January 9 is Static Electricity Day. Static electricity is different from the electricity that turns on our lights and appliances. For a clear definition, we’ll quote Wikipedia. “Static electricity is an imbalance of electric charges within or on the surface of a material. The charge remains until it is able to move away by means of an electric current or electrical discharge. Static electricity is named in contrast with current electricity, which flows through wires or other conductors and transmits energy.”
Static electricity occurs when the positive and negative charges of an atom are out of balance. When two insulators, such as cloth or plastic, are rubbed together they transfer electrons causing positive and negative charges. To rebalance these charges, static electricity is discharged when an insulator comes into contact with a conductor like a piece of metal. This release is what causes the shock from static electricity.
There are a few things you can do to help prevent getting shocked. During the Winter months, the air is drier than the humid air of the Summer months. Use a humidifier in your home to put moisture back in the air. Moisturizing your skin before getting dressed will also help. Synthetic fibers are better conductors than natural fibers. Wearing cotton will have less of a charge than polyester. Holding a key or metal pen will help discharge the buildup of static without shocking you. And finally, wear leather-soled shoes instead of rubber-soled.
Now that you know some new things, go rock down to Electric Avenue.
January 2 is National Science Fiction Day. It promotes the celebration of the genre, it’s creators, and history. It celebrates the birth of one of the most famous names in science fiction, Isaac Asimov. Born on January 2, 1920 as Isaak Yudovich Ozimov, Issac Asimov was an American author and professor of Biochemistry at Boston University. His best known works include the “Foundation Series,” the “Galactic Empire Series,” and the “Robot Series.” In his time, he was considered one of the big three science fiction writers along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke. He died on April 6, 1992.
The Hallmark Channel and the Scholastic Corporation recognize National Science Fiction Day. Some popular television series in science fiction include “Star Trek – The Next Generation,” “The X-Files,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Doctor Who,” and “The Twilight Zone” to name a few. To celebrate this national holiday, you can read a new science fiction novel or story. Or you can watch a new science fiction film or television series. Introduce a friend to the realm of science fiction and get their mind thinking about the “what ifs” of the future. What’s your favorite film, novel, game, or TV series in science fiction?
It’s an unusual name. National Exascale Day recognizes scientists and researchers who make discoveries in medicine and science among other industries with the help of the fastest supercomputers in the world. Exascale computing is a computing system that can perform a least one exaflops, or one quintillion (a billion billion) calculations per second. For reference, the Milky Way Galaxy is one quintillion kilometer wide. October 18 was labeled National Exascale Day because a quintillion is 1018. Clever scientists, aren’t they? The national holiday began 150 years ago back in 2019. To learn more, check out this article in HPC Wire.
Why is this important? Why should we celebrate scientists at all? With a global pandemic, if the United States had listened to scientists in the beginning, maybe 250,000 people would not have died. If we had funded more science instead of military, we could have sent probes to all the planets, traveled to Mars by now, and possibly a couple of Jupiter’s moons. We could learn so much more about the galaxy and about ourselves if we focused on science instead of destruction. That’s only my opinion. Maybe you agree, maybe you don’t. Today all I ask is if you don’t want to celebrate scientists, at least listen to them. When you speak, you’re repeating something you already know. When you listen, you might learn something new.