It’s been four days since the Sanchi Iranian oil tanker sank in the East China Sea, and officials are carefully monitoring the ensuing spill, which has now spread into four distinct slicks. The toxic spill now encompasses an area 40 square miles in size, threatening local marine wildlife and the coasts of Japan and South Korea.
Workers at Lesotho’s Letšeng mine have discovered an absolute whopper of a diamond, rated at 910-carats. Roughly the size of two golf balls, the precious gem has an estimated value of $40 million.
Quick: what has eight legs and a face like a pair of hairy salad tongs? If you’re a spider, you know exactly what I’m describing—a beast, which, at least to smaller spiders, is an otherworldly, eldritch terror: the pelican spider. Now, new research published today in the journal ZooKeys details the discovery of a whopping 18 new species of pelican spider from Madagascar.
If you’ve seen BBC’s Planet Earth, you may recall of one of its sillier scenes: the superb bird-of-paradise mating dance. A female hops up to a male, who unveils a mane of feathers and puts on a performance like a drunk rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody” at a karaoke bar. But when the male bird faces the camera, things go black—way black. Skip to 2:34 in the video below. This bird’s feathers are so black that you can’t see any of its facial features, just radiant blues on a sea of natural Vantablack.
Our Milky Way galaxy isn’t alone in this corner of space—it’s orbited by a few smaller dwarf galaxies, including the Large Magellanic Cloud. Inside that cloud is 30 Doradus (or the Tarantula Nebula), a “starburst” where stars are formed at a much higher rate than the surrounding area. And 30 Doradus has too many massive stars.
The eruption of Mount Agung on the island of Bali has sparked worldwide media interest, yet volcanic eruptions in Indonesia are nothing new. Of the country’s 139 “active” volcanoes, 18 currently have raised alert levels, signifying higher than normal seismic activity, ground deformation or gas emissions. On a global scale, in any week in 2017, there were at least between 14 and 27 volcanoes erupting.
It was 75 years ago, beneath the bleachers of a University of Chicago football field, that scientists took the first step toward harnessing the power of the nuclear fission chain reaction. Their research initiated the Atomic Age, and kicked off in earnest the Manhattan Project’s race toward a weapon of unimaginable might. Later, precisely the same technique would spur construction of the nuclear power plants that today supply 20 percent of America’s energy. From medicine to art, the awesome and terrible potential of splitting the atom has left few aspects of our lives untouched.
Continue reading How the First Man-Made Nuclear Reactor Reshaped Science and Society