Home Meet the Aliens

Cognosphere

Welcome to the Cogno Blog! Cogno is a brand of board games and books that are designed to get children thinking critically and using their imaginations. Check back often as we explore science, learning and blogging in the Cognosphere.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Santa Has Been Spotted In Saint Louis

Santa flew under the Arch...track Santa! When will he arrive in your area?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Humans Track 33-Foot Chocolate Trail

Just like a skilled bloodhound, humans are able to track scents…like a 33-foot chocolate trail. The University of California, Berkeley is doing research to find out “whether mammals compare information coming from their two nostrils in order to aid scent-tracking performance.”



What they found was that not only do humans use both nostrils but, with training, “they can improve their accuracy significantly while nearly doubling their speed along the scent trail.”

I don’t know about you, but this is the kind of experiment I could participate in. Especially if you got to eat the chocolate at the end of the trail…very motivating!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Laugh And The Whole World Laughs With You

Scientists have found that laughter really is contagious and they are now studying why. Researchers at the University College London and Imperial College London have found that positive sounds like laughter trigger a response in the brain in the same area that is activated when we smile.

The research is being funded by the Wellcome Trust. Dr. Sophie Scott, a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow says, “It seems that it’s absolutely true that ‘laugh and the whole world laughs with you.’”

I have always felt that laughter is contagious and it’s nice to know that science is now backing me up. We should all test this out at the holiday parties we attend. Instead of stressing over a good joke to tell…just start laughing and people should join in!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Our First Yellow-Tie Event

Stuart and I attended our first Yellow-Tie event this morning. It was called Coffee and Handshakes and was hosted by Aegis Professional Services.

The president and founder of Yellow-Tie is Gill Wagner. He describes Yellow-Tie like this: “This organization is all about structure, accountability and leveraging the power of the group so we can be successful implementing the philosophy of Give First.” It was founded in St. Louis about two years ago and the second chapter has just been launched in Chicago.

I think Yellow-Tie is a great organization and we are thinking about attending the all-day innovation event, The 18% Solution, on January 23rd.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

NASA Plans A Permanent Base On The Moon

Earlier this week, NASA announced its plans to build a permanent base on the moon. It sounds like science fiction, but oh no my dear readers, this is science fact. In a mere fifteen years from now, a group of lucky people will make humanities greatest voyage yet.

According to NASA’s timeline, astronauts will return to the moon (the last manned moon landing was in 1972) in 2020 where they will establish a rudimentary base. Right now, the idea is for the base is to be located at one of the lunar poles, where there is near constant sunlight to provide solar power. Initially, the astronauts will stay for weeklong missions. Eventually these stays will grow to 180 days and by 2024, the base will be fully operational so that humans can live there permanently.

In case you are wondering what we will do when we finally do make the big move, the New York Times quoted Shana Dale, NASA’s deputy administrator, as saying, “the door is open for international and commercial interests.” Observatories and other scientific laboratories may be built, or rocket fuel and other minerals found on the moon might be processed for use on Earth. If nothing else, it will be at least a stepping stone for other ambitious space exploration and research endeavors.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Thumbs Up…Thumbs Down

Thumbs Up…

To star-eating black holes! For the first time in history, scientists actually witnessed a black hole “eating a star.” The black hole was quietly resting for thousands of years, until an innocent little star ventured too close and was torn to shreds by the black hole’s gravity.

Thumbs Down…

To the weather in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The space shuttle Discovery was supposed to launch on Thursday for a trip to the International Space Station but the mission was scrapped due to low clouds and gusty winds. NASA has until December 26 to get the shuttle off the ground.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Mars Water... This is Sounding Real

Emily Lakdawalla wrote about recent news of water on Mars, in the Planetary Society's blog. Long ago some people imagined that they saw canals on Mars, and they turned out not to be there at all. But this is different. We're not squinting through old-fashioned telescopes. We're actually on Mars now, or at least highly sensitive machines that we built are on Mars now.

Water is the key to life as we know it. If there is water under the surface of Mars now--water that apparently breaches the surface occasionally--it is an unprecedented opportunity. If it is verified, we humans will have our first opportunity to directly observe another planetary environment that also has liquid water. It may be the first step in understanding whether life is extraordinarily rare, or nearly as common as the presence of liquid water! And would such life, if found, resemble Earth life or not? We live in a very exciting time.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Meeting Blogger Matt Homann

I had a wonderful meeting today with Matt Homann, the writer of blogs called the [non]billable hour and Idea Surplus Disorder. As a new blogger, it is great to know that there are very experienced bloggers out there who are willing to lend a helping hand by giving you all kinds of great advice. I was telling Matt that learning to blog is almost like learning to play a new game.

#1 It's fun! And, the more you learn, the more fun it becomes.
#2 There are all kinds of "strategy elements" you can use to your advantage. (technorati, RSS feeds, youtube, flickr, digg, feedblitz...)
#3 Working together is encouraged.

The only difference I can see is that everyone "playing" is a winner!

I will be sure to attend Matt's next BIGidea Market on January 15th at Lucas School House in Soulard. It should kick-off around 6pm. Hope you see you there!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Here's To Carl Sagan!

I just read something at The Planetary Society's website. Charlene Anderson, Editor of the Planetary Report intro'd a short, heartfelt piece about the 10th anniversary of Carl Sagan's death by saying "I took from the shelf a book I hadn't read in 10 years. Glancing though its pages, I was startled again by the power of its words to move me, emotionally and intellectually. I also was saddened that the man who presented this Cosmos to the world, who profoundly shared his spiritual and scientific wonder of the universe, has been gone for so long."

My first inspiration about space and science occurred while watching Carl Sagan on his PBS series "Cosmos." I was around nine years old, and mesmerized by the way he presented sophisticated ideas in such easily understandable ways. Time really slows down for something--or someone--that moved faster? How cool is that? In a very direct way, Carl Sagan was--no, he is--the inspiration that moves me to create our Cogno space & science board games, and to write the Cogno book series. I want other kids to feel the way I did, as I watched and listened to Carl Sagan many years ago.

As an adult I've read every book he wrote, and, Like Charlene Anderson, each time I revisit one I realize what a remarkable human being he was. If more of us had even one tenth of his curiosity, vision, and balanced philosophies about how others should be treated, well ... this world would be a much better place. If you can, pick up a copy of the book Cosmos, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, Dragons of Eden, Pale Blue Dot, or maybe even his fictional novel "Contact." You'll see what all the fuss is about.

Thanks for the reminder, Charlene.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Codebreaker Chosen As One Of Pam's Top 10 Favorite Things

Pam, who writes a wonderful blog titled Escape from Cubicle Nation, decided to pick her Top 10 Favorite Things for the holidays. The only criteria were: (1) the product is actually something you would give someone for the holidays; and (2) the product is produced by a small, entrepreneurial company.

Our Codebreaker game was picked for her list, along with nine other great gift ideas for the holidays. You should check them all out! Thanks Pam…we really appreciate the exposure for our new Codebreaker game.