The sun has unleashed three powerful solar flares over the past two days, and the effects of these eruptions could hit Earth this Friday the 13th — but…Read More »
don't worry, space weather reports show there's no cause for alarm.
The three solar bursts were all X-class flares — the most intense type of solar flare that is 10,000 times as powerful as normal background flares from the sun. The most recent flare was an X1.0 that peaked at 5:06 a.m. EDT (0906 GMT) yesterday (June 11). Two other solar bursts — one X2.2 flare (twice as powerful as yesterday’s) and an X1.5 flare (1.5 times as powerful as yesterday’s) — occurred Tuesday. All three solar tempests erupted from the left side of the sun, NASA officials said in a statement.
You'll consume about 2 liters (just over a half gallon) of oxygen in the time it takes you to read this post. About 20 percent of that oxygen comes from…Read More »
photosynthesis by marine diatoms — the most important little organisms that most people have never heard of.
Diatoms are tiny — five to 10 of them could fit on the head of a pin — but these single-celled algae play an immense role in keeping the planet's ecosystem working. They're important mediators of carbon and oxygen cycles, an integral component of marine food webs and the principal cyclers of silica, which constitutes about one-quarter of the Earth's crust. [In Photos: The Diversity of Diatoms]
This month, the full moon falls on Friday the 13th.
Freaky? Nah, probably not.
Despite many myths, the full moon does not actually embolden criminals, bring about births or make people mad, studies show. And while Friday the 13th superstitions may be well entrenched, there's nothing particularly special about a full moon falling on this date.
Predatory reptiles that trawled the oceans during the age of the dinosaurs used a rowing motion to scoop up prey, new track marks uncovered in China reveal.…Read More »
The newly discovered tracks are from creatures called nothosaurs, the top predators of the seas during the Triassic period, which lasted from 251 million to 199 million years ago. The findings settle a long-standing debate about how the ancient seacreatures swam, said study co-author Michael Benton, a paleontologist at the University of Bristol in England.
Credit: L. Twyffels (top); D. Monteyne and D. Perez-Morga (bottom)
The race to fertilization is no every-sperm-for-itself sprint in desert ants. A new study finds that bundles of these ants' sperm work together to swim…Read More »
faster than any single sperm could.
The sperm of the ant Cataglyphis savignyi are some of the few sperm cells ever found to cooperate. The stakes are high: Females of this species mate with many males in quick succession, and only the quickest, strongest sperm end up stored in the female sperm storage organ, the spermatheca. There, sperm can live for 20 to 30 years — far longer than the males that produced them, which survive mere weeks.
Horned frogs are capable of consuming prey that are very large relative to the amphibians' own bodies, and they may be able to pull off this impressive…Read More »
feat thanks to the strength of their tongues, new research suggests.
When the frogs catapult their tongues to catch a hapless creature, the organ's adhesiveforces exceed the weight of the animals' prey, and sometimes even the frog's own body weight, according to the study detailed today (June 12) in the journal Scientific Reports.
Though it's starting to feel like summer in the Great Lakes region, with temperatures soaring into the 80s (Fahrenheit), icebergs are still loitering in…Read More »
Lake Superior — a reminder of an especially harsh winter.
Last week, a marine warden with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources was patrolling Lake Superior when she spotted seagulls resting on a huge chunk of ice near Madeline Island, off the northern coast of Wisconsin.
Credit: Vicente I. Fernandez (1), Orr H. Shapiro (1,2), Melissa S. Garren (1), Assaf Vardi (2) and Roman Stocker (1); (1) Massachusetts Institute of Technology; (2) Weizmann Institute of Science
This striking photograph shows just how active are the ocean’s reef-building corals. Scientists from MIT and the Weizmann Institute of Science captured…Read More »
the way in which cilia — tiny hair-like projections on the surface of corals — create unseen currents as they wave back and forth in the water, helping to take in nutrients and move out waste.
To create the award-winning image, the researchers used a video microscope, multiple image exposures and digital photo production. Vicente Fernandez, who works in the lab of Roman Stocker at MIT, and Orr Shapiro, who works in the lab of Assaf Vardi at the Weizmann Institute and was visiting MIT at the time of this work, first placed fragments of "cauliflower" coral (Pocillopora damicornis) under a microscope.
Credit: Douglas Croft/US Department of the Interior
You will be hard pressed to find more brown bears in one photo than this one from Katmai National Park in Alaska.
Formerly known as Katmai National…Read More »
Monument, the area was established in 1918 to protect the volcanically devastated region surrounding Mount Katmai and the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. Today, Katmai National Park and Preserve remains an active volcanic landscape, but it also protects 9,000 years of human history, as well as important habitats for salmon and the thousands of brown bears that feed on them.
Brooks Falls, seen here, is one of the best places in the world to watch brown bears hunt, because it is one of the first streams in the region where bright, energetic, and pre-spawned salmon are available to bears. Early in the salmon run, Brooks Falls creates a temporary barrier to migrating salmon, resulting in a particularly successful fishing spot for bears. It also happens to be a particularly good spot for spotting brown bears. [Related Gallery: Beastly Bears]