Tag Archives: Research Notebook

Colorful Coral Reef Pulses with Life

Human evolution and the pursuit of knowledge – two things that drive the human race to explore, discover, and branch out, either here on Earth or deep into the skies. It is that unquenchable thirst to know, explain, identify, and catalog every detail in a research notebook that drives biological scientists to unearth amazing creatures on land, like the star-nosed mole or Rabb’s tree frog. They discover creatures long dead before humans ever set foot on the dusty earth, and predict future evolutions well before they even occur.

Colorful Coral Reef

Imagine a world without animals or plant life – stark, barren, and, most importantly, completely incapable of supporting human life.

As time goes on, we discover more and more acutely just how precious and important each individual creature is to the health of the Earth itself. Nowhere is this more important than within our oceans, the majority of which remains untouched and unexplored.

An incredible video of coral pulsating and undulating under the sea showcases just a few of the species humans don’t see on a regular basis. Stunningly beautiful and deeply complex, these sea creatures live out their entire lives deep under the water, where their beauty and amazing colors are witnessed only by the creatures that call the sea home.

Why So Stunning?

Filmed by Barcelona photographer Antonio Rodriguez Canto, who also admits to post-processing and tweaking the colors just a bit, this rich and life-filled video has quickly become a viral sensation, but, despite the smooth, effortless transitions, what you’re seeing is really not a video at all – it’s a series of macro photographs painstakingly stitched together. Canto wove together some 25,000 different photographs to create something impactful, incredible, and moving.

Because the human eye doesn’t process information in the same way, instead using a continuous flow of information to the brain, we’re unable to detect the slight choppiness between frames. Thankfully, the frame rate is high enough that your brain can compensate and interpret the information as movement. Through this process, you can suspend belief and see the continuation of frames as real, live movement, if just for a moment.

The Creatures

Canto’s video features a cacophony of creatures, from the big and mighty giant clam at the end to the far more demure brain coral featured throughout. Suggesting that the video contains “coral” is much too broad; after all, scientists estimate there to be as many as 2 million or more known species in existence today. Some of the specific species found in Canto’s video include:

  • Fungia – a plate or disc coral technically, but that’s also technically a mushroom
  • Trachyphyllia – also known as brain or folding brain coral
  • Heteropsammia – a coral type that enjoys symbiosis with the commensal sipunculid worm
  • Acanthophyllia – better known as meat coral for its meaty surface appearance
  • Physogyra – called pearl bubble coral for its mother-of-pearl iridescence
  • Zoanthus – a colony polyp with brilliantly-shaded flower-like blossoms

It’s amazing to think that each of these creatures exists in a delicate balance within reefs all across the world. Lose one, and you risk losing them all. Canto’s video is a remarkable representation of the world below us. It’s also a work of art in its own right, and a vibrant source of behavioral information for researchers tapping away at lab notebooks all across the globe.

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Coral Reef Pulses

The Rabbs’ Tree Frog Just Went Extinct

If the last tree frog of its kind slips away, does the world notice? It’s a question weighing heavily on the minds of all who were familiar with Toughie, the last Rabbs’ Fringe-Limbed tree frog known to be alive on Earth today.

Captured by Amphibian Conservation Coordinator Mark Mandica after a fungus began wiping the creatures out in Panama prior to 2005, “Toughie” was aptly named and managed to survive – albeit perhaps maybe not thrive – in captivity for an astonishing 10 years.

Mandica was dedicated enough to record every detail of Toughie’s existence in his research notebook and files, but for the little Rabbs’ tree frog, it was simply too late.

Rabbs’ Tree Frog

Surviving is not living, and Toughie – a frog who should joyfully sing most of his days away in search of a mate – stopped singing shortly after he was captured and never made a peep again. There he sat on his log, in silence, waiting for what could only be the untimely end to his entire species.

Helping Frogs

Although there is little we can do for Toughie’s brethren now that they’re gone, what we can do is make sure the world understands what led to the decline in the first place – the fatal chytrid fungus, better known to scientists as chytridiomycosis. This fungus doesn’t just prey on the Rabb’s tree frog; it also attacks a number of other amphibians, including other frogs, toads, salamanders, and various aquatic creatures.

What Is Chytridiomycosis?

Chytridiomycosis is caused by a bacterium by the name of batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. This rather foul little fellow has both hair-like rhizoids and tentacle-like sporangia, and embeds itself into the keratinous layer of tissue on an amphibian’s skin. Because it specializes in keratinized amphibian skin, it doesn’t affect humans or other mammals directly – at least, not yet. It impacts the host and spreads itself via cysts under the skin that eventually burst or drain. Chytridiomycosis is extremely contagious because, as a pathogen, it is soil borne, water borne, parasite borne, and capable of transfer via direct contact. All a frog needs to do is swim in an infected waterway, and they are at risk. Furthermore, even if cysts drain and never reach another frog, they can re-infect the host, eventually leading to far too much tissue damage for the frog to survive.

A Potential Cure

Fungus is one of the most quickly-growing threats to the animals in our world. Heightened temperatures due to climate change and humidity provide the perfect breeding ground for most fungal diseases, allowing them to proliferate in a very short period of time. White nose syndrome in brown bats is another example; in some areas of the Northern United States and southern Canada entire populations have died off due to the disease.

Fortunately, scientists like Mark work hard, trusty lab notebook and plenty of patience in hand, to discover cures that preserve the diversity found here on earth, saving animals and allowing them to thrive long into the future.

Recently, the Imperial College of London stumbled on a cure: environmental sterilization and antifungal treatments in tandem. With this approach, they were able to cure almost an entire localized population of Mallocran midwide toads.

It may be too late for Toughie and his bloodline, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue this valuable research; in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The better we understand amphibians and the fungal diseases that impact them, the more likely it is that the world will be able to preserve their extremely important spot in natural ecologies for centuries to come.

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Tree Frog

How to Motivate Kids to Love Science

Science can be an interesting subject for kids to fall in love with, as long as it is presented to them in the right context. The key to getting kids of all ages to love science is to start by considering the age of the children. For instance, if you present scientific theory and concepts in lecture format to youngsters, chances are they are going to become quickly disinterested in science.

On the other hand, if you provide them with hands-on activities and ask intuitive questions, like “What do you think will happen when …” it better engages youngsters and gets them interested. While they might not understand that you are teaching them how to form a hypothesis, most youngsters are inquisitive and will respond with what they imagine will occur.

Laboratory Notebook

Afterwards, once the hands-on activities are completed and the children realize the actual outcomes, it is best to discuss this with them. Ask probing questions, like “Why do you think that happened instead of … ?”

If the child made the incorrect hypothesis, it is important to teach them to realize their initial guess at the outcome may not be what occurred, but that is perfectly acceptable when learning science. Sometimes outcomes will be different from what we expected based upon the information we had.

Another important concept, when teaching children science, is to avoid jumping from one concept to another in quick succession. Kids, teenagers, and even some adults do not retain the information if they are taught in this manner. It is much more efficient to spend a longer length of time on a basic concept and slowly build upon it with repetitive lessons.

It also does not hurt to repeat the same experiments and hands-on activities several times. Once all kids understand what the outcome will be, use the same basic experiment or activity, but vary it slightly so that it might have a different outcome. You could even provide kids with a scientific notebook to record their outcomes for different experiments.

For example, a common experiment that is fun for young kids is mixing baking soda with vinegar. Not all kids will be able to hypothesis these will “bubble up” when mixed together. To further enhance the concepts of bases and acids, you could try introducing other child-friendly substances and varying the experiment with the new substances.

For older students, keeping them engaged in science is not always as fun as it was in grade school. There are more lectures and development of scientific concepts. Even still, teens and college students can benefit from interactive and hands-on instruction where they will receive immediate feedback of the outcomes. Again, afterwards, it is essential for peers and teachers to discuss the outcomes and why they occurred.

Scientific Notebook

By following the same basic instructional methods used for grade schoolers, teens and college students will continue to love science. To obtain official laboratory and student notebooks for your science students, please feel free to contact Scientific Notebook Company today by calling 800.537.3028.

Human Connectome Project Revolutionizes What We Know About the Brain

For centuries, doctors and neuroscientists have hypothesized and (literally) dissected the brain to learn more about it and how it works. Years of attempts at “brain-mapping” and scribbling in lab notebooks has led the scientific community to a series of answers, as well as controversy. Now, thanks to Matthew F. Glasser and his team at the Washington University School of Medicine, the former is coming much more than the latter.

Human Connectome Project

Due to individual variants and small subject groups, mapping the brain has only been partially successful. In 1909, scientist Korbinian Brodmann made a name for himself by becoming one of the first people to attempt to draw out the human cortex using only the cellular architecture that he observed in his microscope.

For over a hundred years, neuroanatomists have used his diagrams as a functional blueprint of the human mind. Even though his original research has been improved and supplemented throughout the years, a more stable foundation on which to build for the future has been long overdue.

Enter Dr. Glasser’s Human Connectome Project, which aspires to digitize the brain’s structures and functions on a large-scale map. Although this had been attempted before, criticism was drawn due to the relatively small sample size and the high variability in human brain structures.

Research notebook

This time, however, two hundred and ten healthy adults had their brains observed by a machine that had been programmed to recognize the multi-modal “fingerprint” of each part of the brain. Essentially, instead of just mapping each specific flap and fold, the researchers were looking for distinct combinations of myelin – a fatty neuron insulator – and brain activity while test subjects performed a number of different activities. The aim was to identify regions of the brain that “light up” when engaged.

For instance, one popularized area of the brain, Broca’s area, has long been known to be responsible for speech. Not surprisingly, this was confirmed in Dr. Glasser’s research, as were the 83 other known areas of the brain. However, the study also confirmed the existence of almost one hundred other regions. This hypothesis was then confirmed when they tested the map on two hundred and ten brand-new subjects and were able to identify their brain regions, give or take some level of individual variability.

Some of these new brain regions are still mysteries to even the scientists who discovered them. Like islands that have been discovered but not named yet, many of these areas have only been identified, not fully explored. For instance, a small patch of the brain (near Broca’s area) that is not rich in myelin has been discovered to become “unusually active” when people listen to stories. For the time being, it has been designated in research notebooks as 55b, an extension of Broca’s area.

human brain

In addition, several areas previously designated as one zone (like the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex – also known as the front of the brain), have been identified as smaller portions that add up to a larger whole. For instance, even though the whole prefrontal cortex is responsible for higher modes of thought, individual patches may light up depending on whether or not you’re solving a puzzle or trying to deceive someone.

Besides the obvious implications for neuroscientists and brain surgeons around the world, this change in the basic understanding of how our brains work will be immeasurably helpful in the development of new treatments for brain-based illnesses like Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.


1 – http://www.nature.com/articles/nature18933.epdf

2 – http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/21/science/human-connectome-brain-map.html?_r=1

Science Explains Why Giraffes Have Such Long Necks

What comes to mind when you think of a giraffe? The first thing you likely think of about a giraffe is its long neck. Did you know that a newborn giraffe calf is born with a height of about 2 meters? That’s a big baby! About 4 years ago, scientists whipped out their research notebooks, and began comparing and contrasting the giraffe with its close cousin, the okapi, to help determine just why giraffes have such long necks.

Giraffes Have Such Long Necks

The Okapi is a horse sized herbivore that is related to the giraffe but does not have the long neck or the super heart that giraffes have. What’s the story with the heart, and how does it relate to the long neck? A giraffe’s heart needs to pump blood all the way up to its brain; that requires an enlarged left ventricle and higher blood pressure. With such a difference in height and organ strength, how is the Okapi compared to the giraffe effectively?

According to scientists, these physical differences, and the fact that both animals are the only living members of the Giraffidae family, make the okapi a perfect screen to identify what is unique about a giraffe.


So, why do giraffes have such long necks? Based on evolutionary theory and in depth studies of the genes and DNA in giraffes and okapi, it seems that we now know the answer to this question. A small number of genes, 70 to be exact, over the past 11 or 12 million years have evolved to create the animal with the long neck that we know and love. As always, evolution seems to involve genetics adapting to environments.

Because the giraffe needs to be tall and have a long neck in order to move quickly, spot danger approaching, and find the tender leaves it needs to feed on, their DNA and genomes have adapted to make this a part of their molecular blueprint. The okapi, while similar in many areas, have not developed these same 70 genomes that make their cousins taller, and which allow them to survive with a super strong heart. Once it is all broken down, the okapi may have more in common with a horse or zebra than its cousin, the giraffe.

Not Just Zoo Exhibits

For many people in the world, the only way we will get to experience the amazing height and beauty of the giraffe is to visit a zoo. These graceful and unique mammals are much more than simply a zoo exhibit. They are the key to several scientific studies, and the answer to many questions raised about evolution, familial genetics, and adaptation. Highly detailed comparisons, tests, and observances recorded in scientific research notebooks will help scientists continue to understand and share the mysteries of the regal giraffe with the world.

So many young people simply see a unique animal without putting any thought into why or how that animal came to be. Thanks to scientists, even laypeople are now able to understand different aspects of genetics and evolution. These studies may awaken interest in young people and encourage them to pursue a scientific future. This is why every bit of scientific research is important, and will make a difference to the future of civilization and how we relate to and adapt along with the other species that we share the world with.


Oxygen Detected in Martian Atmosphere

There may be no busier research notebook than the one in the hands of a scientist exploring information concerning the Red Planet these days. Mars is a hot topic in the scientific community and with each discovery it gets a little bit hotter. Evidence of water on the planet was exciting enough, but now there is evidence of oxygen atoms on Mars as well.

Martian Atmosphere


NASA has been measuring oxygen levels on Mars since the 1970s. Today, the equipment NASA uses is a bit more advanced than it was even in the late 20th century. To be more specific, it relies on SOFIA for much of its research.

SOFIA, or the Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy, is a modified 747 used to explore atmospheric conditions. This Boeing 747SP jetliner had to be modified for many reasons, but the one of most interest to scientists exploring the universe is the telescope on board. SOFIA’s telescope measures out with a 100 inch diameter—not your average star gazing tool.

History of Oxygen on Mars

Though the news is exciting enough to make one think that oxygen is a new development on Mars, it is the opposite that is true. There is far less oxygen on the Red Planet today than there was years ago, though it is difficult to measure exactly how many years ago or what happened to cause this drop in oxygen levels.

One way that scientists measure the oxygen level on the planet is to investigate geological findings. Rocks and other materials can reflect mineral content in the atmosphere over time. In this case, the content was observed through careful research of rocks found on Mars. What they found was that 3% of the rocks on Mars contained manganese oxide. In order for that to happen, at some point Mars must have had a higher level of oxygen atoms, as well as water.

It’s also important to note that the measurements taken were taken in the upper atmosphere. This is key, because the amount of oxygen atoms in the upper atmosphere plays a significant part in the release of other atoms in the upper atmosphere. At this point, oxygen levels are only half of what was expected, and the atmosphere on Mars is 95% carbon dioxide.

Future Research

Because scientists are saying that the planet has only half the oxygen that was expected, it can be assumed that calculations were made that offered some idea of what the levels could be. Those calculations had to be done based on assumed figures—figures which must have been determined based on the most current information combined with what is known about the behavior of planets and their atmospheres.

What this means is that the oxygen levels on Mars didn’t just change the way scientists look at current conditions. They might also change what is understood about atmospheres in relation to their position to the sun or other elements, like details about the activities and changes on the sun itself. In any case, it’s back to the research notebook to review notes and come up with new possibilities.

Oxygen on Mars

Science Beginning to Link Climate Change with Extreme Weather

If bad weather seems more extreme than you remember, you might not be wrong. Droughts are becoming more extreme, and hurricanes more damaging, but many have long denied its cause: climate change. The argument is over, though, because science can now link climate change to extreme weather. Take out your research notebook and take notes about what science has to say about the phenomena.

Previously No Conclusive Proof

Throughout the course of its history, climate change has been a widely debated topic. Then came an onslaught of extreme weather. Scientists theorized there was a connection, but conclusive proof was elusive. Scientists observed weather phenomena and reviewed data for years, to no avail, but recently the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine  has been able to make some connections which have been compiled in three reports the group has issued. These reports are part of a five report series requested by Congress and entitled “America’s Climate Choices.”


What We Know

The reports from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine outline that climate change is real, and that it is caused predominantly by human activities; however, the causal evidence does not show that every extreme weather event can be causally linked to climate change. This doesn’t mean all extreme weather won’t one day be linked to climate change, but, at the moment, science only allows us a glimpse into how our society influences our climate and the world around us.

Currently we know that there are clear links between heat waves, snow storms, heavy rain and droughts, and climate change. For complicated weather events like hurricanes and typhoons, the link isn’t so clear. Many factors need to be evaluated in these events, and our lack of long-term data prevents accurate statistical analysis. What scientists can say is that the intensity and frequency of some types of weather events can be affected by human actions.

Minimizing Impact

Science may not have all the proof needed to show that humans have caused increases in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, but certainly the evidence demonstrates the need for change in human activities. With that in mind, it begs the question, what can be done? The answers are relatively simple, though the implementation is not.


First, a reduction in greenhouse gases is necessary to stabilize carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Next, adaptations should be made to cities and the way we live. The rise of sea levels, powerful hurricanes, and other events are inevitable, and changes should be made to withstand these.

Last, research and analysis must continue so these weather events can be predicted and disaster averted when possible. This research and analysis may also eventually lead to a resolution which will negate all of the human effects on climate change.

Now is the time for scientists to test, experiment, and observe, both in the lab and out of the lab. Picture scientists and students, young and old, grabbing their lab notebooks and dedicating their lives to making the world a safer place. If the best minds concentrate on getting over this hurdle, everyone on planet earth will benefit.

To learn more about scientific notebooks for every use, from cleanrooms to classrooms, contact us at 1-800-537-3028.

Gravitational Waves Discovered?

If Einstein were alive today, there is no doubt he would be digging through his old research notebooks to reflect on his Theory of Gravitational Relativity and comparing it to what was recently seen. Though scientists have long known that gravity exists, they weren’t able to see it. That’s because most of the objects that rely on gravity use such small waves that there is nothing powerful enough to see them.

However, when you want to observe something that requires a large mass, there may be no better source than two black holes merging into one, especially when those black holes are far larger than the sun itself.

Lab notebook

Moving Forces and Gravity

Einstein had a theory that gravity was so powerful that it had the ability to bend space and time. The theory was almost impossible to prove, because gravity waves can’t be seen with the naked eye, and if space or time is changed, it could be impossible to prove, because of the paradox of knowing things that happen in one space or time while being in another. In other words, once these things change, how would you know they changed if they didn’t exist in the current time or space?

Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory

The waves were observed by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory or LIGO. When it comes to observations in science, and especially ones as important as this one, the potential for a “fluke” to have occurred has to be considered. In this case, the observation was the combined effort of a facility in Hanford, Washington and a facility in Livingston, Louisiana. This is because LIGO is divided between the two facilities in order to produce a perpendicular laser effect that can be modified by gravitational waves. After comparing notes, the researchers found the chances of this event being a fluke are less than one in about six million.

Numbers to Consider

So, how big does something have to be in order to produce a measurable gravitational wave with the technology that exists today? The merging black holes are calculated to be around 95 miles across. However, one has twenty-nine times the mass of our sun, while the other has 36 times the mass. Now consider the power that had to be created to allow scientists to fill their research notebooks with these results.

Imagine, if you can, all of the stars in the observable universe. Now, gather them together and consider the amount of power that they would have as one unit, pulled together with all their various elements. Now compare what you imagine to the idea that this merger had fifty times the power that all of those stars combined have.

This merged black hole is being described as a “chirp” in the space-time fabric. The chirp is the result of $1.1 billion worth of effort that spanned over 40 years—more, if you count every single bit of effort put into the discovery since man had the idea that there was such a thing as gravity.

Gravitational Waves

The Science Behind Making the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

Have you ever felt your chocolate chip cookies were lacking in flavor, texture, or some other aspect you desperately sought? Well, the truth behind making chocolate chip cookies and achieving the desired results has to do with ingredients you use, as well as science. Think of the cookie recipe as your scientific experiment and, by making slight modifications to the basic chocolate chip cookie recipe, you can modify the end results.

From ooey-gooey cookies to cookies that are chewy, and everything in between, recipe modification is becoming rather popular with culinary experts. They are relying upon science and how various ingredients interact with one another to create the perfect cookie. Here are some tips and tricks you can try at home, and remember to record your perfect cookie recipe results in a scientific notebook.

Scientific Notebook

  • Freeze the cookie dough for thirty to sixty minutes before baking to get thicker, but less crispy cookies.

  • Use a quarter of a teaspoon of both baking soda and baking powder for cookies with a soft center and crispy outsides.

  • For chewy cookies, use bread flour in place of all-purpose flour.

  • Add butterscotch flavor to cookies by using three-quarters of a cup packed light brown sugar in place of the same amount of granulated sugar and light brown sugar combined.

  • For denser cookies with a rich, golden-brown look, melt the butter before adding it in with the sugar and eggs.

  • To achieve a store-bought finish, substitute shortening in place of half of the butter needed in the recipe.

  • If you like more cakey cookies, use all baking soda in the recipe and add a little bit more for puffier cookies.

  • For browner cookies, set the oven temperatures to 360 degrees instead of 350 degrees Fahrenheit, because the sugar in the cookies will caramelize.

  • Mix together one ounce of granulated sugar and one ounce of corn syrup, and add this to the recipe for more uniform cookies.

  • For a more flavorful cookie, chill the cookie dough for a minimum of twenty-four hours before baking.

One thing to remember about butter is that it changes the appearance and size of the cookies, based on how it is incorporated into the recipe. Cold butter does not spread as much at room temperature or as melted better, so the cookies will appear smaller. Modifying how eggs are used in the cookie recipe will also affect the end results. For instance, you can use all egg whites, all egg yolks and no whites, or some combination thereof. Extra egg yolks result in a fudgier cookie, while extra egg whites result in a taller cookie.

Remember to record your results and have fun while you are experimenting and working toward creating your favorite types of chocolate chip cookies. You can obtain scientific and laboratory notebooks from your cookie experiments by contacting Scientific Notebook Company today at 800-537-3028.Research Notebook






NASA Observes Something Coming Out of a Black Hole

You do not need to be a science geek to know that a black hole is supposed to draw in everything around it and suck it into the center. Black holes are interesting, regardless of your interest in the science behind them. They have been featured in science fiction novels and Hollywood movies. However, the way we think about black holes is about to change, as NASA recently observed a supermassive black hole spew something out.

The event was captured through two different space telescopes, including the NuSTAR (Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array) telescope in Pasadena, Calif. at the California Institute of Technology. The Markarian 335 black hole, a black hole that is 324 million light years away from earth, recently ejected its corona and launched it away, followed by a large pulse of x-ray energy. So what exactly does this mean? Scientists are not entirely sure and are continuing to study the event.

What scientists do know is black holes are black due to the gravitational pull they emit. If something gets close enough to the gravitational pull, nothing can escape from the black hole—not even light. Supermassive black holes, like the Markarian 335, have the strongest gravitational pulls, so it is extremely rare for them to spew objects out.

In addition, scientists know that black holes themselves do not emit any light, yet are surrounded by incandescent disks of glowing light materials. As the disks are pulled on by the gravitational force of the black hole, they emit different kinds of light. Further, scientists know black holes have a corona. The corona is another form of energy, one which gives off radiation and is capable of generating x-rays.

Some scientists say the recently ejected material helps support what they call the lamppost hypothesis model. This model theorizes there are small sources of light, much like lightbulbs in a lamp, which are located above and below the rotation axis of the black hole. As the light materials change from influences on them by the gravitational forces of the black hole, it affects the brightness levels and stability. For instance, in 2007, scientists observed Markarian 335’s brightness level had been reduced by a factor of 30, and it has yet to return to its prior brightness level.

Also interesting is that Markarian 335 has ejected flares in the past. The last one was in 2014. What makes this current ejection even more exciting is that scientists now know what the flares are, from being able to observe the black hole’s corona being ejected. Their next step is to try to determine why it is happening. In addition, with the new data, scientists will be able to conduct further research into Markarian 335’s size, structure, and how black holes function, as well as how they help power some of the brighter objects in our universe.

You can rest assured, scientists will be recording their findings in scientific and research notebooks to have written documentation of their findings. If you require notebooks for science, engineering, laboratory projects, or research projects, feel free to contact Scientific Notebook Company today at 800-537-3028.