Blog Posts by Melissa Knowles

  • Kid Executes Epic Gymnastics Move During Gym Class Dodge Ball Game

    For many high schoolers, the mere mention of dodge ball brings a feeling of either excitement or downright fear. People who are good at the game find it to be a real treat, and one kid in a new hit YouTube video may have just mastered the perfect dodge ball move.

    The match being played in "Insane Dodgeball Kill" looks standard enough. Kids run around the gym and throw the ball at their targets, while others try to dodge it to avoid being hit or catch the ball to eliminate players from the other team. But then there's a young man who steps up and does the kind of acrobatic move that only a true dodge ball master could pull off. The amazing dodge-and-shot is accomplished by a move known as a gainer, in which the player moves forward while simultaneously doing a backward somersault. The guy on the receiving end of the ball tries to catch it but fails.

    The video is racking up hits on YouTube after making it to the front page of social news site Reddit. Some people on YouTube seem impressed

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  • 8-Year-Old’s Letter to Romney Urges Him to Not Fire Big Bird

    People are still talking about Wednesday night's presidential debate, but regular joes and political pundits standing around the water cooler aren't the only ones putting in their two cents. Even youngsters are getting in on the controversy sparked by GOP nominee Mitt Romney's remarks, particularly those about beloved PBS character Big Bird. Eight-year-old Cecelia Crawford of Alabama wrote a letter to Romney pleading for him not to get rid of Big Bird.

    Romney had said, "I'm gonna stop the subsidy to PBS ... I like PBS, I love Big Bird ... but I am not going to keep spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for." Cecelia and others were upset about potentially losing the long-running "Sesame Street" and other PBS shows. Cecelia's handwritten letter reads as follows:

    "I saw you on the debate last night and you said you would cut off PBS kids with Sesame Street on it. It was my favorite show on Earth. But now I'm 8 years old. When I grow up, I'm going to get married and I

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  • 5-Year-Old Joyfully Narrates His Mountain Bike Adventure

    Most of us learned how to ride a bike when we were in elementary school, and it had training wheels. But remember what it felt like when the training wheels were removed, and you rode for the first time, slightly hesitant at first, but more confident as the ride went on? If you don't remember, there's a viral video to remind you that features a young boy named Malcolm. Lucky for us, Malcolm is wearing a helmet camera, and we get to experience the sensation as if it's the first time for all of us.

    As Malcolm follows his dad down the Hellion Trail in Highland Park, New Hampshire, you can hear the pure joy in his voice. The journey of Malcolm and his father continues through the twists and turns, hills and valleys, of the challenging downhill ride. There's even a part where Malcolm takes a tumble and falls off the bike, but he's not discouraged.

    The video became a huge hit on Reddit's front page, where people made comments like "Got up, dusted off, got right back on the bike. This warms

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  • Researchers Unearth Bacterium that Produces Pure Gold

    Gold is now being sold at one of its highest rates in years. Wouldn't it be nice if you could figure out a way to make your own gold? Two professors at Michigan State University may have beaten you to it. They have discovered a way to use bacteria to make 99.9% pure gold.

    Kazem Kashefi, an assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics, and Adam Brown, an associate professor of electronic art and intermedia, created a compact laboratory to conduct their experiment. Brown and Kashefi made the gold by combining the bacterium, Cupriavidus metallidurans, and gold chloride. Gold chloride has no real value and is a toxic chemical liquid found in nature. Once it's added to the bacteria, the bacteria ingest all of the liquid's toxins and waste. Then, over the course of a week, the toxic substance becomes a solid 24-karat gold nugget. There's no word yet on the actual value of the gold that's created in the lab. The researchers believe the magic they created in their compact factory

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  • Startup Gives Users Control Over Sale of Personal Data

    Most sites that you visit on the Web allow you to use their services without charging you money. There is a transaction happening, but you do not sign anything. You and the website have a sort of quasi-agreement: You, the user, do not pay to use the website's service, and in exchange, it shows you ads. Most likely, it sells your personal information such as e-mail address and browsing preferences to advertising and marketing companies. A new startup company, whose slogan is "data to the people," is trying to remove the middleman and enable people to sell themselves to advertisers directly and help others at the same time.

    Enliken, the company behind the new concept, said the process will work like this: Users download a program from the company that then screens and tracks the personal data they are sending out on the Internet. The software alerts you to the information that companies are buying. The company values each user's data at a total of $12 per year, so that's how much it

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  • Obama Campaign’s ‘Lady Parts’ Gaffe Sparks Twitter Storm

    In recent years, social media has become an integral part of modern-day political campaigns, but it's a double-edged sword that can prove harmful or even disastrous. President Barack Obama's campaign found that out the hard way on Tuesday, as a careless reblog on its official Tumblr had to be taken down. The post, an e-card with the caption "Vote like your lady parts depend on it" and the subsequent comment "because they kinda do," was picked up by conservative bloggers who took issue with the language in the card. Some even felt that the e-card's words diminished women.

    Obama's campaign commented that the reblog had not gone through the normal approval process, and it was removed. The Tumblr blogger who had originally posted the image was unsure why the e-card post had suddenly gone viral, until another user chimed in that the president had reblogged it.

    Even though the blog was taken down, the hashtag #LadyParts quickly gained popularity on Twitter. In fact, as of Tuesday, the

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  • School for Deaf Children Receives $50,000 after Internet Prank Backfires

    When it comes to Internet pranks, sometimes they are good-natured, harmless, and fun, but then there are those pranks designed to be mean-spirited. One of the latest Internet pranks involves country music superstar Taylor Swift and a contest for a concert giveaway to the school with the most Facebook votes. Mischievous members of the Internet community known as 4chan and some members of social news site Reddit banded together to have Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, located in the Allston neighborhood of Boston, win the Papa John's and Chegg's-sponsored free concert.

    More than 14,000 schools participated in the contest to have Taylor Swift perform on their campus. Thousands of people voted for the Horace Mann School, and when principal Jeremiah Ford heard about the prank, he was not offended. Instead Ford said that even though his students are disabled, a Taylor Swift concert would be a welcome event for the student body because his students love live music. Ford

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  • Endangered Spider Halts, Reroutes Construction of $15 Million Texas Highway

    What do an endangered spider and highway construction have in common? Well, in San Antonio, Texas, the discovery of a Braken Bat Cave meshweaver, an eyeless spider named for the unique web it spins, has halted a highway construction project.

    The $15 million project was stopped until authorities can determine how to protect the spider's habitat, which happens to be in the middle of the construction zone. The meshweaver had not been seen in three decades, and biologists like Jean Krejca have been on hand to "observe and preserve" the site because it is filled with natural resources like songbirds and cave animals. Krejca compared the discovery of the meshweaver to "stumbling on a new Galapagos Island in terms of the biological significance of the region." Though only one spider was found, researchers believe the entire area might be a habitat for the meshweaver.

    So this week brought the news that the construction plan will have to be redesigned. A Texas Department of Transportation

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  • Woman Scares Away Wild Bear on Her Porch

    Bears are majestic creatures and fun to look at from a distance, but you may not want to interact with one for fear of its sheer strength and size overpowering you. Would you have the courage to stand up to a bear if it invaded your property?

    The bear encounters started for YouTube user Nayana Grillo when he noticed that a large black bear started appearing in his backyard. Grillo began recording the bear's adventures on his property. Over the course of six videos, Grillo and an unnamed man narrate and chronicle how the bear paws and sniffs its way around the porch. The bear even opens a bird feeder and climbs all around Grillo's backyard deck.

    But it's what takes place in the seventh video, titled "The Bear Meets Nishanto," that has people watching and the number of views increasing rapidly. The bear wanders around the backyard and makes its way up the stairs and onto the back deck of Grillo's neighbor, a woman named Nishanto.  Grillo yells out, "Nishanto, the bear is here." Instead

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  • Texas Prisons Approve Facebook Friending between Inmates and Officers

    It might seem reasonable to assume that a prison guard and an inmate would not naturally be friendly to one another. A recent incident in the Texas Corrections System, however, is belying that notion -- with a social media twist.

    Heath Lara, a prison sergeant at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, was fired from his job after officials learned that he had friended inmate Gary Wayne Sanders on Facebook. Sergeant Lara was dismissed for violating a rule that prohibits fraternization between officers and prisoners. Sergeant Lara appealed the decision, claiming that he had known Sanders in high school and was not aware that Sanders was an inmate in the jail where he worked.

    The appeal was initially denied but later upheld, and Sergeant Lara was reinstated two weeks ago. A review found that Sergeant Lara had no real relationship with the inmate. The Texas State Department of Criminal Justice also decided that friendship on Facebook between inmates and guards is permitted. The department

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