The Quick 10: 10 Amazing Discoveries by Kids

It’s all over the news the past couple of days: some astronomers spend a lifetime looking for a supernova, but a 10-year-old-girl found one on her first try. Here’s Kathryn Gray’s story and the stories of nine other talented (or lucky) kids who have made important discoveries at shockingly young ages.

1. Kathryn Gray was checking out some images her dad had taken on New Year’s Eve, comparing them to previous pictures of the same location to see if anything had changed. Spotting a difference, she asked her dad if she had found a supernova. He told her it looked pretty good and sent the images off to be analyzed. It was confirmed the next day, making Miss Gray (whose middle name is Aurora, by the way) the youngest person to ever discover a supernova.

2. Matthew Berger’s dad was working on an archaeological dig in South Africa last April and brought nine-year-old Matthew along for the ride. Perhaps bored with his dad’s digging, Matthew wandered about 15 yards away to do a little investigating of his own – and discovered the collarbone of a little boy roughly two million years older than him. It ended up being one of the most complete sets ever found, with another amazingly intact set believed to be the boy’s mother discovered right next to it.

3. Some people dream of discovering a cache of ancient doubloons buried in the sand – this toddler actually did it. So it wasn’t exactly doubloons on a beach, but it was a 500-year-old pendant worth about $4 million in a British field. James Hyatt and his dad were out messing around with metal detectors in a field when James’ detector “went beep beep beep” (his words), uncovering the rare find.

4. Sometimes a nature walk turns up more than leaves and bugs. That was the case in 2009, when a preschooler in Maynard, Mass., was looking for cool rocks and found himself a plummet instead. Archaeologists believe plummets were once used about 4,000 years ago to weigh down fishing nets. Marshall, the five-year-old who found it, was pretty impressed with its age: “It’s like 70 years old. I wasn’t there. … [Maybe] when they had it, there were dinosaurs and volcanoes!”

5. Most 15-year-old boys are thinking about girls and driver’s licenses… and OK, 15-year-old Tony Hansberry probably thinks of those too, but when he’s not, he’s discovering a medical technique to make hysterectomies less invasive. Hansberry, a student at the Darnell Cookman School of the Medical Arts, found a way to do post-surgery stitching that would lessen the chance of harm or risk to the patient.

6. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are bad news for the environment. Luckily, 13-year-old Larry Caduada is on the case. In 2006, Larry found that a substance in celery called selinene that can be used as a coolant instead of the environmentally-unfriendly Freon. He even published a paper about it called "Selinene: An Organic Alternative to Chlorofluorocarbon as Coolant and Refrigerant.”

7. Giving Kathryn Gray competition in the astronomical discovery category is Shay Bloxton. Although Shay is about five years older, her 2010 discovery of a pulsar is still pretty impressive. The high school sophomore was participating in a program with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory when she found the pulsar. And that’s not the only amazing discovery to come out of the program – in 2009, another high school student found a rotating radio transient, an object similar to a pulsar.

8. Five-year-old Emelia Fawbert was helping her dad at an excavation a couple of years ago when she turned up a vertebra bigger than her head. Although the excavation turned up a couple of other bones as well, Emelia’s was the best. It once belonged to a giant rhinoceros that roamed the Gloucestershire area of England about 50,000 years ago.

9. Kids find bugs every day, but the furry moth little Katie Dobbins found on the windowsill in her house was no ordinary moth - it was an Euonymus Leaf Notcher, native to Asia. That may not seem unusual until you hear that Katie lives in the U.K. where the moth had never been sighted before. Six-year-old Katie was said to have been very excited about all of the hubbub surrounding her find.

10. Four-year-olds and sharp objects are usually things to keep far from one another, but this time, it worked out beautifully. The son of a Denali National Park ranger, the boy was playing near Teklanika River when he turned up a barbed object that ended up being an arrow point made of caribou antler. It was uncertain how ancient the piece was, but some estimates placed it up to 1,100 years old.

10 Sweet Facts About Candy Canes

The sweet and striped shepherd’s hooks can be found just about everywhere during the holiday season. It's time you learned a thing or two (or 10) about them.


While the origins of the candy cane are a bit murky, legend has it that they first appeared in hooked form around 1670. Candy sticks themselves were pretty common, but they really took shape when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany got the bright idea of twisting them to look like shepherd’s hooks. He then handed them out to kids during church services to keep them quiet.


It’s no surprise, then, that it was a German immigrant who introduced the custom to America. The first reference we can find to the tradition stateside is 1847, when August Imgard of Wooster, Ohio, decked his home out with the sugary fare.


Candy canes without the red don’t seem nearly as cheery, do they? But that’s how they were once made: all white. We’re not really sure who or exactly when the scarlet stripe was added, but we do know that images on cards before the 1900s show snow white canes.


Most candy canes are around five inches long, containing only about 50 calories and no fat or cholesterol.


The world’s largest candy cane was built by Geneva, Illinois chef Alain Roby in 2012.  It was 51 feet long, required about 900 pounds of sugar, and was eventually smashed up with a hammer so people could take home a piece.


Fifty-four percent of kids suck on candy canes, compared to the 24 percent who just go right for the big crunch. As you may have been able to guess, of those surveyed, boys were nearly twice as likely to be crunchers.


According to the National Confectioners Association, about 1.2 billion candy canes are made annually, and 90 percent of those are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Which honestly begs the question: Who’s buying the 10 percent in the off season?


Bobs (that’s right; no apostrophe) Candies was the first company to really hang its hat on the sweet, striped hook. Lt. Bob McCormack began making candy canes for his kids in the 1920s, and they were such a hit he decided to start mass-producing them. With the help of his brother-in-law, a Catholic priest named Gregory Harding Keller (and his invention, the Keller Machine), McCormack was eventually able to churn out millions of candy canes a day.


December 26 is National Candy Cane Day. Go figure.


Here’s how they make candy canes at Disneyland—it’s a painstaking (and beautiful) technique.

10 Actors Who Hated Their Own Films

1. Sylvester Stallone, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Sly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to his film career. Despite co-starring with the delightful Estelle Getty as the titular violence-prone mother, Stallone knows just how bad the film was:

"I made some truly awful movies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst. If you ever want someone to confess to murder, just make him or her sit through that film. They will confess to anything after 15 minutes."

2. Alec Guinness, Star Wars.

By the time he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, Guinness had already appeared in cinematic classics like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Great Expectations and Lawrence of Arabia. During production, Guinness is reported to have said the following:

"Apart from the money, I regret having embarked on the film. I like them well enough, but it's not an acting job, the dialogue - which is lamentable - keeps being changed and only slightly improved, and I find myself old and out of touch with the young."

The insane amount of fame he won for the role as the wise old Jedi master took him somewhat by surprise and, ultimately, annoyed him. In his autobiography A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal, Guinness recalls a time he encountered an autograph-seeking fan who boasted to him about having watched Star Wars more than 100 times. In response, Guinness agreed to provide the boy an autograph under the condition that he promise never to watch the film again.

3. Bob Hoskins, Super Mario Brothers. He was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. As far as I’m concerned, Bob Hoskins is forgiven for Super Mario Bros. Hoskins, though, doesn’t seem to be able to forgive himself. Last year the Guardian spoke with the veteran actor about his career and he summed up his feelings rather succinctly:

What is the worst job you've done?
Super Mario Brothers.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
Super Mario Brothers.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wouldn't do Super Mario Brothers.

4. George Clooney, Batman & Robin. Sure, Batman & Robin made money. But by every other imaginable measure, the film was a complete failure, and a nightmare to the vast majority of the Caped Crusader’s most fervent fanatics. Star George Clooney recognized what a stinker he helped create and once plainly stated, “I think we might have killed the franchise.”

5. David Cross, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. When actors have a movie out, it's customary that they publicize the film by saying nice things about it. Earlier this year David Cross took a different approach. When it came to describing his new film Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the veteran comedian — better known for Mr. Show and Arrested Development — went on Conan and called the film a “big commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines” and told people not to go see it.

6. Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up. Judd Apatow’s unplanned pregnancy comedy was a huge hit and helped cement her status as a bankable film actress. After the film’s release, however, Heigl didn’t have all good things to say. In fact, what she specifically said about it was that the film was:

"…A little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.”

7. Charlize Theron, Reindeer Games. The 2000 action film Reindeer Games starred Ben Affleck, Gary Sinese and Charlize Theron and was directed by John Frankenheimer. But it all somehow failed to come together. In the end the film lost a lot of money and compiled a wealth of negative reviews – including one from its star actress who simply said, “Reindeer Games was not a good movie.”

8. Mark Wahlberg, The Happening. Mark Wahlberg doesn’t exactly seem like a guy who lives his life afraid of trees. But that is the odd position M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 film The Happening put him in. Wahlberg, as it turns out, doesn’t look back too fondly on the film. He went on record during a press conference for The Fighter when he described a conversation with a fellow actor:

"We had actually had the luxury of having lunch before to talk about another movie and it was a bad movie that I did. She dodged the bullet. And then I was still able to … I don’t want to tell you what movie … alright “The Happening.” F*** it. It is what it is. F***ing trees, man. The plants. F*** it. You can’t blame me for not wanting to try to play a science teacher. At least I wasn’t playing a cop or a crook."

9. John Cusack, Better Off Dead. John Cusack reportedly hated his cult 80s comedy so much that he walked out of the screening and later told the film’s director Steve Holland that Better Off Dead was "the worst thing I have ever seen" and he would "never trust you as a director again."

10 Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music. The Sound of Music is considered a classic and has delighted many generations of fans. But the film's own lead actor, Christopher Plummer, didn't always sing its praises. Mr. Von Trapp himself declined to participate in a 2005 film reunion and, according to one acquaintance, has referred to the film as The Sound of Mucus.



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