Five for Friday: Obama’s Bball Skills, iPhoto, and More!

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*President-elect Barack Obama has yet to show off his basketball skills to the nation at large, but with his new world ball from George Mason University, he is one step closer!  Obama was presented with a world ball during his January 8th economic address held at the university.  The ball was developed by head basketball coach Jim Larranaga (an avid supporter of geographic literacy), chair of the university geography department Dr. Alan Falconer, and National Geographic Maps.  Perhaps now the president-elect can finally show us those three-pointers!

*What’s new in 2009 for Apple? They’re putting geography at the center of the iPhoto application! With iPhoto Places, the pictures you take on your iPhone are automatically “georeferenced” with the location where you snapped your picture.  You can then search through your album of pictures using place terms (so a picture taken at the Statue of Liberty will be tagged with “New York” and “Statue of Liberty”).  You can also use this data in iPhoto Maps, which creates a map of your journey according to the picture tags you choose.

*Do you know your state’s motto?  Perhaps not, however with t-shirts and mounted prints of state mottos made from this map, you can finally learn.  This Intelligent Travel post details more about the state motto project from visual artist Emily Wick.

*The SATs are a constant source of stress for many high school students, but with a new vocab contest from, the pressure to memorize every four-syllable word in the dictionary is off.  By submitting “definition videos” for a list of words, students have the chance to win 600 dollars split between themselves and their school.
SAT HINT: Geography terms are great words to study since they often allude to their common-language counterparts.  Take the word “insular” meaning “of an island, or suggestive of the isolated condition of an island.”

*Can your continent of origin affect your ability to taste? Possibly.  This article from highlights the research findings of Sarah Tishkoff, a geneticist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, who reports that Africans have greater variation in a “bitter tasting” gene, making them more sensitive tasters than Europeans or Asians. Tishkoff noted an evolutionary benefit to being a super-taster, as greater sensitivity means selecting the most nutritious food (and avoiding poisonous eats!)  Yet, it can be controversial to suggest that one continent is “better” than another as a result of genetics. Fellow MWW blogger Sarah asks a great question: Would Jared Diamond, author of Guns Germs and Steel, agree with these new findings?

~Bethany for My Wonderful World
Image courtesy of GMU Gazette

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