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Latest Smithsonian Stories

Image 1 - LRO Reveals Moon Is Still Being Pulled Apart
2012-02-21 09:24:49

[ Watch the Video ] NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has revealed that the surface of the moon is actually being stretched. Researchers said the moon's surface is forming minute valleys in some small areas on the lunar surface. They believe this activity occurred less than 50 million years ago, making it recent activity when considering the moon is over 4.5 billion years old. The team studied high-resolution images taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC)...

Fungi-filled Forests Critical For Endangered Orchids
2012-01-25 04:15:43

Older forests with just the right fungi may be secret to saving vulnerable plants When it comes to conserving the world's orchids, not all forests are equal. In a paper to be published Jan. 25 in the journal Molecular Ecology, Smithsonian ecologists revealed that an orchid's fate hinges on two factors: a forest's age and its fungi. Roughly 10 percent of all plant species are orchids, making them the largest plant family on Earth. But habitat loss has rendered many threatened or...

Image 1 - Fossil Feathers Reveal Lineage Of Extinct, Flightless Ibis
2011-11-23 04:07:43

A remarkable first occurred recently at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History when ornithologists Carla Dove and Storrs Olson used 700- to 1,100-year-old feathers from a long extinct species of Hawaiian ibis to help determine the bird's place in the ibis family tree. The feathers are the only known plumage of any of the prehistorically extinct birds that once inhabited the Hawaiian Islands. Discovered with a nearly complete skeleton, the feathers retained enough microscopic...


Word of the Day
cock-a-hoop
  • Exultant; jubilant; triumphant; on the high horse.
  • Tipsy; slightly intoxicated.
This word may come from the phrase 'to set cock on hoop,' or 'to drink festively.' Its origin otherwise is unclear. A theory, according to the Word Detective, is that it's a 'transliteration of the French phrase 'coq a huppe,' meaning a rooster displaying its crest ('huppe') in a pose of proud defiance.' Therefore, 'cock-a-hoop' would 'liken a drunken man to a boastful and aggressive rooster.'
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