Category Archives: news

Science lessons from a bitter cold snap in the south

Along with snow days, sledding, and hot chocolate – and sobering news of accidents, power outages, frozen pipes, and the impact of the frigid weather on people suffering from housing instability – news from the recent bitter cold snap in the southeast included tales of iguanas falling from trees and alligators freezing with their snouts above the swamp-line. Nature is amazing.

This past weekend, I also learned something about the properties of water that I hadn’t realized before: hot water freezes faster than cold water. What!?!?  This curious trait is called the Mpemba effect. In the video below (in Spanish with English subtitles), Antonio Lasanta with the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and Chemical Engineering at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid discusses a study he and his colleagues published in October 2017 on this effect. Unfortunately, only an abstract of the study is freely available from Physical Review Letters.

What applications can you think of for this knowledge?

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 12, 2018 in news, web site


Indulge your creativity on winter break!

Make something Cook something Do something

MAKE something – COOK something – DO something – something creative and fun this winter break. The MW Library has books full of ideas and recipes. Check one out today!

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Posted by on December 7, 2017 in book, display, news


1890 Richmond newspaper coverage about the Lee monument

The History Honor Society is hosting a talk by guest speaker Dr. John Coski, chief historian for the American Civil War Museum, on the topic of “Confederate symbols and the future of old monuments.”

If you’ve wondered what contemporary newspaper coverage of the monuments was like in Richmond back then, here are a few newspaper issues from May 1890, the month that the Lee monument was erected. At this time, three of the newspapers published in Richmond were The Richmond Dispatch, The Richmond Planet, and The Times. As you might anticipate, there’s a stark contrast between coverage of this topic in the Dispatch and the Times compared to its coverage in the Planet.

  • The Richmond Dispatch, May 8, 1890 – article on p. 1 about the monument arriving in Richmond and being hand-pulled to the place where it now stands
  • The Richmond Planet, May 10, 1890 – report from editor on page 1 about the monument’s arrival in Richmond
  • The Richmond Dispatch, May 29, 1980 – extensive coverage of the monument’s dedication and related topics
  • The Times, May 29, 1890 – extensive coverage of the monument’s dedication and related topics
  • The Richmond Planet, May 31, 1890 – report from the editor on page. 1 about the monument’s dedication

You can access additional historical newspapers via Chronicling America (Library of Congress) or the Virginia Chronicle (Library of Virginia).  Other Confederate statues on Monument Avenue were erected in the following years:

  • Davis – 1907
  • Jackson – 1919
  • Maury – 1929
  • Stuart – 1907
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Posted by on December 1, 2017 in news


Books new to the MW Library

Check one out this December!
In history:
A Force So Swift: Mao, Truman, and the Birth of Modern China, 1949 by Kevin Peraino
Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine by Anne Applebaum
Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets by Svetlana Alexievich

In biography/autobiography/memoir:
The Return (Pulitzer winner) by Hisham Matar
“When Hisham Matar was a nineteen-year-old university student in England, his father was kidnapped. One of the Qaddafi regime’s most prominent opponents in exile, he was held in a secret prison in Libya. Hisham would never see him again. But he never gave up hope that his father might still be alive. “Hope,” as he writes, “is cunning and persistent.” Twenty-two years later, after the fall of Qaddafi, the prison cells are empty and there is no sign of Jaballa Matar. Hisham returns with his mother and wife to the homeland he never thought he’d go back to again. The Return is the story of what he found there.”
Daring to Drive by Manal al-Sharif
“A ferociously intimate memoir by a devout woman from a modest family in Saudi Arabia who became the unexpected leader of a courageous movement to support women’s right to drive. Manal al-Sharif grew up in Mecca the second daughter of a taxi driver, born the year fundamentalism took hold. In her adolescence, she was a religious radical, melting her brother’s boy band cassettes in the oven because music was haram: forbidden by Islamic law. But what a difference an education can make. By her twenties she was a computer security engineer, one of few women working in a desert compound that resembled suburban America. That’s when the Saudi kingdom’s contradictions became too much to bear: she was labeled a slut for chatting with male colleagues, her teenage brother chaperoned her on a business trip, and while she kept a car in her garage, she was forbidden from driving down city streets behind the wheel.”
Daughters of the Samurai by Janice P. Nimura
“In 1871, five young girls were sent by the Japanese government to the United States. Their mission: learn Western ways and return to help nurture a new generation of enlightened men to lead Japan. Raised in traditional samurai households during the turmoil of civil war, three of these unusual ambassadors—Sutematsu Yamakawa, Shige Nagai, and Ume Tsuda—grew up as typical American schoolgirls. Upon their arrival in San Francisco they became celebrities, their travels and traditional clothing exclaimed over by newspapers across the nation. As they learned English and Western customs, their American friends grew to love them for their high spirits and intellectual brilliance. The passionate relationships they formed reveal an intimate world of cross-cultural fascination and connection. Ten years later, they returned to Japan—a land grown foreign to them—determined to revolutionize women’s education.”
The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui (graphic format memoir)
“This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves. At the heart of Bui’s story is a universal struggle: While adjusting to life as a first-time mother, she ultimately discovers what it means to be a parent—the endless sacrifices, the unnoticed gestures, and the depths of unspoken love. Despite how impossible it seems to take on the simultaneous roles of both parent and child, Bui pushes through. With haunting, poetic writing and breathtaking art, she examines the strength of family, the importance of identity, and the meaning of home.”

In fiction:
American Street by Ibi Zoboi
“In this stunning debut novel, Pushcart-nominated author Ibi Zoboi draws on her own experience as a young Haitian immigrant, infusing this lyrical exploration of America with magical realism and vodou culture. […] Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?”
The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff
“When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she steals one of the babies and flees into the snowy night. Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another—or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.”
Make Your Home among Strangers by Jennine Capo Crucet
When Lizet-the daughter of Cuban immigrants and the first in her family to graduate from high school-secretly applies and is accepted to an ultra-elite college, her parents are furious at her decision to leave Miami. Just weeks before she’s set to start school, her parents divorce and her father sells her childhood home, leaving Lizet, her mother, and Leidy-Lizet’s older sister, a brand-new single mom-without a steady income and scrambling for a place to live. […] Pulled between life at college and the needs of those she loves, Lizet is faced with difficult decisions that will change her life forever. Urgent and mordantly funny, Make Your Home Among Strangers tells the moving story of a young woman torn between generational, cultural, and political forces; it’s the new story of what it means to be American today.”

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Posted by on November 30, 2017 in book, news