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After 19 hours of work yesterday, the crippled cruise ship Costa Concordia was successfully tipped upright. You can read more about the science involved in the parbuckling process used to make it happen right here.
In the harsh and inhospitable environment of Antarctic, there exists a bizarre waterfalls from which blood-colored water flows. Known (not surprisingly) as Blood Falls, the strange phenomenon was first discovered back in 1911 by Australian explorer Griffith Taylor who came upon the remarkable waterfalls seeping from the face of a glacier now called Taylor Glacier in his honor. But even more bizarre than the waterfalls itself, is what causes it to flow red.
A subglacial lake buried 400 meters beneath the glacier lacks heat, oxygen, and light. But an unusual group of microbes living within its waters have somehow adapted a way to survive in the harsh and super-salty environment by "breathing" iron or sulfur and converting those elements into energy. The high iron content, which the glacier accumulated by scraping up the bedrock, interacts with the air (oxidation) staining the ice around the outflow in a deep rust color.
The microbes have been trapped in the lake beneath Taylor Glacier for about 3 million years, and analyses found them to be similar in their robustness to microorganisms living in equally hostile environments in the depths of Earth's oceans. Jill Mikucki, a geomicrobiologist from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville discovered 17 types of microorganisms in water samples she collected from the lake.
The microbes seem alien in their behavior and could provide new insight into how organisms might be able to survive in the harshest of environments. They also enhance the possibility of finding similar life on Mars or other inhospitable bodies populating our Solar System.
Invasive species in Minnesota lakes is an ongoing problem. But this story – an alligator shot by Minnesota game officials in a Scandia-area lake – may just take the cake. Oh, and they think there might be one or two more gators still in the lake.
Courtesy NASA?JPL-CaltechRemember last month when we posted a photo of the Earth and Moon taken by the Cassini spacecraft as it looked back from its location near the planet Saturn? Well, at the time, NASA made a request of all Earthlings to send in photos of themselves waving back at Saturn, and here are the results made into a collage of our Big Blue Oasis in space:
Click on the globe to see enlargements of the 1400 or so photographs NASA received.
A dogfish shark and a sand tiger shark in Delaware Bay present a pretty good example of the old saying.
Courtesy Karen NybergIt's summer. You're toiling away at work while friends are out traveling, posting images of their fun and exotic discoveries on social media. But they can't beat Minnesota-native astronaut Karen Nyberg. From her perch aboard the International Space Station, she's created an extensive gallery of images from space including this image of Minnesota that includes her hometown of Battle Lake. There are come very artistic displays of global weather activities in these photos.
Courtesy Mark RyanA billion years or so from now, our Sun, like all stars in the known universe, will eventually die. But compared to more massive stars that explode into novae or supernovae, our medium-sized yellow star (or G-type main-sequence star) won't go out with much of a bang but more of a poof. During its death throes, as the Sun runs out of hydrogen and begins burning helium, its size will fluctuate until it swells up into a red giant big enough to engulf the inner planets, perhaps even Earth. This means it's going to get a lot hotter around here. If you want to get a better idea of what's in store for us, check out these dramatic and somewhat disturbing illustrations of the Sun's end times.
I really like the cool image showing one of the surviving Maya stone idols being scorched by the bloated Sun. It's Stela A from Copan, Honduras, and if you want to see a really impressive full-sized replica of that monolith, you can see it in the Science Museum of Minnesota's terrific new exhibit, Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed.
...frogs use leaves as umbrellas! Very cool photo. The little critter is about 2 inches tall.
Bill Nye gives us a quick, and fun, lesson on how we can avoid problem asteroids of the future.