Man. These crocs come out of nowhere and attack with such a quickness that you don’t even know what’s happening until you’re already clamped down inside the terrifying and unrelenting jaws of the crocodile. National Geographic made some flotation devices that held cameras to capture exactly what it’s like to get attacked and be inside a crocodile’s mouth.
Hot damn. A snorkeler in Hawaii stumbled on this underwater scrap between an octopus and a terrifying moray eel and it looks like it’s going to be a tangled fight to death. The moray eel looks like it has the clear advantage because, well, it’s a big ass bully with the octopus in its jaws but after a few whips around, the octopus grapples the eels with its tentacles and then unleashes an ink bomb in time to confuse the eel and escape. Phew.
It’s not exactly a victory for the octopus though because it loses a tentacle (which it can admittedly grow back later) but it’s not exactly an L for the eel either because it got itself a tasty snack. But the murderous eel isn’t happy with just a tie so it looks for something else to fight: the snorkeling cameraman.
The moray eel starts charging at the cameraman and rams its open mouth and jams its frightening teeth at the guy until the dude just makes a break for it. I think if the snorkeler was any slower, things would be a lot worse for everyone involved.
So who wins? The octopus without a tentacle, the super aggro eel who picks a fight with everything, or the snorkeler who will have nightmares for the rest of his life?
A huge expanse of cold, Arctic air is sweeping through parts of Canada and the United States. Known as a “polar vortex,” the weather system is expected to deliver record-setting low temperatures and a particularly nasty wind chill.
This visualization was made from data collected by the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument onboard NASA’s Aqua satellite, and it shows temperature data in the infrared spectrum.
From December 1 to 11, AIRS tracked the cold snap as it swept across North America. On December 7, the polar vortex had descended into the Plains states and reached Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri. The cold air continued to make its way from west to east, reaching into the Ohio Valley and New England on December 9. These regions are now feeling the brunt of this cold air mass, which is expected to deliver frigid record-setting temperatures this week.
Subzero temperatures are expected across the Upper Midwest today and tomorrow. By Thursday morning, Minnesota, Wisconsin, parts of the Dakotas, and Chicago are set to feel wind chills colder than -20 degrees F (-29 degrees C). Records for cold temperatures are also expected in northern Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia. Parts of Canada are also bracing for the big chill, including Manitoba and Ontario. New England and parts of the US East Coast can expect the cold temperatures to hit hard on Thursday and Friday, with wind chills ending up in the -10 to -25 degrees F range.
It sounds dramatic, but the polar vortex is nothing new. It’s a fundamental feature of our atmosphere, and an indelible component of our planet’s “global circulation.” This circulation serves as the Earth’s heat pump, moving extra energy from the tropics towards the poles, which keeps the planet’s temperatures in relative balance. The last time a major polar vortex event occurred was in January 2014, when the system delivered record low temperatures across much of North America.
Seventy percent of Earth’s surface is covered by water, meaning if we were unfortunate enough to be struck by an enormous asteroid, it’d probably make a big splash. A team of data scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratoryrecently decided to model what would happen if an asteroid struck the sea. Despite the apocalyptic subject matter, the results are quite beautiful.
Galen Gisler and his colleagues at LANL are using supercomputers to visualize how the kinetic energy of a fast-moving space rock would be transferred to the ocean on impact. The results, which Gisler presented at the American Geophysical Union meeting this week, may come as a surprise to those who grew up on disaster movies like Deep Impact. Asteroids are point sources, and it turns out waves generated by point sources diminish rapidly, rather than growing more ferocious as they cover hundreds of miles to swallow New York.
The bigger concern, in most asteroid-on-ocean situations, is water vapor.
“The most significant effect of an impact into the ocean is the injection of water vapor into the stratosphere, with possible climate effects” Gisler said. Indeed, Gisler’s simulations show that large (250 meter-across) rock coming in very hot could vaporize up to 250 metric megatons of water. Lofted into the troposphere, that water vapor would rain out fairly quickly. But water vapor that makes it all the way up to the stratosphere can stay there for a while. And because it’s a potent greenhouse gas, this could have a major effect on our climate.
Of course, not all asteroids make it to the surface at all. Smaller sized ones, which are much more common in our solar neighborhood, tend to explode while they’re still in the sky, creating a pressure wave that propagates outwards in all directions. Gisler’s models show that when these “airburst” asteroids strike over the ocean, they produce less stratospheric water vapor, and smaller waves. “The airburst considerably mitigates the effect on the water,” he said.
Overall, Gisler says, asteroids over the ocean pose less of a danger to humans than asteroids over the land. There’s one big exception, however, and that’s asteroids that strike near a coastline.
“An impact or an airburst [near] a populated shore will be very dangerous,” Gisler said. In that case, the gigantic, city-devouring tsunami every B-list disaster movie has primed you for might actually arrive.
Correction: An earlier version of this post misspelled Dr. Gisler’s last name. The text has been updated.