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Of Polaris and Pipes

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

Startling Fact

Leave your friends star-struck with your smarts.

Polaris, the North Star, sits directly above the North Pole along Earth’s rotational axis. That’s the imaginary line that extends through the planet and out of the North and South poles.

But here’s the dazzling part: Polaris hasn’t always been the North Star. Because Earth wobbles, that rotational axis sometimes points to a different star. That’s why, about 14,000 years ago, Vega was the North Star. And it will be again in about 12,000 years.


Singing Ringing Tree is one of three such sculptures and the only one in Texas.

Chris Burrows | TEC

It Sounded Like a …

Abilene has a new sculpture little more than a buffalo chip’s toss away from the eight giant steel bison twisting in the wind 35 feet above Frontier Texas. Singing Ringing Tree, above, installed in July 2022, takes advantage of the West Texas town’s bluster, turning 27 tons of pipes into giant flutes that create music audible up to 400 feet away, depending on the prevailing gusts.

The 22-foot-tall stack of pipes is arranged in a way that reminds knowing residents of a tornado and takes advantage of the winds that blow through town at an average of 12 mph.


Guess What?

January 4 is National Trivia Day.


Worth Repeating

“Keep your eyes on the stars but remember to keep your feet on the ground.”
—Theodore Roosevelt


To keep retired wind turbine blades from ending up in landfills, scientists hope to build them from thermoplastic resin, which would have a wide array of recycling possibilities, including as gummy candies.

Nerthus |

Turning Your Stomach?

Michigan State University researchers say a newly developed material for making wind turbines could later be recycled into objects ranging from car parts to gummy bears.


Barn Burner of an Idea

A Fort Worth radio station changed country music history 100 years ago this month.

WBAP-AM was the first to broadcast a country music variety show, starting January 4, 1923. Such so-called barn dance shows reached great acclaim soon after in Chicago and Nashville.


Literacy Landmark

George Dawson, who grew up among relatives who had been enslaved people and later became one of the oldest men in America to learn to read, was born 125 years ago this month.

Dawson entered a literacy program in Dallas when he was 98 and published his autobiography, Life Is So Good, in 2000 at 102.

He was born January 19, 1898, near Marshall and died in 2001 in Dallas.