There are lots of fun links on
the web for this great holiday, but here are a few of special interest to scientists and budding
- Everyone’s favorite Halloween flying mammal — the bat! (Well,
all right, the only flying mammal.) There are some terrific bat sites on the web. You can
start out with the
Bat Quiz (http://www.lawrencehallofscience.org/batquiz/)
to see how much you already know. To find out more, check out the sites listed on the Bat Web Directory.
Not only will you find great images of vampire bats, but who could resist Peter’s ghost-faced Bat?
What sounds do bats make? Hear some
bat sounds (http://www.naturesongs.com/otheranimals.html#mftb)
(as well as other animals). You will need an MP3 player. Go to the
Jaguar Paw Bats Page (http://www.jaguarpaw.com/bats.shtml)
to learn more about bats. Astound your friends and neighbors with your knowledge of these important
- Your Halloween bats may be accompanied by other creatures of the night, such as
owls. You can visit a
webcam site (http://www.owlcam.com/)
and share in the adventures of a pair of Northern Barred Owls (Strix varia varia) as they raise
their family in a nest box in Eastern Massachusetts. Rest assured that all of the pictures and
sounds that you will experience are being obtained through owl friendly methods. The site also
has links to information on rescuing injured owls. Information of all kinds can be found on the
Owl Pages (http://www.owlpages.com/),
owls in mythology and culture (http://www.owlpages.com/articles.php?section=Owl+Mythology).
- I always thought Stonehenge deserved a place in Halloween —
even though it may have nothing to do with the holiday, since Stonehenge most certainly predates
the Celts and Druids. Its just the sort of thing that should be true. There are a
wealth of sites of interest on henges. The Canadian Discovery Channel takes you to a mystic place — Stonehenge,
or visit some of the other
stone circles and megaliths of Europe (http://www.stonepages.com/).
Did astronomy have its beginnings at places like this? Check out
A Brief Introduction to Archaeoastronomy (http://terpconnect.umd.edu/~tlaloc/archastro/cfaar_as.html).
And, wow, what a feat of engineering! NOVA provides an extensive
question and answer page (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/stonehenge/qanda/)
with details of the engineering and building process.
- Before they had pumpkins in Europe they had to make Jack-O’-Lanterns
out of turnips — hard work. But you can grow an
Atlantic giant pumpkin (http://www.backyardgardener.com/secert.html)
following these detailed instructions. The world record pumpkin weighed 1,092 lbs. — hope
you have a BIG yard. Be ready for next Halloween!
of all kinds was one of
the most important crops in the Pre-Columbian new world (http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=030904264X&page=203),
and often figured in ceremonies or religion. See the interesting
Squash Kachina (http://www.hopiart.com/kach-exp.htm)
(and other Kachinas) of the Hopi.
- You might want to stock up on wolf’s bane and garlic for the holiday.
Can’t find any wolf’s bane around the house? Don’t know what it looks like? Get a
detailed description (http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/aconi007.html)
or see a
It’s good to recognize this plant. Not only does it ward off werewolves (so they say) but it is
very poisonous. And don’t forget the
Actually, there are a lot of herbs connected with Halloween. Some say the
famous witches’ brew from Macbeth (http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/macbeth_4_1.html)
is more likely made of various herbs than of animal parts. The folklore of flower names
is indeed intricate. [Note to parents: some of these folkloric names are very “colorful”.]
Information on the chemistry
of some of these types of plants is intriguing. You can find additional information on these plants
using botany sites on the web, like the ones used for the wolf’s bane information above. Many of
these sites may require the Latin name of the plants, use a
dictionary site (http://www.merriam-webster.com/netdict.htm)
to find the Latin names.
- Another great Halloween plant species is the contorted filbert tree,
also known as
Harry Lauder’s walking stick (http://www.ars-grin.gov/ars/PacWest/Corvallis/ncgr/cool/contorta.html).
Another candidate is the ancient
bristlecone pine (http://www.sonic.net/bristlecone/Images.html),
which has important uses in
tree-ring studies (http://whyfiles.org/021climate/ringers.html)
for anthropology and climatology. See if you don’t agree these belong in every Halloween forest. Are
there other trees that fit into a Halloween forest? How about oaks?
- How can you celebrate Halloween without the eerie sound of a wolf’s howl
(or possibly, a werewolf’s howl)? And what do different howls mean? Visit the
NOVA Wild Wolves (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/wolves/)
site to hear (and see sonographs of) a lonesome howl, a confrontational howl, a pup howl, and a
chorus howl. More wolf howls
are available. You can
track individual wild wolves or packs (http://www.wolf.org/wolves/experience/telemsearch/vtelem/telem_intro.asp)
through the telemetry data provided by the International Wolf Center.
- Halloween pictures seem to always have a full moon, but how often does
this really happen on October 31? Will there be a full Halloween moon this year? Next year? How
about a blue moon? You can find the answers to some of these questions at the US Naval Observatory
Moon Phase (http://www.usno.navy.mil/USNO/astronomical-applications/data-services/phases-moon)
site (which lists all the phases for 1990 to 2005) or this list of
full moons (http://fermi.jhuapl.edu/s1r/amastro/tools/fullmoons.txt)
from 1900 to 2100). Check the
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Moon (http://www.shallowsky.com/moon/hitchhiker.html)
for other great moon pages.
- Actually, I’m not sure I have ever seen anyone in a mummy costume at
Halloween, but I can’t imagine a Halloween without mummies. Medical artists are using new
discover what these people looked like (http://dsc.discovery.com/news/briefs/20050425/mummy.html)
when they were alive. The
Manchester Museum (http://www.museum.manchester.ac.uk/collection/ancientegypt/)
has established a mummy tissue bank,
and is engaged in endeavors such as the worldwide Schistosomiasis Research Project and researching
other information on the biology and medical conditions of these ancient peoples. And, of course,
Egypt isn’t the only place with mummies. For instance, visit the
Ice Mummies of the Inca (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/peru/)
Mysterious Mummies of China (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/chinamum/).
And don’t miss
In 1989, the World Heritage Museum in Illinois acquired a mummy from an antiquities dealer. Without
any background information to draw on, scientists at the museum painstakingly uncovered the mummy’s
history. This site explains the non-destructive methods they used (including x-rays, CAT scans, and
isotope and DNA analysis) to gather information without damaging the fragile mummy. These pages
also contain a description of the mummy’s origin, ancient Egyptian architecture, and hieroglyphics.
Special features here include several Quick Time Videos and a program that translates your name
into hieroglyphics. For more mummy links, check out
Mummies on the Web (http://www.guardians.net/egypt/mummies.htm).
- Of course masks and costumes are celebrated at many occasions, in many
cultures, as well as at Halloween. You can get a beautiful
Yupik Mask screensaver (http://www.greenland-guide.gl/masks/default.htm)
as freeware. See other stunning
Yupik masks (http://www.mnh.si.edu/arctic/features/yupik/index.html),
African masks (http://cti.itc.virginia.edu/~bcr/African_Mask.html),
Huichol masks (http://www.mexconnect.com/articles/180-huichol-artwork-masks)
from Mexico. Find links to more masks from cultures around the world at the mask links directory.
Find links to more masks from cultures around the world at the mask links directory.
- Do black cats cause bad luck? The eternal question, and one that has
rarely been subjected to rigorous scientific testing. However, Mark Levin has taken it upon
himself to examine this issue. Read
his results (http://petcaretips.net/black_cat_luck.html).
An informative source of cat anatomy can be found at
Cats: Plans for Perfection (http://www.nationalgeographic.com/features/97/cats/).
Or you may be interested in why you see those glowing, scary eyes in the dark. Check out
Why cats’ eyes glow in the dark (http://dspace.dial.pipex.com/agarman/bco/fact4.htm).
You can also read
Tidbits of Cat Mythology and Folklore from Various Cultures (http://wuzzle.org/cave/catbits.html).
- The history of the era of witch hunts in Europe and America is a
study in the sociology and folklore of that time and place. You can find many links to research
this phenomenon through the
Witches and Witchcraft page (http://womenshistory.about.com/od/witches/Witches_and_Witchcraft.htm)
more folktales (http://www.shanmonster.com/witch/docs.html)
associated with this dark period can be found full text. Other eerie folk tales can be found at
Werewolf Legends from Germany (http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/werewolf.html).
- Since many of our Halloween customs trace back to Celtic beliefs, you
may want to check out the mythology and mysticism of that ancient people. You can find
information on their
art and culture (http://www.unc.edu/celtic/),
or general information
and pictures, including information about burial mounds.
- Have a green Halloween! The Environmental Defense Fund provides us
with tips to have an
environmentally friendly Halloween (http://www.edf.org/pressrelease.cfm?contentID=2364).
- Besides green, Halloween is red, orange and yellow — the time for
flaming foliage. Where is the best display of vibrant colors this
week-end? This question and more can be answered by the
Fall Color Hotline (http://www.fs.fed.us/news/fall.shtml)
operated by the USDA Forest Service. Also includes “Why leaves Change Color”
and “The Chemistry of Fall Colors”. Or check out this explanation of
Why Leaves Change Color (http://www.esf.edu/pubprog/brochure/leaves/leaves.htm).
You can preserve the beauty of these leaves by following these instructions.
Or find out what the trees are missing by dropping their leaves by using the links at
Learning About Photosynthesis (http://photoscience.la.asu.edu/photosyn/education/learn.html).
There’s something here for everyone, from kids through PhD’s.
- Keep your child safe! Consult these sites on
Halloween safety (http://dir.yahoo.com/society_and_culture/holidays_and_observances/halloween/safety/).
- For more traditional Halloween websites, visit
extensive list of Halloween sites provided by About.com (http://halloween.about.com/).
Stephanie Bianchi, National Science Foundation Library, 2000.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations
expressed in this newsletter are those of the participants (authors), and do
not necessarily represent the official views, opinions, or policy of the
National Science Foundation.