though not the first to go,
pluto lost its planetary status 15 years ago
and not everyone agrees.
“as a planetary scientist, I don’t know what else to call Pluto: it’s big and round and thousands of miles wide.’ alan stern
credits: mental floss, jeopardy, getty images, courtney k
water from air
Two billion people on earth are without clean drinking water, and this problem will only be exacerbated by the climate crisis.
Fortunately, independent businesses are working on a myriad of differing solutions. One Israeli company, Watergen, has taken advantage of the fact that the Earth’s atmosphere contains 13 billion tonnes of fresh water and developed technology that filters water vapor out of the air.
Michael Mirilashvili, the leader of Watergen, told BBC, “A big advantage of using atmospheric water is that there’s no need to build water transportation, so no worries about heavy metals in pipes for example or cleaning contaminated water from the ground or polluting the planet with plastic bottles.”
The technology works by quickly drawing air into the machine and using condensation to produce fresh water at the low cost of seven to 15 cents per liter. The machine does use electricity, but if this can be supplied via renewable sources, the machine would have a very little environmental impact.
Water gathered from the atmosphere still faces the issue of condensing air pollution. Although lead was banned in 1999, it is still found in UK air in 2021. However, partner researchers from Tel Aviv University proved this to be a small obstacle when they were able to extract the water to a quality set by the World Health Organization.
Watergen’s technology can provide up to 1,585 gallons of water per day and has already been used at hospitals in the Gaza Strip and villages in Central Africa.
“water is the driving force of all nature.”
-leonardo da vinci
source credits: BBC news, Natalie Lisbona, Optimist daily
(in honor of all the recent space activity and a soon to arrive full moon – a repost from 2 years ago)
50th anniversary of the week of the Apollo 11 moon landing
I was 11
on the cusp of everything
we went over
to my parents’ friends’ house
everyone was transfixed
air was electric
all gathered around the tv
silent and awestruck
as the first man walked on the moon
spoke his first words on the moon
lots of emotion in the house
I ran to the window to look at the moon
hoping I would see him up there
right in the middle of all of this
left to go to the hospital
to have her baby
she named him neil
after that man on the moon.
“we ran as if to meet the moon.”
― robert frost
image credit: Ann Arbor district library archives
Today in animals you might not believe are real (but are!): the pink fairy armadillo. This species (Chlamyphorus truncatus) grows to just about 6 inches long, making them the smallest armadillos in the world.
They are found only in central Argentina, and because they’re nocturnal and spend a lot of time burrowing underground, the elusive creatures are difficult to study.
Like other armadillos, pink fairy armadillos have a shell (or carapace) but theirs is softer, thinner and more flexible. The shell’s color comes from blood vessels close to the surface.
source credit: Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
“always be yourself unless you can be an armadillo,
then always be an armadillo.”
some animals are so unusual, it’s hard to believe they’re real.
what’s the most interesting/unusual animal you’ve ever encountered?
have you ever touched a rainbow?
it’s pure magic.
“and as he spoke of understanding,
i looked up and saw the rainbow leap with flames of many colors over me.”
The humble spider has always been well represented in the musical world, from Ziggy Stardust to the Who and Wilco. For too long, though, we’ve refused to let them relate their experiences to us more directly. That’s now changed, thanks to the work of scientists who are turning spiders’ vibration-based perceptions into music.
Vice recently profiled the work of MIT engineering professor Markus Buehler, who leads a team that’s working to translate web vibrations into sounds we can actually hear. The project uses “the physics of spiderwebs to assign audible tones to a given string’s unique tension and vibration” through a process called data sonification.
The resulting models can be explored through virtual reality software or listened to via examples recorded by Buehler and his collaborator Tomas Saraceno. The music created by manipulating the models is incredible—an eerie approximation of how spiders understand their environments.
Buehler says that the project’s goal is both to “expand how we generate sound in music and how we compose music” and to practically demonstrate how “for something like a spider, there’s a whole different way of experiencing the world.”
“Researchers say the project could eventually be used to reverse engineer spiders’ reality and communicate with the arachnids,” Vice explains, somewhat ominously. Buehler elaborates, saying that he’s planning to play AI-generated spider sounds to the creatures and “gauge [their] reactions.”
For more on Markus Buehler And The Spiders From Earth, read the full article.
“is there anything more beautiful and protective than the simple complexity of a spider’s web?”
-e.b. white, Charlotte’s Web
source credits: Reid McCarter, Michelle Bender, Vice
genetics explained with gummy bears.
“i have all these great genes, but they’re recessive. that’s the problem here.”
-Bill Watterson, The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
image credit: Rogue NASA
what child wouldn’t put this on their holiday wish list?
“it is the weight, not numbers of experiments that is to be regarded.”
credits: Rogue NASA, Weird History
World Science Day for Peace and Development
Celebrated every November 10th, World Science Day for Peace and Development highlights the important role of science in society and the need to engage the wider public in debates on emerging scientific issues. It also underlines the importance and relevance of science in our daily lives.
By linking science more closely with society, World Science Day for Peace and Development aims to ensure that citizens are kept informed of developments in science. It also underscores the role scientists play in broadening our understanding of the remarkable, fragile planet we call home and in making our societies more sustainable.
In 2020, the Day will be devoted to the theme of Science for and with society.
“ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge:
it is those who know little, and not those who know much,
who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.”
Building peace in the minds of men and women
“we are our choices.”
image credit: new yorker cartoons – roz chast