The History of Christmas

As people put up Christmas trees and decorate their homes, it’s easy to believe these traditions have been around since the year one, but Christmas and the holidays surrounding December 25th have taken many forms. The origin of Christmas comes from three sources: it is the date of the winter solstice on the Roman calendar, it is about nine months from the vernal equinox (March 25th) and it is the date set for the birth of Christ. Before Christendom the Roman Empire celebrated Saturnalia, a holiday honoring the Roman god, Saturn, the farther of Jupiter. During Saturnalia social customs were flipped upside down. Slaves ate at their master’s tables, women flirted with men and gambling was permitted. Saturnalia also involved public banquets and gift giving, which may have influenced later Christian traditions. There were even reports of naked caroling!Origins of Christmas stock Image Gallery Cards, prints, tote-bags and more The Christmas tree has its origins in 16th century Germany. Wh…

Rising Sea Levels

One of the most significant challenges related to global climate change is rising sea levels. Since the beginning of the 20th-century, sea levels have gradually risen by 16 - 21 cm (6.3 - 8.3 in).
The rise in sea levels has also accelerated over time due to thermal expansion (the change in the volume and area of matter due to increased temperatures) and the melting of ice sheets and arctic glaciers.
Stock Image Gallery of Rising Sea Levels
Researchers have calculated that arctic sea ice has declined by 10% in the last 10 years. In addition to rising sea levels, this has altered the circulation of the Atlantic Ocean, destroying fisheries in northern countries and creating massive storms and hurricanes.
Coastlines around the world remain susceptible to flooding. Some at-risk coasts include the Miami shore, Rio de Janeiro, Osaka and Shanghai. The Egyptian city, Alexandria, faces a particular threat as much of its population exists in low lying coastal areas, which will likely be inundated w…

Plastic is Deadly

While plastic items in our daily lives are designed for one-time use, they have a long life span, usually up to 1,000 years. Plastic is also deadly. People consume thousands of plastic articles each year, which damage our health, especially our immune systems. Plastic particles are even in the air we breathe, floating in the remotest places from fields to mountains. Stock Image of Plastic Pollution and Wildlife For many animals plastic is lethal. Sea birds get caught in plastic fishing line and starve to death. Small mammals choke and die in 6-pack plastic rings. Dolphins and whales swallow plastic particles that block up their bodily systems. Sea turtles suffocate in plastic bags and floating debris prevents them from surfacing for air. Luckily, as awareness grows, people are working to clean up plastic in the environment. New types of safe, biodegradable plastic are also coming on the market. We have a very long road ahead, but with more awareness and countries working towards a co…

Endangered Animals

Species around the world are facing extinction from threats ranging from ivory poaching to global climate change. Organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund have responded to the crisis with far-reaching conservation efforts. The black rhinoceros has long been a victim of poaching for the international trade in rhino horn. British colonists began hunting rhinos in Africa during the colonial era and poaching has continued to this day. Conservationists work to protect rhino populations by building conservations and training local rangers to fend off poachers, but victories are hard fought. The black rhino’s population has sunk to 2,300 in recent years. The polar bear has risen to public awareness due to the impact of climate change on the Arctic. Since 1979 the volume of sea ice shrunk by 80%, dramatically reducing the polar bear’s natural habitat. Experts say that the population of polar bears decreased to 20,000 to 25,000 in the last decade, classifying them a ‘vulnerable’ species…

Immunotherapy: Your Immune System is Cancer's Biggest Enemy

There’s no doubt about it - our immune systems are powerful. We’ve all had moments where we don’t pay much attention to our immune systems because of lack of sleep or high stress, and had to endure bouts of sneezing, coughing, or fever in the coming days. Some of us have taken extra steps to make sure our immune systems are as strong as possible, and noticed how invincible it feels to go months without getting sick. Everyday function, brain power, and physical ability depends strongly on our body’s ability to fight off viruses and disease. The power that our immune system provides in determining our health can even be utilized to fight cancer. Immunotherapy is a method of cancer treatment that helps to strengthen the immune system to be able to fight cancer cells better, as well as direct the immune system towards specific cancer cells.RF and RM Images and Video of Immunotherapy A large number of cells in our body aid in the immune system. White blood cells (lymphocytes) recognize fo…

Origins of Modern Chemistry

How did we get from discovering fire to using nanotubes in labs? The concept of atoms was first conceived in ancient Greece by a group of philosophers known as the atomists. In 330 BC, Aristotle opposed this theory. He was a proponent of the elemental theory, positing that all matter was composed of the elements earth, fire, water, and air. He even added an element, aether (or ether). The elemental theory continued into the middle ages through the study of alchemy. Alchemists added sulfur, salt, and mercury to the list. RF and RM Stock Images and Video
of the History of Modern Chemistry
Finally, in 1661, Robert Boyle published the book "The Sceptical Chymist", presenting his hypothesis of particles in motion and asserting that only experiments using the "scientific method" could be considered true.
Another milestone in chemistry was the discovery of electrochemistry. Alessandro Volta invented the first battery in 1800, using piles of copper and zinc discs. They w…

History of Flight: From Kites to Space Travel

There are over 100,000 airplane flights a day, with almost 10,000 planes in the air simultaneously. It's taken humanity thousands of years to get to this point, starting with the invention of the humble kite in China in 475 BC. The popularity of kite flying in China began people thinking about making human flight a reality. Soaring through the air untethered to the ground. Before, it has been the realm of mythology, such as Icarus, Alexander the Great, and Pegasus. Images & Video of the History of Flight On the way, there were many failed attempts over the centuries. At first, many inventors tried to replicate the wings of birds, even using feathers or lightweight wood. But, a human's arm muscles are not like a bird's. Leonardo DaVinci made over 100 drawings of his theories of flight and flying machines. None of which were built in his lifetime. It took until 1783, Paris, France before man reached this goal. Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d…

Vaccines: How They Protect Us

Although vaccination has been a hot topic in recent news, the study of vaccination goes back to around 1,000 years ago. Early records of smallpox immunization, called variolation, can be dated back to 1000 CE in China.

Variolation was a practice that involved taking material (usually part of a scab) from a patient that was infected with smallpox and exposing a healthy individual to this material. The doctor would often insert the infected material underneath the healthy person’s skin to achieve proper exposure. The hope was that the healthy person would get sick, their immune system would successfully fight the virus, and they would then be immune to the disease once they recovered. Not surprisingly, some patients died from an intentional infection of smallpox, but the ones that did survive were indeed immune to future infections. RF and RM Images of Viruses and Vaccines Luckily, we have since discovered a less risky method of immunization, but the general concept is similar. The body…

Concussions and the Future of Contact Sports

Injuries are the last thing one thinks of on game day but they’re an inevitable part of professional sports and they’re shaping what athletics will look like in the future. Concussions are one of the biggest threats to professional athletes today. Repeated concussions can lead to memory loss, personality changes, depression, and anxiety. After suffering one concussion a person is more likely to suffer a second one, and the effects become more severe. Multiple concussions can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and CTE. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a brain disorder that occurs after repeated head injuries. Symptoms include memory loss, impaired judgment, aggression, depression, and suicidal thoughts. In one famous case, Aaron Hernandez, a young professional football player, committed suicide in prison without knowing he had the disease.Sports Injury and Video Gallery A number of sports have changed their rules to prevent head injuries. The NFL, for instance, h…

How 3D Medical Animation is Changing the Way We Learn

Many of us remember taking biology and anatomy courses in high school or college. We would peer into our textbooks and try to soak in the labels attached to an illustration of an animal cell. Some of us were lucky enough to crowd around a model of a skeleton at the front of the class and watch the instructor point out important anatomical landmarks. Those of us who were able to observe a physical model of a biological structure may have noticed that it was much easier to retain information if we could see a 360-degree view of the object. If we could hold it in our hands, turn it around to look at the front and back, and maybe take different pieces of the model apart, we were able to interact with the structure enough to feel more familiar with how it looked and what the nomenclature was. RF and RM Videos of 3D Medical Animations Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible for a classroom to have physical models of every scientific topic that needs to be learned. However, the birth of 3D a…

NASA and the Space Age

In 1957, an amazing spectacle appeared in the North American night sky – Sputnik, the first satellite to enter Earth’s orbit. The USSR had successfully sent a rocket into outer space, thus beginning the space race, an event which would last a decade and challenge the best and brightest of two nations. In response to Sputnik, President Dwight D. Eisenhower created NASA, the first American administration for space exploration in 1958. With Project Mercury, NASA attempted to make the first manned mission into space but failed to beat the Russians, who sent Yuri Gagarin into orbit in 1961. A month later Alan Shepard became the first American in space and John Glenn followed soon after, orbiting the Earth three times in 1962.Gallery of NASA Stock Images and Videos In the Sixties, NASA entered a new era. With the cold war raging and the threat of nuclear armament on the horizon, President John F Kennedy vowed to redouble NASA’s efforts and put an American on the moon by the end of the deca…