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High Alert

Some of the stuff we looked into while you were reading last month’s issue

Don’t say they didn’t warn you.

It’s long been known that rattlesnakes rattle their tails to alert aggressors or distract prey. But researchers recently reported in Current Biology that when a perceived enemy ignores the initial warning, the snakes switch from a low- to a high-frequency rattle to give the impression they are much closer than they actually are. When the initial slow, steady rattling rate of 12 hertz is ignored, rattlers will dial it up to as high as 100 hertz.

Listen to a Rattlesnake’s Rattle

Texas Co-op Power · Rattlesnake Rattle

 

A Cold, Hard Fact

A fridge made 30 years ago uses almost four times as much electricity as a modern one.

 

Go Figure

Sixty-six distribution co-ops operate in Texas, from as far north as North Plains EC in Perryton and as far south as Magic Valley EC in Mercedes, and as far west as Rio Grande EC in Dell City and as far east as Jasper-Newton EC in Kirbyville. Co-ops power most of the state’s landmass.

David C. Zawieja of the Texas A&M University College of Medicine is the lead researcher studying the effects of long-term spaceflight on astronauts’ eyes. “Their vision can be impaired— it can be temporary, it can be permanent, it can be mild, it can be severe, it can be in one eye more than the other,” he says. “There’s a lot that we don’t know, but what we do know is that this is a mission-critical problem.”

Tryfonov | Stock.adobe.com

A Farsighted Mission

Most astronauts who spend at least a month in space return to Earth with impaired vision. And as NASA gears up for an eventual mission to Mars, which would require astronauts to spend at least 1½ years in space, the agency is turning to the Texas A&M University College of Medicine to study the effect of long-term spaceflight on the eyes and on the arteries, veins and lymphatic vessels that serve them and maintain vision.

 

A Long, Long Time Ago

Don McLean’s American Pie hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100, becoming the longest song to do so, 50 years ago.

The ballad, which pegged the 1959 Iowa plane crash that killed three musicians, Ritchie Valens and Texans Buddy Holly and “The Big Bopper” J. P. Richardson, as “the day the music died,” clocked in at 8 minutes, 42 seconds.

It reached the top spot on the charts January 15, 1972, and remained there four weeks.

Taylor Swift surpassed McLean the week of November 27, 2021 when her ballad All Too Well, which runs 10:13, debuted at No. 1.