Latest Blog Posts


A shark-shaped, climate-shifting blob of warm water — as wide as the Pacific Ocean — is rising from the depths

By Tom Yulsman | April 19, 2018 12:40 am

The ‘shark’ will soon gobble up La Niña’s cool surface waters. What might this mean for the climate later this year?

It’s not every day that you see an animated graphic like the one above hosted on the website of an ordinarily staid U.S. government agency.

And yes, that is indeed an illustration comparing a complex Earth system phenomenon to, well, a shark.

The comparison comes from the fabulous folks at the ENSO Blog, published under the aegis of the National Oceanic and Atmos …


At the Bottom of the Ocean, a Surprising, Gloomy Discovery

By Nathaniel Scharping | April 18, 2018 4:03 pm

Almost two miles below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, on a lonely outcrop of bare rock 100 miles from Costa Rica, researchers on a geological expedition found something odd. As their remotely controlled submersible sunk through the black waters toward the seafloor, they saw a collection of purple lumps dotting the rocky bottom.

As they got closer, they resolved themselves into something resembling a bowling ball with suckers. It was a group of female octopuses, of the genus Muusoctop …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: animals


One Simple Trick To Improve Credibility

By Bill Andrews | April 18, 2018 2:37 pm

It’s intuitive: We hear a message, think about it, and decide whether or not we believe it. We have to do it whenever we get a new piece of information in our lives, from politics to the news to gossip, so you’d think we’d be good at it by now.

But studies constantly show that our squishy human brains don’t make it quite so easy. Presenting information in different ways — whether there’s a photo included, or changing the colors of the words — affects our interpretation of it,  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, top posts
MORE ABOUT: psychology, Senses


Earth's climate went kind of schizo in March

By Tom Yulsman | April 18, 2018 2:34 pm

Earth has been taking a very slight breather this year from the seemingly unrelenting record-setting global temperatures observed in the previous two years. And this past month was no exception.

By NASA’s accounting, March 2018 was the sixth warmest such month in records dating back to 1880. In an independent analysis, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration pegged March as fifth warmest. And for the first quarter of the year (January through March), NOAA shows the period a …


Your Next Pilot Could Be Drone Software

By Jeremy Straub, North Dakota State University | April 18, 2018 1:56 pm

Would you get on a plane that didn’t have a human pilot in the cockpit? Half of air travelers surveyed in 2017 said they would not, even if the ticket was cheaper. Modern pilots do such a good job that almost any air accident is big news, such as the Southwest engine disintegration on Tuesday.

But stories of pilot drunkenness, rants, fights and distraction, however rare, are reminders that pilots are only human. Not every plane can be flown by a disaster-averting pilot, like Southwest C …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: drones, transportation

Seriously, Science?

Study claims beans don't make you fart after all.

By Seriously Science | April 18, 2018 6:00 am

Beans, beans, the musical fruit! The more you eat, the more you toot! Well, not according to this oldie-but-goody study (published in 1984, doubleplusgood!). Here, scientists had 12 men eat kidney beans for 23 days and measured how much they farted. It turns out that the gas quantity didn’t change during that time, no matter if the men typically ate a lot of beans or not. However, the longer they ate the beans, the better they felt (less discomfort). So let’s eat beans for every meal!

Inf …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: eat me, ha ha poop


No One Knows How Long the U.S. Coastline Is

By Nathaniel Scharping | April 17, 2018 4:02 pm

How long is the U.S. coastline? It’s a straightforward question, and one that’s important for scientists and government agencies alike. The U.S. Geological Survey could give you an answer, too, but I’m going to tell you right now that it’s wrong.

In fact, no one could give you the right answer, and if you look around, you’ll find a number of estimations that differ by seemingly improbable amounts. One government report lists the number as 12,383 miles. The same report admits that a diffe …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, top posts
MORE ABOUT: earth science

Science & Food

Liquid Nitrogen Gastronomy

By Ashton Yoon | April 17, 2018 1:00 pm

Guest post by Steven Du

Creamistry – n.  the science of creating ice cream using Liquid Nitrogen and not to be confused with the ice cream shop of the same name [4]. Ice cream does not seem complicated to make, but contrary to popular belief it’s not as simple as just freezing cream and sugar. Rather, this complex process requires slowly freezing cream to allow small ice crystals to form, creating a creamy texture. The process can be long and arduous, but there’s a secret ingredient  …



Meteoric Diamonds Are Evidence of Long Lost Planets

By Charles Choi | April 17, 2018 10:11 am

Diamonds found in meteorites on Earth may have come from an ancient long-dead planet the size of Mercury or Mars, the first potential known relics from these lost worlds, a new study finds.

Scientists examined a ureilite, a kind of meteorite that is rich in carbon and sometimes even possesses diamonds. More than 480 ureilites have been discovered so far, says study lead author Farhang Nabiei, a materials scientist and electron microscopist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in L …

MORE ABOUT: solar system

Citizen Science Salon

A new citizen science project for dog lovers. MuttMix: Can You Guess That Mutt?

By Arvind Suresh (Editor) | April 16, 2018 5:33 pm

Our first question upon hearing that someone has a new baby is usually “Is it a boy or a girl?” But our first question upon hearing that someone has gotten a new puppy is more often “What breed is it?” Breed is at the heart of how we perceive dogs. It affects many of our expectations of them – energy level, intelligence, friendliness – for better or for worse. With mutts, however, our urge to make breed-based assumptions can be stymied by the lack of a known breed to which to attach those assump …

MORE ABOUT: canine, dogs, mutts

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