Their website is pretty rockin’ too. (  You get tweets and selfies from the astronauts on the space station, the latest info on the Mars rovers, gorgeous pix. I’ll probably be posting interesting facts from this site that catch my fancy. I downloaded mine from Google Play.