Tag Archives: nature

The world’s most intense natural color – Pollia Condensata

Pollia condensata produces its blue color at the nanoscale level and is more intense than anything ever studied. From the Smithsonian Magazine:

When they examined P. condensata on a cellular level, they realized that the fruit produces its characteristic color through structural coloration, a radically different phenomenon that is well-documented in the animal kingdom but virtually unknown in plants. They determined that the fruit’s tissue is more intensely colored than any previously studied biological tissue—reflecting 30 percent of light making it more intense than even the renowned color of a Morpho butterfly’s wings.

Most plants produce a pigment which coats the plant but is not a part of its cells. When the plants die they no longer produce the pigment and fade in color. Not the amazing blue of P. Condensata.

 

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Biomimicry at the zoo – San Diego Zoo creates a Centre for Bioinspiration

Science look to nature for innovation, via BBC News:

San Diego Zoo in California has opened a Centre for Bioinspiration, which aims to take ideas from nature to see if they can be applied to solve human issues.

The concept is known as biomimicry.

 

Examples of biomimicry, from Xconomy:

Mirasol display technology…generates colors…by mimicking the interference of reflected light by microscopic scales on the iridescent surface of the morpho butterfly’s wings.

—San Diego’s Biomatrica has developed DNA and RNA preservation technology based on anhydrobiosis, a dehydration process that occurs in nature with brine shrimp and other organisms.

 

Fascinating stuff. More examples can be found at San Diego Zoo’s – Biomimicry in Action.

 

// Image - Biomimicry in Action

Get ready for the Maser-Beam, older than a laser and more powerful

Move Over Lasers, It’s Maser Time

No, masers are not just a word that we came up with just now. They’ve actually been around since the 1950s, before lasers were invented. The problem is that they’ve always been impractical–that is, until the team of researchers came up with a device that could let masers over take lasers in the coolness race.

They have yet to determine what the maser can do, but like the laser the discoveries only happen when you shoot stuff.

The expectation is that the more precise maser can shoot through clouds (lasers can’t), detect extra-terrestrials, and turn into a surgical tool that can exactly attack a tumor.

From the August cover of Nature magazine:

The maser is the microwave-frequency precursor of the now ubiquitous laser. But it has had little technological impact compared with the laser, in large part because of inconvenience: masers typically require vacuum and/or low-temperature operating conditions.

Some researchers think they’ve solved that problem and have published a paper in Nature magazine, Room-temperature solid-state maser.

 

The preceding link gives the abstract. For more details read-on at:

 

 

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International Space Station has a Large Hadron Collider – and it’s collected 18 billion cosmic rays

The largest-ever experiment in space has reported the collection of some 18 billion “cosmic ray” events that may help unravel the Universe’s mysteries.

Run from a centre at Cern, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) aims to spot dark matter and exotic antimatter.

At the heart of the seven-tonne, $2bn machine is a giant, specially designed magnet which bends the paths of extraordinarily high-energy charged particles called cosmic rays onto a series of detectors, giving hints of what the particles are.

A series of ever-larger particle accelerators built here on Earth aim to drive particles to ever-higher energies, smashing them into one another to simulate the same processes that create them elsewhere in the cosmos.

But no Earth-bound experiment can match nature’s power as a particle accelerator – and Earth’s atmosphere absorbs incoming cosmic rays – so the AMS will catch some of these high-energy particles “from the source”, as a kind of complement to the likes of the Large Hadron Collider.

 

Learn more: BBC - Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer claims huge cosmic ray haul

 

 

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Inside the forbidden land – environmental photos of Russia from National Geographic

For an American, these photos are truly breathtaking. For most of our lives Russia has been an impenetrable vast region, indeed the largest country in the world, with millions of acres of natural wonders.

My own heritage brings me back to Belarus (the first photo below). Enjoy these photos from National Geographic Russia and their Google+ page.

I apologize for the captions since they are Google Translations from Russian (I’m also amazed that I can auto-translate a language in a browser with one click).

"Snow-white spring in the Belarusian forest." Photo by: Christine Lebedinskaya.

 

Fog in the mountains near Chemal, Altai. Photo by: Michael Evstratov

 

Moon. River Teriberka, Murmansk region. Photo by: Aleksandr Bergan

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The ultimate round-up of Earth Day events for this Sunday

Earth Day is this Sunday, April 22, 2012, and here is the ultimate round-up of events:
 
National Park WeekFree entrance to all U.S. National Parks

Looking for something fun, free, and fantastic to do with family and friends?

Head out to America’s national parks where millions of stars light up the dark night sky, deer and antelope (and a few other critters!) play on the wide open range, and history is an unbelievable experience, not an exam.

And the best news? During National Park Week, April 21-29, All 397 of your national parks offer free admission, all week long!

 
The Nature ConservancyPicnic for the Planet

Feel like breaking a world record? Join the Nature Conservancy in their giant Picnic for the Planet sandwich-munching extravaganza. The goal is to set a record for the largest picnic celebration ever. The picnic sites are dotted across the country.

 
Wyland FoundationPledge to Conserve Water

To mark the Clean Water Act’s 40th anniversary, the Wyland Foundation has invited cities across the nation — broken into groups by population — to compete at collecting pledges by individuals to cut down on water and energy use in the month of April.

 
World Wildlife FederationCreate a webpage about an Endangered Species

The World Wildlife Fund is inviting people to create their own Web pages to spotlight a favorite endangered species or cause by using W.W.F.’s easy-to-navigate software.

 
Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E)

A slideshow showcasing potentially transformative energy technologies from the 3rd annual ARPA-E summit.

 
Scientific American10 Surprising Recycling Efforts (from bras to crayons)

A slideshow, in observance of Earth Day 2012, that helps consumers move well beyond the throw-it-out mentality.

 
2 free iPhone apps about our National Parks

Two apps that feature national parks have arrived just in time for Earth Day. And they’re free, which goes nicely with the Saturday start of fee-free National Park Week. So download the app, pick a park to visit and go.

    • Fotopedia National Parks
    • National Parks by National Geographic

 
Earth Day in Photographs

April 22 will mark Earth Day worldwide, an event now in its 42nd year and observed in 175 countries. The original grass-roots environmental action helped spur the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act in the United States. Gathered here are images of our planet’s environment, efforts to utilize renewable alternative sources of energy, and the effects of different forms of pollution.

Elephants forage on March 20, 2012 in the Tsavo-east National Park.

 
NY TimesEarth Day Round-up

The holiday is Earth Day — the 43rd to be held since Gaylord Nelson, then a Democratic senator from Wisconsin, proposed that a “national teach-in” on the environment be held on April 22, 1970.

So, how best to celebrate, honor, reflect on or brood about the planet? Here are a few ideas:

What if the world’s greatest works of art, when seen one after another, told a story?

What if the world’s greatest works of art, when seen one after another, told a story? A story of people, places, nature and motion. artCircles from Art.com brings you “Van Gogh to Rothko in 30 Seconds,” an epic journey of discovery through the world’s most inspiring art collection.

 

// Thx to Mara Mascaro

The 2012 Environmental Film Festival – 180 movies, 30,000 attendees

Welcome to the 20th Anniversary Environmental Film Festival!

While 1,200 people attended the inaugural Festival, today the Festival has expanded to become the world’s largest showcase of environmental film, attracting an audience of over 30,000 (in Washington D.C.).

The 20th anniversary Festival, our largest and most ambitious yet, presents 180 engaging and thought-provoking films, including 93 Washington, D.C., United States and World premieres, from 42 countries.

A centerpiece of our 20th anniversary year is a retrospective of the work of Academy Award-nominated director Lucy Walker, who will screen her latest film, The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom.

via 2012 Program Guide (pdf)

 

You can click the link above for the PDF guide or visit the EFF website for the online guide. I highly recommend attending as most films are free and include amazing Q&A after every film.

I attended last year and was completely blown away. This year looks even better with topics like: