Tag Archives | Nature

Mysterious Anti-electron Clouds Inside Thunderstorm

Daniel Mösch (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Daniel Mösch (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Via Fosters.com:

DURHAM — A terrifying few moments flying into the top of an active thunderstorm in a research aircraft has led to an unexpected discovery that could help explain the longstanding mystery of how lightning gets initiated inside a thunderstorm.

University of New Hampshire physicist Joseph Dwyer and lightning science colleagues from the University of California at Santa Cruz and Florida Tech describe the turbulent encounter and discovery in a paper to be published in the Journal of Plasma Physics.

In August 2009, Dwyer and colleagues were aboard a National Center for Atmospheric Research Gulfstream V when it inadvertently flew into the extremely violent thunderstorm—and, it turned out, through a large cloud of positrons, the antimatter opposite of electrons, that should not have been there.

To encounter a cloud of positrons without other associated physical phenomena such as energetic gamma-ray emissions was completely unexpected, thoroughly perplexing and contrary to currently understood physics.

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Nature’s Global Warming Fix

Mikael Miettinen (CC BY 2.0)

Mikael Miettinen (CC BY 2.0)

Robert Hunziker writes at CounterPunch:

Mother Earth has experienced five extinction events, but she’s still standing.

Like a prizefighter, she is the Milky Way Galaxy Grand Champion.

Our tenacious planet is armed to fight and conquer global warming without fancy gadgets or special geo-engineering techniques. She can do it on her own, having proven herself time and again, restoring one extinction event after another, and the rest.

We only have to give her a chance, some elbow room to strut her stuff.

Good news, there is no reason to go thru another extinction event to see if nature still has “her stuff.” She does!

In large measure, it’s about dirt versus soil: “Absent carbon and critical microbes, soil becomes mere dirt, a process of deterioration that’s been rampant around the globe. Many scientists say that regenerative agricultural practices can turn back the carbon clock, reducing atmospheric CO2 while also boosting soil productivity and increasing resilience to floods and drought.

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Iconic boab trees trace journeys of ancient Aboriginal people

Legend tells that huge hollow boabs were used as prisons in north west Australia. Robyn Jay/Flickr, CC BY-SA

Legend tells that huge hollow boabs were used as prisons in north west Australia. Robyn Jay/Flickr, CC BY-SA

Haripriya Rangan, Monash University

Baobabs, the iconic bottle trees of Africa and Madagascar, have a single relative, the boab, living in the Kimberley region of northwest Australia. No one knows when and how the boab came across from Africa to Australia, or why its natural range is limited to this region.

In a study published recently in PLOS ONE, we solve one part of this mystery by showing that ancient Aboriginal peoples were responsible for spreading the boab in the Kimberley.

The boab mystery

An early hypothesis was that baobabs existed in parts of the supercontinent of Gondwana, which split up and became Africa, Madagascar and Australia more than 50 million years ago. This was not very convincing because, for one thing, peninsular India was part of that massive continental break-up, but does not have any of its own baobab species.… Read the rest

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This Is Absolutely Terrifying: “There Are Really Only Two Big Patches of Intact Forest Left on Earth”

Alias 0591 (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Alias 0591 (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Lindsay Abrams writes at Salon:

Can a forest that exists only in the spaces between roads and patches cleared for human settlement and agricultural development truly be called a forest?

Not so much, say researchers studying the growing, global problem of forest fragmentation. And the “persistent, deleterious and often unpredicted” consequences of human activity, finds a new study conducted by a team off 24 international scientists, and funded by the National Science Foundation, may be ruinous for plant and animal life.

“There are really only two big patches of intact forest left on Earth — the Amazon and the Congo — and they shine out like eyes from the center of the map,” lead author Nick Haddad, a professor at North Carolina State University, told the New Yorker.

“Nearly 20 percent of the world’s remaining forests are the distance of a football field — or about 100 meters — away from forest edges,” he elaborated in a statement.

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The Octopus Tree of Oregon

Alicia Mueller (CC BY 2.0)

Alicia Mueller (CC BY 2.0)

The Octopus Tree, a Sitka Spruce, is located on the Oregon coast, only a few hundred feet from the Cape Meares Lighthouse. The tree is suspected to be between 250 – 300 years old.

How the Spruce came to be shaped like an octopus is unknown, but there are two popular theories. Some suspect that it was used formed by Native Americans to hold canoes and the dead. Others think it was just formed by extreme weather.

The sign posted in front of the tree reads:

The Forces that shaped this unique Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) have been debated for many years. Whether natural events or possible Native Americans were the cause remains a mystery.

The tree measures more than 46 feed in circumference and has no central trunk. Instead, limbs extend horizontally from the base as much as 16 feet before turning upward. It is 105 feet tall and is estimated to be 250 to 300 years old.

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The Lookout: Short Doc About Living Alone on a Mountain

Leif Haugen is a fire lookout and spends his summers alone on top of a mountain in Montana. “I think there’s something about keeping things simple that is absolutely resonate,” Haugen says. In this documentary, filmmaker Brian Bolsters explores what it means to live a solitary life.


The Lookout from Brian Bolster on Vimeo.

Brian Bolster’s description via Vimeo:

Although fire lookouts continue to be critical front-line components of our forest system’s battle to detect and prevent wildfires, their roles often times go unnoticed, due largely to both the manual nature of the work involved and the quiet, extremely solitary nature of the working environment.  Leif Haugen is a fire lookout in a remote corner of the Flathead National Forest in northwestern Montana, and each summer he lives and works alone on top of a mountain three miles from the Canadian border.  A simple, somewhat primitive one-room structure serves as both his home and office; however, what it may lack in amenities (neither electricity nor running water are available) is more than compensated for by the majestic, 360-degree views of the world that his perch provides. 

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Mushroom Medicine: 5 Fungi Capable Of Profound Healing

Luke Sumpter via reset.me:

Fungi are a fascinating life form. They belong neither to the plant nor animal kingdoms, and they actually share more DNA with animals that they do with plants. Adding to their strangeness, the largest organism ever discovered on the planet is a network of mushroom mycelium that weaves across a colossal 2,200 acres underneath Oregon’s ancient Malheur National Forest.

Another standout quality of fungi is that some species are among the most potent natural medicines available. They offer an amazing spectrum of health benefits, from anti-tumor and anti-oxidant qualities, to depression and anxiety relief.

Here is a list describing five of the most potent mushroom medicines known to date:

1. Reishi (Ganoderma Lucidum)

"Ganoderma lucidum 01" by Eric Steinert - photo taken by Eric Steinert at Paussac, France. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Ganoderma lucidum 01” by Eric Steinert – photo taken by Eric Steinert at Paussac, France. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The reishi mushroom has been used by physicians for thousands of years in China, where it was deemed to be so effective at preventing illness and curing disease that it earned the prestigious title, ‘Mushroom of Immortality.’ It was once reserved exclusively for the healing benefit of the upper echelons of society, as described in aHuffington Post article

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Great Barrier Reef Corals Eat Plastic

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These are corals on the Great Barrier Reef. Credit: Mia Hoogenboom

 

Via ScienceDaily:

Researchers in Australia have found that corals commonly found on the Great Barrier Reef will eat micro-plastic pollution.

“Corals are non-selective feeders and our results show that they can consume microplastics when the plastics are present in seawater,” says Dr Mia Hoogenboom, a Chief Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.

“If microplastic pollution increases on the Great Barrier Reef, corals could be negatively affected as their tiny stomach-cavities become full of indigestible plastic,” Dr Hoogenboom says.

Microplastics are tiny fragments of plastic in the environment and are a widespread contaminant in marine ecosystems, particularly in inshore coral reefs.

Despite the proliferation of microplastics, their impact on marine ecosystems is poorly understood.

“Marine plastic pollution is a global problem and microplastics can have negative effects on the health of marine organisms,” says Dr Hoogenboom.

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