Friday, January 31, 2014

Weather and Road Conditions

Have you driven on ice or snow this week?  Were you involved in an accident?  If so, you might be interested to know that, according to this page from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), "thirteen (13) percent" of weather-related crashes "occur on icy pavement and eleven (11) percent...take place on snowy or slushy pavement:"

But, don't think that summer driving is safer, because "the vast majority of most weather-related crashes happen on wet pavement and during rainfall: seventy-five (75) percent on wet pavement and forty-seven (47) percent during rainfall."  So, even though "on freeways, light rain or snow can reduce average speed by 3 to 13 percent," you may want to reduce your speed more than 13 percent so you can avoid being in that 75 percent.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

U.S. Chemical Safety Board

As we've recently seen in West Virginia, chemicals seem to have a knack for escaping from their containers and wreaking havoc on the environment.  When that sort of thing happens, who investigates?  In addition to agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there's an independent agency called the U.S. Chemical Safety Board that leaps into action:

Their site tells you not only about their mission and the incidents they're investigating, it also has a running list of chemical accidents in the news.  It's a frighteningly long list.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


If you are bravely battling a cold or the flu right now, you may be wishing you had some antibiotics to help you with your fight, but would they really help?  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's "Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work" page, "Antibiotics cure bacterial infections, not viral infections such as colds or flu; most coughs and bronchitis; sore throats not caused by strep; or runny noses:"

It can, in fact, be dangerous to take antibiotics when they aren't necessary because it may lead to more antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria and viruses.  Read all about it here, then take some over-the-counter painkillers and a nap.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Sun

As we start 2014, most of the country is freezing its collective behind off.  Therefore, to counteract the cold let's look at the sun (not literally of course).  The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has a series of pages devoted to the planets of the solar system, including the sun:

Here we can learn fascinating facts such as the sun "makes up 99.8% of the mass of the entire solar system" and its core temperature is "about 15 million degrees Celsius (27 million degrees Fahrenheit)."  There's even a nice gallery of solar images.  If you hold your fingers near enough to your computer monitor you can almost feel the warmth.