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Courtesy Dmitry AzovtsevThis may be a preview of the next big summer blockbuster movie, but several swimmers have come under attack by otters this summer. This latest report chronicles how two otters ganged up on a swimmer near Aitkin. Just think of the film possibilities, cute and cuddly otters in one scene suddenly turn predatory in the next. A Department of Natural Resources official did comment that these types of attacks are extremely rare and people in northern Minnesota are much more likely to cross paths with a black bear or mountain lion.
Courtesy NASA via WikipediaBack in the late 60s and early 70s, during the Apollo lunar-landing missions, astronauts planted a US flag at each landing site. Now, forty years after Apollo 17 became NASA's last manned flight to the moon, scientists, studying images supplied by the Lunar Reconaissance Orbiter (LRO), have determined that all but one of the planted flags are still standing. Click here to learn more, and to find out which flag has fallen over and why.
Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ.NASA commemorates the event (which took place July 2nd) by posting this great panorama taken by the robotic explorer. The full-circle photograph is composed of 817 separate images. Opportunity and its equally tenacious sister rover, Spirit, have exceeded by many years their planned missions on the desert planet.
Full resolution image files can be downloaded here.
Courtesy Mark RyanWhen a statue of Jesus in Mumbai, India began leaking water from its feet, a priest and a couple of local Catholic laity organizations proclaimed it was a miracle - a sign from God. Hundreds of the faithful came to drink of the "holy water" hoping to cure what ailed them. Sanal Edamaruku, an Indian rationalist, investigated the situation and found that the water originated from a clogged drain in a nearby washroom. Now, he's been charged with "deliberately hurting religious feelings and attempting malicious acts intended to outrage the religious sentiments of any class or community". What an odd world we live in. Click here for the whole bizarre story at New Scientist.
The Denver Post website contains some tragic and spectacular photos of the wildfires blazing in the foothills west of Colorado Springs. Tens of thousands of people are being evacuated as whole neighborhoods are going up in flame, The wildfire doubled in size overnight and is now nearing Garden of the Gods. The park has closed until further notice.
I've been checking out some of the visual material taken of yesterday's massive flooding in Duluth and thought this one was pretty interesting. The video of the raging Miller Creek in Lincoln Park was taken while it was still raining and you see can visible change in the water level by the end of it.
Courtesy Mark RynThe recent floods in Duluth and other communities in northern Minnesota illustrate the incredible erosive power of running water. I was living in Duluth in 1972 when floods then ripped up the entire length of 6th Avenue East from top to bottom. This go-round appears to be even more devastating. I was particularly saddened to hear that the Swinging Bridge at Jay Cooke State Park has been destroyed by the force of the St. Louis River. The Lake Superior Zoo was inundated with water killing several of animals there. Several animals escaped, including the polar bear which was quickly tranquilized, recaptured, and sent to Como Zoo in St. Paul. One seal was more successful in its escape and made it out of the zoo compound to Grand Avenue where it stopped traffic. Recovery from all the damage is going take a while.
Meteorological spring in the northern hemisphere is considered to be during the months of March, April, and May. During these three months, the average temperature across the United States was 57.1 degrees Fahrenheit, which was 5.2 degrees above the long term average. According to the latest information released by NOAA and the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), spring 2012 is officially the warmest spring ever recorded since records began in 1895. 2012 beat out the year 1910 by a remarkable 2.0 degrees in Fahrenheit in the United States. The period from January through May in the United States saw an average temperature of 49.2°, or 5 degrees above the average. Overall, the United States experienced the second warmest summer, fourth warmest winter, and the warmest spring on record.
Last month's earthquakes in Northern Italy produced some interesting examples of soil liquefaction, a phenomenon, that occurs often during earthquakes when soil or other uncompacted ground material suddenly loses its strength and structure and begins to act like a liquid.