207 posts tagged Science
207 posts tagged Science
Today the Department of Awesome Natural Phenomena shares a rare and incredible sight: a pod of sperm whales fast asleep, floating in a vertical position, some with noses pointed up towards the water’s surface, some pointed down to the ocean floor. It’s a haunting sight, something the whales are believed to do for only brief periods of about 12 minutes at a time. Quick, vertical power naps.
Researchers have observed sleeping sperm whales exhibiting the same sort of Rapid Eye Movement that’s associated with dreaming in humans. So now we’re wondering what sorts of awesome things whales dream about.
Even the Sun is getting into the Halloween spirit this year. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) just captured these awesome images of solar activity that make it look like the Sun has decided to dress up as the solar system’s largest, creepiest jack-o’-lantern.
The SDO has three instruments. The Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager studies the magnetic field on the Sun’s surface. The Atmospheric Imaging Assembly is designed to study the solar corona, taking images 1.3 solar diameters in multiple wavelengths. The Extreme ultraviolet Variability Experiment is designed to investigate the varying spectrum of the Sun’s radiant energy and its interaction with the environment.
The goal of the SDO is to combine the data from these three instruments to improve our understanding of the solar physics that drives activity in the Sun’s atmosphere, which in turn drives space weather in the heliosphere and on the surface of planets.
Oh hai! The awesome world of science just got a whole lot cuter. Biologist and blogger Sofía Gabriela recently shared this outrageously cute photo of a newly discovered species of velvet worm that scientists have named Eoperipatus totoro because of its delightful resemblance to the Catbus in My Neighbor Totoro.
Photo by Nicky Bay.
[via Super Punch]
If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if you crossed a slug with a leaf, friends, we have your answer right here. This strange creature that appears to be part leaf, part slug and part tongue is a Leaf-vein slug (Athoracophorus bitentaculatus), a species of land slug native to New Zealand. They’re nocturnal and thought to feed primarily on algae and fungi found on the surface of plants, which means they don’t damage plants like plenty of other slug species do.
To view more examples of this fascinating little creature, click here.
Today the Department of Awesome Natural Phenomena teaches us about yet another amazing form of lightning: Red Sprite Lightning. Slovenian photographer Marko Korošec was chasing storms in Vivaro, Italy when he captured these spectacular images of red sprites flashing above a storm taking place over the central Adriatic sea.
"Sprites are large-scale electrical discharges that occur high above thunderstorm clouds, or cumulonimbus, giving rise to a quite varied range of visual shapes flickering in the night sky. They are triggered by the discharges of positive lightning between an underlying thundercloud and the ground. Sprites appear as luminous reddish-orange flashes. They often occur in clusters within the altitude range 50–90 km (31–56 mi) above the Earth’s surface.”
When red sprites flash they only last for a millisecond, so getting to see their beautiful display preserved in dazzling photos like these is an exceptionally rare treat.
Photos by Marko Korošec via Solent News/SIPA Press
Science + Art = Super Awesome, which is why we can’t take our eyes off these fascinatingly beautiful gifs of accelerated 4K Ultra HD footage of chemical reactions. They’re the result of a wonderful new project entitled Beautiful Chemistry, a collaborative effort by Tsinghua University Press and the University of Science and Technology of China created in effort to make chemistry more interesting and accessible for the general public.
The first stage of this ongoing project was the filming of 8 different chemical reactions in extraordinary detail using a 4K Ultra HD camera without the visual distraction of science equipment such as beakers and test tubes. Watching the stunning results the team has achieved feels like watching alien worlds being born.
Click here to watch the Beautiful Chemical Reactions video, filmed and edited by Yan Liang.
Science is awesome and getting more so all the time. 40 years after it was first theorized, Astronomers have discovered what may be a Thorne–Zytkow object or TZO, a type of binary star system wherein a red giant or supergiant contains a neutron star at its core. This pair of galactic conjoined twins was first theorized by Kip Thorne and Anna Zytkow in 1977.
"The pair imagined what might happen if a neutron star in a binary system merged with its partner red supergiant. This wouldn’t be like two average stars merging. Neutron stars are the ancient remnants of stars that grew too big and exploded. Their cores remain small — about 12.5 miles across — as they shed material out into space. Red supergiants are the largest stars in the galaxy, with radii up to 800 times that of our sun, but they aren’t dense.”
Today the Department of Awesome Camouflage is marveling at this incredible praying mantis who looks more like a collection of sticks and bits of plants than a predatory insect. This exceptionally stealthy mantis belongs to the genus Toxodera, which consists of some of the largest mantids in the world. It was discovered and photographed by Peter Houlihan in Borneo:
Amidst the dense jungles of Borneo lives quite possibly the largest mantis in the world! Yet, despite its size, it remains nearly impossible to find. Late one night, I was collecting insects in the rainforest for my research when I encountered this brilliantly cryptic mantis amongst a swarm of unaware insects. I am still not sure how I spotted it, but it is by far the most impressive mantis I have ever seen.
Today the Department of Awesome Natural Phenomena shows us a world gone topsy-turvy. This extraordinary time-lapse video, shot by Alex Schueth, shows a dramatic formation of Undulatus asperatus clouds rolling through Lincoln, Nebraska on July 7, 2014.
These dark, undulating clouds look like heaving waves on a stormy ocean, only that ocean is roiling right over our heads. It’s the ominous sort of sky you’d expect to see when there’s no one else to call but the Ghostbusters.
We recommend watching this remarkable video in the highest resolution your computer can manage.
[via Twisted Sifter]
The newest addition the Archie McPhee Library is an epic journey across the planet and back through time via a beautiful book entitled The Oldest Living Things in the World [Buy on Amazon] by Brooklyn-based contemporary artist Rachel Sussman. Nature is awesome and the Earth is very very old and Sussman spent the last 10 years researching, working with biologists and traveling in order to photograph the oldest continuously living organisms on the planet.
Spanning from Antarctica to Greenland, the Mojave Desert to the Australian Outback, the result is a stunning and unique visual collection of ancient organisms unlike anything that has been created in the arts or sciences before, insightfully and accessibly narrated by Sussman along the way.
These ancient individuals live on every continent and range from Greenlandic lichens that grow only one centimeter a century, to unique desert shrubs in Africa and South America, a predatory fungus in Oregon, Caribbean brain coral, to an 80,000-year-old colony of aspen in Utah. Sussman journeyed to Antarctica to photograph 5,500-year-old moss; Australia for stromatolites, primeval organisms tied to the oxygenation of the planet and the beginnings of life on Earth; and to Tasmania to capture a 43,600-year-old self-propagating shrub that’s the last individual of its kind.