Categories
Nature Science

Iceland’s Vestrahorn mountain and its ‘horny’ peaks

Vestrahorn mountain in south-east Iceland is one to behold.

Nicknamed “Batman Mountain” for its awe-inspiring beauty, the 1490 foot mountain looks down at the flat black sand of Stokksnes Beach below.

Known for its spiky ‘horny’ peaks that resemble the horns on a bull, Vestrahorn is composed of both gabbro and granophyre rocks.

In order to access the photogenic landscape of the mountain beach, you’ll need to make a small payment to the landowner first. The mountain is situated on private property.

By the looks of it, the experience is worth every penny — especially if you get to see the mountain on a clear night with the Northern Lights.

Categories
Nature Science Space

NASA and ESA capture closest images of the sun ever taken

NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have snapped the closest pictures ever taken of the sun.

The images, taken nearly 48 million miles away from the sun’s surface by the Solar Orbiter probe (launched February 9), reveal countless tiny flares which scientists have called “campfires.”

Scientists hope that these never-before seen exterior shots will help explain why the sun’s solar corona or atmosphere (over 1 million °C) is 300x hotter than its actual surface.

Earlier this year, the National Solar Observatory (NSO) brought us the sharpest movie of the sun we’ve seen which revealed each plasma cell the size of Texas.

Categories
Nature Science Travel

How Australia’s Lake Hillier gets its pink color

Lake Hillier in the Recherche Archipelago of Western Australia off the coast of Cape Arid National Park is known for its pink color.

The lake’s solid bubble-gum color continues to be debated but scientists indicate that the pink body of water is the result of the intermixing of Halobacteria and a salt-tolerant algae species called Dunaliella Salina.

The Halobacteria is known to produce red pigments which when mixed with salt-tolerant Dunaliella Salina, creates a stunning strawberry milkshake color.

The chemical reactions between the salt and the microorganisms make the lake ten times saltier than the ocean nearby.

Australia's Lake Hillier pink color
via twitter
How Australia's Lake Hillier gets its pink color
via twitter
How Australia's Lake Hillier gets its pink color
via twitter
How Australia's Lake Hillier gets its pink color
via twitter

Unlike other pink lakes that morph into colors, Lake Hillier retains its pink hue all year round. It’s also safe to swim in.

When viewed from above, the contrast between the pink and dark blue ocean is also striking. You can learn more about the bubblegum lake here.

Categories
Health Science

There are different types of tears

Did you know that we shed different types of tears based on our emotions?

Each type of tear is composed of unique chemicals that give them their variable structure.

There are different types of tears

Emotional tears contain a natural painkiller

According to scientist Claire Phillips, tears of grief contain the neurotransmitter leucine enkephalin which helps relieve the body in times of stress. In such a way, our tear ducts can act as a natural painkiller.

There’s a scientific reason we feel better after we cry.

Categories
Nature Science

Rare Hominin skull excavated in Ethiopia

Paleontologists have discovered a 3.8 million-year-old skull in Woranso-Mille, Ethiopia that reveals the face of a male Australopithecus anamensis.

Identified mainly by its projecting cheekbones and canine-esque teeth, the newfound hominin cranium provides new information about our earliest human ancestors.

Previously, the 3.2m-year-old iconic hominin bones of Australopithecus Afarensis, best known as before Lucy, served as the missing link in explaining the human evolutionary tree.

Rare Hominin skull excavated in Ethiopia
(© Yohannes Haile-Selassie, Courtesy of Cleveland Museum of Natural History)
Rare Hominin skull excavated in Ethiopia
Dale Omori & Liz Russell, Courtesy of Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Rare Hominin skull excavated in Ethiopia
What the individual Australopithecus anamensis could’ve looked like (Artist reconstruction by Matt Crow, Cleveland Museum of Natural History)

The Australopithecus Anamensis and Australopithecus Afarensis lived together for at least 100,000 years.

The leading scientist of the study, Yohannes Haile-Selassie, describes the unearthed skull a “game changer in our understanding of human evolution.”

The precious discovery of the Australopithecine as reported via Nature now represents the face of our oldest direct ancestor.

Rare Hominin skull excavated in Ethiopia
via @IFLScience/Facebook
Categories
Science

Watch a soap bubble freeze

Did you know that you can blow up soap bubbles and instantly freeze them into ice orbs?

If you’re searching for a fun cold-weather activity, this is worth trying out.

Popular Science explains the science behind bubble freeze, in addition to instructions on how to make one.

There’s some interesting science at play here. Every bubble is made up of three individual layers: a thin layer of water molecules squished between two layers of soap. It might look like the entire surface of the bubble is freezing, but what you’re actually seeing is the innermost layer of water—which freezes at warmer temperatures than soapy water—turning to ice within the film.

As the soapy water turns into ice crystals, the inside of the bubble appears to swirl around to create a beautiful effect of a snowglobe — very photographic!

But the ice bubbles don’t last forever, notes bubble photographer Chris Ratzlaff: “Bubbles are such ephemeral things,” he says. “To be able to literally freeze them in time is such a rare experience.”

Enjoy some more bubble freezing videos below:

Watch a soap bubble freeze
via twitter
via Nan Walton/tw
Categories
Science Technology

MesoSPIMs: Custom-built microscopes that can scan individual neurons in the brain

MesoSPIMs are open-source light-sheet microscopes for imaging cleared tissue.

The custom-built microscopes enable scientists to look at individual neurons using sheets of light rather than cutting a brain into slices.

The mesoSPIM Initiative paves the way for the future discovery and understanding of the brain’s complex organization. The studies may one day reveal vital information on the neuronal networks that drive mental illnesses and addictions.

A chicken embryo captured under the mesoSPIM microscope
Categories
Architecture & Design Science Technology

Watch styrofoam dancing to sound waves

Put your hands in the air and wave them like you just don’t care.

What looks like a dubstep rave of little ghost people is actually styrofoam dancing to sound waves in a massive plexiglass pipe known as a Kundt’s tube.

In 1866 German physicist August Kundt constructed the apparatus to measure the speed of sound in a gas or a solid rod.

The faux mosh pit is the result of a process called sound looking which demonstrates what audible vibrations may actually look like.

No one can doubt that life moves to fascinating rhythms & vibrations.

Watch the entire video below.

Categories
Nature Science

The race to save coffee

“Coffee is the common man’s gold…”

Sheik Abd-al-Kabir ‘In praise of coffee’ (1587)

We take coffee for granted.

Judging by the ubiquity of Starbucks stores, you’d think that coffee was abundant. But the coffee we like to drink, the fruity-tasting coffee arabica, is projected to decline given the dual pressures of climate change which reduces suitable land to grow coffee and the ever-growing human demand for a “cup of joe.”

So how do we grow more coffee?

We breed new varieties. Right now, there are over 3,000 distinct varieties of watermelon and only 36 breeds of coffee.

Organizations like World Coffee Research have begun a version of plant sex (i.e., swapping pollen) to bloom a new type of arabica coffee that can resist drought and high temperatures.

Through a process called molecular breeding (non-GMO), the team will spend a decade screening baby plants trying to nail down the right formula of seeds it can distribute to the world’s farmers.

The life cycle of coffee
via twitter
Categories
Animals Health Science

Coronavirus face masks for dogs and cats

Some pet owners in China are going out of their way to protect their animals from the coronavirus by supplying them with masks.

Despite the World Health Organization (WHO) declaration that pets can’t get infected with the virus, dog face masks are flying off the shelves.

But the masks — originally meant to protect against air pollution — aren’t the only devices making their way around the country.

Other owners are sharing their own surgical-based masks with their furry friends, even going so far as to make their own.

This cat owner in Xiaobian, Guangdong Province custom-made a mask for her cat, even poking holes in the mask so the animal could see.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Better safe than sorry, especially when it comes to protecting our little loved ones.