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Free Press Reporters Take a Blissful Step into ‘A Floating World’

Chazen Exhibit Displays Japanese Wood Block Art Through the Centuries

by Enjoyiana Nururdin, age 17

Recently, friend of the Free Press and valued volunteer, Jane Coleman, surprised a group of Free Press reporters with a field trip to the Japanese wood block exhibit at the Chazen Museum of Art. The group of us—including Diamond, Dija, James, Christy, Felicia, Ruthanne, and our editors Taylor and Aarushi—met at the South Towne newsroom where Jane gave us a briefing. Jane explained that Dr. Gene Phillips, professor of Japanese Art, had generously agreed to take us into the “floating world.” He would be acting as a docent, or a volunteer guide, for us. Excited, we grabbed our freshly sharpened pencils, notepads, and camera. We piled into two cars and crossed the isthmus.

When we arrived at the Chazen Museum of Art, the first thing we noticed was the glass windows and the skeleton sculpture outside. There, we met Shoko Miyagi, another Free Press volunteer, and Dr. Gene Phillips, in the flesh. Dr. Phillips insisted we call him Gene.

Walking into the exhibit, the dim lights and cold air took us by surprise. Dr. Phillips explained why the environment resembled a haunted house. Because the water-based ink on the wood block came from plants or vegetables, he explained, the pigment changes over time with exposure to light. Therefore, it was best not to use a camera flash or increase the light and speed up the fading process. [Read More]

Centuries After Rediscovery,
Machu Picchu Remains a Mystery

Archeologists Grapple with Unanswered Questions

by Vanessa Shell, age 11

Machu Picchu, a historic world site, was discovered in the 20th century in the Peruvian Andes by Connecticut Senator Hiram Bingham.

Senator Bingham found Machu Picchu while he was searching for Vilcabamba in South America. Vilcabamba is the last known Inca refuge where the Inca survived for 36 years until they were killed by the Spanish army. Machu Picchu was originally thought to be Vilcabamba, but the identification of the site as the Inca's last refuge is now thought to be wrong. In fact, Machu Picchu seems to be more of a religious or ceremonial complex when compared to Vilcabamba. The construction date of Machu Picchu is unknown, but scientists believe it originated around the end of the 15th century. [Read More]

Christy Zheng: Facebook News Not 'Trending' At All

Learn About Your World, Read Simpsons Street Free Press

by Christy Zheng, age 13

Besides checking on your friends, what do you do on Facebook? Well, if you check the upper right corner of your screen, you will see one-eighth of the page devoted to “Trending News,” which supposedly shows a selection of the days' most popular stories. But a recent article in Gizmodo, revealed that this “Trending News” isn’t actually trending at all. Instead, Facebook hired a team of “news curators,” to handpick which stories “trend” each day.

News curators are the journalists behind these 'trending' topics. They must meet certain quotas for posting—most must post 20 times a day. For the first two and a half months, they worked in an unused conference room instead of the more private desks afforded to other employees of Facebook, which made some curators uneasy. [Read More]

Ants Take Medicine When They're Sick

by Diamond Washington, age 15

Ants of the Formica Fusca species have discovered a way to fight off harmful fungal infections. They have discovered that hydrogen peroxide, though normally very dangerous to them, can sometimes be salubrious or, good for their health.

Dense colonies of social insects such as ants can be especially vulnerable to parasitic infections and fungal diseases because they have low genetic diversity due to their high density and the high humidity and temperatures of their habitats. When ants get sick, they sometimes ingest foods rich in hydrogen peroxide in order to drive out the infection. In their natural habitats these foods could be things such as aphids or other decaying ants. They seem to have realized that their chances with the hydrogen peroxide are much better than their chances with the infections. [Read More]

Beluga Bubble Blowing Continues to Puzzle Scientists

by Felicia Zheng, age 11

For years, scientists have been asking why beluga whales blow bubbles. Though they are not sure of the answer, several theories have been formed over time.

Some people believe that beluga whales blow bubbles to show emotion. Recently, scientists spent eight years in Marine Land Park which is close to Toronto, to collect data on the bubbles. They learned that whales blow various bubbles in different situations, such as when they are swimming together versus when they want to show aggression.

Another theory is that beluga whales blow bubbles to play. Because belugas do not have toys, they invent their own: bubble rings. They blow and swim through these rings. Research shows that when they have more serious things to do however, like during mating season, they do not blow bubbles. Instead, the males patrol the bodies of water in which they are mating. [Read More]