Baby Sloths Get Bathed & My Insides Just Turned to Mush

Grown men and the odd lesbian, listen up! Sending this video to the object of your affection is GUARANTEED to flood her squishy organs with progesterone, which means you can swoop in for the spooning! Adult sloths may be somewhat gross (because they’re lazy as a rusted engine and they tend to pee on themselves), but their babies are utterly divine. Suddenly, I feel the urge to quit my life and become a volunteer at a sloth sanctuary…

Video Source: “Bath Time for Baby Sloths | Too Cute” Uploaded by Animal Planet to YouTube channel www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1mAGQAw3Oc

Neil deGrasse Tyson Cuts Rapper B.o.B’s Epic Brain Fart With Some Serious Febreeze!

If you’ve been on the fence with regards to your opinion of rap, be prepared to forever hate the genre. Rapper B.o.B. of “Airplanes” fame actually believes the world is flat and that we’ve all been lied to and deceived, in his very words. It started on January 24th, when B.o.B. posted the following tweet…

bob flat earth tweet 1

He followed up this grievously stupid Tweet with the following drivel:

“I’m going up against the greatest liars in history.”

“You’ve been tremendously deceived.”

Okay. WHAT?? I didn’t know people still believed the world was flat and the fact that more than 2,000 people LIKED his Tweet is seriously concerning! Unfortunately, today’s society is more influenced by people like rappers than they are by scientists, so our children (and the simple-minded) are at a real risk of buying into this prehistoric notion.

Enter the coolest guy alive: astrophysicist and curator of the Hayden Planetarium, Neil deGrasse Tyson. In this video, Neil presents the facts in pure poetry, calling B.o.B. out for the simple fool he is – but, you know, in a totally intellectual and non-offensive way. So if you were feeling a little slow today and struggling to get your brain into gear, take solace in the fact that there are people out there who are far more ignorant than you are. It just sucks that many of them are millionaires *coughdonaldtrumpcough*

Video Source: “The Nightly Show – Neil deGrasse Tyson Slams Flat-Earth Theorist B.o.B” posted by Comedy Central to YouTube channel www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBne5T8SQvg

 

The Largest Glacier Calving Event Ever Caught on Camera!

The event shown in the video below has been entered into the 2016 Guiness Book of World Records – and into all other historic records – as the largest glacier calving event to have ever been captured on film. For about three minutes, we watch tier after tier of ice breaking off the parent glacier and crash into the choppy, chunky icy waters below. Where things get truly UNBELIEVABLE is towards the end of the film, when things are put into perspective for us and the true scale of the event is revealed during a presentation of the footage. Absolutely fantastic!

Video Source: “CHASING ICE” captures largest glacier calving ever filmed – OFFICIAL VIDEO” uploaded by Exposure Labs to YouTube channel www.youtube.com/watch?v=hC3VTgIPoGU

TED Talks: Nature’s Grossest Creature a Master of Motion!

funny cat pictures

It is literally nature’s most disgusting creature and there are few people – men and women alike – who are unbothered by it coming within close proximity: the cockroach. And yet, the cockroach is an extraordinarily successful creature on planet Earth and one that will easily survive any apocalypse: mad-made or natural.

And so, in this fascinating TED Talk video, Dr. Robert Full (Director of the Poly-PEDAL Laboratory at Berkeley University) shows us just how amazing these creepy crawlers are in their ability to move through, up, around and over any obstacle or terrain. He and his team have applied the various laws of mechanics and modes of stabilisation they learned from the cockroach to the fabrication of robots, which are cute in a weird and creepy way.

Video Source: TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) at YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekUh9AW1hKg

Why is this research prudent? Because getting into tiny spaces, travelling over very rough terrain, pulling off gymnastic maneuvers in air and getting around impossible obstacles could be extremely useful in delivering aid to people trapped in disaster situations, such as earthquakes, tornado or hurricane swept areas. Robots such as these could also be the future of unmanned planetary exploration.

Prestige aside, watching cockroaches move around in slow motion is super interesting!

 

 

Incredible Footage of the 2004 Tsunami

In this exceptional documentary, homemade videos recorded by people caught in the devastating 2004 earthquake and tsunami are stitched together to tell the story. Part 1 is more background than anything else, but scroll down to Part 2 to see the earthquake hit Indonesia and then the tsunami. Part 3 shows this monstrous wall of water smack into one of Thailand’s most popular tourist resorts, Phuket.

This documentary is very well done and absolutely chilling to the point of disturbing. If your boss keeps staring over your shoulder at you, skip ahead to Part 2 and 3, because that’s where you’ll find the action! For the scoop on how Tsunami’s are caused, check out my blog post, Tsunami!

PART 1: Amazing Footage of the 2004 Tsunami

PART 2: Amazing Footage of the 2004 Tsunami

PART 3: Amazing Footage of the 2004 Tsunami

 

Travel Bucket List: 10 Spectacular Earth Landscapes

Lately, I’ve been featuring some of Earth’s most fantastical places on Why? Because Science Facebook page. For those of you who haven’t seen them, I’ve taken the liberty of putting together an ambitious bucket list of 10 of the most beautiful and amazing landscapes. So, pack your bags, strap on some heavy-duty hiking shoes and give your boss the finger, cos we’re going travelling!

Spotted Lake of British Columbia

# 1: The Spotted Lake of British Columbia, Canada. The evaporation of mineral-rich water in Summer leaves behind a landscape of polkadot lakes of varying colours and sizes, depending on the concentration of minerals in each pool (Source: Roberta Olenick/All Canada Photos).

Unbelievable places China

# 2: Chinese Canola Field: A Chinese landscape is bathed in bright yellow as canola fields go into bloom. You could play a version of “Where’s Wally” here, with the target being Big Bird instead. (Source: www.boredpanda.com)

Hang Sơn Đoòng Vietnam

# 3: Hang Sơn Đoòng, Vietnam: I know what you’re thinking… holy crap that’s a small human. Just kidding. This is Earth’s largest cave and it lies beneath the limestone hills of the Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park in Vietnam. This immense subterranean network of caverns is about 9 km long in total with the main passage being a staggering 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) long, 200 metres (660 ft) high and 150 metres (490 ft) wide! (Photo credit: Carsten Peter)

Giant's Causeway in County Antrim, Northern Ireland

# 4: Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland: The spectacular thing about Giant’s Causeway is that it looks man-made… and yet it isn’t. This complex series of interlocking basalt columns is entirely the work of volcanic activity that happened about 50-60 million years ago. This UNESCO World Heritage site is located on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland. (Source: National Geographic)

Salar de Uyuni Bolivia

# 5: Salar de Uyuni, southwest Bolivia: This is Salar de Uyuni – colloquially known as one of the planet’s largest mirrors. At 4,086 square miles in size (10,582 sq. km), it’s also one of Earth’s largest salt flats and is a remnant of a massive prehistoric lake, Lake Minchin. The desiccation of this lake left behind two smaller lakes and two vast salt deserts. (Source: www.boredpanda.com)

Great Blue Hole Belize

# 6: Great Blue Hole, Belize: Suitably dubbed one of the best scuba diving sites in the world, the “Great Blue Hole” is a massive underwater sinkhole located off the coast of Belize. At over 125 meters deep and 300 meters wide, it’s believed to be the largest of its kind. (Source: http://www.popsugar.com)

Atacama Desert, Oasis of Huacachina, Peru

# 7: Atacama oasis, Peru: Ever wondered what a desert oasis looks like? Behold a secluded Atacama oasis and isn’t it exactly what you’d always pictured? The town – Huacachina – around this rare watering hole was built in the 1930’s and is home to a population of a little over 100 people. (Source: www.skyscanner.net/news)

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park China

# 8: Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China: Physical erosion has left the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park with one of the most enchanting and beautiful landscapes on Earth. It’s soaring and gravity-defying rock pillars and verdant, forested peaks are a huge attraction to Zhangjiajie: one of China’s true natural gems. (Source: www.architecturendesign.net)

Grand Prismatic Spring Yellowstone National Park

# 9: Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone, USA: The Grand Prismatic Spring is a gorgeous, rainbow coloured lake located in the volcanically active Yellowstone National Park. It’s the third largest hot spring in the world and attracts droves of tourists every year for its strikingly coloured waters, the varying pigments of which are caused by single-celled organisms called “archaea.” These organisms flourish in the warm and mineral-rich waters, especially around the periphery of the Grand Prismatic Spring.

Antelope Canyon Arizona

# 10: Antelope Canyon, Arizona, USA: Antelope Canyon, formed primarily by water erosion, is located in the arid state of Arizona, USA. With just about every warm hue in the visible spectrum jostling for key position in this subterranean network of canyons, you won’t find any shortage of spectacular photographic opportunities here! (Source: www.architecturendesign.net)

For more fantastical places on Earth, follow us on Facebook and Instagram! Twitter’s on my to-do list.

 

2015 Nepal Earthquake: Drone Reveals Extent of Damage

On Monday 27th April 2015, a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal (the country’s worst in 80 years), leaving much of its already impoverished capital, Kathmandu, in ruins. According to the Guardian, the death toll was 7,500 people, with a further 14,500 having sustained major and minor injuries. In addition to the loss of life, including those of many climbers at Everest’s base camp in the neighbouring Himalayas, Kathmandu suffered the devastating loss of several historic and cultural heritage sites with many of its architectural treasures being razed to the ground by the violent earthquake.

In this video, a drone provides us with a first-class view of the terrible damage done by the Nepal earthquake…

Video Source: “Drone Footage Shows Nepal Earthquake Damage” uploaded by Sky News on YouTube channel www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwIw1-voHKQ

Battle of the Epic Whirlwinds: Hurricane Vs. Tornado

Earth Satellite Space

Versus

Destructive Powerful Tornado

In the Free State of South Africa, 2012 was a year marked by an outbreak of severe thunderstorms. This province lies quite far inland of the subcontinent, to the northeast of Cape Town and to the west of the Drakensberg; the magnificent mountain chain that borders the eastern coastline of South Africa. These severe thunderstorms caused quite a bit of grief for the inhabitants of the Free State, levelling 55 houses and hospitalising 5 people, according to All Africa online publication. But in addition to the heavy rains, lightning and wind damage, these thunderstorms had the ill-grace to drop a couple of tornadoes too!

To put things into perspective, South Africa is not a country known for tornadoes. If you’re thinking of tornadoes, your imaginative context is probably located in the aptly named ‘Tornado Alley’ in the mid-western states of America. Now, as someone who has a degree in atmospheric science, you can imagine how many questions I was fielding from people who had heard about the severe weather events I just mentioned. Not questions as such: statements rather. People rarely ask me questions about the weather. I think they’re afraid of the answers. I can handle that… but what I couldn’t handle was the fact that people were confusing hurricanes with tornadoes!

“Did you hear about the hurricanes in the Free State?”

Portrait of young woman slapping hand on head having a duh momen

To anyone in atmospheric, Earth, ocean or any related sciences – regardless of your specialization – confusing tornadoes with hurricanes is like confusing your grandmother with Megan Fox. It’s like confusing an elephant with a pineapple. The concept of a hurricane tearing across the Free State is about as alien to the weather educated as a giraffe cavorting around the North Pole. Wearing snow shoes.

But, before you cringe at the memory of you making this rather Herculean error, one must take into account that the majority of you out there aren’t weather educated. That’s perfectly all right! We’re going to change that right now. Hurricanes and tornadoes: what’s the difference? Moreover, what’s the big deal if you get them confused? Well, when it comes to these two somewhat (ok, VERY) tempestuous weather phenomena, size really, really, REALLY…

… really, REALLY, really, REALLY, REEEEEEEEALLY does count.

Hurricanes: Kicking Ass and Taking Names

Hurricane Fran satellite image

Satellites captured this fairly terrifying image of Hurricane Fran hurtling towards North Carolina on the 5th September 1996. “Fran” caused so much trouble that they decided to NEVER call another hurricane “Fran” again. 

FYI, hurricanes are named alphabetically according to their order of development during the hurricane season. The first to appear will be named something beginning with an ‘A’, the second ‘B’ and so on and so forth. Hurricane Fran was therefore the 6th fully fledged tropical cyclone to develop that season and one whose limelight was solidly claimed in 2005 by Katrina and again in 2012 by Sandy. Those bitches!

Hurricanes are large tropical storms born over the equator. Fed by prodigious updrafts of hot, moist, sexy air, these giant swirling monsters generate, via condensation alone, 200 times the electrical generating capacity of the entire freaking planet, according to the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory. For those of you who like numbers or are easily impressed by them, this equates to 600,000,000,000,000 Watts. This is not even to mention the amount of energy generated by hurricane winds, which is an additional 1,500,000,000,000 Watts of unbridled weather rage!

I don’t even know what that number is… a billion million? A trillion zillion billon million?

Ooh! Aah! Hurricane Statistics

Windy Coast huge waves

  • Damage: Should they make landfall, hurricanes can cause tens of billions of dollars’ worth of damage. Katrina was only a category 3 storm when it had its fender-bender with the Mississippi Gulf Coast. And yet its damage was estimated at $81,000,000,000!
  • Storm Diameter: Hurricanes are huge systems with an average diameter of 800 km (500 mi), although Hurricane Carla, which raged into the Texas coast in 1961, was an especially big girl at 1280 km (800 mi) across.
  • Wind speeds: Hurricanes are wrathful systems with category 5 storms (you do not get larger) generating winds of over 250 km/hr or 156 mi/hr.
  • Associated Severe WeatherHurricanes are social creatures. They have loads of friends they like to bring to the party they tend to gatecrash. These include torrential rainfall, thunderstorms, lightning, hail and storm surges, which is an increase in average sea level that can be in excess of 5 meters or 19 feet! To add insult to grave injury, hurricanes can even generate tornadoes.
  • Weakness: For all their size, energy and capacity for total annihilation, these tropical super storms cannot survive over land. They require a tireless volume of hot, moist air – as is found over the equatorial oceanic regions – in order to preserve storm motion and momentum. That dry continental air just won’t do. Plus, all the friction and turbulence caused by onshore topography (mountains and such) tend to break up the party pretty quickly.

Tornadoes

“Cow…

‘Nother Cow!”

“Actually I think that was the same one”

– ‘Twister’, 1996

I regard tornadoes the same way a sadomasochist regards nipple clamps: they’re deliciously terrifying. Having said this, my opinion is fantastically unfounded because I have never, ever witnessed or had my house relocated by a tornado. If I had, I would probably drop the enthusiasm a notch.

Strong tornado in Kansas

 A Kansas tornado tears across a country roooooad, take me hooooome.

A tornado is a raging column of rotating air that extends from the ground to the base of its parent cumulonimbus cloud, “Cumulonimbus” being the longest and fanciest word everyone remembers from High school geography. I know this because every time I tell someone I have a background in weather, they say, “Oh! So you, like, studied cumulonimbus clouds!”

Yeah, something like that buddy.

Tornadoes are generated by severe thunderstorms in atmospheric environments full of wind shear and abundant lower level moisture, amongst other ingredients. Next time you’re in the bath or swimming pool, make your hand flat, put it in the water and paddle. You’ll notice tiny little vortices or whirlpools that spin off in either direction.

“Wind shear” really just refers to two masses of air moving at different speeds and/or different directions to each other. And, just like your hand in the pool, shear in the atmosphere generates the same kind of ‘whirlpools’ in the air, although you can’t see them because air is invisible. What happens next in tornado genesis is a powerful updraft of air, which pushes these horizontal columns of rotating air vertical. And this is when shit starts getting real.

Severe weather thunderstorm.png

A gorgeous supercell thunderstorm at sunset. This cloud formation, known as a “mesocyclone” to academics and a “mothership” to nerds, is the atmospheric platforms from which tornadoes are commonly spawned.

Ooh! Aah! Tornado Statistics

  • Damage: It just takes one tornado straying into a heavily built up area to rack up damage totals that would bankrupt an entire country. In May of 2011, a single tornado tore through Joplin in Missouri – a city of 50,000 inhabitants. The reports that emerged at the time estimated the damage of insured property alone to be in the region of $3,000,000,000 (billion), and all from a single tornado. This doesn’t even take into account the uninsured losses suffered.

Tornado damage in Lapeer, Michigan.

On the brighter side – Tornado, 1: Insurance companies, 0.

  • Wind Speeds: Tornadoes are violent creatures. The wind speeds that tear around the funnel, more specifically, of F5 tornadoes, have been clocked in at over 500 km/hr or 315 mi/hr. This is more than half the cruising speed of a commercial airliner.
  • Associated Severe Weather: Like hurricanes, tornadoes are social. You will generally find them hanging out with lightning, torrential rain, giant hailstones, wind (duh) and the occasional cow or 18-wheeler semi-trailer.
  • Lifespan: For all their fury, tornadoes are relatively short-lived with the longest ‘twister’ on record having raged on for 3.5 hours. This suspected F5 tornado, dubbed the Tri-State Tornado, tore through 350 km (220 mi) of Illinois, Missouri and Indiana on the 18th March in 1925, leaving almost 700 people dead in its wake.

While hurricanes may boast more impressive size statistics than a single tornado, one should note that the kinds of thunderstorms that generate tornadoes are rarely isolated and often travel in waves with one thunderstorm cell feeding the formation of several others. In 2011, in fact, the National Severe Storm Laboratory recorded the most prolific outbreak of tornadoes in American history! Between April 25th and April 28th 2011, a staggering 358 tornadoes were recorded, with the majority of them having touched down within a single 24-hour period. Thanks to a much more sophisticated weather forecasting and tornado warning system, this outbreak caused half the death toll as the single Tri-state Tornado of 1925.

Class Dismissed: Your Take-Home Message

real airport weather map Hurricane Frances

There are many big and important differences between hurricanes and tornadoes, most of which are related to scale: scale in size, in wind speeds, in damage done and in lifespan. Hurricanes are huge weather systems that last days and can cause widespread destruction. Tornadoes are much, much smaller weather phenomena generated by severe thunderstorms. Yet, in spite of their exponentially smaller size and shorter life spans, they can do incredible localized damage and frequently boast wind speeds greater than even a Category 5 hurricane.

So, to sum it all up and pack it in a nutshell:

Tornadoes can rearrange your back garden and perhaps relocate your house.

Hurricanes can rearrange your province and perhaps the entire eastern coastline of your country.

The 2015 “Slushy” Waves of New England

It’s too bad that seawater is salty, because with a bit of sweet flavouring, everyone would have had access to unlimited slushy “Slurpee” a year ago, courtesy of Mother Nature!

Video Source: “Giant Frozen Waves Nantucket Beach” Uploaded by Galaxy 11

The United States spent much of February of last year in the frigid grips of a record-breaking icy winter. Yet, in addition to the usual suspects, which include deep snow and biting winds, the cold would seem to have even won over the briny seawater of the north Atlantic Ocean. This video shows a series of images of ocean waves breaking on the shores of Nantucket in New England (northeast USA), only, there seems to be something distinctly different about these waves!

The photographer, Jonathan Nimerfroh, is an avid surfing enthusiast and on a trip to the beach, he noticed something odd about the horizon. As it turns out, the temperatures are so low in the area the water has begun to freeze and so, what we are looking at are giant slushy waves! These icy waves have also been aptly called “Slurpee waves”

The maximum temperature on the day these pictures were taken was at a teeth-chattering -7 degrees celsius (17 degrees Fahrenheit).

What’s truly amazing about this is that salt is known to lower the freezing point of water to well below zero degrees celsius. This is precisely why we throw salt over our driveways to prevent them from icing up. The fact that even the salty seawater in northeast United States began to freeze is testament to the uncharacteristically cold winter they had last year.

Big Holes

Get Your Mind Out The Gutter!

Whoever coined the title of this video is a genius: the second I clapped eyes on it, the inner depraved version of myself immediately demanded that I click on the link to find out more about Earth’s biggest and most mysterious holes. As it turned out, the video is quite interesting, albeit well-behaved. So, if you’re desperately trying to look busy and important while waiting for a date, or want to avoid that annoying dude from accounting during your lunch break, here’s a fabulous and educational 10 minutes well spent.

P.S. Donald Trump was accidentally omitted, but should have been featured as Earth’s biggest A-hole.

Video Source: “15 Strangest Holes On Earth” Uploaded by Planet Dolan to YouTube channel www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxSkbBXpMjo