Wow! The Most Amazing Images in Science This Week

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Wow! The Most Amazing Images in Science This Week

By LiveScience Staff   |   September 28, 2013 01:02am ET

Venice sinking!

Credit: Tosi and colleagues
Venice, the “floating city” of romance and gondolas, is slowly sinking into its watery foundations.A new study using modern satellite data has shown the amount that Venice is sinking with an unprecedented level of resolution, allowing scientists to tease apart the influence of natural causes of the sinking, due to compaction of the sediments on which the city is built, versus man-made ones, such as building restoration.

[Full Story: Venice’s Gradual Sinking Charted by Satellites]

1st fish face

Credit: Supplementary Figure 16. Credit: Min Zhu et al, Nature
A newly discovered fish fossil is the earliest known creature with what might be recognized as a face.Entelognathus primordialis was an ancient fish that lived about 419 million years ago in the Late Silurian seas of China. The finding, detailed today (Sept. 25) in the journal Nature, provides a link between two groups of fishes previously thought to be unrelated, challenging long-held notions of how vertebrate faces evolved.

[Full Story: How Cheeky: Fossil Fish Is Oldest Creature With a Face]

Stormy Sunset

Credit: Mike Kvackay
This spectacular image of a lightning strike at sunset was submitted by LiveScience reader Mike Kvackay. The photo was taken in Bozeman, Montana, while Kvackay was shooting a series of time-lapse images on a small pond.”I heard some thunder in the distance and was about to stop shooting when I saw that lightning bolt,” Kvackay told LiveScience. “I didn’t think much of it, but wanted to get my slider and two tripods back in my car before it started to storm. I checked my camera in the car and found that I caught that shot.”

Kvackay caught a lucky break, he said, as he had stopped the time-lapse only a few seconds after the lightning bolt struck.

Kvackay used a Canon 7D to capture the phenomenal shot, with a Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 lens with a 2-second shutter speed, and a slide-tracked 6-foot motorized dolly. [Related: Electric Earth – Stunning Images of Lightning]

Hawaiian pancakes anyone?

Credit: Ashton Flinders
The biggest active volcano in the world is a towering stack of lava layers laid down over a million years, a new study finds.The research could help solve a long-standing debate over how Hawaii’s volcanic islands formed.

[Full Story: Hawaii Volcanoes: Like Biggest Stack of Pancakes on Earth]

Strange spinning star

Credit: ESA
A perplexing fast-spinning star just might be the “missing link” in a long-standing pulsar mystery, scientists say.The so-called neutron star — a city-sized stellar remnant born from the explosive death of a larger star — is located about 18,000 light-years from Earth has the never-before-observed ability to change from one kind of pulsar to another and back again. You can watch a video animation of the pulsar here set to the music of rock band Atom Strange.

[Full Story: Strange Spinning Star Is ‘Missing Link’ of Pulsars ]

Gokyo lakes

As the huge effort to compile the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report comes to a close this week, many researchers expect new certainty to emerge in such areas as sea level rise and global temperature increases.Climate scientists are generally pleased with the evolution of and output of the group, though some would like to see stronger messages from it. Some scientists also want to cut down the timescale of the massive operation, which takes several years and is done on a volunteer basis by scientists.

[Full Story: Climate Scientists: IPCC Report Must Communicate Consensus ]

Ancient Earth or Jupiter’s Moon

Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Anybody wondering what Earth was like 4 billion years ago should cast an eye toward Jupiter’s hypervolcanic moon Io, a new study suggests.Io is the most volcanically active object in the solar system, dissipating its massive stores of internal heat via intense eruptions that cover the entire moon with about 0.4 inches (1 centimeter) of lava every year. Earth probably went through a similar phase in its youth, back before the planet cooled enough for plate tectonics to start up, researchers report today (Sept. 25) in the journal Nature.

[Full Story: Was Ancient Earth Like Jupiter’s Super-Volcanic Moon Io?]

Bering land bridge blooms

Credit: US Department of the Interior
The transition from summer to fall has barely begun across most of the United States, but in Alaska fall has arrived with a colorful flourish.In Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, gone are the shockingly bright pinks, yellows and purples of summer. They’ve been replaced by deeper and darker reds, yellows, greens and the beginnings of brown. The days are a crisp 34 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius). With daylight slowly diminishing, visitors to this Alaskan wilderness must enjoy the color while they can, because soon a blanket of white will fall upon the landscape.

The Bering Land Bridge National Preserve is one of the most remote U.S. national parks. It is a wilderness dotted with hot springs, ancient lava flows and the largest maar lakes (caused by a kind of volcanic eruption) in the world.

This national preserve protects a remnant of the Bering Land Bridge that connected Asia with North America more than 13,000 years ago. The Bering Land Bridge was a pathway for plants, animals and people to cross from old world to new.

Follow OurAmazingPlanet @OAPlanetFacebook & Google+.

Amphibian ‘death scene’ fossil

Credit: Copyright Heritage Auctions
In rare cases, one of life’s important childhood lessons — always chew your food properly — becomes fossilized. And now, anyone can own one of these reminders in rock. A specimen containing the remains of a large, predatory amphibian choking on another creature is up for auction in October.Nearly 300 million years ago, during the Paleozoic Era, this predator attempted to eat another, smaller amphibian. The larger creature died mid-meal with the smaller one’s body half-consumed. This type of fossil, in which a predator chokes on its prey, is known as an aspiration.

[Full Story: Fossil of Ancient Amphibian Choking on Last Meal Up for Auction]

Animal with ‘tide body clock’

Credit: Zhang et al., Current Biology
Most animals have a circadian clock that helps them distinguish night and day, but now researchers have found coastal animals seem to be equipped with a separate clock to track time via the tides.The evidence comes from the discovery of internal clock genes that help some marine animals track the ebb and flow of the tides, according to two studies detailed today (Sept. 26) in the journals Current Biology and Cell Reports.

[Full Story: ‘Tidal Body Clocks’ Found in 2 Marine Animals]


Goosefish Lays Billowy Veil Holding 1 Million Eggs

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Goosefish Lays Billowy Veil Holding 1 Million Eggs

By Megan Gannon, News Editor   |   September 26, 2013 05:32pm ET
The monkfish, or goosefish, lays its eggs in the form a veil that can be up to 60 feet long. Credit: New England Aquarium

Goosefish, also known as monkfish, may be among the most aesthetically challenged creatures around, but when the homely bottom-feeders lay their eggs, they create something beautiful: a gauzy, billowy veil that drifts in the ocean for days. On Monday afternoon (Sept. 23), a female monkfish at the New England Aquarium in Boston laid her third egg veil this year. The veil looks something like a 60-foot-long (18 meters) sheet of delicate bubble wrap, covered in about a million pinhead-sized eggs waiting to be fertilized.

Egg Veil

Credit: New England Aquarium
Sometimes, the egg veil is described as being as similar to bubble wrap. Each veil the monkfish lays is dotted with about a million eggs.

“In the wild, when the female is swimming around releasing the egg veil, the male is swimming around her and as they intertwine, the male releases its sperm,” aquarist Bill Murphy, of New England Aquarium, told LiveScience. The aquarium’s female fish doesn’t have a male counterpart, so these eggs won’t result in any offspring. (Murphy said he tried putting two of the fish in one tank before, but they are a solitary, predatory species, and the pairing didn’t work out.) For now, visitors will be able to see veil float around in the goosefish’s tank until it starts to rot.

This is the goosefish that creates the incredible egg veil. Credit: New England Aquarium

Murphy said he didn’t catch the veil-laying on Monday, but in the weeks leading up to the moments-long event, there are usually signs that a sheet of eggs is coming — namely, the fish starts looking bloated. “She looks huge, like she swallowed a beach ball,” Murphy said.

Ethereal Eggs

Credit: New England Aquarium
This egg veil was laid by a female monkfish on display at the New England Aquarium in Boston on Sept. 23. The bottom-feeding fish can be spotted in the sand, underneath its ethereal creation.

Monkfish are anglerfish that sit, partially buried, at the bottom of the ocean, attracting prey with a lure in the form of a flap of skin that looks like a small fish, Murphy said. When its victim is close enough, the monkfish opens its big mouth suddenly, creating a vacuum to suck in its prey.

Monkfish Egg Veil

Credit: New England Aquarium
Typically, fertilization results in just 6 or 7 offspring, said aquarist Bill Murphy of the New England Aquarium.

The fish can grow to be more than 5 feet long (1.5 meters) and are found throughout New England, at depths ranging from 10 feet to 200 feet (3 to 60 m). Monkfish can also be found on dinner plates, and are sometimes nicknamed “the poor man’s lobster” because of their muscular tails. Follow Megan Gannon on Twitter and Google+. Follow us@livescienceFacebook Google+. Original article on LiveScience.

Source of Space Weather, Northern Lights Found In Earth’s Magnetic Field

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Source of Space Weather, Northern Lights Found In Earth’s Magnetic Field

by Tia Ghose, Staff Writer   |   September 26, 2013 02:01pm ET
Auroramax Image September 13, 2013
An aurora is photographed by the Auroramax automated camera in Canada’s Northwest Territories on Sept. 13, 2013.
Credit: Auroramax

Scientists have discovered the powerhouse for the cosmic storms in Earth’s magnetic field that fuel the planet’s dazzling displays of northern lights.

The discovery could help scientists predict when stormy space weather could disrupt global power systems or expose astronauts to deadly radiation bursts, as well as add insight into the spectacular auroras over the Earth’s polar regions.

“We finally found out where the energy comes from that powers the aurora in the space weather,” said study co-author Vassilis Angelopoulos, a space physicist at the University of California at Los Angeles. [Northern Lights: Amazing Aurora Photos of 2013]

Fallout from solar storms

During strong solar storms, charged particles bombard Earth’s magnetic field and can send high-energy particles into the long tail of the Earth’s magnetic field — called the magnetotail — which then flow back to Earth in the form of geomagnetic storms.

Solar wind streams plasma and particles from the sun at speeds of up to 1 million mph (1.6 million kilometers per hour), Angelopoulos said. The solar wind deforms the Earth’s magnetic field, compressing it on the sunward side and creating the long magnetotail that stretches out from behind the Earth’s night side. Duringsolar storms, huge amounts of high energy particles are hurled into Earth’s magnetic field.

Some of that energy is then transferred to the Earth’s magnetic field, where it is discharged in magnetic storms, which are responsible for the glowing light shows of the aurora borealis, or the northern lights, in the Northern Hemisphere. Auroras over the Southern Hemisphere are called the southern lights, or aurora australis.

“Those can be so intense at times of storms that they light up the entire night sky all the way down south to Hawaii,” Angelopoulous told

But these magnetic storms aren’t just pretty lights: They produce bursts of radiation that can threaten satellites in orbit, as well as astronauts. They also dump huge surges of energy into the atmosphere, which can disrupt power supply lines or satellites.

A huge solar storm in 1859, called the Carrington Event, knocked out most of the world’s telegraphic system. Predicting those storms is therefore a top priority for space physicists.

Earth’s magnetic tail

As part of the THEMIS mission, five NASA spacecraft have been traveling through Earth’s magnetic field and orbiting the moon, measuring changes in the plasma, electric and magnetic fields.

Two of those probes, have been orbiting the moon as part of an extended mission called ARTEMIS. Those measurements revealed where streams of energy were coming from in solar storm events.

On July 3, 2012, eight spacecraft were lined up on the night side of Earth, enabling scientists to track how magnetic energy from the sun moved around Earth, reconnected at a point about half way to the moon, and then spread through the back end of Earth’s magnetic environment, the magnetotail.
Credit: NASA/SVS

It turned out that, though Earth’s magnetic fieldstretches thousands of miles, the energy from the solar wind was being stored in a fairly small part of the magnetic tail that stretches behind Earth’s night side.

That stream of wind strengthens the magnetic field until it can’t store any more energy, at which point it releases the energy in a violent burst, like a short-circuit, in the form of geomagnetic storms, said David Sibeck, a THEMIS project scientist and magnetospheric physicist who works at NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center, but was not involved in this study.

The results show that “even teeny tiny microphysics and very localized processes can have consequences for the whole environment of Earth,” Sibeck told

Now that scientists know where these turbulent storms happen, the next step is trying to get a better picture of when they happen.

“We want to understand how frequent they are, under what solar wind conditions do they wax and wane,” Angelopoulous said.

To do that, scientists need to launch tiny space weather stations, using miniature sensors on cubesats to track storm fronts as they pass by, he said.

Follow Tia Ghose on Twitter and Google+. Follow LiveScience @livescience,Facebook Google+. Original article on

Number of Confirmed Alien Planets Nears 1,000

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Number of Confirmed Alien Planets Nears 1,000

By Mike Wall, Senior Writer   |   September 26, 2013 09:00pm ET
This artist's illustration represents the variety of planets being detected by NASA's Kepler spacecraft.
This artist’s illustration represents the variety of planets being detected by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft. Scientists now say that one in six stars hosts an Earth-size planet.
Credit: C. Pulliam & D. Aguilar (CfA)

Just two decades after discovering the first world beyond our solar system, astronomers are closing in on alien planet No. 1,000.

Four of the five main databases that catalog the discoveries of exoplanets  now list more than 900 confirmed alien worlds, and two of them peg the tally at 986 as of today (Sept. 26). So the 1,000th exoplanet may be announced in a matter of days or weeks, depending on which list you prefer.

That’s a lot of progress since 1992, when researchers detected two planets orbiting a rotating neutron star, or pulsar, about 1,000 light-years from Earth. Confirmation of the first alien world circling a “normal” star like our sun did not come until 1995. [The Strangest Alien Planets (Gallery)]

And the discoveries will keep pouring in, as astronomers continue to hone their techniques and sift through the data returned by instruments on the ground and in space.

The biggest numbers in the near future should come from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, which racked up many finds before being hobbled in May of this year when the second of its four orientation-maintaining reaction wheels failed.

Kepler has identified 3,588 planet candidates to date. Just 151 of these worlds have been confirmed so far, but mission scientists have said they expect at least 90 percent will end up being the real deal.

But even these numbers, as impressive as they are, represent just the tip of our Milky Way galaxy’s immense planetary iceberg. Kepler studied a tiny patch of sky, after all, and it only spotted planets that happened to cross their stars’ faces from the instrument’s perspective.

Many more planets are thus out there, zipping undetected around their parent stars. Indeed, a team of researchers estimated last year that every Milky Way star hosts, on average, 1.6 worlds — meaning that our galaxy perhaps harbors160 billion planets.

And those are just the worlds with obvious parent stars. In 2011, a different research team calculated that “rogue planets” (which cruise through space unbound to a star) may outnumber “normal” exoplanets by 50 percent or so.

Nailing down the numbers is of obvious interest, but what astronomers really want is a better understanding of the nature and diversity of alien worlds.

And it’s becoming more and more apparent that this diversity is stunning. Scientists have found exoplanets as light and airy as Styrofoam, for example, and others as dense as iron. They’ve also discovered a number of worlds that appear to orbit in their stars’ habitable zone — that just-right range of distances that could support the existence of liquid water and thus, perhaps, life as we know it.

But the search continues for possibly the biggest exoplanet prize: the first true alien Earth. Kepler was designed to determine how frequently Earth-like exoplanets occur throughout the Milky Way, and mission scientists have expressed confidence that they can still achieve that primay goal. So some Earth analogs likely lurk in Kepler’s data, just waiting to be pulled out.

The five chief exoplanet-discovery databases, and their current tallies, are: the Extrasolar Planets Encyclopedia (986); the Exoplanets Catalog, run by the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo’s Planetary Habitability Laboratory (986); the NASA Exoplanet Archive (905); the Exoplanet Orbit Database (732); and the Open Exoplanet Catalog (948).

The Planetary Habitability Lab keeps track of all five databases, whose different numbers highlight the uncertainties involved in exoplanet detection and confirmation.

Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us@SpacedotcomFacebook or Google+. Originally published on

What People Don’t Know

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What People Don’t Know.

Within this Article We Are Going To Clarify To You Some Of The Ways You’ll be able to Build Links For Your Internet Site

If you’re not however conscious of this for people who want leading online search engine rankings you will be going to want to construct back links for your internet site. For individuals who are new to the internet Marketing and advertising and advertising and marketing niche, many of these folks don’t know how to begin building these back links they need. A lot of new individuals when they very first get on the net commence asking for link exchanges, but you ought to recognize that these sorts of links do not carry as significantly authority as one way links do. For those of you who do not yet know how to build links effectively have been likely to clarify it to you in this article.

The first thing you should understand is that you’ll find world wide web directories online that will allow you to submit your URL. Right now there are hundreds if not thousands of net directories all over the net and a lot of them will allow you to submit your website to them for free. You need to of course also realize which you can submit to more of these net directories should you agree to location a reciprocal link pointing back to their internet site. You are able to submit to these other directories should you would like to nevertheless with all the free directories which are accessible incorporating reciprocal links and may be a misuse of time. If you want to save time with your submissions, it is possible to come across different software’s that will help you submit to these directories swiftly.

One with the most powerful ways to commence building these one way links to your site is by utilizing a technique generally known as article advertising and marketing. The process is fairly easy as all you’ll need to do is to generate a 300 to five hundred phrase article which has exactly the same theme is your internet site. You then add links pointing back to your site in the source box with the content, and submit the articles to article publication websites. Many article directories will evaluation your article just before publishing, but once your articles commence to display up on the web you’re finding back links While this may be a little a lot more time consuming you will be heading to find that these links will in fact wind up currently being a lot more powerful simply because they’re linked to real content.

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Want to know in which you can get very best professional link building & Also access the best service for seo article writing services



Anatomy of Sun Storms & Solar Flares (Infographic

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Anatomy of Sun Storms & Solar Flares (Infographic)

Karl Tate, Infographics Artist
See how solar flares, sun storms and huge eruptions from the sun work in this infographic.
The sun is an active star, one that teems with flares and solar eruptions on an 11-year solar weather cycle. See how the sun unleashes its solar weather storms in this infographic.

Why You Always See Crushed Stones Alongside Railroad Tracks

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Why You Always See Crushed Stones Alongside Railroad Tracks


39 minutes ago

This is a good question with an interesting answer. The crushed stones are what is known as ballast. Their purpose is to hold the wooden cross ties in place, which in turn hold the rails in place.

Think about the engineering challenge faced by running miles of narrow ribbons of steel track on top of the ground: they are subject to heat expansion and contraction, ground movement and vibration, precipitation buildup from rough weather, and weed and plant growth from underneath. Now keep in mind that while 99% of the time they are just sitting there unburdened, the remaining 1% they are subject to moving loads as heavy as 1,000,000 pounds (the weight of a Union Pacific Big Boy locomotive and its tender).

Put all this together, and you have yourself a really, really interesting problem that was first solved nearly 200 years ago, and hasn’t been improved since!

Why You Always See Crushed Stones Alongside Railroad Tracks

The answer is to start with the bare ground, and then build up a foundation to raise the track high enough so it won’t get flooded. On top of the foundation, you deposit a load of crushed stone with sharp edges (the ballast). On top of the stone, you lay down (perpendicular to the direction of the track) a line of wooden beams on 19.5 inch centers, 8 1/2 feet long, 9 inches wide and 7 inches thick, weighing about 200 pounds…3,249 of them per mile. You then continue to dump crushed stone all around the beams, effectively locking them in place.

These beams are made of hardwood (usually oak or hickory), and impregnated with creosote for weather protection. In the US we call them “cross ties” (or, colloquially, just “railroad ties”); in the UK they are known as “sleepers”, in Portuguese, “dormentes”. While 93% of ties in the US are still made of wood, heavily trafficked modern rail lines are increasingly trying alternatives, including composite plastic, steel and concrete.

Why You Always See Crushed Stones Alongside Railroad Tracks

Next, you bring in hot rolled steel rails, historically 39′ long in the US (because they were carried to the site in 40′ gondola cars), but increasingly now 78′, and lay them on top of the sleepers end to end. They used to be joined by bolting on an extra piece of steel across the joint, but today are usually continuously welded end-to-end.

It would seem that you could just nail them or bolt them down to the ties, but that doesn’t work because of the non-trivial movement caused by heat expansion and contraction along the length of the rail. So instead, the rails are attached to the sleepers by clips or anchors, which hold them down but allow them to move longitudinally as they expand or contract.

Why You Always See Crushed Stones Alongside Railroad Tracks

So there you have it: a centuries old process that is extremely effective at facilitating the movement of people and material over thousands of miles…even though nothing is permanently attached to the ground with a fixed connection!

The ballast distributes the load of the ties (which in turn bear the load of the train on the track, held by clips) across the foundation, allows for ground movement, thermal expansion and weight variance, allow rain and snow to drain through the track, and inhibit the growth of weeds and vegetation that would quickly take over the track.

(By the way, as noted in the comment by Isaac Gaetz, the consequences of NOT appropriately providing for the effects of heat expansion and contraction can be pretty drastic. Just imagine what would happen to a train that tried to go down this particular section of buckled track (in Melbourne, during a heat wave…)

Why You Always See Crushed Stones Alongside Railroad Tracks

Image: ShutterstockKevin Hsieh