Animals, Biology, News

The seemingly chaotic, but elegant movement of the octopus: how it pulls it off

octopus arms

Despite lacking a rigid skeleton, octopuses have a remarkable coordinated locomotion. Using high-speed cameras, a group at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem found the octopus achieves this by precisely and independently moving one or more of its eight legs to crawl its body, even when its facing a different direction. Moreover, there is no discernible rhythm or pattern to this undulating leg movement, making the octopus unique in this respect. It’s controlled chaos, and only the octopus itself completely knows how it pulls all this off.

Climate, News

Dutch citizens sue the government over human rights for lack of action against climate change

Image: Hague Court, Netherlands

Some 900 Dutch citizens have banded together and filled a lawsuit against the Dutch government over human rights, citing the latter’s lack of decisive action against climate change. This is the first such case in Europe where a group of citizens holds its government responsible for ineffective climate policy, and also the first to be based on human rights law.

Climate, News, World Problems

A ‘warm blob’ in the Pacific is linked to California’s drought and East Coast snow storms

East coast snow

Strange weather in the East Coast and California’s worst drought in history have been linked to a peculiar warm mass of water out in the Pacific Ocean. A new study published in the Geophysical Research Letters explain its origins and how its warm waters also warmed surface temperatures out in the coast, and displaced marine life, a major concern at the moment. Worth noting that research thus far suggests that ‘warm blob’, as it’s been dubbed, has been primarily attributed to natural variability, and not global warming.

Climate, News

Massive Methane Hotspot Over the US Might Signal Bigger Problems to Come

The Four Corners area (red) is the major U.S. hot spot for methane emissions in this map showing how much emissions varied from average background concentrations from 2003-2009 (dark colors are lower than average; lighter colors are higher). Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Michigan

A “massive methane hotspot” sounds pretty bad… and bad it is – much worse than previously thought. In 2014, NASA reported that the methane hotspot is responsible for producing the largest concentration of the greenhouse gas methane seen over the United States – more than triple the standard ground-based estimate. But the methane, a potent greenhouse gas, might have even more drastic consequences on the climate of our planet.

Environment

Brinicles under Antarctica: the underwater icicles with a touch that spells death

vn2R1e

This incredible time-lapse footage was captured by a daring oceanographer for the BBC a while ago, showing for the very first time how a brinicle forms. It’s essentially a salt water icicle that gets bigger and bigger as it hits the sea floor, and when it does its icy touch puts life to a halt instantly, like the poor sea urchins and starfish.

Animals, Biology, News

Blind rats ‘sense’ their location after a geomagnetic compass was strapped to their brains

An illustration of a rat wearing the geomagnetic device (credit: Norimoto and Ikegaya)

Blind rats learned to navigate mazes just as well as those that could see, after scientists strapped a simple geomagnetic compass – the kind that’s found in your smartphone – fitted with electrodes directly onto their brains. Though they’re not naturally equipped to sense magnetic fields, the rats’ brains demonstrated tremendous plasticity and effectively incorporated a new sense! We can only presume this is possible in the case of humans as well, so the team from Japan which made the study believes blind people could incorporate a similar device – minus the brain hack. There are other alternatives after all, like say an iPhone app that acoustically alerts the blind person which way to turn or a sensor directly fitted into a walking cane.

News, Renewable Energy

Signs that much of the world can go completely renewable

Vancouver has pledged to go 100% renewable in 5 years.

In unanimous vote, the city of Vancouver, Canada, passed its Greenest City Action Plan – to become the world’s greenest city by 2020; one of their goals is to use only renewable energy in only 5 years. In light of that and other recent developments, it’s starting to feel like much of the world might actually go renewable in the near future.

Animals, Biology, News

City ants LOVE junk food

ants-love-Junk-Food

If you ever dropped food on the pavement, don’t feel too bad. It’ll get scrapped bit by bit by the ever resourceful ants, so you’re actually doing a favor to these swarms of critters. But have you ever wondered why ants can eat ice cream, hot dogs or just about every kind of junk food we unwittingly throw at them? Some researchers looked at this question and found that some particular ant species have seemingly adapted to consume junk food.

Great Pics, World Problems

What overpopulation looks like, in PHOTOS

Sprawling Mexico City rolls across the landscape, displacing every scrap of natural habitat

Some might argue that 7 billion people, while a lot in itself, isn’t necessarily a cause of concern, not even when this is expected to sour to 10 billion by 2100. After all, 7 billion people can be squeezed in an area the size of Texas, but I think that’s besides the point. Yes, the world can make room for

Climate, News, World Problems

Marine life might need 1,000 years to recover from climate change

marine_life extinction

Marine life is on the brink of experiencing its sixth mass extinction, a disruption that is expected to occur very rapidly once the gears are set in motion (cataclysmic chain events). Now, a new study suggests that it might take a full millennium for marine life to recover from a potential climate change-driven die off, not hundreds as previously suggested.