Credit: Doug Jordan and Martin Uman/International Center for Lightning Research and Testing
Amid Florida's steamy and stormy summer, a group of researchers conducted something of a modern-day version of Benjamin Franklin's legendary lightning-kite…Read More »
experiment, only instead of tying a metal key to a kite, these scientists have weather balloons that they send into thunderclouds in order to learn more about how, when and where lightning forms.
And these scientists are perhaps a bit more averse to the potential for self-injury than Franklin, who succeeded in shocking himself once while experimenting with electricity in his home laboratory, according to The Franklin Institute. Today's researchers know a bit more about the dangers of lightning, which is one of the reasons they want to know more about it.
Credit: National Library of Sweden, shelfmark KoB 1 ab
The iconic sea serpents, mermaids and other mythical creatures found on world maps from medieval and Renaissance times splash to life on the pages of a…Read More »
Chet Van Duzer's "Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps" (British Library, 2013) charts the evolution of the mythical creatures that adorned atlases from the 10th century through the 17th century. Cartographers used the beastly art to illustrate mysterious, unexplored regions of the globe and the possible dangers of seafaring.
The bizarre circular patches of bare land called "fairy circles" in the grasslands of Africa's Namib Desert have defied explanation, with hypotheses ranging…Read More »
from ants to termites to grass-killing gas that seeps out of the soil. But the patches may be the natural result of the subsurface competition for resources among plants, new research suggests.
Grasslands in the Namib Desert start off homogenous, but sparse rainfall and nutrient-poor soil spark intense competition between the grasses, according to the new theory. Strong grasses sap all of the water and nutrients from the soil, causing their weaker neighbors to die and a barren gap to form in the landscape.
Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), and IPHAS
The Hubble Space Telescope has captured what scienitsts are describing as a "cosmic caterpillar" nearly 6 trillion miles long slinking through deepspace.
…Read More »
The celestial critter in the new Hubble telescope photo is actually a cloud of gas stretching one light-year (10 trillion kilometers) across, scientists say. This cloud is in the process of collapsing down under its own gravity to give birth to a star — but it's a race against time, because the established bright stars in its vicinity are fighting this process.
and the majority of the world's geysers are here, at America's first national park, established in 1872.
Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest of all the hot springs in both Yellowstone and in the United States. The spring is also one of Yellowstone's most colorful. It earned its name because its colors match the rainbow dispersion of white light by an optical prism: red, orange, yellow, green and blue.
The colors tend to form rings around the spring and are due to the pigmented bacteria in the microbial mats that grow around the edges of the mineral-rich water. The color varies with the seasons, but in the summer, the mats tend to be orange and red, as the above image shows. The blue center of the pool is sterile due to extreme heat.
The spring is about 300 feet (90 meters) across and about 160 feet (50 m) deep. The water is up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius).
Yellowstone is home to more than hot springs, of course. This true wilderness is home to grizzly bears, wolves and herds of bison and elk.
Across the globe, reef-building corals live in symbiosis with algae, which provide the animals with food and their iconic brilliant color. But environmental…Read More »
stress — high temperatures, in particular — can kill corals by causing them to "bleach," a process in which they lose their vital algal friends and turn ghostly white.
Scientists have long thought that faulty algal photosynthesis (the process that uses light to make food) ultimately triggers coral bleaching, but new research now shows that substantial bleaching can also occur when heat-stressed corals are not exposed to light (such as at night).
Dying stars that are among the most beautiful objects in the universe tend to line up across the night sky, and astronomers aren't sure why.
These "cosmic…Read More »
butterflies" — actually a certain type of planetary nebula — all have their own formation histories, and they don't interact with each other. But something is apparently making them dance in step, scientists using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the European Southern Observatory's New Technology Telescope (NTT) have discovered.
The zoo held a naming campaign following the baby gorilla's arrival. More than 600 votes were cast, and the name Baako, which means "first born child," emerged as the winner. Zoo officials are excited about their newest gorilla addition, which is the first child for father, Gugas, and mother, Kwanza.
"Due to Gugas' background, he is genetically very important to the European breeding programme as he is not represented in the zoo population," zoo manager Mark Challis said in a statement. "[A]fter fertility tests last year, it was believed that Gugas would never father any young so we are delighted with Baako's arrival but we also have high hopes that he will be the first of many more!" [Related: Gallery – Monkey Mug Shots] Less «