News, Offbeat

Spectacular solar halo seen in Mexico [with explanation… and memes]

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A stunning round solar halo caused a social media frenzy – people were out in the streets, taking photos, sharing them, while scientists were also excited to see such a rare phenomenon. But what are solar halos, and why did this one appear in Mexico?

Videos

Watch: two men flying with jetpacks in Dubai

Screenshot from Youtube.

The future is here – bring me my jetpack. Yves “the Jetman” Rossy and his protege, Vince Reffet do a fantastic job at illustrating that, pushing the limits of jetpack technology; and what better place to do it than Dubai? Warning – this video isn’t for the faint of heart, nor for those afraid of heights. Proceed at your own risk.

Art

98 Unprocessed Foods Cut Into Perfect Cubes

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When design studio Lernert & Sander were commissioned by Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant to make a photograph for their special issue about Food, they went for something absolutely exceptional, and I’d dare say they nailed it. The studio transformed 98 unprocessed foods into perfect cubes of 2.5 x 2.5 x 2.5 cm (.98x.98x.98 in). How many of these foods can you identify? The

Great Pics

Picture of the day: A world inside a bottle

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Reddit user kidgalaxy discovered an impromptu terrarium inside an old bottle while he was cleaning his yard. Using only his smartphone, he managed to snap this surprisingly crisp close-up. It seems like the bottleneck is creating the illusion that you’re actually peering into another world. To make things even cooler, another reddit user Your_Post_As_A_Movie stayed true to his name and photoshopped the image as

Great Pics

Picture of the day: up close with a strawberry

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  This spectacular image was taken by photographer Alexey Kljatov; he explains how he took the photo: “Focus stacking + averaging (10 groups with different focus, each group contains 8 identical shots for averaging). The problem with this shot was that strawberry is too glossy (I put white plastic bag around berry to diffuse daylight).” OK, now it’s biology time –

Animals, News, Videos

The ugly truth behind the ‘cute’ video of the orangutan and tiger cubs

Facebook/T.I.G.E.R.S. Preservation Station

Social media was ecstatic – just look at this video of an orangutan bottle-feeding a tiger cub. Tens of millions of people tuned in to watch this “cuteness overload”… but the truth behind this is not cute at all. It’s actually quite saddening. We’ll discuss why, after the video.

Feature Post, Great Pics

The California Drought in Pictures

Before: the Green Bridge passes over Lake Oroville near the Bidwell Marina in 2011.  Note all the vegetation.

California is experiencing the most severe drought in the last millennium, with extreme measures being taken to preserve water, though some believe the state is already heading towards an unmitigated disaster. We’ve already discussed that in depth several times before (1, 2, 3), but we’re not going to do that here. They say an image is worth a thousand words,

Feature Post, History

Early SciFi: A 2th century AD novel about traveling to outer space, meeting aliens and Homer

Lucian of Samosata’s ship getting swept up to the moon by a tempest.

Some argue that the first genuine science fiction novel is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, where technology bordering necromancy is used to reanimate the dead. But labeling what falls under science fiction can be troublesome. Christopher McKitterick says that in the strict etymological sense, it’s literature about scientific discovery or technological change, but then argues that this definition misses the mark; instead Mckiterrick believes “SF is about how we have changed, how external change affects us, how things we do change the world around us, and how we will continue to change over time.” What about works of fiction written in a time when science wasn’t even considered a distinct field, separate from natural philosophy, or study of religious truth, etc? Depending on how you class what makes science fiction, Lucian of Samosata’s “True Stories” might be the first science fiction novel. The characters venture to distant realms including the moon, the sun, and strange planets and islands. The star protagonist is Lucian himself who happens to stumble upon aliens on the moon and finds himself in the midst of a war between the lunar and sun empires.

Feature Post, Science

Why Nestle is one of the most hated companies in the world

Just some of Nestle's more well known brands. Image via Rasica.

Child labor, unethical promotion, manipulating uneducated mothers, pollution, price fixing and mislabeling – those are not words you want to see associated with your company. Nestle is the world’s largest foodstuff company, and it has a history that would make even hardcore industrialists shiver. Here, we’re gonna look at why Nestle has such a bad reputation and whether or not

News, Offbeat

The science of ‘ballooning’ – or why it’s raining spiders in Australia

A home surrounded by spiderwebs as floodwaters rise around Wagga Wagga in 2012. Source: SMH.

It’s raining… spiders. Countless baby spiders are falling from the ski in the Australian city Goulburn, South Australia, covering the entire landscape in spider webs.