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Author: Samuel Sietsema

Sam Sietsema is a junior, but he's also a dreamer, innovator, Harvard graduate, and frequent lier. Back again for another year he's hoping to share knowledge that people can find interesting. This 16 year old is less about politics and current events and more about making people think. I'm looking forward to introducing new topics, imagining mystifying possibilities, and, hopefully, making people say "that's cool".

Stuff You Should Know: Ponziani Basics

The Ponziani is one of the oldest chess openings, first described by Luis Ramirez Lucena in 1497. It is sometimes also called the Staunton opening as Howard Staunton—the best chess player from 1843 to 1851—was a strong advocate for it. While still iconic, nowadays the opening is not considered to be quite as good as the Ruy Lopez or the Italian game.  Opening The Ponziani opening starts with 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c3. C3 is…

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Stuff You Should Know: Leather Grains

To understand the different grains of leather, one must first know how leather is made. A hide, typically from a cow, is taken and then split into multiple thin pieces, which are then turned into leather. During the split, the outer side of the hide that has the skin is taken away to be turned into “full-grain” leather, while the rest of the hide makes up the other grains. The rest of the hide is…

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Stuff You Should Know: Miracle Fruit

There is a berry that changes how you taste. Synsepalum dulcificum, commonly called the “miracle fruit,” contains a protein called Miraculin. Miraculin coats the taste buds and changes how receptive the human body is to sour foods—after consuming the berry, foods that normally are sour appear to taste extremely sweet. For fifteen minutes to an hour, no other taste sensations are changed, but all sour foods taste more like sugar. Miraculin is currently being investigated…

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Stuff You Should Know: Glowing Rocks

To the naked eye, “Yooperlites” look like any other boring gray rock. However, the rock contains something called “sodalite” which causes it to gleam with fluorescence when a UV light is shined on it.  The rock got the name from Erik Rintamaki, the man who first found them in 2017. He named them that as a nod to the nickname ¨Yooper,¨ given to those who live in Michigan’s upper peninsula. The rock was  found on…

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Stuff You Should Know: Slugs with Sam

Sacoglossans are a species of sea slug known for their amazing colors and patterns. Elysia chlorotica, a Sacoglossan that lives beneath shallow waters on the East coast is known for something else: this slug feeds on algae, and instead of breaking down the plant completely, they suck out the cells and use them to photosynthesize.  This process is called “kleptoplasty,” and it enables the slug to power itself with energy from the sun. To use…

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