Stories tagged Amazing fact

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Our whimpering Sun
Our whimpering SunCourtesy Mark Ryan
A 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.

Story at io9: We Come from the Future

When it rains....

by mdr on Jul. 25th, 2013

...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.

Earth and Moon: Does this make my planet look small? (enlarge photo by clicking on it - then you'll see the Moon, too.)
Earth and Moon: Does this make my planet look small? (enlarge photo by clicking on it - then you'll see the Moon, too.)Courtesy NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
During the Apollo lunar missions in the late 60s and early 70s, many of the astronauts remarked at how small Earth seemed from the Moon. On this anniversary of his first steps on the lunar surface, I wonder what Neil Armstrong would have thought of this remarkable photograph taken yesterday by the Cassini spacecraft? In the center of a field of stars sits planet Earth and the Moon taken from more than 898,000,000 miles away!

More Cassini Photos

Muskie, regular coloration: Here's a regularly colored imagine it all white as an albino.
Muskie, regular coloration: Here's a regularly colored imagine it all white as an albino.Courtesy Engbretson, Eric / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
I confess, muskies freak me out. They're scary looking. And now I read that a guy caught a 46-inch albino muskie. No way am I going in that lake!!! You can read about, and see photos of, this rare catch here.

Historic scientists: Newton, Galileo, and Einstein
Historic scientists: Newton, Galileo, and EinsteinCourtesy Public domain via Wikipedia
Kapil Bhagat, a graphic artist living in Mumbai, India, created a series of clever, minimal graphics honoring historic scientists and their discoveries for India's National Science Day. I especially like the one for Einstein. National Science Day is celebrated in the India each year on February 28. Go here to check out some of his very cool artwork on Tumblr.

Supermoon above Minneapolis
Supermoon above MinneapolisCourtesy Mark Ryan
The skies over Minneapolis cleared yesterday just in time to see last night's supermoon. So-called supermoons occur when the Moon is at the closet point (perigee) in its elliptical orbit around Earth during a full moon phase. The Moon at that position can be up to 14% closer and 30% brighter than a full moon at apogee (at its farthest point in Earth orbit). In astronomy circles, supermoons are known as "perigee full moons", and aren't really as rare as recent media reports have been making last night's event out to be. A supermoon occurs about once every 14 full moons in a full moon cycle. The last supermoon was just last month (but this month's was the biggest of the year). The next supermoon will be in August of 2014, and one of the largest supermoons in a long time to come will take place in November of 2016. The shot seen was taken last night from the bridge on the west side of Lake of the Isles. The top of the Uptown Theater's marquee tower can be seen beneath the lunar disk.

Supermoon info

Not surprising, I guess, but still troubling. The new study appears in the journal Science, and a report on it appears at

Siberian tiger: New legislation deals with private ownership of large cats.
Siberian tiger: New legislation deals with private ownership of large cats.Courtesy Mark Ryan
According to the World Wildlife Federation there are now literally more tigers in captivity in the United States than exist in the wild. That's about 5000 captive tigers versus 3200 wild ones. You might think, well sure, that's not surprising, there are a lot of zoos in America. But tigers held in zoos aren't even included in the estimate. The WWF is referring to tigers as exotic pets, held in American backyards, urban apartments, sideshows, truck stops and private breeding farms.

The "Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act HR 1998" is new legislation introduced on May 15, 2013. The bill would prohibit private possession and breeding of not only tigers but also lions, cheetahs, cougars, leopards and other large, dangerous cats that could threaten public safety. The bill would not affect public zoos or wildlife sanctuaries, and would allow current private owners to keep their cats provided they register them with the US Department of Agriculture.

WWF story

Earth from orbit

by mdr on Jun. 10th, 2013

I love these kinds of videos! These images and data gleaned in 2012 from satellites orbiting the Earth are both fantastic and beautiful. Enjoy!

NASA's Visualization Explorer page