Stories tagged Amazing fact

Did you just uncover an interesting tidbit of knowledge related to current science? Tell us.

Blue Morpho butterfly
Blue Morpho butterflyCourtesy Wikimedia Commons
When is cash money like a Blue Morpho butterfly? When the manufacturers of said cash money are inspired by the ultra-cool iridescent nano-qualities of said butterfly's wings to make cash money nearly-impossible to counterfeit. Three cheers for the powers of biomimicry!

So what's happening here? Blue Morpho butterfly wing (reflected light)
Blue Morpho butterfly wing (reflected light)Courtesy F. Nijhout, Duke University
The Blue Morpho is unique because its vibrant color isn't due to pigment - it's due to a very special structure of the wings that reflects light in a very specific way. If you wet the butterfly's wings, or light the wings from behind, they look completely different - no longer the shock of gorgeous blue - because the light reflects off the wing structure differently.

Since it's highly unlikely that counterfeiters are going to have, Blue Morpho butterfly wing (microribs)
Blue Morpho butterfly wing (microribs)Courtesy Shinya Yoshioka, Osaka University
or have access to, the equipment to replicate or design their own comparable nano-structures any time soon, this counts as a win for governments.

Only a few days after Google published satellite photographs of possibly secret nuclear facilities in Iran, new images of obviously manmade structures have been spotted in the Gobi desert in China. All of the structures are located in northwestern China, near the borders of Xinjiang and Gansu province. This is an area that China uses for its military, space and nuclear programs.

In this Google Map image, burnt-out vehicles can be see seen in what is speculated to be a military training facility. Northwest of that site can be seen an additional manmade facility. Another image reveals what appear to be large manmade bodies of water. This radial structure may be a targeting site.

News Article: Google map mystery of giant lines spotted by satellite in Gobi desert

What is a murmuration?

by Anonymous on Nov. 07th, 2011

I had no idea until I watched this amazing video made by Liberty Smith and Sophie Windsor Clive while canoeing on the River Shannon in Ireland. More info on Irish Central.

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

No. Freakin'. Way.

National Geographic just made my afternoon by reporting on an extremely rare "Cyclops" albino shark -- and they have photos! Check 'em out here.

Dude kinda reminds me of Mike Wazowski from Monster's Inc.

Anyway, here's some of the science behind "Mike," as I shall now call him:

  • He was discovered in the womb of legally-caught mama dusky shark, along with 9 completely normal siblings.
  • Yes, the eye works!
  • Cyclopia is a real congenital disease (condition existing at birth).
  • Cyclopia occurs in several animal species, including humans.
  • No cyclops sharks have been observed outside the womb, suggesting they don't survive long in the wild.
  • He had other abnormalites, including albinism, no nostrils, and deformations.
  • The defects are not suspected to be related to pollution.

Who’da thunk it? But you can mine sand. Not just for beaches, but for hydrofracking (or 'hydraulic fracturing').
Silica sand mine: Germany, Spring 2007
Silica sand mine: Germany, Spring 2007Courtesy Songkran

[Side bar: Hydrofracking is a method of squeezing natural gas from certain special rocks. It’s expensive and has environmental consequences, but increasing demand coupled with oil and gas prices being what they are (high!) we’ll be hearing a lot more about the extraction technique. This Strib article calls silica sand "the new gold."]

And… back to sand mining. Silica sand is used by drillers in hydrofracking. According to this blog post, Red Wing, MN is primo silica sand mining land, so it’s no wonder Windsor Permian, a Texas drilling company, wants in.

A sand mining pit could create a lot of local jobs. Or it could cause lung diseases, including cancer, in the local population. Or both. Or neither.

Yikes. What’s a person to think? On the one hand, people need jobs and affordable energy. On the other hand, the very same people need good health and a stable environment.

As the global population rises in absolute size and affluence, we’ll face more difficult decisions like this one. Looking for solutions that benefit both people and the environment will characterize the future of life on Earth.

The International Space Station recently recorded a video of aurora borealis from its orbit high above the earth. Watch the video here, and read about it here.

Earthen “Beehive Houses” made from Mud, Straw, Dirt have been keeping Syrians cool for Centuries: