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e-Scape with O and Aarti


She Rides a Water Rocket!

Meet Caroline QueenODYSSEY’s U.S. Olympic Team Member

Hey, Science Adventurers! Guess what? We talked with U.S. Olympic team member Caroline Queen for the July/August e-Scape Adventure with O and Aarti! You must see her to believe what she can do with a small boat called a kayak as she races down a raging torrent of water! But don’t blink. It’s like riding a water rocket. A kayak slalom race is over in less than two minutes.

Caroline Queen

Visit Caroline’s Web site and cheer her on. She would love to hear from ODYSSEY readers! And then don’t miss the Olympic Preliminaries on July 30, and the Medal Event on August 2.

To learn more about Caroline Queen go to:
Caroline’s Facebook page
Caroline’s Olympic Team blog page

Good Adventures Always,
O and Aarti

We can’t see into kayaker Caroline Queen’s head and watch as she imagines her Olympic runs. But we can listen in as she reviews a run she just paddled. Watch how this Olympic Team Member uses her brain as well as brawn to get better in her sport. (Caroline also has posted other paddling videos.)

Kayaking overview

Kayaking forum

Olympic kayak slalom history and equipment

In the July/August ODYSSEY, you also read about kayakers Evelyn (Evy) and Ethan Van Horn in “Pennsylvanian River Runners.” Here’s more about Evy’s kayaking adventures: 

Camp Whitewater
It wasn’t Camp Half-Blood, so Evy Van Horn didn’t meet Percy, Annabeth, or any other half-human, half-Olympic gods. But last year she did attend Spring Camp with Olympic kayaking hopefuls, Caroline Queen, Ashley Nee, and Michelle Kvanli. Want to know what it’s like training with world-class athletes? Here’s Evy’s schedule for one day of the four-day camp:

  • Breakfast with other campers.
  • Talk over whitewater skills to be practiced in the morning.
  • Run the river! Twice!
  • Practice individual paddling skills.
  • Lunch.
  • Review what went well and not so well in the morning.
  • Decide on skills to be practiced that afternoon.
  • Run a different part of the river.
  • One-on-one coaching from Caroline, Michelle, or Ashley.
  • Dinner.
  • Go to bed, really, really tired!

E.T. ContestWhen we announced the winners of our E.T. Contest in the July/August issue, we didn’t have space to include the contest’s runner-up, Betty Park, age 10, of Sammamish, WA, so we’ve included her entry here. Congratulations, Betty, for your intriguing entry!

The contest asked readers to: choose one of three alien worlds— X, Y and Z— draw an alien who might inhabit it, and describe specifically:

  • Where it lives on the planet
  • Any unique body parts, characteristics, or habits the alien evolved to live on the planet, and
  • How the alien competes or cooperates with other life forms on the planet.

Betty chose Alien World Z, described as: A rogue planet that has broken away from its sun. Its radioactive core radiates heat to its surface. It holds a subsurface ocean but no atmosphere. Gravity is five times Earth’s.

She named Alien World Z “Planet Zullity,” drew a map of it, and drew and described six types of aliens who inhabit the planet. We’ve included her entire entry here.

Planet Zullity

The Aliens


Archos aliens originally lived and thrived in the Elysian Ocean (see map). When Zullity broke away from its sun, the Archos had to rely on the planet’s radioactive core for warmth. Soon, they evolved into snakelike creatures with both gills and a respiratory system, and were able to breathe underwater and over land. The Archos once had legs and wings, but due to continuous trips to the Elysian, these appendages proved useless and slowly disappeared, making the Archos unable to fly. However, the Archos’s snaky body is streamlined, making it useful underwater. It also allows the Archos to be lightning fast with precise accuracy, an ability that is very useful for hunting prey.  Propagandas (see map) has many rocky cliffs. The Archos’s serpentine body allows it to slither up those cliffs and squeeze into a fracture when a serious threat, such as a landslide, occurs.


The Eon descended from super-intelligent beings some 100,000 years ago. They are the only aliens on the planet to have a civilization and a city, and are the most intelligent minds in the entire history of Zullity.  Their scientists have made extensive records of the Archos, Aquos, Carset, Varsyss, and the Razork. Their achievements are more successful than any other, and their culture is unmatched. At an extremely young age, an Eon participates in a competition that tests its speed, strength, and smarts. It takes place in all of the three counties, including Naraki. (see map). An Eon’s wings can propel up to 65 meters in a single flap, and can withstand flying 50,675 miles without rest. Eon hate violence, so they are often peace ambassadors for other aliens. They are very good diplomats and always stand up to a diplomatic solution. When it is their last hope, they will use their gem on their head, which can be used to create weapons with their minds. Over time, the Eon have never changed and their empire has not fallen—Yet! But, enemies are stirring in this alien land.


It is said, that during the war between the Razork and Eon, Eon scientists tried to make the ultimate fighting machine, and made the Carset. Built for battle, the Carset know over 150 battle strategies, 400 tactical moves, and 560 defensive methods. However, they lacked the energy to undergo any of them. Their flaw was definitely fatal. The Carset were often prey for many predators, and now only a few of them  exist. Carset are elusive, and are known for their razor-sharp tail, which is used to give very painful blows. Their claws can retract like a cat, allowing them to run easily. The most famous of the carset were two brothers, named Intrigue and Delight. They, together, made a candy factory called the Elysian Candy Co. Their products are famous around the world, like Creamiyr and Buttersploosh and Wonka Magic and more!  This has earned some respect for the Carset. People say, that eating 50 gallons of Dragon Chill candy, can make a Razork faint!


Varsyss were gentle, peaceful creatures living in Odyssey.  But having to rely on the pulsing, radioactive core, Varsyss mutated into an eight-legged creature and started to grow thick, adamant armor that diamonds couldn’t pierce. The entire species realized that the environment of Odyssey (see map) was unsuitable for them, so they moved to Naraki. Naraki was mostly island desert and jagged, sharp ground, perfect for the Varsyss. Their armor protected them and the rocky ground provided areas to make the armor tougher and bulkier. There were few predators so there were no severe threats. The strange jewel on a Varsyss’ forehead is for telepathy—creating and moving items with its mind.  This way, the Varsyss never will go hungry.  (It can create prey.) The Varsyss, unlike any other of the aliens, have degrees of social status. The higher-ranking Varsyss are the most efficient in telepathy and fighting. The highest rank is general, and it makes sure that everything is in order.


The Razork by far, are the most dangerous and most feared species in all of Zullity. With their razor-sharp claws and poisonous spikes, they have no enemies. Thousands of years ago, the Razork was like a shellfish. But when its prey adapted to land, it evolved as well. The Razork are extremely fast; they can run at speeds double the speed of sound. Razork are usually solitary, but when hearing the call of their species, they band together. They have a very bloody history—they have nearly exterminated the Eon, killed a general of the Varsyss, and permanently wiped out the Killywogs, a unique and harmless species. But, their minds were damaged when Zullity broke away from the sun, so they cannot think, only act. Because of the Razork’s actions, many aliens want revenge for their fallen friends.

Chance B. BackflipODYSSEY reader Chance B. from California sent us this photo. He wanted us to show it to you. January’s ODYSSEY was all about Annoyance. Chance had a fun way of dealing with annoyance—he bounces it away by doing back-flips on his trampoline.

Since Chance wrote to us, we’ve been bugging M. Jay for a trampoline. We want to learn to do back-flips too!

Thanks, Chance!

Good Adventures Always,
O and Aarti

Already O and Aarti have heard from Odyssey reader, Geneva S., with a terrific idea for the New Year. She wrote: “I am a girl scout and I try to save water so could you promise to save water? Thank you.”

So . . . in 2012, O, Aarti, and the rest of the gang at ODYSSEY make this New Year’s Resolution: We will CONSERVE WATER. Everyone, everywhere deserves clean water!

World Water Day will be held March 12, 2012. Go to: UN-Water to learn more.

Geneva also asked O and Aarti to spread the word.

Aarti: Hey, Geneva! Consider it spread!

O: Like peanut butter!

M. Jay

Morgan GoodallFood scientist Morgan Goodall stars in ODYSSEY’s February, 2012, e-Scape with O and Aarti in the “Science of Sweet” issue. Morgan loves the science of food.

O, Aarti, and I asked Morgan how she creates new food products. How, for example, would she develop a nutrition-packed bagel? (Something O would love with a little peanut butter!) “Going from concept to food product is probably my favorite part of food science.” says Morgan. “I like to get my hands dirty.” Of course, she doesn’t mean dirty, dirty. She means she takes a hands-on approach to developing recipes for new food products.

“I like trying different things,” Morgan says. “But before you start, try to match what you want to make with what consumers want to buy. It’s great to come up with something you think is good, but it has to sell off the shelf in the end.” “Matching what you make with a nutrition trend is a great way to go,” she says. “Nutrition is very important to consumers. Look at your bagel to see what nutritional aspects can be improved. Instead of it being a regular white wheat bagel, you might make it whole wheat. Whole grains are better from a nutritional standpoint.”

Having zeroed in on how to make our new bagel, Morgan got out the mixing bowls. “Usually, right away I’ll try to make it, because I want to know what are the challenges that I’ll have from the very beginning. So, I’ll find a recipe for a bagel. I’ll start by replacing the white wheat with whole wheat just to see what happens.”

Does the whole-wheat dough rise? Maybe. Maybe not. But by observing the effects of tweaking the recipe, Morgan can isolate problems. Then she applies her “foodie” sense and science. “From there you should be able to figure out solutions to any problems using what you learned about food chemistry and microbiology.”

You know. I’m thinking we might mix in blueberry yogurt. Just to see what happens. What do you think Aarti?

Watch for Morgan’s story in February. You’ll be surprised by what she has whipped up for herself using—food science!

0, Aarti, and Dan

I’m M. Jay, O and Aarti’s guardian. (BTW: I’m not supposed to be here, as you know. I won’t stay long.) Some of you may have received email or letters from O and Aarti. They do a good job, when they pay attention. They wanted to try something new so I asked them to interview Dan Risch. Dan, who lives in Louisville, Kentucky, writes Odyssey’s e-Scape! with O and Aarti. We hope you enjoy getting to know Dan and his fictional creations—O and Aarti.

Ciao for now,
M. Jay

O and AartiO and Aarti: Hi Dan!

Dan: Hi. You two look e-Specially Sharp.

Aarti: Gee, thanks! Um. We better
get . . .

O: Hey Dan, do you like to ride bikes?

Dan: I do, O. By the way Aarti, you do look cool wearing eye protectors. Very Pro. Anyway, I have three bikes. Two I ride and one in pieces. My son builds bikes and he uses parts off it. I ride as often as I can. You know one morning, a big buck deer nearly crashed into me?

O: No kidding!

Aarti: Uh, guys . . .

Dan: Yeah. I was riding early in a Louisville park, right downtown. Can you believe that? A news headline flashed in front of my eyes: “Local writer sent to hospital following collision with 6-point deer. Game warden gave him a ticket for hunting without a license . . . ”

O and AartiAarti: Wait! Wait! What’s bike riding got to do with science?!

Dan: Lots really Aarti. Like physics. Force applied through the pedals overcomes inertia, for example. And you got to keep moving to counter gravity. In fact, did you know just this year university researchers built the strangest contraption I’ve ever seen? It’s like a cyborg bike. They built it to help them understand why a bike falls over when you stop pedaling. That’s what I like about science. If a question pesters you, science can usually swat it with an answer. Do you ride, O?

O: Would if I . . .

Aarti: Ooooh! Boys! Enough about bikes. We’re out of time!

Dan: I’m sorry, Aarti. You ask the questions next time. Okay? 

Dan Risch

Dear O and Aarti: You’ve Got Mail

In our July/August 2011 issue, O and Aarti were feuding about who makes better scientists—boys or girls? We asked you to help settle the feud between our friends, and we received some great responses! More guys than girls responded, which surprised us. Did the response settle the feud? Well, we’ll leave that up to you to decide from the sampling of responses that we include here. BTW, we think whether you are a boy or a girl, you have the potential to be a great scientist, if you love science and work diligently!

Dear O and Aarti,
I really like reading this magazine, but this one article really caught my eye. Personally (I’m not choosing this because I am a boy!), I think boys make better scientists. Think about the scientists back in time. Who came up with the theory of black holes? A boy. Who found out that the Earth revolves around the Sun? A boy. Now remember, I did not choose this because I want boys to win. I just think that boys have found out most of the stuff that really helps us in our lives (that I can think of).
    Thank you for the best magazine in history! I can’t wait for the next magazine!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

—Kyle, via email
P.S. You should really try to get along better.

O: Hey, maybe he’s right, Aarti.

Aarti: Sure, O. Until the next time you want your way.

Thanks for your opinion, Kyle. I think some of our girl responders might ask you to think about the fact that most of the important discoveries made by boys happened during a time when girls weren’t encouraged to be scientists! In fact, some important discoveries in mathematics and astronomy were actually made by women but credited to their husbands. Enough said. We’re staying out of this.

Sophia, who sent the following email, agrees with Aarti:
I’m writing to O and Aarti to add to the debate about who makes better scientists, girls or boys. I think girls are better. I know two girls who won the Toshiba ExploraVision invention competition. They won with a breathing machine for the elderly! Also, it was a woman [Marie Curie] who [contributed fundamental research to the discovery of radioactivity and discovered the elements radium and polonium]. Another woman [Lise Meitner] discovered [an isotope] of the element protactinium. The only reason women haven’t had more discoveries is because people used to say “leave it to men. They’re stronger.” That’s not true! Women are way better than men at science. We have more patience and more tolerance for pain. I believe women and girls can do way better than boys!

Some readers saw it both ways:

Dear O and Aarti,
I think that both girls and boys can make good scientists. It just depends on what you want to do and what you are good at. However, I agree with Aarti. Girls are awesome! We can do whatever we want to do no matter what people say.

—Miette, 11, Chicago, IL

Qhianna Sanchez, age 15, wrote:

Dear O and Aarti,
I think neither boys nor girls are better scientists. Instead, boy and girl scientists need to work together to produce the most fruitful scientific research. Boys’ minds and girls’ minds are structured differently, so boys and girls each will have different questions in mind as they conduct the same experiment. Also, just because there may be more girl scientists than boy scientists doesn’t mean that girls are better scientists than boys. Instead, it means that girl scientists should welcome boy scientists and work alongside them so there will be equal numbers of boy and girl scientists.
    I hope you can settle your feud peacefully and still remain friends.

Aarti: Well, I think we can. How about you, O?

O: Why not? Maybe we could collaborate.

Thanks, Miette and Qhianna. You’re absolutely right . . . collaboration in science increases the chance of success! And when we are passionate about any field, our chances of achieving excellence are great.

Also in our July/August 2011 issue, in the article “The Alien Discovery That Wasn’t,” we talked about GFAJ-1, a newly discovered microbe that seemed to be using arsenic instead of phosphorus within its molecules. A feud developed in the scientific community about whether this could be true. We asked you to design an experiment to find out what’s really inside GFAJ’s cells and DNA.

Nate Perdue, 14, of California, wrote: You could create a liquid form of the bacterium’s extracted DNA ( which is actually possible) and then ionize it in a vacuum to feed it into a mass spectrometer. From there, you could analyze the spectrum and look for traces of phosphorus/arsenic.

We also received an in-depth answer from Matthias R. Voser, a chemist from Switzerland. Although much of his answer is too complex to explain here, he wrote:


  • Let a batch of GFAJ-1 grow (1) on phosphate (as pure as possible), and another batch (2) on arsenate (as pure as possible, too).
  • Next, isolate the GFAJ-1 DNA of the batches above.
  • Make a chemical analysis of the DNA itself and of its digestion products, too.
  • Determine and compare the content of arsenate and phosphate in the DNA probes of batches (1) and (2).

Thank you, Nate and Matthias, for your thoughtful responses. And it’s good to know that someone in the scientific community in Switzerland is reading ODYSSEY!

Do you have a question or a comment for O and Aarti?
Click here to email them!

O and Aarti

You can win for your school a year’s subscription to ODYSSEY magazine by helping O and Aarti with one of their monthly adventures. If you’d like to lend a hand with a future story, write to O and Aarti at:
O and Aarti, ODYSSEY
30 Grove St., Suite C
Peterborough, NH 03458

Or send an email to: [email protected]

Learn the Lingo

Mr. Hz, Meet Mr. dB

Aarti: Sometimes science lingo honors scientists and their contributions to scientific knowledge. Hz and dB are abbreviations for words named for scientists.

O: Don’t tell me! Mr. Hz is the guy who invented car renting and Mr. dB made the first dumbbell.

Aarti: Very funny. But you’re using logic, sort of. The capital letter in the abbreviation is a clue. It’s the first letter of the scientists’ last names.
    Hz stands for Hertz. Heinrich Hertz was one of the first scientists to research sound frequencies. When people got tired of saying long phrases like “the dropped pencil vibrated the air at a frequency of 190 cycles per second,” they decided to honor Mr. Hertz. Now they say “a dropped pencil has a frequency of 190 Hz.”

O: And Mr. Dumbbell, I mean, Mr. dB?

Aarti: That’s Mr. Bell. As in Alexander Graham, who knew a lot about making it possible to hear sounds over long distance. The letters dB are an abbreviation for decibel. Decibel describes the loudness of a sound.

O: So you mean like “Aarti’s mouth flaps at 20,000 Hz and blasts ears at 1,000 dB”?

Aarti: Oooooh! 

In Search of Exoplanets

Occultation — One space object, such as a planet, passing in front of another space object

Stalking Didymo

Invasive species — An organism brought into a habitat where the organism doesn’t naturally live. If the organism harms the “native” organisms, scientists consider the newcomer an “invasive” species.

Quantitative and Qualitative Research

Quantitative — Measure an activity in some way. How many hours each day are you online?
Qualitative — Seek a detailed description of an activity. Write 200 words about being unplugged.

Peer Review

O: Picking out great scientists and their discoveries is hard. How does anyone do it?

Aarti: Peer review, I think. It’s when scientists look over one another’s work.

O: Whatzit? Pear review?

Aarti: Not pear, peer. Like peeps. Peers are people that do the same kind of work or are in the same school class.

O: Peer review would be like having your peeps look over your science project to make sure it meets all the requirements for the science fair?

Aarti: Yeah. I think so.

O: Hey! That’s like M. Jay and the editor deciding what goes into ODYSSEY. They make sure that articles are accurate and meet all of M. Jay’s picky, tiny, annoying little rules . . .

Aarti: Don’t start a feud with M. Jay.


Aarti: Psst! O! Get this. I counted 178 words in the dictionary that begin with photo.

O: Like photography? How about photosynthesis?

Aarti: Shhh. Not so loud. Yeah. Those words define something that relates to photons. Photons are light particles that act like an energy source.

O: I get it. You need light or photons to take a photograph. And plants need light for photosynthesis that helps them grow.

Aarti: And sunlight on photovoltaic cells . . .

O: . . . makes electricity, so . . .

O and Aarti: . . . a photovoltaic cell is the same as a solar cell!

M. Jay from off page: I knew it! You e-sneaks! Get back here! You haven’t finished those letters yet, have you!

A: Eh. Weblife. Well, at least we have our own department in ODYSSEY magazine now.

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