Our Little Earth – April 25, 2008

April 25, 2008
Our Little Earth
The Electronic Newspaper for Kids
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WHAT’S GOING ON
A friendly gesture between China and Taiwan

Fig One The leaders of Taiwan and China made history on April 12th by having one of the friendliest meetings between the two governments in almost sixty years! China’s President, Hu Jintao, met Taiwan’s president-elect, Ma Ying-jeou, who will become the president next month.

What could cause a conflict between the two lands that are separated by just a 100mile (160km) wide water body? After World War II, most of China was under the Nationalist government’s control. The Communist government was growing strong, and there was a Civil War in China. The Nationalist party lost control of China, and fled to Taiwan in 1949. There they set up a government. They called themselves the Republic of China (ROC), while the Communist government took over China and called the country the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Thus two different parties claimed to be the “official” government of China. Until 1971, the United Nations, an international peace organization, recognized the ROC as the only Chinese government. Since then, they switched to recognizing PRC as the government of China. Since there is only one country China, and cannot have two different governments, the ROC was forced out of the United Nations. Today there are very few countries (such as Guatemala and El Salvador) that recognize the ROC as the government of China.

Both lands have done very well economically, but their governments are very different. Taiwan is a democracy and China is a communist country. Even though the two governments don’t get along, there is a lot of business that happens between them. Many Taiwanese go and work in China. China is Taiwan’s number one trading partner.

There is certainly one interesting thing that’s common between Taiwan and China – the tallest building in each has exactly the same number of floors – 101! (Left:Shanghai World Financial Center, Right:Taipei-101)

South Korea clones more dogs

Fig Two South Korean scientists have taken a sniffer dog and created seven clones of it. The clones are being called “Toppies”, short for “Tomorrow’s Puppies”! The Toppies are also proving to be good sniffer dogs, and will be working with the South Korean custom officials.

Well, what exactly is cloning? Imagine an exact copy of you – that would be your clone. All living things are made of cells. Inside each cell is DNA – think of it as information that makes us who we are. Cloning is a scientific procedure of taking an organism’s DNA and creating another organism with the exact same DNA – a true copy. All people and most animals get their DNA from two parents and end up with some characteristics of each parent. But a cloned creature receives DNA from only one source, and is a replica of that source.

Dogs are not the only animals that have been cloned. The first mammal that was cloned was Dolly, a sheep, in 1996 in the United Kingdom. Since then, there have been many firsts – Snuppy the dog (South Korea), CopyCat the cat (U.S.A.), Ralph the rat (France), Prometea the horse (Italy), Dotcom the pig (U.S.A.), and Brandy the cow (Australia)!

There is quite a bit of controversy to cloning. Some people feel that it is morally wrong to clone, and others feel that there are some really good uses to cloning. For example, if you have a cow that produces more milk than the rest, you could clone that cow and now fewer cows would be needed to produce the same amount of milk.

Danica proves women can be faster than men

Fig Three- Danica Patrick of the United States won the Indy Japan 300, one of the IndyCar series races, on April 20. She finished the race almost 6 seconds ahead of the next racer.

Danica becomes the first woman to win a major car race while competing against men. Very few sports offer a chance for women to compete against men. Sailing and equestrian (horse riding) events are two such other sports. Recently, women have been competing in the same golf tournaments as men as well.

Danica has become extremely popular in the United States – the name “Danica” has jumped from Number 610 (in 2005) to Number 352 (in 2006) on the list of most popular baby names in that country!

The IndyCar series is a major league car race that was started in Indiana, U.S.A. The biggest and most prestigious race in this series is the Indy 500 which is held every year in Indiana in May. This series is an open-wheel car race, which means that the cars have wheels outside their main body. The top speeds in these races are over 220 mph (350 km per hour). Do you know how that compares with the speed limits on the roads around your home?

Honda is responsible for bringing the IndyCar race to Japan. You must have seen many Honda cars on the road: Accords, Civics, Acuras. Honda is a 60 year old Japanese company that makes cars, motorcycles, robots, jets, scooters, lawn equipment – the list goes on.

SOMETHING FAMOUS
Figure Let’s watch Cog, one of the most watched advertisements on the Internet. Click on the photo or visit this URL: http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/flash/honda. This was a commercial for Honda’s new Accord car in 2003. The advertisement caused waves and amazement when it was released. An Accord car was taken apart to get the 85 car parts used in this ad. The advertisement is an unbelievable two-minute long series of domino effects. It took 606 takes to make. In the first 605 times, something in the chain of events would not work properly causing the next event not to happen. It is completely real and no computer generated images or photography tricks were used for the ad!
DID YOU KNOW
The world’s first robot babysitter was the PaPeRo, created by NEC, a Japanese company, in 2005. The robot has two “camera” eyes, eight “microphone” ears, and a cell phone to allow PaPeRo to stay in touch with the parents.
The world’s most successful police dog is a golden retriever named Trepp, who is credited with more than 100 arrests and the recovery of over US$63 million worth of illegal drugs.
FUNNY BONE
DNA molecule: “I hate being a DNA molecule. There is so much to remember!”
GO FIGURE
“Was it a car or a cat I saw?”
What’s interesting about the sentence above?

This is a mini-Sudoku puzzle. Fill up all the squares such that every row, column and mini-grid must contain the numbers 1 through 4. Don’t guess – use logic!

FIGURED OUT
Puzzle from last edition: There’s a bucket of wine and a bucket of water of the same size. You transfer a cup of wine to the water bucket, and then a cup of the mixture back to the wine bucket. Is there more wine in the water or water in the wine?
Solution:
That cup was full of wine on its first trip to the water bucket. Now it is partially full of wine on the return trip. The amount of water in the cup has to be exactly equal to the amount of wine left behind in the water bucket. After dumping it in the wine bucket, there will be exactly the same amount of water in the wine as wine in the water.
Puzzle from last edition: You are in a dark room with a candle, a wood stove, and a gas lamp. You only have one match. What should you light first?
Solution:
The match, of course .
ETCETERA
Credits:Baycrest for Shanghai building photo, Morio for Danica’s racing photo
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