Storm brings down ancient white oak
A storm has brought down a tree in central Ohio thought to predate Christopher Columbus' arrival in the New World in 1492. The more than 5-century-old white oak tree came crashing down Tuesday outside a senior center in Lancaster, about 30 miles southeast of Columbus. No one was hurt, but three of the building's windows were broken. Local supervisor of parks facilities Tom Smith told the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette it looked like the wind caused the tree to split as easily as a banana. He said the oak's age was estimated more than 25 years ago by Ohio State University agriculture experts. People at the senior center who carve statues and toys will be given first dibs on the wood.
Smartphone app can identify trees
If you've ever wondered what type of tree was nearby but didn't have a guide book, there's help. A new smartphone app allows users to identify plants by simply photographing a leaf. The free iPhone and iPad app, called Leafsnap, searches a growing library of leaf images amassed by the Smithsonian Institution. In seconds, it returns a likely species name, high-resolution photographs and information on the tree's flowers, fruit, seeds and bark. Users make the final identification and share their findings with the app's growing database to help map the population of trees. Leafsnap, which debuted in May, covers all the trees in New York's Central Park and Washington's Rock Creek Park. It has been downloaded more than 150,000 times and will soon expand to Android phones.
Two new elements on periodic table
Remember the periodic table from high school chemistry? It just got a little bigger. Two new chemical elements, numbers 114 and 116, have been officially recognized by an international committee of chemists and physicists. The elements last for less than a second and join such familiar neighbors as carbon, gold, tin and zinc. The new ones don't have approved names yet. That brings the total of known elements to just 114 because elements 113 and 115 haven't been officially accepted yet, said Paul Karol of Carnegie Mellon University. Over the past 250 years, new elements have been added about once every 2.5 years on average, Karol said.