The Life of Marie Curie

Born on November 7th, 1867, in Warsaw, Poland, Maria Sklodowska would go on to become a well-known scientist. Her father, Wladysaw Sklodowski, was also a scientist. Later, in 1891, she would move to Paris. This was when she changed her name to Marie and began working at a research laboratory, where she met her husband Pierre Curie in 1894. 

She would go on to marry her husband, Pierre Curie, in July of 1895. The couple would go on to work together, and eventually discovered the element Polonium. Marie Curie named their newly discovered element after the country she was from: Poland. They would also discover a second element, Radium, months later in 1898. Marie and Pierre Curie had two daughters, Irene (born in 1897) and Eve (born in 1904). In 1903, Marie and her husband won the Nobel Prize in Physics for their research about radiation.

On April 19, 1906, her husband Pierre was killed after a street accident. It is thought to be possible that part of the reason for his death was his and Marie’s repeated exposure to radium, a dangerous substance which weakened them both. Following this, however, Marie continued her work in science, and in 1911 won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. This time for her work about radioactivity. 

Eventually, Marie Curie would die on July 4, 1934 of aplastic anemia, due to her constant work with radiation. She was 66 years old at this time. Marie Curie was a great scientist, and the first woman to win a Nobel Prize.

– Peri A.

Several books about Marie Curie are available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Possible Planets for Life

In our universe, there are many planets which could possibly contain life. However, there are multiple criteria a planet must be able to meet in able to be considered “habitable.” First of all, it should be in its solar system’s habitable zone, also called the Goldilocks zone. This is the area in a solar system where the planet(s) in it are most likely to meet the criteria for containing life as we know it. For example, in our solar system, Venus, Earth, and Mars are in the habitable zone. Another criteria is temperature, partly determined by a planet’s location in a solar system (ex: Venus, being closer to the Sun, is very hot, while Mars, being farther from the Sun, is much colder). Earth has temperatures which are able to sustain life, which is why climate change is such a big problem for life on Earth as we know it. This directly connects to another criteria, which is liquid water. While there is possibly water in the form of ice on Mars, it is too cold to sustain life. While there are definitely more factors in defining life as we know it, these are some of the most major ones.

  1. Mars

Surprisingly for many, Mars may once have had life. It is believed that Mars was habitable ending 3.5 billion years ago. During this time period, Mars would have received rain in the form of liquid water, a vital element for life. Life on Earth developed earlier than this time, so assuming the then-habitable Mars followed similar patterns, there was definitely more than enough time during Mars’ habitable period for life to develop.

  1. Kepler-22b

This exoplanet orbits the star Kepler 22, in the constellation of Cygnus, about 600 light-years away from Earth. Kepler 22 is a star which is actually similar to our own Sun. Both our own Sun and Kepler 22 have similar sizes and temperatures. It is about 2.4 times Earth’s size. Not only is the planet in the habitable zone, but some studies also suggest that it could have temperatures very similar to Earth, at about 72 degrees Fahrenheit, or 22 degrees Celsius.

  1. Proxima Centauri B

Proxima Centauri B is one of the closer potentially habitable planets at just about 4.24 light-years away. It is similar in size to Earth, at about 1.17 Earth masses. However, it orbits its star much more quickly than Earth orbits its Sun. It takes Proxima Centauri B only about 11 days to orbit its star, Proxima Centauri, a part of the triple star Alpha Centauri System. Proxima Centauri B is within the habitable zone, so it is definitely a plausible candidate for extraterrestrial life and habitability.

While there are many candidates for extraterrestrial life on exoplanets, it is important to remember that these are only the one’s considered habitable due to similarity with Earth. Therefore, there may actually be many more exoplanets which possibly contain life. Our lists of “habitable” exoplanets are only based on our knowledge of what life on our planet, Earth, needed to develop.

-Peri A.

Jessi’s Secret Language and the Importance of American Sign Language (ASL)

This book can be found in both novel and graphic novel format, but the storyline is the same.

Jessi Ramsey, now the newest member of the Baby-Sitters Club, has taken on a new assignment. A repetitive one, it requires the same person every time. Jessi soon learns that the reason this job may be harder than others is because one of the two kids she will be baby-sitting for is deaf. Taking on this assignment means she will have to learn ASL (American Sign Language). However, this job will soon prove harder than she originally thought, since she has to learn a whole new language.

I liked this book because of its emphasis on the importance of ASL. While I do not use it, or know anyone who uses it, I still think ASL is very important to know. This is because even though I do not need to use it or even know it, for the people that do require ASL to communicate with others in daily life, it is a vital tool. If no one else (as in those who do not need to use ASL) do not know anything about ASL, it is a major communicational block between those who use ASL and those who do not. Those who need ASL every day would find it a lot harder to communicate with others on a daily basis, just because everyone else never bothered to learn this unique way of communication. Over half a million people in the US use ASL, with that number expected to increase greatly in upcoming years. So, the more people who know ASL, the easier it will be for everyone else to communicate with those who see ASL as a vital tool in their lives.

In conclusion, I would definitely recommend this book to others. I felt that it really empasized the importance of American Sign Language, a topic which I think should be much more important for both those who use ASL. Knowing sign language makes it easier to lift the communication barrier with those who use ASL and have hearing loss.

Some high schools actually offer ASL as a foreign language course, and colleges/universities accept ASL as a world language. If your high school does not offer ASL as a foreign language, you can dual-enroll at a community college to take the course.

– Peri A.

Jessi’s Secret Language by Ann M. Martin is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Avatar: The Way of Water

This is the long-awaited sequel to the first Avatar movie. Set about 15 years after the original movie, it follows Jake Sully, Neytiri, and their kids. Their eldest son, Neteyam, who often tries to protect his younger siblings, and their adopted daughter, Kiri, born from Grace’s Avatar. She is able to feel the presence of Aywa during her daily life, and attracts many of the different creatures on Pandora. Jake and Neytiri’s second son, Lo’ak, who wants to prove himself, and their youngest daughter and child, Tuktirey. There is also Spider, the human son of Colonel Quaritch who was born on Pandora. From a young age, Spider was constantly running away from the human base on Pandora to be with the Na’vi.

In this movie, humans return to the world of Pandora for another attempt at winning the habitable moon. Among these is the newly-created Avatar re-creation of Colonel Miles Quaritch, the main antagonist who died in the original movie. Using his stored memories and DNA, scientists were able to re-create Colonel Quaritch to lead their efforts once again. With the same memories and uncaring, merciless personality as the original antagonist, Colonel Quaritch’s re-created Avatar is truly a threatening presence on Pandora.

I really liked this movie because of the storyline and the realistic rendering of the world of Pandora. However, I did not really like the ending because certain parts of it could have been better. Overall, it was a great sequel to the original Avatar movie and I am excited for the next Avatar movie.

-Peri A.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

In the opening scene of the movie, Wakandan King T’Challa is about the die from an illness. Meanwhile, his sister Shuri is in the lab racing to find a cure before he dies. However, she is unsuccessful, and her mother soon comes to inform Shuri of her brother’s death. A year passes, and Shuri is still unable to accept this loss, as a new threat emerges: an underwater people led by Namor. Namor is the leader of the Atlanteans. While Wakanda’s advanced technology would enable them to defeat any other countries on Earth in a battle, the Atlanteans have many similar technologies to Wakanda. For this reason, the Atlanteans are possibly the only people outside of Wakanda which could actually fight against them. As Wakanda remains threatened, Shuri will be forced to face the grief from her brother’s recent death to ensure her country survives the battle with the Atlanteans. To do this, she must discover how to do what she couldn’t before to save T’Challa; Shuri must recreate the heart-shaped herb, which Killmonger burned down in the previous movie.

In this movie, while Shuri, Okoye, and Nakia are still main characters, Riri Williams, also known as Ironheart, is introduced. 

Originally, I didn’t think this movie would be that good due to Chadwick Boseman’s death in 2020, but after seeing it I think that this was actually a great movie. I liked the plot and there was a good backstory for the villains of the movie. Overall, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was a great movie and I would recommend it to Marvel fans or just those who enjoy action/adventure.

-Peri A.

The Final Gambit

This is the third book in the Inheritance Games series. The series follows Avery after she is revealed to have been left a large inheritance from a billionaire named Tobias Hawthorne. Prior to the reading of his will, Avery had no idea who he was. Avery is a teenager whose mother died and her father left, leaving her kind half-sister Libby to take care of her.

She met Tobias Hawthorne only once in a completely random, coincidental way, and has not seen him since that brief encounter when she was much younger. Although Tobias Hawthorne has now died, he leaves behind the majority of his money and possessions to Avery – along with some hidden games. However, he left everything to Avery with one condition: that she stay in Hawthorne House for one full year. Then, once she turns 18, the money and possessions will legally be hers, as long as she fulfills this condition. During this year, Avery will face many threats against both her own life and the lives of those she cares about. Meanwhile, the question remains: why Avery? Tobias Hawthorne had four grandsons: Nash, Grayson, Jameson, and Xander. It was expected that Grayson would receive the fortune, not someone unknown like Avery. Even now, months later, Avery has no idea why she was chosen to receive the inheritance.

This is an exciting book with many puzzles and mysteries to solve. There were a lot of plot twists and I definitely was not anticipating the ending of this book. I really enjoyed reading this entire series. I would recommend this book to those who like adventure, action, and romance books.

-Peri A.

The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Wolf Hollow

Wolf Hollow takes place in a small, quiet town in western Pennsylvania. Initially, life goes on like normal for the characters. The main character, Annabelle, is one of the only people in the town who respects a World War I veteran named Toby. No one truly knows Toby’s backstory, but he seems to have been greatly affected by what he saw during the war. He now wanders around the town, barely saying a word to anyone. One day, a new girl named Betty moves into the town. Around teachers and other adults, Betty seems like an extremely kind girl. Meanwhile, when no one can see it happen, she bullies Annabelle. She threatens Annabelle with hurting her younger brothers and beating Annabelle with a large stick if she tells anyone about it. Soon, her bullying and attacks turn on Toby who is defenseless to prevent it. With no evidence but Betty’s false statements against Toby and nothing to even begin to prove Toby did not do anything, Toby is the one accused of what Betty does to hurt others.

I liked this book because of the fact that this type of story actually happens more often than we know. It represents how many of the internal struggles of those around you remain that way. This is shown through Toby, who rarely talks to anyone at all, and never speaks about the horrors he has experienced and seen. I felt like the plot was a little slow at some points during the story, but this was overall a great book.

-Peri A.

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

To Kill A Mockingbird

To be honest, I was definitely hesitant to begin reading this book. I thought it would be like one of those really slow books with little to no plot. This book definitely proved me wrong. 

Among the main characters are Jean Louise Finch (also known as Scout), and her older brother Jeremy Finch (Jem). Their father, Atticus Finch, is a lawyer, and their mother died when Scout was very young. Another major character in this book is Charles Baker Harris, but he is simply called Dill. Dill visits Maycomb and his aunt during the summertime. To Kill A Mockingbird takes place in the town of Maycomb, Alabama.

Despite the ideals of that time period (the early 1900s) Scout frequently gets into fights. This only increases when the boys in her class begin to tease her for her father’s most recent case. He has taken on the difficult case of defending Tom Robinson. The issues of racism are brought up in this book frequently, especially in Tom Robinson’s court trial. Mayella Ewell, a 19-year-old girl, and her father have falsely accused Tom of trying to rape Mayella. Atticus must try to prove that Tom did not do anything to Mayella, but it is challenging because there were no witnesses besides Mayella Ewell, Tom, and, Mayella’s father Bob Ewell. It is especially challenging because the majority of the town is already on the Ewells’ side despite not liking them much, simply because of Tom’s race. They, and Bob Ewell, go as far as threatening Tom, Atticus, and Atticus’s children Jem and Scout.

I think that despite some portions of this book being as unfair and upsetting to read as they were, it is a book that everyone should read as it provides another important perspective.

-Peri A.

To Kill A Mockingbird  by Harper Lee is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Thor: Love and Thunder

In Thor: Ragnarok, Hela destroys Thor’s hammer Mjolnir. During Avengers: Infinity War, Thor creates a new weapon: Stormbreaker. Eventually, Jane Foster, Thor’s ex-girlfriend, develops cancer. While attempting to create a cure for herself, she discovers she is worthy of wielding Mjolnir. Thor is off-planet helping the Guardians of the Galaxy to fight other villains across the galaxy. One of these, Gorr, is plotting to kill every god, as he believes they are all selfish and do not deserve to live. He decides to set a trap for Thor in New Asgard, hoping to lure Thor to his own death. Jane also shows up wielding a (mostly) repaired Mjolnir and fights against Gorr with Valkyrie and Thor. It is soon revealed that every time Jane uses Mjolnir, her cancer treatments are reversed. In other words, the more Jane uses Mjolnir, the more likely she is to die. Despite this, Jane hides it from Thor and joins him in his battles against Gorr. 

Meanwhile, Gorr is trying to get to Eternity at the very center of the universe. According to a legend, the first one to find Eternity will have one wish granted to them. Knowing what could happen if Gorr gets to Eternity first, Thor, Jane, and Valkyrie are in a race against Gorr to get to Eternity first and ensure Gorr does not.

Overall, there was a lot more humor in this movie compared to other Marvel movies. I felt that this made the movie more entertaining to watch, but also subtracted a little bit from the more serious scenes at some points during the movie.

– Peri A.

Unique and Interesting Exoplanets

There are many exoplanets in our universe, all with varying characteristics. Here are just a few of them that have been discovered.

#1: The Ocean Planet – GJ1214b

This planet is likely to be an ocean planet, meaning it is entirely covered with one large ocean (no land). It is located about 40 light-years away from Earth.

#2: The Fast Planet – PSRJ1719-14b

Exoplanet PSRJ1719-14b quickly orbits its star; it takes about 2.2 hours for the planet to complete a full orbit around its sun. However, this is not the planet’s only unique characteristic. In addition to its fast orbit, this exoplanet also has a chance of being made of diamonds, although this has not been proved. Diamond planets form when the pressure and temperature are high enough to turn the carbon on the planet into diamonds. It is about 3,914 light-years away from Earth. 

#3: The Dying Planet – WASP-12b

Despite being around the size of Jupiter, this exoplanet is constantly nearing its star. Eventually, the gravity of its star will pull this planet into the star. Currently, this planet is 870.8 light-years away from Earth.

#4: A Large Planet – TrES-4

This planet is over 70% of the size of the largest planet in our solar system, Jupiter. What makes this planet unique, however, is that it has only %75 of the mass of Jupiter, giving it a much lower density. It is 1562.3 light-years away from Earth.

#5: An Old Planet – Methuselah

Estimations predict Methuselah is about 13 billion years old. Scientists believe that at that point in time (13 billion years ago), the materials to form planets were not actually able to form planets. This exoplanet is about 12,400 light-years away from Earth.

These are just a few of the many amazing exoplanets in our universe, with many more still waiting to be discovered.

-Peri A.