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Learn All About Salt |spartanandthegreenegg.com

The Interesting World of Salt

“Please, pass the salt.” You heard it a hundred times, but did you ever wonder what was really in the salt shaker? Do you know where we get salt or if we can ever run out of it?

Salt is necessary for our bodies. However, if we eat too much of it, it’s bad for our health. People need salt for more than just eating. In fact, it is so valuable that, a long time ago, people gave workers salt instead of money!

Read on to find out more interesting facts about salt.

What Is Salt?

Scientists have many different names for salt. They call the type of salt we eat sodium chloride or NaCl.

If you sprinkle a little salt on the table and look at it with a magnifying glass, you can see it looks like little grains of sand. That is because salt is a mineral.

The salt you put on your French fries is called table salt, and it is just one type of salt. There are many others.

Different Types of Salt

Did you know that not all salt is white? White salt is the most common color, but there are many more. You can find gray, black, pink, red, and even blue salt. The different colors of salt come from other minerals that are mixed in with the sodium chloride. 

Color is not the only difference. Salt comes in many sizes and shapes, too. Table salt is the smallest type of salt, and it looks like small cubes. Kosher salt is larger, and the grains have irregular shapes. Flake salt is bigger than Kosher salt, but the grains are flat like a plate. Rock salt is even larger and is often the size of pebbles!

You can’t eat all types of salt. The majority of the salt in the world is not safe to eat because it contains other bad minerals for your body. People use these salts for many things, including melting ice on the roads and making other chemicals that we need.

What salt looks like and how we can use it depends a lot on where we find it.

Where Does Salt Come From?

Have you ever gone into the ocean with a scrape or cut? It doesn’t feel good. That’s because the ocean has salt in it. But ocean water is not the only place where you can find salt. It is all over the planet and even under it.

Hundreds of millions of years ago, the oceans covered most of the Earth. When the water disappeared, it left behind salt. Today we get most of our salt from deep underground in salt mines. But in some places in the world, the salt is still on the surface. We call these places “salt flats.”

Salt flats formed millions of years ago when saltwater lakes dried out. Some of the largest salt flats in the world are in the United States. Two of the most famous salt flats are the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah and the Badwater Basin salt flats in Death Valley National Park.

How Is Salt Produced?

We get our salt in a variety of ways.

Today, most of the salt we eat comes from dissolving rock salt in water and then evaporating the water using machines. Harvesting salt this way is clean and safe. But it wasn’t always so easy to produce salt.

Hundreds of years ago, most salt people ate came from salt mines or salt flats. Collecting salt from these places was a hard and dangerous job. That is one reason why salt was so valuable in ancient times.

Another process for gathering salt is by collecting ocean water and letting the sun evaporate the water. People have been using this method since ancient times, and they continue to do it today. Salt made from ocean water is called “sea salt” and is a popular choice of salt to use for food.

Can We Run Out of Salt?

One natural resource you should not worry about running out of is salt. Besides having millions of billions of tons of salt undiscovered, all of the salt we use returns to the Earth. That’s because after we eat salt, our bodies release it. While we may run out of some sources of salt, there will always be more.

The next time you sprinkle a little salt on your food, take the time to think about where the salt came from and all the people who worked hard to make it possible for you to do so.

Invasive Species Guide

How Invasive Species Hurt Natural Ecosystems  

An ecosystem is a fragile natural network of animals, plants, bacteria, and other organisms living in the same area. Over many years, the organisms in an ecosystem grow, hunt, reproduce and live with a natural balance. For example, animals at the top of the food chain need to eat some of the smaller animals in that food chain or things will get overpopulated. And, if those smaller food sources disappear, the native predators will die out or migrate due to starvation.

When something is destroyed or added to a balanced ecosystem, native species may struggle to survive. Removing a lot of trees (deforestation) can ruin an ecosystem by killing the animals who depend on those trees for survival. A less noticeable threat is when an invasive species is introduced to an ecosystem.

What is an Invasive Species?

When a species is brought into an area where it doesn’t belong, it can take over and hurt plants or animals that normally live in that space. Invasive species are also called alien species or exotic species.

Invasive species are any non-native species that disrupt an ecosystem.

There are some non-native species that are not invasive or destructive to the ecosystem. Some food plants, like wheat, rice, and tomatoes, are not native to the United States and do not threaten the local ecosystem.

Sometimes, people bring plants or animals into an area and end up causing a lot of damage. While the plant or animal might seem like a harmless part of nature, it doesn’t belong in that region and starts to take over part of the ecosystem.

Introducing an invasive species can happen on purpose or on accident. There are many reasons someone might bring a foreign species into a space. A few of the most common reasons for intrusive species include:

  • Pets that escape into the wild
  • Pretty plants or trees that are added to gardens
  • Animals brought in as a solution for pest control
  • Bait that escapes
  • Organisms that “hitch a ride” and are carried in by mistake

Examples of Invasive Species in the USA

There are more than 6,500 alien species in the US. Each of these species has caused untold havoc to the ecosystems they have found themselves in. Here are just a few examples:

Zebra Mussels were brought into the Great Lakes of North America by mistake in the 1980s. They stuck to the bottom of large ships and were brought in as the ships traveled between areas. There are now so many Zebra mussels in the Great Lakes that they clog water intakes, filter out important algae, and kill off native mussels. Plus, they really hurt if you ever step on one!

Burmese Pythons were brought to Florida as pets and released when their owners couldn’t properly care for them. They are now rapidly reproducing and invading the Everglades, eating the rabbits and songbirds who are native to the area. Nothing in the Everglades naturally eats the Burmese Pythons, so they are growing to an enormous size.

House Cats have made the list of the top 100 invasive species in the world and are the most invasive killer of species in the world. They have no native ecosystem because they are bred from wild cats and brought to America by European colonists. Cats eat birds and other small wild animals in the area when they are allowed to roam outside. Ironically, they were brought here to help with another highly invasive species from Europe—house mice.

Brazilian Pepper Trees were brought to Florida from Brazil in the mid-1800s. People liked using the bright red berries for holiday decorations. This invasive species is an aggressive and woody weed, producing a lot of seeds and creating shade that kills off native shrubbery.

Japanese Stilt Grass is one of the most damaging invasive plants, according to the US Department of Agriculture. This non-native plant isn’t eaten by deer or even goats (and they’ll eat almost anything!). Instead, it quickly replaces plants local wildlife typically eat.

What Can I Do to Help?

Once an invasive species is introduced to an area, it can be extremely hard to remove. If you want to support your local ecosystem, you need to support the native plants and wildlife. Some people aid in the efforts to remove the invasive species as often as possible. You will also make a big difference by researching any plants and animals you want to plant or release into the wild. 

Best Bugs To Catch

Bug Hunting: Where to Find the World’s Weirdest Insects  

Bugs are everywhere… literally! From Antarctica to the North Pole and everywhere in between, insects account for more than 80 percent of all animal life on Earth. 

In fact, there are so many bugs that scientists don’t even know for sure how many types of insects exist. Most estimate that there are over 10 million insect species. Some scientists think there are many more insect species that we haven’t even discovered yet.

Given how common creepy crawlies are, it’s easy to just walk on by without taking notice. But there are a few types of bugs that are so strange that you simply have to stop and stare.

Whether big, beautiful, or just plain weird, here’s where to find some of the world’s most unique bugs.

Royal Goliath Beetle

The royal Goliath beetle or Goliathus regius lives up to its name. This massive beetle is among the world’s biggest in weight, length, and mass. The largest specimens grow up to 5 inches long and weigh up to 100 grams, or about as much as a stick of butter.

They’re also one of the strongest beetles on the planet. Male royal Goliath beetles can lift up to 850 times their own weight!

You can find these massive beetles in the tropical regions of western Africa, including Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Sierra Leone.

Brazilian Treehopper

When you first catch a glimpse of a Brazilian treehopper, you may think it’s wearing some sort of elaborate hat, or that tiny planets are in orbit around its head. But the truth behind this South American insect’s headgear is just as strange.

Formally known as Bocydium globular, scientists are divided on the purpose behind the leaf-eating creature’s freaky helmet. Some think the outstanding orbs evolved to help the treehoppers better navigate their forest homes. But others think the balls mimic the effects of a parasitic fungus that causes odd-looking protrusions in host insects. Since predators avoid infected insects, the orbs may offer some protection to the treehoppers.

Antarctic Midge

Only three insects have been found living in the icy continent at the bottom of the Earth. Of these, only one is truly a native: the Antarctic midge or Belgica antarctica.

These insects may be tiny — about 2 to 6 mm long — but they’re tough. The midges have evolved to withstand Antarctica’s sub-zero temperatures. They spend about eight months of the year frozen.

Though they’re most closely related to flies, for most of their lives the midges take the form of grubs or larvae that live just under the soil. Then, for 14 glorious summer days, the midges emerge as wingless adults.

Picasso Moth

While the jewel-like tones of butterflies’ wings are often described as works of art, moths don’t often receive as many compliments. It’s understandable, as not many moth species have colorful wings. But there’s one outstanding exception: the Picasso moth or Baorisa hieroglyphica.

Named after the famous artist, this stunning white moth boasts colorful, geometric patterns on its front wings. To humans, the designs resemble abstract art. To the moth’s predators, the patterns make the moth look like a much larger insect. Picasso moths are found in northern India and parts of Southeast Asia, from Nepal to Borneo.

Giant Weta

Can an insect outweigh a mouse? Some giant wetas weigh as much as a gerbil! In their native New Zealand, these huge, cricket-like bugs are known by their Maori name, wetapunga, which means “god of ugly things.”

They’re believed to be one of the oldest insect species alive, and they’re certainly among the heaviest. Adult males can weigh up to 70 grams.

As scary as they look, Dimacid heteracantha are actually gentle and slow-moving. They can’t jump or fly but prefer to lumber around eating leaves and other vegetables. It’s reported that they have a sweet tooth for carrots! Sadly, these gentle giants are now an endangered species.

Gray’s Leaf Insect

Ever seen a walking leaf? In the tropical rainforests of Java, Bali, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and other parts of Southeast Asia, the Gray’s leaf insect resembles leaves come to life. These camouflaged creatures are part of a group of bugs known as “stick insects.”

The Gray’s leaf insect has evolved with a flattened, irregularly shaped body that cleverly fools predators. They sway from side to side when they walk, just like a leaf blowing in the breeze. Some even have “bite marks” and veins on their backs that precisely mimic leaves.

Known as Phylliium bioculatum, the males have small wings, but females don’t fly. Leaf insects love to munch on fruit, like guava, mangoes, and rambutan.

With millions of species to explore — and many left to discover — the world is full of unique and weird bugs. What’s your favorite?

Global Warming Causes And Remedies

What Is Global Warming, and How Can You Stop It?  

Global warming is the general trend of the Earth’s surface temperature increases over time. It has many natural and manmade causes. Scientists are trying to develop ways of reducing global warming because they’re concerned that it could damage the environment in various ways. There are also many things you can do to help slow global warming.

Greenhouse Effect

The greenhouse effect is a key part of global warming. It’s so named because of its similarity to the way a greenhouse stays warm inside. A greenhouse is a type of building made mostly of glass panes that allow sunlight in but prevent heat from escaping. Certain gases allow sunlight to enter the atmosphere without allowing heat to escape to outer space. The most common greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, water vapor, and methane.

Causes

Animals naturally produce greenhouse gases, mainly by exhaling. Plants use greenhouse gases during photosynthesis, which generally kept greenhouse gases at constant levels throughout most of Earth’s history. However, their levels started to rise during the Industrial Revolution in the late 19th century. This technological trend resulted in the burning of fossil fuels like coal, gas, and oil. These fuels are needed for many industrial processes such as powering factories, running cars, and generating electricity. In addition, many forests have been cut down to make land usable for humans, thus reducing the number of plants available to absorb greenhouse gases.

Effects

The exact rate of global warming is difficult to predict, but most scientists guess that the temperature of the Earth’s surface will increase by between 3.2- and 7.2-degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100. This increase may not sound like much, but it would cause a large portion of the polar ice caps to melt. Sea levels would rise as a result, endangering people, plants, and animals near the coast.

Stopping Global Warming

Scientists throughout the world are concerned about the effects of global warming. They’re currently looking for ways to reduce the production of greenhouse gases, generally by reducing the amount of fossil fuels that we burn. Kids can also help minimize global warming by conserving energy, convincing other people to do the same, and continuing to learn more about this subject.

Save Energy

The best ways for you to conserve energy include closing outside doors immediately so that warm or cool air doesn’t escape your house. You can also turn electrical appliances like computers and lights off when not in use. Additional energy-saving measures include walking or biking as much as possible instead of having your parents drive you somewhere.

Convince Others to Save Energy

You must be careful when convincing people to save energy because they don’t often like being told what to do. It’s much better to set examples and make suggestions than it is to give direct orders, even when you’re talking to your family and friends. Starting a conservation club at school is a great way to raise awareness of global warming.

You can help save energy at home by asking your parents to keep the heat off as much as possible, especially at night and when no one is at home. Replacing incandescent bulbs with fluorescent lighting also saves money and energy over time. Encouraging your parents to run appliances like dishwashers in energy saver mode and turning the car off while waiting to pick you up from school are other ways to save energy. Recycling more material is also an important way to save energy since any type of manufacturing uses a lot of energy.

Continued Education

Continuing your education is essential for finding new energy sources that don’t contribute to global warming. Solutions to this problem can come from many bodies of knowledge, including science, technology, economics, and politics. A good education can also help you make good decisions in your daily life.

What Are Canyons

Learn About Canyons

Canyons are steep, narrow valleys that may also be known as gorges. They’re formed over millions of years by river movements, erosion, and tectonic movements. River canyons are the best-known type of canyon, but they’re also found under the ocean.

River Movements
A fast-flowing river can cut into a riverbed by washing sediment downstream, creating a deeper channel. This type of river becomes known as an entrenched river because they don’t change course like a typical river with a wide, flat floodplain. The Yarlung Zango Canyon in Tibet is the deepest River Canyon in the world. It’s more than 17,500 feet in some places and is also one of the longest canyons in the world, at 310 miles.

Erosion
Erosion and weathering can also form canyons, usually in areas where water regularly freezes and thaws. This process begins when water seeps into cracks in rocks. The water freezes, causing it to expand and make the cracks bigger. The rock erodes and water fills the cracks again during heavy rains, causing more erosion. Over time, the canyon grows wider at the top than the bottom. This cycle repeats itself when the water freezes again.

Erosion like this forms slot canyons when it occurs in soft rock like sandstone. Slot canyons are unusually narrow and deep, sometimes less than three feet wide and 1000 feet deep. These types of canyons can be dangerous because the sides are often very smooth, making them difficult to climb. In some cases, canyons form in areas with soft rock lying on top of harder rock. When this happens, the canyons develop cliffs and ledges when the surface rock erodes, making the canyon walls look like giant steps.

Tectonic Activity
Tectonic plates are large pieces of the Earth’s crust and upper mantle. They shift and collide with each other over millions of years, causing changes to the Earth’s surface. Tectonic activity can sometimes cause land to rise above the surrounding area, which is known as a tectonic uplift. They can create mountains that glaciers and rivers cut through to create deep canyons.

The Grand Canyon in Arizona is the best-known canyon formed by tectonic activity. The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long and 18 miles wide at its widest point. The deepest point in the Grand Canyon is 6,000 feet below the surrounding land. The Grand Canyon was formed by the Colorado River, which cuts through the Colorado Plateau. The age of the Grand Canyon is between 5 million and 70 million years, depending on which geologist you ask.


Submarine Canyons

Canyons on the ocean floor are known as submarine canyons, which are some of the deepest canyons on Earth. These canyons cut into the continental shelves and slopes, which are the edges of the continents that are underwater. Some submarine canyons were formed by rivers when that part of the ocean floor was above water.

The Hudson Canyon is one of the longest canyons of this type, at a length of 450 miles. It was formed by the Hudson River, which is located between the US states of New York and New Jersey. The Hudson Canyon was the riverbed of the Hudson River during the last ice age when sea levels were lower. Ocean currents that are strong enough can also form submarine canyons by sweeping away sediment.

Ocean currents that are strong enough can also form submarine canyons by sweeping away sediment. This process is similar to the way that rivers on land can erode riverbeds. Wittard Canyon, off the south coast of Ireland, is a well-known example of this type of canyon. Scientists believe this canyon was formed thousands of years ago when glacial water flowed into the Atlantic Ocean.

Best Bugs To Catch

Bug Hunting: Where to Find the World’s Weirdest Insects  

Bugs are everywhere… literally! From Antarctica to the North Pole and everywhere in between, insects account for more than 80 percent of all animal life on Earth. 

In fact, there are so many bugs that scientists don’t even know for sure how many types of insects exist. Most estimate that there are over 10 million insect species. Some scientists think there are many more insect species that we haven’t even discovered yet.

Given how common creepy crawlies are, it’s easy to just walk on by without taking notice. But there are a few types of bugs that are so strange that you simply have to stop and stare.

Whether big, beautiful, or just plain weird, here’s where to find some of the world’s most unique bugs.

Royal Goliath Beetle

The royal Goliath beetle or Goliathus regius lives up to its name. This massive beetle is among the world’s biggest in weight, length, and mass. The largest specimens grow up to 5 inches long and weigh up to 100 grams, or about as much as a stick of butter.

They’re also one of the strongest beetles on the planet. Male royal Goliath beetles can lift up to 850 times their own weight!

You can find these massive beetles in the tropical regions of western Africa, including Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Sierra Leone.

Brazilian Treehopper

When you first catch a glimpse of a Brazilian treehopper, you may think it’s wearing some sort of elaborate hat, or those tiny planets are in orbit around its head. But the truth behind this South American insect’s headgear is just as strange.

Formally known as Bocydium globular, scientists are divided on the purpose behind the leaf-eating creature’s freaky helmet. Some think the outstanding orbs evolved to help the treehoppers better navigate their forest homes. But others think the balls mimic the effects of a parasitic fungus that causes odd-looking protrusions in host insects. Since predators avoid infected insects, the orbs may offer some protection to the treehoppers.

Antarctic Midge

Only three insects have been found living in the icy continent at the bottom of the Earth. Of these, only one is truly a native: the Antarctic midge or Belgica antarctica.

These insects may be tiny — about 2 to 6 mm long — but they’re tough. The midges have evolved to withstand Antarctica’s sub-zero temperatures. They spend about eight months of the year frozen.

Though they’re most closely related to flies, for most of their lives the midges take the form of grubs or larvae that live just under the soil. Then, for 14 glorious summer days, the midges emerge as wingless adults.

Picasso Moth

While the jewel-like tones of butterflies’ wings are often described as works of art, moths don’t often receive as many compliments. It’s understandable, as not many moth species have colorful wings. But there’s one outstanding exception: the Picasso moth or Baorisa hieroglyphica.

Named after the famous artist, this stunning white moth boasts colorful, geometric patterns on its front wings. To humans, the designs resemble abstract art. To the moth’s predators, the patterns make the moth look like a much larger insect. Picasso moths are found in northern India and parts of Southeast Asia, from Nepal to Borneo.

Giant Weta

Can an insect outweigh a mouse? Some giant wetas weigh as much as a gerbil! In their native New Zealand, these huge, cricket-like bugs are known by their Maori name, wetapunga, which means “god of ugly things.”

They’re believed to be one of the oldest insect species alive, and they’re certainly among the heaviest. Adult males can weigh up to 70 grams.

As scary as they look, Dimacid heteracantha are actually gentle and slow-moving. They can’t jump or fly but prefer to lumber around eating leaves and other vegetables. It’s reported that they have a sweet tooth for carrots! Sadly, these gentle giants are now an endangered species.

Gray’s Leaf Insect

Ever seen a walking leaf? In the tropical rainforests of Java, Bali, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and other parts of Southeast Asia, the Gray’s leaf insect resembles leaves come to life. These camouflaged creatures are part of a group of bugs known as “stick insects.”

The Gray’s leaf insect has evolved with a flattened, irregularly shaped body that cleverly fools predators. They sway from side to side when they walk, just like a leaf blowing in the breeze. Some even have “bite marks” and veins on their backs that precisely mimic leaves.

Known as Phylliium bioculatum, the males have small wings, but females don’t fly. Leaf insects love to munch on fruit, like guava, mangoes, and rambutan.

With millions of species to explore — and many left to discover — the world is full of unique and weird bugs. What’s your favorite?

Keep Our Oceans Clean

Over the years, human beings have polluted the world’s oceans and beaches quite a bit. We have also caused changes to the ocean food chains by fishing some species to extinction or endangerment. But we need our oceans, and it’s important that we work hard to keep them clean and make them healthy again. Here are some things you can do to help protect the ocean.

 

Remember Where the Water Goes

One of the biggest things you can do to keep the ocean clean is remember where the water goes, especially if your house is connected to a sewer system or near an ocean. Any water that runs down your drains can make its way to the ocean or to rivers that flow into the ocean, like the Mississippi River. That’s why you should never pour anything down your drains that is bad for the ocean, like cat litter or chemicals.

Conserve Water When You Can

Another way you can do your part to keep our oceans clean and protect the world’s watersupply is to conserve water. That means only use the water that you need. Try keeping your showers under a certain amount of time, brush your teeth without running the water the entire time, and tell your parents to get leaky pipes fixed fast. You can even get your whole family to start collecting rainwater to use for things like watering your garden.

 

Don’t Use Chemicals

Chemicals like the ones farmers use to fertilize their crops or the ones found in cleaning supplies you use around the house can easily get into the water runoff that eventually goes to the oceans. Any pollutants that get into the air can also be moved on the wind or with the rain until they get to oceans and beaches. So, talk to your family about natural ways to grow your gardens or clean your house. Try to get them to use fewer chemicals that can hurt the oceans.

Be Careful When You Visit the Ocean or Beach

You can also help to keep our oceans clean by being careful whenever you visit them. If you go outon boats always keep your trash on board. Throw it out only when you get back to land and find a trash bin. Also, try to remember that the wind can be strong out on the water. Keep hats, plastic bags, and other light things in places where the wind can’t blow them into the water.

 

If you are just spending time on the beach you can also help to keep the ocean clean by keeping the beach clean. Remember, any trash on the beach can be blown into the water by the wind or sucked into the water by the tide. Trash in or around the water can also be eaten by the animals or hurt them, which isn’t good for the ocean either.

 

If you are just visiting a beach then make sure that anything you bring there goes home with you or goes into trash bins. But if you live near the beach then you could help to keep the beach and ocean even cleaner by getting your friends and family together for a beach cleaning day. Together you can all clean up the trash and keep it from getting into the ocean. If everyone who lived near the beach did that then all of the world’s beaches and the oceans would be cleaner.

 

Learn and Teach About the Ocean

The very best way to keep our oceans clean for a long time is for you to learn all you can about the ocean and teach your friends and family members about how important clean oceans are. You don’t have to be a teacher, or even an adult, to help people learn how to protect the water. The more you learn about all of the important things the oceans do for the world, the easier it will be to find ways to protect them.

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