A gigantic fish-eater (Bigger than a T. rex!
) with a crocodile snout and a large sail on its back, Spinosaurus aegyptiacus has always been
a strange and enigmatic creature. It may have just become something stranger: a semiaquatic, quadrupedal theropod dinosaur. [more inside]
"My subject is a barren one – the world of nature, or in other words life; and that subject in its least elevated department, and employing either rustic terms or foreign, nay barbarian words that actually have to be introduced with an apology. Moreover, the path is not a beaten highway of authorship, nor one in which the mind is eager to range: there is not one of us who has made the same venture, nor yet one Roman who has tackled single-handed all departments of the subject."Naturalis Historia
was written by Pliny the Elder
between 77 and 79 CE and was meant to serve as a kind of proto-encyclopedia discussing all of the ancient knowledge available to him, covered in enough depth and breadth to make it by a reasonable margin the largest work to survive to the modern day from the Roman era. The work includes discussions on astronomy, meteorology, geography, mineralogy, zoology and botany organized along Aristotelian divisions of nature but also includes essays on human inventions and institutions. It is dedicated to the Emperor Titus in its epistle to the Emperor Vespasian
, a close friend of Pliny who relied on his extensive knowledge, and its unusually careful citations of sources as well as its index makes it a precursor to modern scholarly works. It was Pliny's last work, as well as sadly his sole surviving one, and was published not long before his death attempting to save a friend from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum
, famously recounted by Pliny's eponymous nephew Pliny the Younger
Here is a reasonable translation that is freely available to download from archive.org for your edification. [more inside]
Someone appears to have an answer to why warm water appears to freeze more quickly than cool water,
a phenomenon known as the Mpemba effect after Erasto Mpemba who noticed the effect in freezing ice cream. The reasons why have eluded scientists and prizes
have been offered for a solution. Now a group headed by Prof. Xi Zhang out of Singapore has proposed a promising theory
. The answer as they see it lies in energy stored in the covalent bonds within the water molecules which are affected by the temperature of the water. (via the Presurfer
When a liquid is dropped onto a smooth plate that is heated to a specific temperature well above its boiling point, boiled vapor will get trapped underneath the remainder of the droplet insulating it from the hot plate, allowing it to dance around the plate like oil on a wet surface in what is known as the Leidenfrost effect
. Intriguingly, surfaces that are grooved into the shape of a saw blade will cause droplets suspended by the Leidenfrost effect to predictably skitter in the direction of the groove, allowing University of Bath undergraduate students Carmen Cheng and Matthew Guy to build a fascinating maze. [more inside]
on September 22 last year, Professor Robert Fuller
of the University of North Georgia spent four months paddling down the Chattahoochee River system, from the Chattahoochee's headwaters in northern Georgia down through the Apalachicola into the Gulf of Mexico, studying water quality
along the way. Then he paddled 200 miles through the Gulf, turned at the mouth of the Mobile River, and paddled another 750 miles upstream
on the Mobile, Alabama, Coosa, and Etowah Rivers all the way back
to northern Georgia—a total of just over 1,500 miles of solo paddling in his Kruger Sea Wind
. Along the way, he kept a blog
, "ate a lot of Beanie Weenies"
, and faced difficulties including cold, hunger, injuries, and river obstructions. Incidentally, he did all this while living with leukemia
. [more inside]
Random Weekend Project shows how to seemingly make magic by creating instant ice from flowing water
Last fall, the Canadian Space Agency asked students to design a simple science experiment that could be performed in space, using items already available aboard the International Space Station. Today, Commander Chris Hadfield
conducted the winner for its designers: two tenth grade students, Kendra Lemke and Meredith Faulkner, in a live feed to their school in Fall River, Nova Scotia. And now, we finally have an answer to the age-old question, What Happens When You Wring Out A Washcloth In Space? [more inside]
Defense contractor takes break from F-35 JSF, finds a way to eliminate 99% of the energy cost of desalination.
Lockheed-Martin has developed a way to craft sheets of carbon a single atom thick, which can filter the salt (and just about anything else) from water with a tiny fraction of the energy required by current processes. "Lockheed officials see other applications for Perforene as well, from dialysis in healthcare to cleaning chemicals from the water used in hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," of oil and gas wells." Previously
Global Trends 2030 Alternate Worlds
is the latest quadrennial report from The US National Intelligence Council (NIC)
. (Report: PDF
/ Talking Points: PDF
.) Similar to its predecessors
, '2030' attempts to predict 'alternate visions of the future.' An official blog
discusses their speculations. The Atlantic Council
has published a "companion publication": "Envisioning 2030: US Strategy for a Post-Western World." [more inside]
Since 1977, Nikon has held a Small World Photomicrography Competition
, to showcase that which cannot be seen with the naked eye. This year's winner will be announced in November, but until October 31, we have been invited to vote for one of this years' 115 finalists to receive the 'Small World Popular Vote Award.' [more inside]
NASA May Have Discovered Flowing Water on Mars Dark, finger-like features appear and extend down some Martian slopes during late spring through summer, fade in winter, and return during the next spring. Repeated observations have tracked the seasonal changes in these recurring features on several steep slopes in the middle latitudes of Mars' southern hemisphere.
Researchers at MIT and in Korea have developed
a new, efficient desalinization nanotechnology
that could theoretically lead to small, portable units
powered by solar cells or batteries, yet deliver enough potable fresh water from seawater to supply the needs of a family or small village
. As an added bonus, the system would simultaneously remove many contaminants, viruses and bacteria. MIT Press Release
and Supplementary Information
from Nature Nanotechnology. (pdf) [more inside]
Where did Venus’s water go?
Water may have once been as abundant on Venus
as it is on Earth. New data from the Venus Express
suggests that the planet's lack of a magnetic field has allowed water in the atmosphere to be stripped apart
and carried into space by the solar wind
"We have water
," said William Boynton of the University of Arizona, lead scientist for the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer, or TEGA
. "We've seen evidence for this water ice before in observations by the Mars Odyssey orbiter and in disappearing chunks observed by Phoenix last month
, but this is the first time Martian water has been touched and tasted."
If you were doing research in the 60s, You might've heard of Polywater,
A form of water that exhibited wide variety of interesting characteristics and existed under identical conditions to that of normal water. Eventually debunked, none the less is a fascinating story. Naturally one draws parallels to Vonnegut's ice nine, but did you know there actually is an ice nine?
In fact, there's twelve to sixteen types of ice
, depending on your opinion.
More recently, computer simulations have indicated water may structure itself into icosahedra
, which, incredibly, is the platonic solid (described over 2000 years ago!) representing the element water!
And if you don't know what an icosahedron is, I bet you've used one before
. One of the most ubiquitous, and arguably most important,
substances in our lives, our understanding of water
is far from complete.
So you've all heard about how global warming will lead to rising sea-levels, but what about falling freshwater levels? [more inside]
Miracles You’ll See In The Next Fifty Years
Some more up-to-date predictions: science
, space travel
, mental health
, smart machines
, robots, mind uploading
What is your prediction
The Hidden Messages in Water?
Masaru Emoto claims that water has the ability "to absorb, hold, and even retransmit human feelings and emotions. Using high-speed photography, he found that crystals formed in frozen water reveal changes when specific, concentrated thoughts are directed toward it. Music, visual images, words written on paper, and photographs also have an impact on the crystal structure." The theory may be suspect
, but the photos are beautiful
lay the water clocks
of Bernard Gitton.
Next Thursday, NASA will announce the discovery of huge water ice oceans on Mars
. Lying less than a metre beneath the surface south of 60° latitude, the water ice reservoirs if melted would form an ocean 500m deep covering the entire planet. NASA insiders believe these findings could result in a manned landing within 20 years.
Grab your water-wings while you can, because I'm afraid I am the bearer of bad tidings. We only have a billion years of beach time left,
because our planet's ocean's are going to dry up completely. Fortunately, earth will be almost completely unlivable by then, so our descendents will already be dead. According to professor of meterology James Kastings, "My calculations are somewhat pessimistic and present a worst case scenario..."