No? I didn’t think so. Then you should watch the above video, captured by researchers from the University of British Columbia and presented by NPR’s Science Friday. The video comes from a camera strapped to a blue whale’s back, which was placed to document the so-called “barrel roll” of blue whales when they eat krill. Scientists aren’t positive why the whales do this, although the researchers from this study think the spin helps the whale get a 360 degree view of the krill, as well as helping the whale get a larger mouthful. Regardless of the reason, the barrel roll is workin’ for the whales: in a dense patch of krill, one single barrel roll can yield an entire day’s worth of food for the 200 ton animals.
Trees are some of the longest-lived organisms on the planet. At least 50 trees have been around for more than a millenium, but there may be countless other ancient trees that haven’t been discovered yet.
Trees can live such a long time for several reasons. One secret to their longevity is their compartmentalized vascular system, which allows parts of the tree to die while other portions thrive. Many create defensive compounds to fight off deadly bacteria or parasites.
And some of the oldest trees on earth, the great bristlecone pines, don’t seem to age like we do. At 3,000-plus years, these trees continue to grow just as vigorously as their 100-year-old counterparts. Unlike animals, these pines don’t rack up genetic mutations in their cells as the years go by. […]
The world’s oldest individual tree lives 10,000 feet above sea level in the Inyo National Forest, California. A staggering 4,765 years old, this primeval tree was already a century old when the first pyramid was built in Egypt. The tree is hidden among other millennia-old Great Basin bristlecone pines in a grove called the Forest of Ancients. To protect the tree from vandalism, the forest service keeps its exact location secret, but this one looks like it could be Methuselah.
My favorite part about Camille is how curious she looks. My jaw would probably be perpetually open too if I had the chance to be an astronaut.
Without a shiny new rover prancing around on Mars shooting rocks with lasers, it can be tough for other NASA missions to get any attention these days. So the Solar Dynamics Observatory has turned to a rubber chicken for help.
But this is no ordinary rubber chicken. Known as Camilla Corona, SDO’s chicken mascot has flown five times to the uppermost levels of the atmosphere in a hot air balloon, flown in a rolling NASA T-38 Talon with astronauts, and traveled around the world attending space-related conferences, meetups, and tweetups. […]
So how did Camilla go from anonymous rubber chicken to astronaut-in-training? Romeo Durscher, senior manager at SDO and executive assistant to Camilla, says that Camilla’s social media efforts began in late 2009, before the official launch of the mission. They had decided to make Camilla their mascot, something which initially started as an inside joke among the SDO team. But they quickly realized social media was an opportunity to teach the public about the sun and solar weather and that Camilla — the hilariously adorable chicken that she was — could be a great teacher.
What Durscher and the rest of the SDO team did not expect was just how popular Camilla would become. “We didn’t know how the public would react to a rubber chicken,” said Durscher. “It caught me completely by surprise.” Within a year, she had developed a sizable following on Twitter, and it wasn’t uncommon to see people — kids, adults, and astronauts alike — lined up to get photos taken with Camilla at NASA events.
Meet Etheostoma obama, a new species of fish named after the president
The researchers named the five newly discovered species of the darter – the smallest member of the perch family – after four presidents and one vice-president. All but one are Democrats, like Obama.
The darter, which packs a lot of colour into its fairly diminutive dimensions – males are mostly under 50mm in length – spends its life in the fast-moving freshwater rivers and creeks that are the veins of America.
It gets it name from its ability to get around rocks and other obstacles on the bottom of waterways. Most darters live in the creeks of northern Alabama and eastern Tennessee, not typically hospitable terrain for Democrats.
Rare photos of Einstein’s brain reveal abnormalities that could have contributed to genius
Albert Einstein is widely regarded as a genius, but how did he get that way? Many researchers have assumed that it took a very special brain to come up with the theory of relativity and other insights that form the foundation of modern physics.
A study of 14 newly discovered photographs of Einstein’s brain, which was preserved for study after his death, concludes that the brain was indeed highly unusual in many ways. But researchers still don’t know exactly how the brain’s extra folds and convolutions translated into Einstein’s amazing abilities.
The story of Einstein’s brain is a saga that began in 1955 when the Nobel Prize-winning physicist died in Princeton, N.J., at age 76. His son Hans Albert and his executor, Otto Nathan, gave the examining pathologist, Thomas Harvey, permission to preserve the brain for scientific study.
Harvey photographed the brain and then cut it into 240 blocks, which were embedded in a resinlike substance. He cut the blocks into as many as 2,000 thin sections for microscopic study, and in subsequent years distributed slides and photographs of the brain to at least 18 researchers around the world. With the exception of the slides that Harvey kept for himself, no one is sure where the specimens are now, and many of them have probably been lost as researchers retired or died.