Here’s What a 9.2 Earthquake Can Do to a City


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Here’s What a 9.2 Earthquake Can Do to a City

Annalee Newitz  http://io9.com/heres-what-a-9-2-earthquake-can-do-to-a-city-1554888781

It’s been fifty years since the Great Alaska Earthquake, the biggest ever to shake the United States. At magnitude 9.2, it leveled a city and was felt as far away as Texas. This fascinating short documentary reveals how it also led to a scientific breakthrough.

At the time of Great Alaska Earthquake, the theory of plate tectonics had only recently been considered viable. Scientists were still debating it, and seeking more evidence to bolster claims on both sides. Ultimately, evidence gathered from this quake wound up being one of the deciding factors that led to the geology community accepting plate tectonics.

This documentary was created by the US Geological Survey, a group of civil servant scientists who study the earth and the environment. USGS scientists were among the first on the scene at in 1964 after the quake, and it was their data-gathering that helped change the way we understand the planet’s crust.

If you want a dose of science history with your disaster porn this afternoon, watch this short film!

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This insect evolved gears in its legs


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Post 5241

This insect evolved gears in its legs

Annalee Newitz  http://io9.com/this-insect-evolved-gears-in-its-legs-1304357105/all

This insect evolved gears in its legs

A close-up of the planthopper's gears. Credit: Malcolm Burrows

What you are seeing in this picture is a magnified image of the rear legs of a common planthopper insect. And those teeth you see, called trochanter bumps, are the only-known example of gears that evolved in nature.

This insect evolved gears in its legs

The trochanter is the segment of the planthopper that attaches to its hips. Nobody had really known why they were there until two British scientists were trying to figure out how planthoppers could coordinate their legs so perfectly while jumping. Turns out, those trocanter bumps were acting as gears — the tiny hopper pushes its trochanters together before jumping and thus keeps the motion of the two legs in sync.

Ed Yong has pretty hilarious article about this today on Not Exactly Rocket Science. He writes:

Gears allow two machines to rotate together in opposite directions. That’s exactly what the planthopper’s trochanter bumps do. [Mechanical engineer Gregory] Sutton tested this by pulling on the tendons of its jumping muscles with some forceps (“It’s the Serious Edition of Operation”, he says.). Even if he only pulled one tendon, both legs would extend because the gears transmitted the motion of one trochanter into the other.

“Then, we got really lucky because we saw a few jumps where the gears wouldn’t engage perfectly,” says Sutton. When this happened, one leg was partially extended before the gears finally snagged and the planthopper’s nigh-perfect coordination was ruined.

Wait! It gets better. These gears are training wheels!

The planthopper nymphs lose them when they become adults. But the adults don’t shoot off in uncoordinated spins—if anything, they’re better jumpers than the youngsters. Their hind trochanters make much closer contact with each other, and Sutton thinks that the friction between them helps to keep them in time. “We’re kind of sure about that, but not entirely sure,” he says.

“This is to our knowledge the first time that proper, engaging, counter-rotating gears have been seen in the animal kingdom,” says Sutton. Crocodiles have cog-like teeth in their heart valves, and the wheel bug and cog-wheel turtle have teeth on their shells. But none of these structures actually act like gears. “You never see one cog-wheel turtle saddle up next to another, engage their shells, and spin in opposite directions,” says Sutton. “If you did, I want you to call me. If I see that on your website, and I haven’t been called, I will be an angry man.”

Read the rest on Not Exactly Rocket Science

 

Explore the Inside of a Fruit Fly Brain in Stunning 3D


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Explore the Inside of a Fruit Fly Brain in Stunning 3D

Jason G. Goldman  http://animals.io9.com/see-the-inside-of-a-fruit-fly-brain-1542553665

Explore the Inside of a Fruit Fly Brain in Stunning 3D

Brains are really complicated, even for the smallest of critters. If you’re a scientist who studies brains, then you might try to use some common words so that other scientists will know what you’re trying to communicate. People who study vertebrates generally agree on their terminology, which makes mammal and bird brains a bit easier to talk about.

Until recently, those who studied arthropod brains – invertebrates like insects, spiders, and crustaceans – didn’t really have a common lexicon. That’s despite the fact that those critters are really important for understanding everyone from evolution to the biochemical pathways that underlie addiction-related behaviors. We’ve actually learned a lot about our own brains by studying arthropods. One of the main workhorses of modern biology, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster (depicted above and below), is an arthropod after all!

Now, the “Insect Brain Name Working Group,” an international team led by Kei Ito and Kazunori Shinomiya of the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences at the University of Tokyo, has changed all that. They not only tripled the number of identified brain structures, but also created a lexicon that can now be used by arthropod researchers.

Explore the Inside of a Fruit Fly Brain in Stunning 3D

 

Different regions, cells, fibers and connections of the brain of the fruit fly, Drosophila. Shown here is the left hemisphere, seen from the front.

Also check out this interactive 3D rendering to explore the brain of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster.

[Kei Ito et al., Neuron. Images used with permission.]

The “Motor” That Allows a Fly to Flap Its Wings 50 Times a Second


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The “Motor” That Allows a Fly to Flap Its Wings 50 Times a Second

George Dvorsky  http://io9.com/the-motor-that-allows-a-fly-to-flap-its-wings-50-time-1553888593

The "Motor" That Allows a Fly to Flap Its Wings 50 Times a Second

What you’re looking at is a 3D visualization of a fly’s thorax in action. The 3D animation, which was put together using data pulled from a particle accelerator, offers a glimpse into the inner workings of one of nature’s most complex mechanisms.

So why a particle accelerator? It allowed researchers from the Imperial College London, University of Oxford, and the Paul Scherrer Institute to record high-speed X-ray images of the blowflies in flight. These images were then used to reconstruct high-resolution three-dimensional tomograms of their flight motor at ten different stages of the wingbeat.

The resulting visualization shows the various muscles and hinges required to power flight. In the video, the power muscles can be seen in yellow and red, and the tiny steering muscles are shown in green and blue.

The "Motor" That Allows a Fly to Flap Its Wings 50 Times a Second

Interestingly, the steering muscles represent less than 3% of the fly’s total flight muscle mass. Accordingly, the researchers were keen to understand how these parts were capable of controlling the output of the much larger power muscles.

The answer has to do with deformations of the muscles and thorax. By shifting the flight motor between different modes of oscillation, the fly is able to divert mechanical energy into a steering muscle that’s specialized to absorb this energy.

Insights like these will eventually allow engineers to develop life-like miniature robotics.

The study now appears in the PLoS One: “In Vivo Time-Resolved Microtomography Reveals the Mechanics of the Blowfly Flight Motor.”

What Makes This Substance Boil And Freeze At The Same Time?


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What Makes This Substance Boil And Freeze At The Same Time?

Lauren Davis  http://io9.com/what-makes-this-substance-boil-and-freeze-at-the-same-t-1554777563

What Makes This Substance Boil And Freeze At The Same Time?

A mystery fluid is placed in a container and all the air is removed. The substance begins to freeze and boil at the same time. So what’s going on?

This sample was evacuated in preparation for vaporizing the fluid for mass spectrometry, decreasing the pressure and, consequently, the boiling point temperature. It turned out that this pressure/temperature combo was near the substance’s triple point, the particular temperature and pressure at which the three states of matter (solid, liquid, and gas) exist in thermodynamic equilibrium. As the liquid boils, high energy molecules leave the liquid as gas, lowering the temperature of the liquid left behind and causing it to freeze. This process of boiling and freezing continues while the substance remains at this pressure and temperature.

Edit: I was mistaken when I referred to this as the triple point, as we would not be seeing phase changes at the triple point. Instead, we’re seeing phase changes near the triple point; at this particular pressure, the temperatures required for freezing and vaporization are very close. At the true triple point, the three states are in perfect equilibrium, which can be tricky to achieve, as you can see below:

Update: reddit user BantamBasher135 adds that we may also be seeing a solvent at play:

Chemist here. You were indeed freezing it at the same time you were vaporizing it. As /u/m1ld pointed out, you found the triple point of this particular sample. The reason the bubbles were freeing first… well, there are a couple options. First I suspect there might have been some solvent left over. When that was evacuated the pure compound froze instantly. Second, the bubbling at the surface allows for easy re-orientation of the molecules, which allows them to form a crystal lattice without any additional energy expenditure. Additionally, the growth of the crystals on top of the liquid provided surface area—and especially sharp points— for the liquid to then boil.

Typically when we evacuate a sample, we gently heat the flask to avoid such things. A hand holding the flask is usually sufficient.

[via Viral Viral Videos]

 

The History of Prosthetics Reveals a Long Tradition of Human Cyborgs


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The History of Prosthetics Reveals a Long Tradition of Human Cyborgs

Vincze Miklós  http://io9.com/the-history-of-prosthetics-reveals-a-long-tradition-of-1552921361

For centuries, humans have invented ingenious devices to replace lost limbs. Here we have a gallery of some of the most cutting-edge prosthetics from years past — comparable to today’s bionic arms. What’s fascinating is that these historic devices weren’t just about limb replacement, but also enhancement.

Even 500 years ago, people yearned to upgrade their bodies and have new limbs that did more than the old ones.

The right arm of Gottfried “Götz” Von Berlichingen, made of iron, 1500s

The History of Prosthetics Reveals a Long Tradition of Human Cyborgs

The History of Prosthetics Reveals a Long Tradition of Human Cyborgs

Götz lost his arm during the siege of Landshut in 1504 at his age of 24. Gottfried, a Franconian Imperial Knight continued his military activities, and lived for 82 years!

(via Wikimedia Commons)

An articulated right arm, from the early 16th century

The History of Prosthetics Reveals a Long Tradition of Human Cyborgs

(via Haruenishikawa)

Illustrations from Dix livres de la chirurgie (Ten books of Surgery), by Ambroise Paré, 1564

The History of Prosthetics Reveals a Long Tradition of Human Cyborgs

The History of Prosthetics Reveals a Long Tradition of Human Cyborgs

The History of Prosthetics Reveals a Long Tradition of Human Cyborgs

(via Wellcome Images)

A German prosthetic hand, made entirely from iron, c. 1580

The History of Prosthetics Reveals a Long Tradition of Human Cyborgs

(via My Armoury)

“Künstliche Fußmaschine” (means “Artistic Foot Machine”), by Albrecht Ludwig Berblinger, 1809

The History of Prosthetics Reveals a Long Tradition of Human Cyborgs

(via Wikimedia Commons)

An articulated wooden hand from the 19th century

The History of Prosthetics Reveals a Long Tradition of Human Cyborgs

(via Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention & Innovation)

A Victorian hand from the mid-19th century

The History of Prosthetics Reveals a Long Tradition of Human Cyborgs

(via Stacey Shintani)

Samuel Decker, a Civil War veteran who built his own prosthetics, mid-1860s

The History of Prosthetics Reveals a Long Tradition of Human Cyborgs

(via Reddit)

A revolver attached to a wooden leg

The History of Prosthetics Reveals a Long Tradition of Human Cyborgs

(via Oobject)

Another artificial left arm from the Victorian age, late 19th century

The History of Prosthetics Reveals a Long Tradition of Human Cyborgs

The elbow joint can be moved by releasing a spring, whereas the top joint of the wrist allows a degree of rotation and an up-and-down motion. The fingers can also curl up and straighten out. The leather upper arm piece is used to fix the prosthesis to the remaining upper arm.

The History of Prosthetics Reveals a Long Tradition of Human Cyborgs

The History of Prosthetics Reveals a Long Tradition of Human Cyborgs

(via Gizmodo and reddit)

Gripping device used with an artificial arm, used by a soldier who fought at the Siege of Ladysmith in 1899 during the Second Boer War (1899-1901)

The History of Prosthetics Reveals a Long Tradition of Human Cyborgs

(via Sciencemuseum and Victorian Achronists)

A prosthetic arm of a 16 year-old girl, made of wood, leather and textile, by London-based C.A. Hoefftoke in the early 1900s

The History of Prosthetics Reveals a Long Tradition of Human Cyborgs

The History of Prosthetics Reveals a Long Tradition of Human Cyborgs

(via Science Museum)

A Roydon prosthetic arm, designed to allow the wearer to span an octave on the piano, 1904

The History of Prosthetics Reveals a Long Tradition of Human Cyborgs

(via Pinterest)

A Swiss Army-made multifunctional artificial hand

The History of Prosthetics Reveals a Long Tradition of Human Cyborgs

(via Augmentation Limitless)

A prosthetic leg invented by Mr. H. H. Thomas, March 1919

The History of Prosthetics Reveals a Long Tradition of Human Cyborgs

(via Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

A French soldier injured during WWI

The History of Prosthetics Reveals a Long Tradition of Human Cyborgs

(via Wikimedia Commons)

Patrick O’Neill, a one armed blacksmith, illustrating his useful false limb, November 1929

The History of Prosthetics Reveals a Long Tradition of Human Cyborgs

(via Fox Photos/Getty Images)

A man with a mechanical hand making a castor for a piece of furniture in a workshop, 1942

The History of Prosthetics Reveals a Long Tradition of Human Cyborgs

(via Express/Express/Getty Images)

Captain Maxwell uses his artificial arm to hammer in a nail. The arm was supplied by the Ministry of Pensions for service and civilian war casualties, July 1942

The History of Prosthetics Reveals a Long Tradition of Human Cyborgs10SEXPAND

(via Reg Speller/Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Mr. Brown, the works manager at the Ministry of Pensions, tests an artificial hand recently designed by Mr A. W. Shaw, May 1948

The History of Prosthetics Reveals a Long Tradition of Human Cyborgs

(via Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Brothers Donald, left and Paul Holmen of Holmen Laboratories measure irises on plastic eyes on the “Multi-Cyclops” roundtable in Burbank, California, December 1948

The History of Prosthetics Reveals a Long Tradition of Human Cyborgs1112SEXPAND

The eyes are so life-like that the pupils, by a cunning optical illusion, dilate in subdued light and contract in sunlight. They are custom made to match patient’s eye color and consist of 30 to 60 layers of liquid plastic.

(via AP Photo/DAB)

A man in military uniform with a prosthetic right arm sits at a table cutting a piece of meat

The History of Prosthetics Reveals a Long Tradition of Human Cyborgs

(via Images from the History of Medicine)

The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows


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The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows

Vincze Miklós  http://io9.com/the-terrible-beauty-of-volcanic-eruptions-and-lava-flow-1553693091

We’ve seen a volcano eruption filmed by a drone, and we’ve witnessed the fictional wrath of Mt. Doom. But this gallery of photos reveals the many faces of vulcanism, and they are the very definition of awesome.

Lava spews out from the volcano Eldfell, close of the homes, Heimaey, Iceland, January 1973

The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows

(Photo by AP)

This eruption of Mount St. Helens on 22nd July, 1980, sent purnice and ash 6 to 11 miles (10-18 kilometers) into the air, and was visible in Seattle and Washington, about 100 miles (160 km) to the north.

The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows

(via Wikimedia Commons/Mike Doukas/USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory)

A red and orange river of lava flows on the southeastern slopes of Mount Etna, Sicily, May 11, 1983

The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows

(Photo by AP/Gianni Foggia)

Molten lava spews into the air out side of a cinder cone in a new eruption at Kilauea Volcano on the island of Hawaii on July 24 and July 25, 1983

The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows

(Photo by AP)

The Mount Redoubt eruption on 21th April, 1990, photo taken by R. Clucas

The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows

(via Wikimedia Commons)

A small eruption of Mount Rinjani, with volcanic lightning, Lombok, Indonesia, photo by Oliver Spalt, 1995

The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows

(via Wikimedia Commons)

Volunteer Rich Krahenbuhl uses a radar gun to measure the speed of lava running through a lava tube Nov. 20, 1997, at the east edge of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the island of Hawaii. The Kilauea Volcano has sent out rivers of molten rock that have consumed the community of Kalapana, destroying 181 homes, a church and a community center.

The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows

(Photo by AP/Tony Cheng)

Mount Merapi spews out lava and steam during an eruption as seen from Babadan observation point outside the city of Yogyakarta in Central Java, 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of Jakarta, early Monday, July 13, 1998.

The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows

(Photo by Charles Dharapak/AP)

A series of thunderbolts can be seen over the Pacaya Volcano, the most active in Guatemala, which erupted Sunday Jan. 16, 2000. The volcano, 16 miles south of Guatemala City, erupted with a 490-foot high burst of lava.

The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows

(Photo by AP/Jaime Puebla)

Huge plumes spew from the Mount Merapi volcano as seen from Babadan, Central Java, Indonesia, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2001.

The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows

(Photo by AP)

Glowing red lava and plumes of smoke spew from the Mt. Etna, Sicily, July 19, 2001.

The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows

(Photo by Fabrizio Villa/AP)

A house is covered in melted lava in Goma, Congo, Friday, Jan. 18, 2002

The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows

(Photo by Sayyid Azim/AP)

One branch of the lava stream drips down small cliff at head of bench, and one flows onto bench, Hawaii, September 2002

The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows

(via Wikimedia Commons/USGS)

Semeru, Java, Indonesia, 2004, photo by M. Rietze

The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows

(via Wikimedia Commons)

Augustine Volcano, Cook Inlet, Alaska, USA, 2006, photo by Game McGimsey

The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows

(via Wikimedia Commons)

A 32 ft (10 m) high arching fountain, south of Pu’u Kahaualea, Kilauea, Hawaii, September 2007

The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows

(via J.D. Griggs/Wikimedia Commons)

Eruption of Sarychev Volcano, Matua Island, northeast to Japan, on June 12, 2009

The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows

(via NASA/ISS Expedition 20/Wikimedia Commons)

The first fissure opened on Fimmvörðuháls, near the Eyjafjallajökull glacier on 29th March, 2010

The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows

(via David Karnå/Wikimedia Commons)

Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland, April 2010

The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows

(via Terje Sørgjerd/Wikimedia Commons)

The volcano in southern Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull glacier sends ash into the air just prior to sunset Friday, April 16, 2010.

The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows

(Photo by AP/Brynjar Gauti)

Lighting seen amid the lava and ash erupting from the vent of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in central Iceland early morning, April 18, 2010. Low-energy lightning is sometimes active during eruptions, arcing between particles as they exit the volcanic vent at around 100 metres per second.

The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows

(Photo by AP/Jon Pall Vilhelmsson)

Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland, May 1, 2010

(via Wikimedia Commons/anjči)

Lava streams on the shore, approaching the ocean, Kilauea, Hawaii, May 2010

The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows

(via USGS)

Volcano Tungurahua throws ash and stones during an explosion, just before midnight, May 28, 2010, in Cotalo, Ecuador.

The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows

(Photo by AP/Dolores Ochoa)

Flows reached the Kalapana access road and covered about (300 m) of asphalt, Kilauea, Hawaii, July 17, 2010

(via USGS)

Etna, January 13, 2011

The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows

(via Wikimedia Commons/Cirimbillo)

Kilauea, Hawaii, March 2011

The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows

(via USGS/Wikimedia Commons)

Lava lake on Mount Nyiragongo, Virunga Mountains, Democratic Republic of the Congo, May 2011

The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows

(via Cai Tjeenk Willink/Wikimedia Commons)

Aerial view of a perched lava lake in Pu`u `Ō `ō crater, Kilauea, Hawaii, May 20, 2011

The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows

(via USGS)

Mount Sinabung spews pyroclastic smoke as seen from Tigapancur village in Karo district on November 14, 2013 in Medan, Sumatra, Indonesia. Up to 4,300 residents have been evacuated from five villages in North Sumatra due to the volcanic eruptions of Mount Sinabung.

The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows

(Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)

A woman carries her daughter in a nearby field as Mount Sinabung spews pyroclastic smoke on January 4, 2014 in Karo District, North Sumatra, Indonesia

The Terrible Beauty of Volcanic Eruptions and Lava Flows

(Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)