33 Science Facts We Didn't Know At The Start Of 2016
Good news for Einstein, bad news for anyone who likes red squirrels.
By Kelly Oakes

1. Gravitational waves exist.

2. There’s an Earth-like planet just four light years away.

3. It’s possible for a computer to beat a human world champion at Go.

4. The Zika virus does indeed cause microcephaly, a medical condition in which the brain doesn’t develop properly.

5. It turns out there are actually four species of giraffe, not just one.

6. Some red squirrels in Britain carry a strain of leprosy seen in humans in the Middle Ages.

7. There’s a 54 billion cubic feet reserve of helium gas in Tanzania.

8. There’s an underwater “lost city” off a Greek island that is actually just a group of naturally-formed weirdly uniform rocks.

9. There’s a mysterious, slow-moving deep-sea shark that has been found to live for nearly 400 years.

10. Human penises might have lost their baculum, aka penis bone, when our species became monogamous.

11. The largest prime known prime number is 274,207,281 − 1. It’s 5 million digits longer than the previous record prime number.

12. There might be a ninth planet in our solar system, 10 times bigger than Earth and orbiting 20 times farther away than Neptune, on average.

13. Earth has got a sort of second moon (more accurately, a quasi-satellite) with the catchy name (469219) 2016 HO3.

14. Ninety-nine million years ago a little dinosaur got its tail trapped in amber, and its tail feathers were preserved.

15. Pluto’s atmosphere is more compact and cold than we previously thought.

16. And around the dwarf planet’s famous heart-shaped region, there’s a huge variety of terrains.

17. A bunch of stars went supernova close to Earth 3.2 and 1.7 million years ago.

18. The lost Philae spacecraft’s final resting place on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is in the shadow of a boulder.

19. There is a giant planet with three suns 320 light years away.

20. Ducklings can recognise the concepts of “same” and “different”.

Continue reading.


This is Eleanor. She’s 4 and loves babies, princesses, dancing, music and pretty much anything pink and glittery. She is probably the sweetest kid on the planet. You cannot be in her presence without receiving a hug and HAVING to holding her. Even the nurse that gives her vaccinations gets hugs! She’s rarely upset and that’s generally when she’s sick, tired or fighting with her younger brother.

I had a normal healthy pregnancy with her up until my water spontaneously broke at 31 weeks. She was born prematurely at 32w and was 2lbs 8.5oz and only 14.5 inches. She was also born in what were told was called a colloidal membrane. Her outer skin was very tight and she could barely move. We were told that she had a rare skin disorder but they weren’t sure exactly which and wouldn’t know until genetic testing was done. However, we were told that it might be a “nonissue” depending on what the skin underneath the membrane looked like. It came off and her skin appeared pretty normal. We were pretty relieved that the rest of her 8 week NICU stay was pretty uneventful. The biggest obstacle we had was that she had some feeding issues. She couldn’t nurse and she had a lot of problems with most bottles. We took her home at just over 5lbs.

For the most part everything seemed fine. A dermatologist told us to avoid daily baths and apply lotion a few times a day. Feeding problems persisted, though. She seemed like she was getting enough, but she wasn’t gaining very well. She was diagnosed failure to thrive and had some testing done to make sure she was getting what she should nutritionally. She was but we had to make her breast-milk and formula extra concentrated because she just wasn’t getting enough calories. She slowly gained and grew on her own special curve way below “normal.” She did things a bit behind babies born the same time and we were told it was pretty normal since she was premature. However, at 18 months she could barely stand. She definitely couldn’t walk and would only “w sit.” She wouldn’t respond to most sounds unless they were loud. She also pulled everything really close to her face. I kept telling her doctor about my concerns and I was told that she thought it was because of her size. Even when she was 2, she was just a bit bigger than the average 9 month old. Finally, when she 3, she was referred to a pediatric specialist. He spent over 2 hours with me going over all of the problems she was having. Now that she’s finally getting the attention she needs, we’re fighting insurance.

I spent 2 months arguing with her insurance to cover her hearing aids. I had to fight for them to cover her Pediasure (4 a day) and the cost of her seeing a nutritionist. I had to fight for them to cover her occupational therapy, speech therapy and physical therapy. I had to fight to get her leg braces and walker. We’re currently fighting for them to cover extensive genetic testing to get her a diagnosis that links all or most of the other diagnosis-es. What we have for diagnosis-es so far are: microcephaly, moderately severe bilateral hearing loss, ataxia, ectodermal dysplasia, severe myopia/nearsightedness and a heart murmur. We also just found out that she has some sort of bone disorder and have to travel 3 hours to see a pediatric orthopedist.

If insurance companies already make families with extra needs appeal and fight, it is only going to get worse. We should want to care for and make sure our children have everything they need. No one should ever worry that they’re not going to have theirs or their childrens’ medical needs met.

Zika Outbreak Updates: Puerto Rico Declares State of Emergency

As the Zika virus outbreak continues, including in wide swaths of Central and South America, concerns are growing, especially for pregnant women because the mosquito-borne virus has been linked with a serious birth defect called microcephaly, characterized by an abnormally small head and brain.

Here are the latest updates about the outbreak, which the World Health Organization has deemed a “global health emergency.”

Puerto Rico Declares State of Emergency

Puerto Rico has declared a state of emergency due to the ongoing Zika virus outbreak. The U.S. territory has at least 22 people who have been reported to have been infected with the Zika virus, health officials said.

The State Emergency and Disaster Administration is creating a task force for both federal and state officials to deal with the crisis.

Additionally, a price freeze has been ordered for products needed to prevent the disease, according to government officials.

New Zika Virus Cases Include Pregnant Woman, Man With Paralysis Syndrome

In Puerto Rico, a pregnant woman in her first trimester was diagnosed with the disease, health officials said. In addition, a man has also been diagnosed with Zika and has developed a rare paralysis syndrome sometimes associated with viral or bacterial infection.

Called Guillain-Barre syndrome, it is an immunological reaction that has been associated with influenza, among other illnesses.

At least 22 people who have been reported to have been infected with the Zika virus in Puerto Rico, health officials said.

FDA Signals New Recommendations on Blood Transfusions Likely

In a statement to ABC News, officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said they intend to “rapidly implement appropriate donor deferral recommendations” to safeguard the donated blood supply in the U.S.

“Blood donor deferrals serve as an important measure to protect the United States’ blood supply,“ FDA officials said in a statement. "The FDA also intends to put in place recommendations to help maintain a safe blood supply in United States territories where the virus is present. In the meantime, we fully support the blood banking industry’s voluntary recommendations that potential blood donors be deferred for 28 days after returning from travel to areas where Zika is endemic.”

Sexually Transmitted Zika Case Prompts CDC to Issue New Guidelines

After the Zika virus was transmitted through sexual contact in Dallas, Texas, officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines today for travelers to and from outbreak regions.

The CDC advises men with a pregnant partner to use condoms if they have traveled to an area with "active Zika virus transmission.”

Additionally, couples where a male partner who has traveled to an area with Zika transmission “may consider using condoms consistently and correctly during sex or abstaining from sexual activity,” if they are concerned about sexual transmission of the Zika virus.

At Least 54 People Infected in the U.S.

There are at least 54 people infected with the Zika virus in the U.S. In all except one case, the infection was acquired while out of the country, according to health officials.

In one case in Dallas, Texas, the virus is believed to have been transmitted through sexual contact from an infected traveler to a partner.

Florida has the highest number of cases in the U.S., with 12 people infected. Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in five counties and ordered thousands of tests that will help identify the disease.

What Does the Virus Do?

Common symptoms of the Zika virus include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately one in five people infected with the virus show symptoms. Severe complications from the virus that require hospitalization are rare, according to the CDC.

The virus has also been associated with a rise of microcephaly birth defect cases.

The CDC is also investigating if a rare paralysis syndrome called Guillain-Barre is related to the virus. The syndrome is an immunological reaction that can also occur after other viral or bacterial infections.

How Is It Transmitted?

The virus is transmitted mainly through the bite of the Aedes aegypti species of mosquito. This is the same type of mosquito that spreads dengue fever. The Aedes albopictus species has also been identified as a potential carrier.

Before the current outbreak, the virus had been found mainly in tropical settings in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. An outbreak of the disease in Brazil led to an alert by the Pan American Health Organization last May.

This is Dylan. Dylan is a joyful, hilarious, little boy, full of energy and curiosity. He will be four years old next week, and we are celebrating with a music party themed after his favorite song…the wheels on the bus!! All of his friends from preschool are coming.

Dylan is first a kid, just like any other kid. But because of a rare genetic mutation that both my husband and I unknowingly passed along to him, Dylan has a diagnosis of Microcephaly.
When he was developing his ten perfect fingers and ten perfect toes during my pregnancy, his brain was not developing normally. As a result, his head also didn’t grow, and he was born with a head measuring 6 standard deviations smaller than the average infants.

Dylan has surprised and impressed countless specialists and therapist over the past four years. He is doing things no one thought he would ever do…like walking and communicating and living a healthy, seizure-free life. But still his development is severely delayed. The past four years have included hundreds of therapy appointments (at times, as many as 5 per week) and a team of highly trained (aka EXPENSIVE!) specialists involved in his care.

Thanks to good insurance coverage, our family has been able to provide Dylan with the therapies he needs in order to excel his development. But the road is long and he will continue to require extra help and monitoring the rest of his life. He will never NOT have microcephaly, had yet there was nothing that he or anyone else did to cause him to be affected by this lifelong developmental disability. Without good insurance, the cost of raising a child like Dylan could be debilitating to a family like ours. Dylan brings endless love and joy to his community, I can’t imagine that the current administration could turn their back on him and other kids in similar situation. All kids deserve to be taken care of. And we could all learn a lesson about unconditional love from this amazing little guy.

Schlitzie (alternatively spelled “Schlitze” or “Shlitze”; September 10, 1901 (or c. 1892) – September 24, 1971), possibly born Simon Metz, and legally Schlitze Surtees, was an American sideshow performer and occasional actor, best known for his role in the 1932 movie Freaks and his lifelong career on the outdoor entertainment circuit as a major sideshow attraction with Barnum and Bailey, among others…

Read more on the wikipedia


Oh Schlitzie <3

Schlitzie was a man with microcephaly, a condition that causes a sloping head and smaller brain. In addition to being featured in the cult film Freaks, Schlitzie was enormously successful in sideshows, working in all the biggest circuses of the day. Reportedly, Schlitzie loved performing, which he did up until his death at age 70.
Initially buried in an unmarked grave, in 2009 fans collected money for a grave marker.


Hello friends!

Today is Microcephaly Awareness Day!!

Microcephaly is a rare neurological disorder where the brain is too small causing the brain to be underdeveloped.  My beautiful cousin Anabelle has this disorder so it means a whole lot to me!

Yellow is the color of ribbon for this disorder, hence both Anabelle and myself are decked out in yellow!

Help spread the word by reblogging or wearing yellow and become aware!!!!


I have microcephaly and hypermobilitysyndrome but it doesn’t make me different. I just have to work harder to achieve everyday things. I may just be a average teenage girl but I want to make people realise that disability isn’t all bad. So this is what I want you to do, I want you to post on your tumblr “Disability isn’t something to be ashamed of” and I want you to ask everyone to post it. I want this to spread because for once in my life I don’t just want to be “that disabled girl” I want to be the girl who made people realise :D xx

In Pip and Flip, immense banners promote various sideshow acts, with one at left advertising the scantily clad “Pip & Flip Twins from Peru.” Called “pinheads” in the sideshow parlance of the day, Jenny Lee and Elvira Snow were sisters who suffered from microcephaly, characterized by abnormally small heads. Their hair was almost entirely shaved, except for a small patch on top, to accentuate the shape of their head.

The Snow sisters were one of Coney Island’s greatest attractions during and after the Great Depression. They were born twelve years apart in Georgia, but media hype claimed they were twins from Peru or the Yucatán, making them seem exotic by associating their medical condition with a foreign culture.

Reginald Marsh’s depiction of Elvira Snow at the center of this painting is a detailed portrait that humanizes her, unlike the caricature seen in the sideshow banner. The discrepancy between the glamorous publicity of the banners and the vulnerable performer is further underscored by the two dancers that flank Elvira.

Posted by Connie H. Choi
Reginald Marsh (American, 1898–1954), Pip and Flip,1932. Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago.


Microcephaly is a medical condition that results from abnormal brain development either in utero or shortly after birth. The most obvious symptom of microcephaly is the notable head size (significantly smaller than peers of same age) and shape (sloping, or almost appearing to come to a point). The slang term for people with microcephaly, popular during the height of circus sideshows, was “pinhead”. Those with the condition often have intellectual and/or developmental issues.

One example of a person with microcephaly being used in circus and sideshow attractions (which was not uncommon) was Schlitzie. Despite often being billed as female, Schlitzie was, in fact, male. He spent most of his life performing, and was even featured in the 1932 Tod Browning film “Freaks”. Thanks to other performers caring for him, Schlitzie managed to avoid wasting away in a psychiatric institution and continued performing. He died in Los Angeles, CA in 1971.

One fictional example of microcephaly is the American Horror Story character, Pepper. She was featured in seasons 2 (Asylum) and 4 (Freakshow).

(Photo from the Hollywood Reporter)

(Please note that the use of the “freaks” tag refers to the title of the Tod Browning film Schlitzie appeared in)