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I’ve seen a lot of spacey photos in my time. Enough so that I catch myself occasionally making a jaded sigh, saying “Oh neat, another shot of a spacecraft in front of the moon. Been there, done that.“ 

Then I punch myself in the arm and tell myself to shut up because these are pictures of SPACE

That’s what happened with Maximilian Teodorescu’s shot of the International Space Station against the face of the moon. At first I was minorly impressed, because it’s a very small thing traveling very fast, in front of a larger thing that is even farther away. But people take pictures of the ISS all the time. Big deal.

Then I realized that this one was taken during the day. At that point I lost my schnoodles. I’m betting a few of you will too.

(via Overthinking It)

via jtotheizzoe

Love this shot.



Approximately 125 years before FUCCI imaging, German anatomist Walther Flemming was laying down the foundation of modern cell biology by deciphering the major steps of the cell cycle. With new dyes (i.e, aniline) to stain Chromosomen and essentially only the sun to illuminate his microscope, Flemming documented remarkable details of nuclear dynamics during mitosis, describing the process similar to how we think of it today.

This drawing from Flemming’s landmark book, Zellsubstanz , Kern, und Zelltheilung (Cell substance, nucleus and cell division) illustrates the steps of mitosis from the condensation of chromosomes into coiled ‘threads’ (prophase) through the separation of these threads into two ‘skeins of yarns,’ when the scaffold of the nucleus reappears. He called the process Karyomitosis (‘threadlike metamorphosis of the nucleus’) and the arrangements of the nuclear threads Mitosen.


The Planet with Four Suns

A binary system is a solar system in which two stars orbit one another, locked in a dance around their centres of gravity. Astronomers estimate that about half the stars in the universe are found in pairs, but not long ago, we were unsure whether these systems could actually host planets—but in the past couple of years, we’ve found over sixteen binary systems with planets orbiting them. One of these planets, PH1, is particularly interesting. Last year, volunteers on the citizen science website Planet Hunters, Kian Jek of San Francisco and Robert Gagliano of Cottonwood, Arizona, discovered an exoplanet in a system of not one, not two, but four stars. This quadruple star system is named KIC 4862625 and is about 3,200 light-years from Earth. Its planet, named PH1, is thought to be a gas giant the size of Neptune, with about half the mass of Jupiter, and the radius of its orbit is 1000 times bigger than Earth’s. But it’s not orbiting four stars; rather, the planet is orbiting a pair of binary stars, which are then being orbited by another pair of binary stars. So from PH1, the sky would have two suns (imagine a double sunset!), then there would be also be two very bright stars in the night sky, wandering along against the backdrop of the universe. Finding exoplanets in binary systems is both incredibly fascinating and incredibly important, because it sends astronomers back to the drawing board with their models of planetary formation, trying to figure out how planets could evolve in such a dynamic environment.

Check out Planet Hunters—data from NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope is uploaded for anyone to scan through and search for exoplanets

(Image Credit: Haven Giguere/Yale)


Desert Rain Frog

This little guy has making the rounds on my dashboard lately, with a link to a video of the brilliant sounds it makes, so I thought I’d better tell you a bit about the species. The Desert Rain Frog (Breviceps macrops) is native to a coastal strip in a region called Namaqualand, which is located in Namibia and South Africa. It’s a squat, plump frog about 4–6 mm long, and has strikingly large and bulging eyes, paddle-like feet and extremely short limbs, which makes it hard for it to hop. The frog is fossorial, which means it lives underground, burrowing into the moist sand dunes of its habitat. They come up at night, usually during and following coastal fogs that supply moisture to the arid region. Their distinctive calls can be heard all year round—the males come to the surface and settle themselves in a small depression in the sand, then let out bursts of sound like a rising, squeaky, amazingly entertaining whistle. Sometimes, males even call out together, with one starting a call and others following it in a regular pattern like a chorus. The species has only been found in 11 different locations within a 200 square kilometre strip of land, and the frogs are declining in numbers thanks to habitat alteration and pollution from nearby diamond mining activities.


Unlikely Planets Found in Violent Star Clusters

When it comes to forming planets, Mother Nature isn’t very picky. Despite horrific conditions inside densely packed open clusters, stars apparently have no problem forming and hanging on to an orbital brood. That’s the conclusion from a new study that used data collected by NASA’s now-dormant Kepler space telescope to hunt for planets in a one-billion-year old open cluster called NGC 6811, a collection of about 70 stars located about 3,400 light years away in the constellation Cygnus. Read more.


scinerdsLiving Wall

These vegetated surfaces don’t just look pretty. They have other benefits as well, including cooling city blocks, reducing loud noises, and improving a building’s energy efficiency.What’s more, a recent modeling study shows that green walls can potentially reduce large amounts of air pollution in what’s called a “street canyon,” or the corridor between tall buildings.

For the study, Thomas Pugh, a biogeochemist at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany, and his colleagues created a computer model of a green wall with generic vegetation in a Western European city. Then they recorded chemical reactions based on a variety of factors, such as wind speed and building placement.

The simulation revealed a clear pattern: A green wall in a street canyon trapped or absorbed large amounts of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter—both pollutants harmful to people, said Pugh. Compared with reducing emissions from cars, little attention has been focused on how to trap or take up more of the pollutants, added Pugh, whose study was published last year in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

That’s why the green-wall study is “putting forward an alternative solution that might allow [governments] to improve air quality in these problem hot spots,” he said.Compared with reducing emissions from cars, little attention has been focused on how to trap or take up more of the pollutants, added Pugh, whose study was published last year in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.That’s why the green-wall study is “putting forward an alternative solution that might allow [governments] to improve air quality in these problem hot spots,” he said…

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