Professor Sko

Keep Sciencing!
Sko Meets Tesla

In The Know
Explore. Learn. Have fun.

Stacks Image 44

Typhoon Nancy

In 1961, an intensely powerful weather event happened in the Pacific Ocean when Typhoon Nancy reached maximum sustained winds of 215 mph! (Remember what I said in my video. These tropical cyclones are called hurricanes in the Atlantic, and typhoons in the Pacific.) She was so powerful that she is referred to as a "Super Typhoon."

To put Nancy's winds in perspective, that's the same wind speed as our most powerful tornados! Imagine an EF5 tornado that lasts several days. Holy Schneikees!

It's also three times more powerful than the wind you saw me and Rusty experience in the Hurricane Shack at WonderWorks in Orlando. Wow!

You can learn more about
hurricanes, typhoons, and tornados on the NOAA website. Keep Sciencing!
Show More
Stacks Image 62

A 20,133 ton barge

The Taisun crane in the Yantai, China shipyard is an off-the-charts BEAST of a crane. It's job is to lift parts of offshore oil rigs and sections of ships! It is part of a class of cranes called "semi-submersible." That means part of it is underwater, but it floats! That way it can help build those giant oil rigs out in the ocean.

On April 18, 2008, the Taisun crane lifted a barge loaded with water. The barge weighed in at a record smashing 44 million pounds. How much is 44 million pounds? How about 181 Boeing 747 jumbo jets. Yeah, pretty heavy.

You can read more about the Taisun Crane by clicking
this link to HJ Logistics.

You can also go to
Google Earth and put "Yantia, China" in the search bar to check out the city and the shipyards.
Show More
Stacks Image 122

8 hours 56 minutes

U.S. astronauts Susan Helms and Jim Voss spent almost nine hours floating in the hostile environment of outer space. They were doing repair work on a module of the International Space Station (ISS). It was March 11, 2001, and Helms and Voss had arrived aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery on mission STS-102. The crew consisted of six American astronauts and one Russian cosmonaut.

It is still the longest spacewalk in history; in fact, it was so long that Helms and Voss saw the sunrise and sunset six times during their EVA! That's because the ISS and the astronauts there are racing around the earth at 17,000 miles per hour.

You can learn more fascinating facts about space at

You can also stay up-to-date with the latest
news about the ISS on the NASA website.
Show More
Stacks Image 112

She was the first woman in space

Valentina Tereshkova roared into space inside Vostok 6 on June 16, 1963. She spent three entire days in space which, at the time, was quite a feat. She was selected from a pool of more than 400 women candidates. (The United States didn't launched the first American woman into space until nineteen years later when Sally Ride spent six days in space aboard the space shuttle Challenger.)

Valentina enjoyed sky-diving and still ranks among the youngest people ever to go into space, having flown at age 26. When she flew, her call sign was "Seagull." Today, still in her '80s, Valentina regularly admits that she wants to fly to Mars.

She was once quoted as saying . . .
"A bird cannot fly with only one wing. Human spaceflight cannot develop any further without the active participation of women."

Learn more about Valentina Tereshkova, Sally Ride, and lot of other amazing facts about
women in space on the NASA website!
Show More
Stacks Image 82

Valdivia, Chile

The most powerful earthquake ever recorded struck the city of Valdivia in Chile on May 22, 1960. It measured a catastrophic 9.5 on the Richter Scale. Because the epicenter of the quake was 100 miles off shore, it triggered a powerful tsunami that sent waves crashing into Chile's coast, and also racing across the Pacific Ocean.

Waves thirty-five feet in height were experienced more than 6,000 miles away! (That's further than the continental United States is wide.) Some waves were felt on the opposite side of the Pacific in Japan.

Thousands of Chileans were killed or injured, but the exact number is not known.

You can learn about the Top 10 most powerful quakes of all time on the
Geology Science website.

You can also learn more about earthquakes from the
United State Geological Survey.
Show More
Stacks Image 72


Denali is located in Denali National Park, Alaska. It reaches to a dizzying height of 20,310 feet above sea level. That is so tall you could take the Rocky Mountains, put the Appalachian Mountains on top of them, and this mountain would still be taller!

Of course, when you have a mountain that tall, somebody will climb it. The first successful climb to the top was by Hudson Stuck in 1913.

You better bundle up if you go, because it's also one of the coldest places on earth, with temperatures reaching 75 to 100 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Brrrrrr! Despite the extreme cold, people have lived around the base of Denali since 9,000 BCE.

Denali is a name the native Athabaskan people gave the mountain. Not surprisingly, it means "The Tall One." Anglo-American explorers named it Mt. McKinley after the U.S. president; a name that identified it on U.S. maps for almost 100 years. The U.S. National Park Service restored its original name in 2015.

Denali National Park is home to over six million acres of glaciers. It also boast stunning views and amazing wildlife.

You can learn about Denali, and all U.S. national parks, by going to the
National Park Service website. Keep Sciencing!
Show More
Stacks Image 153

The Butterfly

Scientists are still in the process of figuring out the butterfly. It is a complex and amazing creature that tends to perceive our world very differently than we do.

One of the ways butterfly are different they probably see more of the electromagnetic spectrum than any other animal on earth. They especially make use of the ultraviolet (UV) range of light to find mates and indicate how healthy they are. Bees and other insects also use UV light a great deal, to find food and also communicate with each other.

Different animals on earth use and perceive light in many different ways. It's fascinating!

To learn about different animals and how they see color, check out Rebecca Rosen's article in
The Atlantic magazine.

You can also get a complete chart of what animals and humans see, along with some seriously cool science from "Ask a Biologist" at
Arizona State University.

Thought Co's article to get the inside scoop about the properties of light and how animals and people interact with it.

What? You still want more? Okay. Learn about butterflies and check out some amazing photos at the
Smithsonian Institute's "BugInfo" page.

Enjoy looking at the world around you now in a different way, and remember, keep sciencing!

Show More
Stacks Image 133


Space Shuttle Atlantis flew the final mission of the space shuttle program July 8-21, 2011 on mission STS-135. On that mission, Atlantis flew with a crew of only four people, the smallest crew of a shuttle mission since the 1980s. A space shuttle has a capacity of seven astronauts.

Six space shuttles flew over the course of the program's 30-year history.

Enterprise was the first and never flew in space. It was used to conduct flight tests on the back of a 747 transport craft and glider landings in the late 1970s. You can see it on display aboard the aircraft carrier Intrepid museum in New York City.

Columbia was the first shuttle to fly in space in 1981. It was named after the first U.S. Navy ship to circumnavigate the earth. Columbia was tragically lost in an accident during reentry.

Challenger was the second shuttle to fly to space. It was named after an 18th century U.S. Navy ship that discovered the deepest part of the earth's oceans, the Challenger Deep in the Pacific Ocean. Challenger was tragically lost in an accident during launch.

Discovery was named after the ship used by Captain Cook to explore the Hawaiian Islands and Alaska. You can see it on display at the Smithsonian Institution Air & Space Museum outside Washington, DC.

Atlantis was named for a research vessel operated by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. You can see it on display at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Endeavor is the youngest member of the space shuttle fleet. Because it was built last, several innovations went into its construction, making it lighter and its heat shield easier to maintain. You can see it on display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, California.

Would you like to learn more about the last flight of the space shuttles? You can at
NASA's website.

Enjoy learning more about this highly successful space program, and keep sciencing!

Show More
Stacks Image 218

Gemini VIII

The Gemini Program helped NASA astronauts practice many of the skills and procedures they would need to go to the moon with Project Apollo. Gemini VIII was one such mission. It was the first time two spacecraft docked, or connected during flight!

It was March 1966, with Neil Armstrong as the Command Pilot and David Scott as his crew mate. The docking was a success and Scott was preparing to attempt an ambitious spacewalk, when the two craft went into a slow tumble.

Armstrong undocked the Gemini, thinking something was wrong with the other spacecraft. Immediately, the Gemini went into a fast, dizzying spin. It spun a whole turn every second! That is so fast that the astronauts' vision started to get blurry.

It was then the astronauts realized the problem was their own spacecraft. A thruster, or a small rocket to help steer the spacecraft, had gotten stuck in the "ON" mode. Armstrong quickly shut everything down and corrected the spin.

David Scott said of Armstrong, "The guy was brilliant. It was my lucky day to be flying with him."

The near disaster prompted NASA to make changes in the electrical systems for all future spacecraft thrusters.

Neil Armstrong went on to fly with Apollo 11 and became the first person ever on the moon.

David Scott later flew on Apollo 9 and Apollo 15. He helped retrieve the "
Genesis Rock" from the moon's surface and it is now at the Lunar Sample Laboratory Facility in Houston, Texas.

The Gemini VIII spacecraft is currently at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum.

You can learn more about the
Gemini Program from the NASA website.

When you go to the NASA website, you can also learn more about
Neil Armstrong.

You can even join
David Scott's facebook group!

Isn't it cool to keep Sciencing?
Show More
Stacks Image 191

Sir Frederick William Herschel

Sir Frederick William Herschel was a German scientist who contributed greatly to both the study of light and of astronomy. He hypothosized that colors had temperature. He studied this by passing light through a prism, breaking it up into the component parts of visible light: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. He then placed a thermometer in each color, noting that the temperature got increasingly warmer the closer he got to red, with red being the warmest.

He then put a thermometer immediately beside the red where no visible color was present. This area had the warmest temperature of all! Sir Herschel concluded that there was another band of light coming through the prism that was not visible to humans. He called this "infrared," meaning "below red."

Astronomers use infrared light to study stars. Emergency workers use infrared to locate people and pets trapped in buildings or lost outdoors. Some animals can even detect infrared light, even though you and I can't.

You can learn more about
Sir Herschel at the Konica-Minolta website.

You can also learn more about the various
properties and uses of infrared light from NASA.

Keep Sciencing!
Show More
Stacks Image 280

4000 BCE

The ancient Sumerians (modern day Iraq) used recurring geometric shapes pressed into clay tiles for art and decoration. Thousands of years later, the Romans used "tessella" to cover floors and walls. Following the Romans, the Moors used mosaics generously in buildings they constructed in Spain.

You can see all kinds of
examples of tessellation art at Widewalls! Be careful, though! You can end up looking at those amazing works of art for hours!

You can also learn and have fun with tessellations in math at the
Cool Math website.

Keep sciencing and mathing!
Show More
Stacks Image 270

It vaporizes rocks

The rover Curiosity carries an intense laser that shoots a beam of more than a million watts of power! The laser is so strong, it completely vaporizes rocks up to twenty-three feet away. Why does it do that? As soon as it shoots its laser, its chemical camera takes pictures of the vapor and analyzes its components to learn about the rock.

Since 2012,
Curiosity has fired its laser well over 100,000 times. This has resulted in a wealth of scientific data about the geology of Mars being sent back to Earth.

The newest rover,
Perseverance, actually carries laser reflectors. NASA doesn't yet know what these will be used for, but they will be available for future studies and future technologies; maybe to help the first humans on Mars to pinpoint their landing spot.

Learn more about
Curiosity's lasers from this page at NASA, that has a lot of other cool links, too.

Learn more about
Perseverance's laser reflectors here.

Keep sciencing!
Show More
Stacks Image 301

3,280 feet

Freddy Nock is just a different kind of human being. He shattered the world record for highest tightrope walk with his "Peak-to-Peak" walk in the Swiss Alps. Describing it here will not do it justice, so check out the mind-numbing video right here.

You will notice him holding a balance bar to assist with rotational inertia. You may also notice how much the wire sways in the wind, requiring Mr. Nock to utilize his incredible balancing skills!

Can't get enough? Check out the
Guinness Book of World Records on tightrope walks. It will tell you about high wire acts blindfolded, backwards, on bicycles, and even in high heels!

Enjoy the video and the articles, but seriously, do NOT attempt anything from heights at home. As Sparky says, keep sciencing safely!
Show More
Stacks Image 291

A tornado touches the ground

A lot of things can happen when unstable weather spawns rotating columns of air. You may see funnel-shaped "clouds" dropping underneath a thunderstorm. That's where funnel clouds get their name. If they drop down far enough, they come into contact with the ground and are called tornadoes.

Tornadoes are an incredibly destructive force of nature and can cause tremendous damage. They are also a fascinating phenomenon. When they appear over water, they are called "waterspouts."

Weather radar is becoming so advanced that meteorologists are able to detect rotating winds in a thunderstorm before it drops down far enough to become visible. That's very helpful in detecting and giving early warning for tornadoes.

The Great Plains region of the United States is known for the most powerful tornadoes in the world! That's because of the warm, moist air that moves up from the Gulf of Mexico mixing with the cool, dry air coming down from Canada or over the Rocky Mountains.

You can learn more about tornadoes from the
National Geographic, and severe weather conditions by checking out the National Weather Service.

If you want to keep track of weather in the Central Florida area, try the weather team at
WESH 2 News.

If you are interested in the people who track and inform us about the weather, you can enjoy the facebook page of one of our favorite meteorologists,
Kellianne Klass!

Enjoy your discoveries and keep sciencing!
Show More
Stacks Image 322

Alan Eustace

Alan Eustace' jump started at an altitude of 135,889 feet - or almost 26 miles! He fell for 4 1/2 minutes, reaching a top speed of 822 mph, which is faster than the speed of sound!

Dr. Eustace is a fascinating person. An alumnus of the University of Central Florida, he holds a doctorate in computer science. He is not Vice President of Google, and serves on the board of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology.

Okay, you know you want to see it.
Here's a video that shows a small part of Dr. Eustace record-breaking jump.

Skydive Tecumseh website has an interesting comparison of world record jumps.

Finally, you can explore
The Anita Borg Institute right here.

Be sure to pull your ripcord in time so you can keep Sciencing!

Show More
Stacks Image 312

AM waves are longer

Amplitude Modulation (AM) and Frequency Modulation (FM) radio waves have different lengths. FM waves are shorter. That means it is easier for FM waves to penetrate structures like buildings and homes. AM waves are longer, so sometimes an AM radio station will fade out inside a building, whereas an FM station may still sound very clear.

These days, there are multiple ways for a radio station to bring you programming, like over the internet or via satellite. You can learn more about the
history of radio here at Science Aid.

You can also check out what impacts the quality of radio wave reception here at
Study Mode Research!

Here's a little aside. If you think you might be interested in a career in radio, you can learn about the
educational requirements from

Keep sciencing, people!
Show More
Stacks Image 238

41:26 and 45:04

There are lots of ways to measure times in the Ironman triathlons! These swim times are without the assistance of a current. (You may find some faster swim times if someone is swimming in a river and that river is flowing in the same direction as they are swimming.)

Christof Wandratsch of Germany set the world record for men in 2006 at Ironman Austria! He swam the whole distance in just 41 minutes and twenty-six seconds.

The women of the world are led by
Amanda Stevens of the USA. Amanda set her record in 2012 at Ironman Germany.

You can learn a lot about triathlons at the
World Triathlon website!

The most famous of triathlons is called "Ironman," and you can learn about those on
their website. Ironman triathlons are held all around the world! Professor Sko herself has completed several (but Rusty and Sparky have not).
Show More
Stacks Image 228

184 mph

Denise Mueller-Korenek was a 45 year old mom and professional cyclist who smashed the world speed record on a bike at 184 mph! She did it in Sept of 2018 at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA.

"It was a crazy wild ride to 183.9 mph, but so worth the sacrifice and years of focus on becoming the fastest human on a bicycle in the world,” Denise said. Her bike was pulled behind a drag racer pulling a customized hood that would cut down on wind resistance, or drag; one of the main forces that works against a cyclist. The race car was driven by Shea Holbrook. She said, “I’m going to have to put the pedal all the way to the floor.” Imagine chasing a race car . . . on a BICYCLE!

Watch it happen with
this video from the Wall Street Journal. (It may be interrupted by advertisements.)

You can also read about Denise' record-setting ride with
this article from the BBC.

Are you interested in cycling as a sport? Keep up-to-date with happenings in the professional cycling world by checking in periodically
with Cycling News.
Show More
Stacks Image 343

Thomas Davenport

You may find a lot of names if you research this question, including Benjamin Franklin who experimented with concepts of channeling electricity to do work in the 1700’s. Thomas Davenport was awarded the first patent for what is now called a DC motor in 1837. It was the first-ever patent for an electrical device. He used to run an electric train in his workshop.

Davenport did not become rich from his invention because it was so far ahead of its time. He died broke long before the world would embrace his invention. How electric motors run your hair dryer, fans, refrigerators, power tools, lawn equipment, and even automobiles! Thank you, Thomas.

You can
read more about Thomas Davenport here at National Mag Lab.

Learn more about how electric motors work
with this article from How Stuff Works.
Show More
Stacks Image 333


We will have to keep updating this one. As the world races to renewable energy sources, advances in solar technology are happening every day.

Efficiency is defined as the amount of sunshine received by a solar cell that is converted into actual electricity.

At the time of this posting, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory at the U.S. Department of Energy holds the world record, breaking the previous world record set only the year before by a team of scientists from Germany and France. They did it with a four-junction solar cell design. Read all about it by
following this link to Design News.

You can read more about solar power
with this link to Science News for Students.

If you study up on it hard, you might know as much about solar power as Sparky does!
Show More
Stacks Image 364

Jacques Cousteau and Emile Gagnan

World-famous diver Jacques Cousteau were granted a patent in 1946 for what they called the “aqualung,” but is better known today as a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus, or “SCUBA” for short.

Individual underwater exploration to that time was cumbersome and divers were limited where they could go because they were connected to their boat by a hose. Scuba allowed people to swim anywhere just like the fish do!

Scuba equipment was first available to the public in 1952 and it changed diving forever. For the first time, diving could be a recreational activity and anyone who could acquire the training could find themselves exploring a coral reef or looking at an underwater shipwreck. You can do it, too!

Jacques Cousteau later became famous for his television series on diving. His ship called the Calypso was an easily-recognizable icon of adventure and discovery.

You can learn more about Jacques Cousteau by following this
link to the Encyclopedia Brittanica.

Learn about the Scuba patent by visiting here.

Discover the wonders diving as a
recreational sport here at Laird Underwater Service.
Show More
Stacks Image 354

The Spanish word "Cay"

The Spanish word “isla” means island. “Islet” means small island, and “cayo” or “cay” means very small island. “Cay” has been anglicized (meaning adapted to English) by being pronounced “key.”

Since the Spaniards were predominant in exploration of the Americas and the Caribbean, and were also serious map-makers, the names they assigned to places they found are usually the ones we use today. That is why in Florida you will find Key Biscayne, Key Largo, Key West, and in the Bahamas you find places like Rum Cay and Great Harbour Cay.

Learn more about Spanish explorers and the
Age of Discovery here.

When the Spanish first landed in the Florida Keys, they were inhabited by some very interesting people called the Calusa and the Tequesta. You can
learn about these native Floridians here.

Would you like to visit the Florida Keys? Get some
great info here and tell your parents you are taking them to the Keys.
Show More
Stacks Image 385

The Great Barrier Reef

Off the coast of Australia, the Great Barrier Reef runs a length of over 1,200 miles. It’s even visible from the moon! It started off as a forest area, but sea water rose 10,000 years ago submerging it and making it an incredible home for all kinds of sea life. Coral reefs are to the ocean what tropical rain forests are to the land.

A number of things threaten the health and even existence of the Great Barrier Reef. One is the crown-of-thorns starfish which is bad for coral. Another is pollution that runs off the nearby land, pesticides and toxic chemicals that people use for everyday tasks. Finally, changes in ocean temperature is a great stressor for coral that leads to “coral bleaching.” If you look at photos of a thriving reef, you will see it is very colorful, but coral that dies turns white, or looks like it has been bleached.

Learn some
amazing facts about the Great Barrier Reef from Guinness World Records.

Discover ways
you can help coral reefs from the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Show More
Stacks Image 375


When you look at coral, it will look like a big rock. It is actually a giant neighborhood of tiny little animals that have hard, outer shells. That also makes it feel like a rock.

Coral “takes root” in places, growing out from a single place, and this makes it seem like a plant. However, plants make their own food and coral cannot.

Read more about coral here with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Show More