Pictures taken by Norwegian sailor Oyvind Tangen on board a research ship 1700 miles south of Cape Town, South Africa [ X ]
WHY ICEBERGS CAN HAVE COLORS AND STRIPES
Icebergs are formed from glacial ice that has built up from snow falling on the Antarctic continent over millennia; glacial ice consists of pure fresh water. The ice flows slowly to the coast and breaks off either from glaciers or from ice shelves.
As seawater is drawn deep under the ice shelves by the oceanic currents, it becomes super-cooled Under certain conditions it can freeze to the base of the ice shelf.
Because this ice is formed from seawater, it differs from the freshwater ice of the ice shelf. Often, the frozen seawater contains organic matter and minerals, causing it to have a different color and texture.
Thus icebergs broken off from the ice shelves may show layers of the pure blue-white glacial ice and greener ice formed from frozen seawater. As the bergs become fragmented and sculpted by the wind and waves, the different colored layers can develop striking patterns.
Pure glacial ice, too, can exhibit striking color patterns. This is thought to be a result of melting that can occur on the continent before the bergs break off. Crevasses high on the Antarctic plateau can fill with melt water and then refreeze, producing layering of blue ice within a white ice matrix.
After calving, they begin eroding and the alignment of the stripes can become irregular, leading to icebergs with spectacular appearances.
- Dr Steve Nicol, Program Leader, Australian Antarctic Division
Rare Nacreous Clouds
Also called polar stratospheric clouds or mother of pearl clouds, nacreous clouds are mostly visible within two hours after sunset or before dawn. They blaze unbelievably bright with vivid, iridescent colors. These clouds are rare and occur in the polar stratosphere at altitudes of 15,000–25,000 meters. They are so bright because at those heights, they are still sunlit.
Although incredibly beautiful, they have a negative impact on our atmosphere. They create ozone holes by supporting chemical reactions that produce active chlorine which catalyzes ozone destruction.
Art by Pamela Lee
Beautiful ‘flowers’ self-assemble in a beaker
With the hand of nature trained on a beaker of chemical fluid, the most delicate flower structures have been formed in a Harvard laboratory—and not at the scale of inches, but microns.
These minuscule sculptures, curved and delicate, don’t resemble the cubic or jagged forms normally associated with crystals, though that’s what they are. Rather, fields of carnations and marigolds seem to bloom from the surface of a submerged glass slide, assembling themselves a molecule at a time.
By simply manipulating chemical gradients in a beaker of fluid, Wim L. Noorduin, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and lead author of a paper appearing on the cover of the May 17 issue of Science, has found that he can control the growth behavior of these crystals to create precisely tailored structures.
“For at least 200 years, people have been intrigued by how complex shapes could have evolved in nature. This work helps to demonstrate what’s possible just through environmental, chemical changes,” says Noorduin.
Charted: Extraterrestrial Driving Records
NASA has just released this cute chart depicting the various distances traveled by wheeled machines on other worlds (click to enlarge).
The comparison was put out in honor of the agency’s Opportunity rover, which has been on Mars since 2004, beating NASA’s previous distance record-holder, the Apollo 17 moon buggy. During its nine years of operations, Opportunity has roved 35.760 kilometers, edging out the Apollo astronaut’s 35.744-kilometer drive.
The champion for driving on another surface still goes to the Soviet Lunokhod 2 rover, which traveled 37 kilometers across the moon in 1973. Of course, Opportunity still has the *ahem* opportunity to overtake the international record holder since it’s continuing to rove around the rim of Endeavour crater on Mars. The little robot has been exploring that area since 2011 and has uncovered some of the most unambiguous evidence for water on ancient Mars. Though NASA’s celebrated Curiosity rover has only gone less than one kilometer since landing in August, it has nuclear batteries that could last 14 years at minimum — ample time to beat all competitors.
17 year Cicada emergence .gif, because I had to see it animate.
Slow Motion Footage of Mosquitoes Shot Down With Laser
The video below runs slower than the GIFs above suggest:
Intellectual Ventures’ Mosquito Laser Shootdown Sequence, demonstrated at TED 2010.
The Magical World of Living Light
This is the mysterious spectacle of bioluminescence. Its hard not to revel in the beauty of this remarkable natural phenomenon. These glowing creatures are primarily a product of the ocean. They are the primary source of light in the largest and darkest area of habitable land on Earth, the deep sea. On land, they are most commonly seen as glowing fungus on wood (foxfire) or in the few families of luminous insects (fireflies).
6 Surprising Blood-Drinking Animals
Hank introduces us to 6 blood-drinking (or otherwise consuming) animals that you may not be aware of. Don’t freak out…
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Julie Mecoli’s “Dark Matter” is a series of artworks inspired by the University of Queensland Pitch Drop Experiment (if you want to seriously geek out about this, our story on the experiment is right here).
Mecoli’s pieces are made of bitumen. They start out looking like solids and slooooowly reveal their true liquid nature. Check out some of her other work here.
The Glowing Spider-Worms of New Zealand
For over one hundred years, millions of tourists have flocked to the ancient limestone Waitomo Caves on New Zealand’s North Island, where a stunning species of fungus gnat called Arachnocampa luminosa live.
Unique to New Zealand and Australia, they are found in caves, grottoes, and other sheltered places. Arachnocampa means ‘spider-worm,’ as the gnat is known for the way their larvae hang strong vertical silk threads from their underground habitats. Since the larvae are luminescent, the thousands of tiny threads light up cave ceilings like a starry sky.