Morph Madness: Meet the Morphs

Have you ever been wandering around the Math Blaster world, only to have your avatar transform from a charming cadet into a menacing morph? One of your fellow Blasters has temporarily turned you into this creepy creature! If you have not had the chance to perform this act on another Blaster, head over to Morph Madness and give it a try! In the Chem Lab there, you can mix up a strange concoction, which will result in a certain morph that you can turn other Blasters into. After collecting some floating DNA symbols from around the room, head into the Chem Lab where you can choose which morph you would like to create. Then, carefully combine together the required ingredients before mixing to produce your morph. Once you have done that, head outside and find some fellow Blasters to transform!

Mix

Let’s take a look at the different types of morphs you can create! On the left hand side of the photo below there is Gleek – a morph who can scare anyone, John Claw-ed – a morph who will snap at any time, and McWaddles – a morph who waddles around Math Blaster looking for help. On the right hand side of the photo there is Rowdy Vanknuckle – a morph who loves to pick a fight, Squidnerd – a morph who is constantly trying to find water, and Wild Thing – a morph that is completely unpredictable. Try turning your Blaster buddies into each of these morphs and watch as they run around trying to escape!

AllMorphs

One of our favorite and most complicated morphs is Rowdy Vanknuckle! Rowdy may be a hideous morph, but it takes a lot of precision and patience to perfectly concoct this creature! First, you have to search through the Morph Madness room to collect the required DNA: 2 Solar DNA, 3 Atomic DNA, and 1 Radioactive DNA. Once you have gathered those items, head to the Chem Lab and select Rowdy Vanknuckle from the booklet. Be extremely careful and combine the DNA you collected with 1 test tube of QTPi, 3 scoops of J4F, and 2 droppers of RADaCl. After you have perfectly measured and combined all the ingredients, press the mix button on the bottom of the blender and watch as Rowdy Vanknuckle is created! Now that you have made this menacing morph, head out and start transforming fellow Blasters!

Experiment

Max is looking for some of these creepy creatures to be featured in the upcoming editions of the Math Blaster Times, so be sure to try out all these morphs! He is looking for the coolest morph to be the next screenshot of the week so get creative and attract his attention!

Does Environment Affect Animals’ Personalities?

Many researchers (and pet owners) would agree that animals have distinct personalities: they follow unique behavioral strategies and react in similar ways to a variety of circumstances.  Scientists believe that these personality traits contribute to an animal’s ability to adapt to changing habitats and the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Radolfzell, Germany has conducted research that supports this claim.

Urbanization has caused many species of animals to adjust their lifestyles as they have been uprooted from a natural environment.  In cities, animals must learn new ways to gather food, protect themselves from danger, and find shelter.  Scientists have found that these external changes resulted in internal changes to animals’ personalities.

130619101525-largeObserving the European blackbird—which is historically a forest-dweller—researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology have been able to identify unique personality differences between urban-dwelling blackbirds and their country counterparts.  For example, urban blackbirds migrate less in the winter, breed earlier, and live in higher densities.  In order to test if environment affected personality, scientists collected nestlings from urban and rural environments and hand-reared them in identical conditions.  Once the blackbirds matured to adulthood, the researchers presented them with foreign objects.

Interestingly, urban blackbirds were more hesitant to approach foreign objects and also tended to avoid unfamiliar objects.  Since the birds’ individual conditions were identical after they were gathered as nestlings, scientists believe these differences to be intrinsic rather than being caused by the original urban or rural environment.  Further investigation revealed that genes believed to be involved in shaping personality were structured differently in urban blackbirds as opposed to rural blackbirds.  These findings are consistent with other studies as 27 out of 29 experiments have shown that urban animals behave differently than rural counterparts when responding to new stimuli.  According to these studies, generations of living in urban or rural settings may affect animals in an evolutionary way.

The research conducted by the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology provides valuable insight into animal behavior and determining the factors that influence personality.  As the world continues to change with advancing technologies, it is important to know how these transformations affect all of earth’s inhabitants and what steps need to be taken to make seamless transitions for all life forms.

Mutt Pod of the Week 101

Each week, Blasters all over the Space Station are brought a new edition of the Math Blaster Times. You might have noticed a special section highlighting Max’s favorite Mutt pod, known as the Mutt Pod of the Week. Ever wonder how you could get featured in our newspaper with this coveted title? Here’s everything you need to know!

MuttPod

Top Mutt Pods always include a few awesome essentials. To get your Mutt Pod in ship shape for Max’s next visit, here’s a few tips for how you can grab his attention.

  • Multiple Mutts: Max loves seeing Blasters excel at raising and caring for our loveable Monster Mutts. He knows that skills like these take great discipline, so he when he can he always tries featuring pods that have a few extra mutts around.
  • Fun Floors & Furniture: Make your pods stand out by mixing and matching all kinds of vibrant colors and patterns. From couches and floors to mutt beds and other darling décor items, there is so much for players like you can use to make your space really stand out!
  • Spectacular Views: Blasters spend a ton of time in space, but that doesn’t mean that they want to stare off into space everyday. To really catch Max’s eye, mix in a few wonderful window views like our fun ocean theme which brings some of your favorite sea creatures directly to space!

Are you ready to impress Max with your Mutt Pod decorating skills? Start earning credits around the space station and you’ll be on your way to building the custom cool creation of your dreams!

NASA Discovers Black Hole Cluster in Neighboring Galaxy

In our neighboring sister galaxy of Andromeda, NASA’s Chandra X-ray observatory has identified 26 black hole candidates, the largest number to date in a galaxy outside our own.  Using over 150 images spanning more than 13 years, Chandra has been able to observe this large cluster of black holes that scientists believe to be just the tip of the iceberg.  The reason why this finding is so exciting to researchers is that black holes generally will not have close companions and will be invisible to detection.

The black holes found by Chandra belong to the stellar mass category, meaning they formed from the deaths of extremely large stars and usually have masses 5 to 10 times that of our sun.  As material is pulled from nearby stars and heated up to create radiation before being engulfed by the black hole, scientists are able to use this radiation to detect these otherwise invisible objects.  Researchers engaged in a couple steps to identify these clusters as a stellar mass system in the Andromeda galaxy.

ChandraFirst, utilizing a technique focusing on the brightness and variability of X-ray sources in Chandra’s data, astronomers were able to classify the black holes as a stellar mass system in the Andromeda galaxy as opposed to supermassive black holes elsewhere.  Second, analyzing the X-ray sources, researchers noted two important characteristics: they were brighter than a certain high level of X-rays and possessed a distinct color.  Chandra’s advanced X-ray technology played a vital role in locating the black holes that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.

One critical aspect to the black hole cluster’s research was observing over 13 years of images from Chandra.  This long exposure allowed astronomers to test whether the objects were black holes or neutron stars, which possess similar characteristics.  Using data provided by Chandra, scientists had previously found 9 black holes and with this new cluster the total has increased to 35.

Researchers are extremely excited about this discovery that they have spent years searching for.  While black holes remain a mysterious phenomena, the findings made by the Chandra X-ray observatory may play a key role in unraveling more secrets about black holes and the galaxies they reside in.

Monty’s Fun Facts

Ask any top Blasters aboard the Math Blaster Space Station and they will know a thing or two about Monty and his super smart computer like brain. Helping Max welcome each cadet as they begin their Math Blaster adventures, Monty’s always ready with a few fun facts to teach his new B.F.F.s.

MontysFunFacts

Did you know that the only planet that rotates on its side like a barrel in Uranus? And, the only planet that spins backwards relative to the others is Venus! Monty just told that to a group of Blaster hanging out by the Monster Mutt Rescue Dome the other day. But that’s not all he knows about our solar system either. Here are a few of Monty’s fun facts about the planets and stars –

  • Officially, there are 8 planets that rotate around the sun
  • There is an asteroid belt which lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter
  • Earth is the 3rd planet from the sun
  • Despite popular belief, Saturn is not the only planet with rings. Uranus, Jupiter, and Neptune also have rings that are not always easily visible.
  • Although some think of Pluto as the 9th planet in the Solar System, it is now seen as one of 5 “dwarf planets”

Saturn’s Moon May Provide Clues to the Search for Space Water

Scientists have received the latest clues to aid their hunt for water in outer space with photographs taken by the Cassini spacecraft.  Images of Saturn’s moon, Dione, focus on the 500-mile-long mountain Janiculum Dorsa—a landmark scientists use to compare Dione to Saturn’s geyser moon, Enceladus.  Using Janiculum Dorsa along with other findings, researchers speculate that Dione may have once had a geologically active subsurface ocean.

dione_cassini_bigDiscovering subsurface oceans on Saturn’s moons Enceladus and Titan, Jupiter’s moon Europa, and now potentially Dione have led scientists to believe that there may be more worlds with water than previously imagined.  These moons have played a crucial part in advancing the search for life beyond Earth.

Hints toward Dione’s possession of a subsurface ocean arose when Cassini detected a weak particle stream with its magnetometer.  The spacecraft’s images suggest that a slushy liquid layer may exist beneath its icy crust along with fractures that spew water ice and carbon-containing particles.  If the assumptions formed from Cassini’s images are correct and the moon does have a subsurface ocean, it would increase the moon’s chances for supporting life.

An intriguing clue toward Dione’s potential subsurface ocean is its mountain, Janiculum Dorsa.  The mountain ranges from about 0.6 to 1.2 miles in height and appears to have deformed the crust beneath by 0.3 miles.  Researchers believe that the deformation implies Dione has a warm surface, likely due to a subsurface ocean.

Cassini’s photographs have played a massive role in unlocking the mysteries of subsurface oceans on other worlds and the possibility of life in outer space.  If scientists confirm the presence of a subsurface ocean on Dione, they may be able to find trends across multiple moons that could further their research into extraterrestrial life.

Escape the Ooze: Oozami

A skilled Blaster has a rare blend of intellect and quick reaction times.  Put your math skills and reflexes to the test by venturing into Oozami.  Locked in a chamber with deadly ooze rising to fill the room, correctly answer math problems to unlock the chamber doors.  Navigate your way to the top using stationary and mobile platforms, dodging enemies along the way.  In order to conquer this thrilling game, let’s investigate the finer details of Oozami.

MB 1Before entering the chamber, choose one of three topics: Place Value Voyager (emphasizing place value), Tenths and Beyond (focusing on place value with decimals), and Magnetic Money (identifying a certain amount of money using various combinations of coins).  Each topic has four or five lessons to choose from and players can select the difficulty setting (easy, medium, or hard) that best suits their abilities.  The difficulty setting will affect the speed of moving platforms, the number and speed of enemies, and how challenging problems are to solve.

MB 2

In order to complete a lesson, locate the correct answer on screens located throughout the chamber and press the switch.  Once you have activated enough switches, you will be able to exit the room.  Answering incorrectly will result in a loss of points.  In addition to answering questions correctly, you can gain points by collecting food scattered throughout the level.  Be cautious as you jump from one platform to the next as being hit by enemies will cause you to lose points and enemies can even knock you off your platform.  Finally, as you work your way from one platform to the next in search of the correct answer, be careful not to touch the ooze!  Falling into the ooze will result in the loss of a precious life.  Losing all three lives will end the game.

MB 3While many young Blasters attempt to master Oozami, only a few are able to join the ranks of the elite.  Try your hand at all three topics and work your way up from an Oozami novice to an unrivaled expert.  Hone your math skills and reflexes in this enthralling game to prove you are one of the Intergalactic Space Station’s finest Blasters.

Your training to be the Intergalactic Space Station’s best Blaster does not have to end when you log off your computer.  Try out fun worksheets on place value,  decimals, and money to keep your skills sharp.  After putting in so much hard work, everyone will know the universe is in good hands.