193 posts tagged Science
193 posts tagged Science
Today the Department of Awesome Natural Wonders ventures under the sea to share some beautiful examples of feather star Crinoids, awesome marine creatures from the phylum Echinodermata described as the “flowers of the coral seas.” Crinoids are found in shallow water down to depths as great as 20,000 feet. There are currently about 600 known species of feather star, some of which grow to be more than three feet in diameter. They usually have a stem which they use to attach themselves to a substrate, but some only remain attached to a surface while they’re juveniles and become free-swimming as adults.
[via Dark Roasted Blend]
These awesomely unusual pink grasshoppers owe their blushed coloration to a congenital condition known as Eythrism (previously featured here), which causes abnormal redness in an animal’s fur, plumage or skin.
"It is called erythrism an unusual and little-understood genetic mutation caused by a recessive gene similar to that which affects albino animals. This mutation results in one of two things happening or even a combination of the two; a reduce or even absence of the normal pigment and/or the excessive production of other pigments, in this case red which results in pink morphs."
Head over to The Huffington Post for additional images and to learn more about this unusual and beautiful mutation.
Today we join the Department of Teeny-weeny Wonders in astonishment at the golden mesh marvel that is the cocoon of the Urodidae moth. Also known as “false burnet moths,” these small to medium sized moths spend their pupal stage in unusual and incredibly beautiful open-mesh cocoons, which are sometimes suspended on a very long thread below a leaf.
"This type of cocoon is known as a "open-network cocoon" and is unlike other cocoons in that it doesn’t completely enclose the pupa in silk. Instead, it only partially surrounds it, likely enabling better airflow to control for humidity and may help prevent fungi from growing on, and eventually killing, the pupa. This cocoon very likely belongs to a moth in the family Urodidae, which is known for making this type of lattice-structured cocoon surrounding its pupa."
Some things are so awesomely enormous that it’s difficult to grasp just how big they are until they’re put into a more relatable perspective. Today, thanks to Belgian amateur astronomer Michel (@quark1972), we get to appreciate the size of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (aka the rubber ducky comet).
This is the comet that the ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft reached on August 6, 2014 after a ten year, five month and four day-long journey nearly 4 million miles into space. The Rosetta will now spend the next two years studying the comet, including the deployment of a lander, the Philae, down to the comet’s surface.
Head over to the ESA website to learn lots more about this amazing mission.
Here’s some electrifyingly awesome fashion design that would’ve made Nikola Tesla proud. Dutch designer Anouk Wipprecht created (and modeled) this stunning Faraday Cage Dress, a metal garment capable of conducting nearly one million volts of electricity. The dress is made of metal plates, 600 rings of chain mail, plasma ball epaulets and a helmet covered in metal spikes with a protective face grill.
To construct and successfully model the dress Wipprecht collaborated with ArcAttack, an Austin, TX-based performance art group who use Tesla coils and Faraday suits as part of their act. Wipprecht modeled her Faraday Cage Dress in a dazzling performance at the 2014 Bay Area Maker Faire in May:
"Standing stalwartly between a pair of Tesla coils, electricity arcing around her to the strains of In the Hall of the Mountain King by ArcAttack, Wipprecht remained safe in the confines of her homemade Faraday cage, which distributed the electrical charge around its exterior while shielding the contents within.”
Click here for video footage of the performance, including Anouk Wipprecht’s perspective from inside the suit.
If you’re interested in knowing more about how this phenomenal garment was made, Wipprecht wrote all about it in a detailed Instructables post entitled “How to Get Fashionably Struck by Lightning.” However she cautions amateurs against trying to reproduce the dress one their own:
"If the arcs raise through your heart, you might not live to tell, so if anything, this process was done very carefully," she said. "ArcAttack have been doing this for over 12 years and are specialists in their field."
Head over to Instructables to learn more about this astounding project.
Videographer Sean Steininger shot this marvelous timelapse video of a desert plant called the Rose of Jericho (Selaginella lepidophylla) turning from a dried brown ball of leaves into an open green fernlike flower after being exposed to water. These amazing little plants, also known as “resurrection plants” or “resurrection moss,” are able to survive periods of extreme dehydration lasting months or even years.
Just a few hours of exposure to water is enough to wake the plants. Steininger shot a few different plants over a 12-24 hours period to capture the complete cycle.
If you want to experience this natural marvel yourself, the Rose of Jericho is currently available for purchase on Amazon.
The work of Paris-based artist and E.N.S.A.D. researcher Lia Giraud is further proof that Science + Art = Awesome. These green photos weren’t taken, they were grown. Giraud cultures microscopic algae to form living landscapes and portraits. They aren’t photographs, they’re ‘algaegraphs.’
"The technique is similar to photography, but the photosensitivity of silver grains [in film] is replaced by photosensitive organisms: microalgae," says Giraud, 29.
To create each “algaegraph”, Giraud immerses the algae in a Petri dish filled with a mix of chemical nutrients, and exposes them to an image. “The cells react to the light and form solids of different densities,” she explains.
The outline of the image forms in just a few minutes, but it can take up to four days to achieve the final result. Click here to learn more.
The Department of Extraordinary Lobsters just gained a new member. This colorful calico crustacean was caught in a trap off the coast of Maine by Josiah Beringer, Captain of the fishing vessel Patricia Lynn. Captain Beringer donated the lobster to the Explore the Ocean World Oceanarium in Hampton, New Hampshire, where the 1.5 lb male lobster immediately became a main attraction. However he’s only going to live at the oceanarium until Labor Day. After that he’ll be released back into the ocean.
This calico coloring is an extremely rare occurrence:
Naturally brownish green, lobsters can come in a variety of colors, including blue, two-toned—with colors split strikingly down the middle—and albino, which may be as rare as 1 in 100 million.
According to Ellen Goethel, a marine biologist and oceanarium director, the chance of finding a calico lobster is between 1 in 30 million and 1 in 50 million, according to some estimates.
Head over to National Geographic to learn more about this captivating crustacean and scientists’ theories about how he came to have such an unusual shell.
Today the Department of Awesome Parenting salutes this deep sea cephalopod supermom who spent four years and five months vigilantly guarding her brood of eggs until they hatched. This 53 month period is double the longest known brooding time ever seen in the animal kingdom.
The discovery, published in the journal PLOS One, was made in a canyon 1.4km beneath the Pacific, off California. Dr Bruce Robison led the research at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). He told BBC News his team had stumbled upon the plucky mother in the days before she settled down and glued her eggs to the rock face. She was heading, slowly, for a known brooding site.
Characteristic scars on the octopus enabled the team to identify her one month later when they spotted her a second time, now with a new clutch of eggs.
"The first time that we dropped back down… and realised that she had gone up and laid a clutch of eggs, it was very exciting," Dr Robison said. "We knew that we had the beginning. No-one had ever had the good fortune to come upon the beginning of a brooding period."
The team paid 18 additional visits over a 4.5 year period to check on the devoted mama octopus using their robotic submarine. Once a female octopus has laid her eggs, she spends the rest of her life protecting them. She doesn’t eat during this period, which means she slowly weakens as her eggs develop. Shortly after the eggs hatch, her magnum opus completed, she dies.
When Dr Robison’s team visited the site for what would be the last time, they found only empty egg cases. The brood had successfully hatched and their faithful mum had gone. Take a moment to think back over all the last 4.5 years of your life and consider that during that entire period this incredible mama octopus was doing one awesome thing.
Head over to BBC News to learn more.
Put on your Ear Guards, the Department of Incredible Insects just learned about an awesome and terrifying discovery recently made in China. This monstrous creature is a member of the Megaloptera order and may be the world’s largest aquatic insect.
The specimen seen here was discovered in a mountain in Chengdu in China’s Sichuan province. Its wingspan measures 8.3 inches (21 cm) and it features a savage pair of mandibles.
Bec Crew from Scientific American explains more:
"Just as this new find is so far pretty mysterious, members of Megaloptera are also fairly poorly known. As larvae, they spend all of their time in the water, only venturing out once it’s time to pupate and become adults. While they’re usually found in clean, clear streams, rivers, swamps, ponds and lakes, they’re also perfectly capable of sustaining themselves in muddy and polluted water, which makes them extra hard to spot."