People With Early Birthdays Have More Success According To The Relative Age Effect

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People With Early Birthdays Have More Success According To The Relative Age Effect

Age differences might not matter that much to adults, but among kids, they're significant—even when it comes to the difference between being born in January and December of the same year. For team sports such as hockey and soccer, the age cutoff for a kids' team is often the calendar year. This means that children born in January will be on the same team as children born in December, giving them an age difference of nearly a year. That year can be a huge leg up when it comes to both physical and mental development, especially at a young age, and studies find that this advantage follows children throughout their athletic careers. A 2013 study in the journal PLOS ONE cited the fact that in the National Hockey League (NHL), 40% of professional players are born in the first quarter of the year. This climbs to 50% on elite youth soccer teams, according to Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt of Freakonomics. The effect even holds up in the classroom, where children born in summer months—right before the fall birthday cutoff—are generally seen as academic underachievers.

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Key Facts to Know

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    If you were born in the summer, research suggests you're more likely to be a smoker or shortsighted. 0:34

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    Increased exposure to sunlight in women who get pregnant in the summer may raise the likelihood of left-handedness and schizophrenia in their children. 1:22

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    The seasonal birth effect is only visible when looking at large populations, and no causal links between birth dates and characteristics have yet been found. 2:43

The Argentinian Woman Who Gave Birth On Antarctica's Esperanza Base

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The Argentinian Woman Who Gave Birth On Antarctica's Esperanza Base

In 1977, the country of Argentina must have been desperate to stake claim to new territory. The nation's officials airlifted a woman to Antarctica in order to do just that. Silvia Morello de Palma was seven months pregnant woman when she was taken to Esperanza Base in order to give birth on the frigid continent. According to the logic of Argentine officials, this birth would give the country of Argentina territorial claims to Antarctica. On January 7, 1978, the newborn Emilio Palma became the first recorded person to be born on the continent. The birth proved just how serious Chilean President Augusto Pinochet was about taking Argentina to new places around the globe. Argentina claims that Malvinas, the South Atlantic Islands, and a certain section of Antarctica are all theirs. Argentina, as well as Chile, the UK, France, and New Zealand, has designed a special flag for its Antarctic territories. Learn more about Antarctica in the videos below.

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Key Facts to Know

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    Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, driest and most uninhabited region on the planet. 0:00

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    There is no permanent human population on Antarctica. 0:49

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    Twelve countries signed the Antarctica Treaty in 1959. 1:34

The Unexpected History of Birthstones

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The Unexpected History of Birthstones

You probably know your birthstone, but do you know how that particular gem came to be associated with your birthday? It's a long story, one that dates all the way back to the book of Exodus. The prophet Moses had a brother Aaron, who in his capacities as the first high priest of the Israelites wore a ceremonial breastplate adorned with four rows of three precious stones to represent the 12 tribes of Israel. Interestingly, due to translating challenges, the exact stones that were included are somewhat of a mystery.It wasn't until the first century A.D. that the Romano-Jewish scholar Titus Flavius Josephus connected the 12 stones to the 12 signs of the Zodiac. With that connection to the month of a person's birth, the jump from Zodiac stone to birth stone was a simple one. In 15th-century Poland, wealthy people would collect a full set of birthstones and wear each on its particular month in order to reap its mystical powers. In 1870, Tiffany & Co. published a pamphlet that included a poem that laid out the birthstone for each month, and finally in 1912 the National Association of Jewelers officially adopted a birthstone list. That list has been periodically updated with stone additions and changes ever since.

Every Year, The Curiosity Rover Sings A Lonely Birthday Song

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Every Year, The Curiosity Rover Sings A Lonely Birthday Song

On August 5, 2012, NASA's Curiosity Rover touched down on the Martian surface for the first time. It entered the Martian atmosphere at a staggering 13,000 mph. Curiosity, a huge accomplishment in interstellar exploration, is the largest rover ever delivered to the surface of a planet. And when August 5th rolls around year after year as Curiosity cruises Mars' surface, the lonely rover performs a special task: it sings "Happy Birthday" to itself all alone. Researchers at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center programmed the celebratory song to play on August 5 every year. To do this, Curiosity produces a series of frequencies that mimic the notes in the song. Watch the videos below to hear Curiosity sing the song, and for more information about this historic rover.

The Birthday Cake's Ancient Greek Origins

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The Birthday Cake's Ancient Greek Origins

Have you ever wondered why we stick candles in perfectly good cakes and set fire to them every year? The birthday cake has a long and murky backstory, but experts most often pinpoint its origin in Ancient Greece. The daughter of Zeus and twin sister of Apollo, Artemis was the goddess of the hunt and the moon. To honor her, Greeks would bring cakes in offering, making them round and adorning them with lit candles to help them resemble the glow of the full moon. Of course, these candle-studded cakes weren't associated with birthdays until much later with the German Kinderfest in the late 18th century. These events celebrated children with cakes topped with one candle for each year the child had been alive, plus one in the hopes they'd live another year. These celebrations also involved blowing out the candles and making a wish, a practice that some say also hearkens back to religious tradition: smoke was believed to be a vehicle to carry prayers up to the gods. We've collected some awesome videos on this topic. Watch them now to learn more.