A Diamond in the Flame
The candle was invented over 2,000 years ago in China, but for a long time no one quite understood what secrets the flames held—scientists knew that hydrocarbon molecules exist at the base of the flame, and are converted into carbon dioxide by the time they reach the top, but they didn’t understand the exact process. ‘You have the glittering beauty of gold and silver, and the still higher lustre of jewels, like the ruby and diamond,’ Michael Faraday wrote in 1860, addressing light, ‘but none of these rival the brilliancy and beauty of flame. What diamond can shine like flame?’ Well, according to research at the University of St Andrews, a flame actually shines like a diamond. Professor of Chemistry Wuzong Zhou recently discovered that a burning candle flame creates diamond nanoparticles at a rate of 1.5 million per second. Dr Zhou used a sampling technique he invented himself to remove particles from the centre of the flame, and upon analysis, he found the flame contained all four known forms of carbons. This was strange, since each of them are usually created under different conditions, but he realised this meant something amazing: the hydrocarbon molecules were being turned into tiny diamonds. The diamonds burn up in the process and are released as carbon dioxide, and there are currently no ways to extract them, but Zhou’s research could prove useful for future research into green, economic diamond production. It’s a tantalising discovery—light a candle, and you can watch millions and millions of tiny, glittering diamonds wink in and out of existence.
Certain whales can imitate the voices of humans
The marine mammal, a white whale named NOC, copied the sound of people so well that at first, researchers thought they were hearing humans conversing in the distance. A diver who worked with NOC once even left the water, wondering, “Who told me to get out?” The voice turned out to be that of NOC.
“They are highly vocal animals,” lead author Sam Ridgway of the National Marine Mammal Foundation told Discovery News, adding that NOC was not the first to copy human speech.
“A major instance occurred at Vancouver Aquarium in 1979,” he said. “In that case, people thought the whale uttered his name (“Lagosi”) and other sounds that were like garbled German or Russian. Our whale was the second example, however, ours was the first solid demonstration using acoustic analysis including ‘voice print’ simultaneously with human speech.”
120-Million-Year-Old ‘Ghost Dragon’ Pterosaur Discovered in China
by Dave Mosher
Paleontologists in northeast China have discovered a wildly snaggle-toothed skull that belonged to a previously unknown, 120-million-year-old flying reptile.
Named Guidraco venator, which is Chinese and Latin for “ghost dragon hunter,” the meat-eating pterosaur had a wingspan of between 13 and 16 feet. The basket of pointy teeth at the end of its foot-long skull probably helped it catch fish, and a round sail on its head may have stabilized flight.
“This is really an amazing fossil, but the funny thing to me is that it was found in Asia. It looks very similar but not identical to pterosaurs found in Brazil,” said Eberhard “Dino” Frey, a paleontologist at the State Museum of Natural History in Karlsruhe. Frey was not involved in the work, published online Feb. 22 in Naturwissenschaften.
The closest relative to G. venator may be a fossil Frey and his colleagues recovered in 2003, called Ludodactylus sibbicki, adding further evidence that now 40 known species of pterosaurs were more globally distributed than previously thought. “The longer we search, the more of these animals turn up,” Frey said…
(read more: Wired Science)
(images: T - Xialin Wang et al./Naturwissenschaften/Springer; B - Maurilio Oliveira)
The life cycle of a moth or butterfly are fairly commonly known, but the life cycle of a star… probably not…
13th Century, Bohemian Benedictine Monastery - The Codex Gigas (literally translated from latin meaning, Giant Book) is a massive text featuring the Old and New Testaments (excluding Acts and Revelations) and the author included a transcript of Isodore of Sevillle’s encyclopedia - a summary of ground-breaking knowledge. One of these concepts was that the Earth was round, not flat. Not only did this massive book contain many of man’s knowledge, but the story of how it created is even more fascinating. Legend has it, the author implored the help of the Devil himself to write this massive tome.
I hope more people care about the content of what was said rather than the superficial elements being focused on by the spin teams. On those points, Obama won by a landslide. #debates