Oct 31, 2016

Madeleine Albright: The first woman to become US Secretary of State

On January 23, 1997, Madeleine Albright, who had earlier served as U.S. ambassador to the UN, assumed under President Bill Clinton the office of secretary of state, becoming the first woman to hold that cabinet post. She was the 64th United States Secretary of State. 
(Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia)

Oct 24, 2016

Kava – The root of Relaxation

Native to the South Pacific islands, kava root was traditionally brewed into a drink for royalty. Over time it was taken medicinally to relieve anxiety, combat fatigue, alleviate weakness, and treat chills and colds. In the 1770s, it was introduced to explorer Captain James Cook, who in turn introduced it to Europe. Predominately used to relieve tension and anxiety, kava has been subjected to rigorous clinical trials and shown to be as powerful as prescription antianxiety drugs. Kava is consumed throughout the Pacific Ocean cultures of Polynesia, including Hawaii, Vanuatu, Melanesia and some parts of Micronesia for its sedating effects.

Oct 15, 2016

Mysterious Winds of the Mediterranean

Winds have carried mariners across the seas since before recorded time. They so affected early seafaring that ancient sailors personalized them with names and built legends around them. And still today, of course, because winds influence weather on both a local and global scale, they affect our everyday existence.

Wind Belts
Great belts of wind encircle the Earth. These bands of global winds and lulls are created by the uneven way in which the Sun heats the Earth, and by the mixing of air between the equator and the poles. Winds follow several general patterns within certain zones, or belts. The northeast trades and the southeast trades blow between 15 and 30 degrees latitude, the  westerlies between 45 and 60 degrees latitude, and the polar northeasterlies and polar southeasterlies between 60 and 90 degrees latitude.

Between the wind belts lie zones of still air - the horse latitudes between 30 and 45 degrees latitude, and the equatorial doldrums, which cover the area extending 15 degrees north and south of the equator. In the equatorial latitudes, the Sun's rays are nearly perpendicular to the Earth's surface, while in higher latitudes, the Sun's rays strike the Earth at an angle. The result is a greater concentration of solar energy per unit area in the tropics than in the polar regions, and therefore greater warming in the tropics.

Oct 1, 2016

What are mosquitoes good for?

There are approximately 3,500 species of mosquito just a few rank among the deadliest creatures on Earth. They include Anopheles gambiae, which transmits the malaria parasite that kills hundreds of thousands of people each year. Historians believe the mosquito arrived in the New World on slave ships from Africa in the 17th century, bringing with it yellow fever, which has killed millions of people. Today the mosquito also carries dengue fever, which infects as many as 400 million people a year, as well as such increasingly threatening pathogens as chikungunya, West Nile virus, and Zika.

Mosquitos, like all other life forms, are part of a complex food web. Many fish feed on mosquito larvae, which are aquatic, and plenty of birds and spiders and other insects feed on the adults. Dragonflies and damselflies love mosquitoes. Frogs eat adult mosquitoes, tadpoles eat the larvae.

There isn't much love lost between people and mosquitoes. At the very least, these bloodthirsty insects are major annoyances, biting us with a persistence that can be maddening. If insects can be credited with evil intent, mosquitoes seem determined to wipe the human race out. As carriers of deadly diseases, mosquitoes are the deadliest insect on Earth. Each year, millions of people die from malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever after being bitten by a disease-carrying mosquito. Mosquitoes also carry diseases that pose serious threats to livestock and pets.