Courtesy unknownSeveral years ago the Science Museum of Minnesota hosting a very popular exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The scrolls are back in the news again with recent developments of scroll scraps now being up for sale on the open market. Most of these pieces are smaller than a postage stamp and contain no writing of the ancient Hebrew texts.
Here's a link to our Science Buzz pages exploring the current science being used to learn more about the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Courtesy Mark RyanA rescue effort is underway right now in St. Paul where three children are reported to have gotten stranded in Lilydale Regional Park. A helicopter and several rescue units are on site. Two children has already been recovered and taken to hospital but one child is still missing. The children were part of a group of 4th-graders on a field trip from St. Louis Park.
Lilydale is a popular fossil collecting site for school field trips and others but the Decorah shale in the quarries where most of the fossils are found can become very treacherous in wet weather. The crumbly shale reconstitutes into a very thick, slippery muck when it rains making the steep quarry walls very unstable. Three inches of rain have fallen in the Metro area over the past few days.
A firefighter reportedly sustained injuries to his head from a falling rock during one of the rescues. Let's hope everything else turns out okay.
More details are starting to emerge from the enormous tornado to rip through Oklahoma yesterday. Wind speeds were measured over 200 miles per hour. As of Tuesday morning, authorities had put the death toll at 24 but rescue crews were continuing to sort through the rubble looking for more casualties.
Here are a couple YouTube posts from storm chasers who were on the scene for yesterday's devastating tornado in Moore, Oklahoma. Listening to their voices, you can really get a feel for the huge magnitude of this tornado.
Courtesy OklahomanickThis map shows that three major tornadoes have taken very similar paths through this section of Oklahoma in the past 15 years, all occurring in May. The May 3, 1999 tornado killed 36 people and was rated EF-5, the strongest ranking on the tornado scale. The May 8, 2003 tornado was rated EF-4, but no one was killed. It is almost a certainty that the 2013 tornado will also be rated EF-5.
Courtesy NOAANOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) captured this image of the storm system that spawned the tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma. The storms’ violent updrafts sucked in air that shot up 40,000-50,000 feet or more into the atmosphere. The bubbly white structures you see in the image are known as overshooting cloud tops and are textbook features of violent thunderstorms.
A couple months ago, USA Today reported on global climate change's impact on tornadoes. You can read it here. Trying to draw conclusions about the impacts to this type of weather is twisted, to say the least.
Weather.com's Greg Forbes surveys the damage and gives his insights on the strength of the Oklahoma tornado.
Minnesota-based meteorologist Paul Douglas today gives some great analysis, and some amazing radar images, in the Start Tribune today on why this storm turned out to be so big and powerful. He also reviews the good and the better weather apps to have on your phone or mobile device to help you know when bad weather is coming.
Courtesy Survive-a-stormNational Geographic shares information about how uncommon it is for tornadoes to hit developed, populated areas along with some of the basic science on what makes tornadoes occur.
USA Today reports that the phone is ringing off the hook for this tornado shelter sales company. A 4-by-6 steel shelter that can hold up to six people runs about $4,000. The demand is highest in the southern states where most homes are built without basements.
And here's the link to MDR's earlier post on the tornado, showing its movement in time lapse photography.
Courtesy Invisible Fence
Infographic describing the evolution of the dog from wolves - explaining all the different categories of dog breeds. Really interesting stats, and research about how well dogs have been bred and learned to interpret human specific behavior.
One cool section explains how all the different breeds of dogs are categorized into the seven main groups (Gundog, Hound, Working, Herding, Terrier, Toy, Utility).
The massive tornado that tore through Moore, Oklahoma today is estimated to have been between 1 to 2 miles wide (!) and stayed on the ground for about 40 minutes. As of this writing it's been designated as an EF4 category storm, but that could change. The damage is hugely extensive and the total loss of life and property won't be determined for a several days to come as workers dig through the rubble and debris. The above time-lapse video shows how the twister started fairly small then quickly grew into a super-destructive force of nature with wind speeds estimated - so far - to have been upwards to 200 miles per hour. The same region around Oklahoma City was ravaged by an EF5 tornado back in May of 1999. A local meteorologist called today's tornado "the worst tornado in the history of the world." The devastation seen in the aftermath of today's monster tornado lends some credence to that statement but time will tell.
Go to Smithsonian.com to put this deadly storm in perspective.
After months of analysis, NASA has posted this ScienceCasts report of a large meteoroid impact on the Moon on March 17, 2013. Lunar impacts aren't uncommon - hundreds occur each year - but this one was the brightest flash recorded in the eight year span of the agency's lunar monitoring program. NASA estimates that a 40 kg space rock slamming into the Mare Imbrium region caused the visible-to-the-naked-eye explosion. The bright flash wasn't produced by combustion - the Moon has no atmosphere - but by the glow of hot vapors and molten lunar rock heated up by the tremendous kinetic force of the impact.
Courtesy © Solar Impulse | Revillard | Rezo.chIt's one flight down and four more to go for Solar Impulse, the completely solar airplane that's soaring its way across the USA. Solar Impulse flew from San Francisco to Phoenix on May 3, taking a shade over 18 hours to complete the trip. Over the next couple months, it will fly legs to Dallas, St. Louis, Washington D.C. and New York City with the New York trip scheduled to conclude in early July.
For the stat freaks, the solar plane averaged a speed of 40 miles an hour at an average altitude of 10,000 feet. It soared to a maximum altitude of 21,000 feet over the 650 mile trip. And yes, it took off and landed in the dark.
More information about the Solar Impulse project can be found at its website here and to follow its progress flying across the country.
So how does a solar airplane work exactly?
Made of carbon fiber, the plane has the wingspan of a Boeing 747 (208 feet) and the weight of a small car (3,527 lbs). It is the result of seven years of intense work by a team of about 80 people and 100 partners and advisors. The 12,000 solar cells built into the wing provide four 10 horsepower electric motors with renewable energy. By day the solar cells recharge lithium batteries which allow the plane to fly at night. Swiss pioneers Bertrand Piccard (chairman) and André Borschberg (CEO) are the founders, pilots and the driving forces behind Solar Impulse.
The plane made its first night flight in 2010 and has a record endurance flight of 26 hours, 10 minutes, 19 seconds.
Solar Impulse wants to inspire and motivate as many people as possible throughout its journey across America. “We want to show that with clean technologies, a passionate team and a fa-reaching pioneering vision one can achieve the impossible.” said Piccard, adding “If we all challenged certitudes by driving change and being pioneers in our everyday lives, we can create innovative solutions for society’s biggest challenges.”
Here's some more nitty gritty about the plane's specs and future:
• The electricity produced by the solar panels is about the same as needed to run a scooter for 24 hours.
• The light plane is sensitive to turbulence. Winds cannot exceed 11.5 miles per hour at take off and crosswinds at takeoff can be no more than 4.6 miles per hour.
* A second plane is now being constructed.
* Solar Impluse has a goal of making an around-the-world trip in 2015, with 2-3 day flights over continents and 4-6 day legs over oceans.
And just to prove it actually flies, here's video shot in the San Francisco skies before Solar Impulse began its USA journey.
Courtesy Captain Budd Christman, NOAA CorpsHow does Minnesota factor into the recent judgment against political genocide actions in Guatemala? The findings that have brought justice in the case relied on "The Minnesota Protocol." The full report on how the protocol was used in Guatemala can be found in this article in the St. Paul Pioneer-Press.
Work on the protocol started in Minnesota 30 years ago by a team of lawyers concerned with growing international strife. They created a format for neutral scientific third parties to investigate claims of assassination and genocide after it was becoming apparent that in many offending countries, those investigations were being done by groups sympathetic to the leaders being accused of the crimes. The concepts were adopted by the United Nations in 1989 as a global standard to use to investigate such situations.
In the Guatemalan case, former military dictator Efrain Rios Montt was recently found guilty of ordering actions that claimed the lives of at least 1,700 indigenous people during the 17 months after he seized power in a military coup in 1982. A key pieces of evidence were found in a mass grave of 50 bodies found underneath a soccer field that were eventually examined by Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala using principles of the Minnesota Protocol.
Similar investigations using the Minnesota Protocol have led to genocide convictions in other corners of the globe such as Rwanda and Bosnia.
What happens if you start 32 metronomes at different times on a stable surface? Not much. They'll tick-tock out of sync until the cows come home. But what happens when you start the same 32 metronomes on an unfixed surface? You get to witness a nifty (and mesmerizing) example of coupled oscillations. Watch and learn.
Work with bulldozers and backhoes to collect materials for a road building project has destroyed an ancient Maya pyramid in Belize. You can read all the details here. And then you can wipe away your tears.