The chemistry of the ocean is changing. Most climate change discussion focuses on the warmth of the air, but around one-quarter of the carbon dioxide we release into the atmosphere dissolves into the ocean. Dissolved carbon dioxide makes seawater more acidic—a process called ocean acidification—and its effects have already been observed: the shells of sea butterflies, also known as pteropods, have begun dissolving in the Antarctic.
Our beloved blue planet gets pelted with debris from space all the time but, since most of it burns up or break apart in the atmosphere, it’s usually not a problem. Even when one does make it to the ground, they are rarely much larger than a small rock, minimizing the damage they’re capable of inflicting.
We can send satellites in the orbit and people to the Moon and predict solar eclipses thousands the years into the future but yet we cannot reliably predict the weather…
May 13, the Suomi NPP satellite captured a fascinating image of Tropical Cyclone Mahasen as it moved northeast over the Bay of Bengal. The clouds of the storm itself weren’t optically visible in the darkness of a nearly new Moon, but lightning flashes within it were… as well as the eerie ripples of atmospheric gravity waves spreading outwards from its center.
Why is the sky blue? It’s a question that you’d think kids have been asking for thousands of years, but it might not be that old at all. The ancient Greek poet Homer never used a word for blue in The Odyssey or The Iliad, because blue is one of the last colors that cultures pick out a word for.
In the last century humanity has taken gigantic leaps forward in the robotic exploration of the cosmos — not least in the search for habitable worlds and environments that could house life outside of the Earth. The next logical step is for humanity itself to leave the confines of our planet, and take on long-term human exploration of the Solar System. Mars in particular is a key target for future human planetary adventures even though on the face of it, it seems so hostile to human life.
The photo above shows von Karman vortices observed in a muddy puddle near Eger, Hungary. A pebble caused the saber-shaped perturbations in this approximately 12 by 16 in (30 by 40 cm) puddle — the result of melting snow flowing through a tire track. The direction of flow here is from left to right. In a fluid, be it air or liquid, an [...]
There are a lot of ways to kill and be killed in the animal kingdom, but only a lucky few use the powers of venom. Not all are closely related, so how did they acquire the same defenses, where did venom come from, and how does it work? And what animals can kill you the most quickly?
Some lucky animals are naturally endowed with bioluminescence, or the ability to create light. The firefly, the anglerfish, and a few more surprising creatures use this ability in many ways, including survival, hunting, and mating. Leslie Kenna investigates this magical glow – and our quest to replicate it.
Hank introduces us to 6 blood-drinking (or otherwise consuming) animals that you may not be aware of. Don’t freak out…
Biofuels can provide energy without the reliance on environmentally harmful fossils fuels — but scientists are still searching for a plentiful source. Craig A. Kohn demonstrates how cellulose, the naturally abundant tough walls of plant cells, might be the solution.