Month: December 2014

Diamond encrusted rock discovered in Russian mine contains an estimated 30,000 diamonds!

Miners in Russia’s Udachnaya diamond mine received a nice little Christmas surprise when they pulled a highly unusual and very rare diamond encrusted rock from the ground a few weeks back. The rock is about the size of a ping-pong ball and contains an estimated (hold on to your seat!) – 30,000 diamonds! Unfortunately, the diamonds' small size makes them only useful for mouse jewelry so the miners graciously donated the rock to science. Editor note: Reeko said to tell the lab rats to stop groaning and get back in their cages. Although the miners were sad that the diamonds were not bigger and the lab rats were sad because they will have no opportunity to sparkle, the scientists are very happy because, well, the concentration of

Meet Alviniconcha strummeri – the spike-haired snail named after a famous punk rocker

The Alviniconcha strummeri sea snail is covered in awesome spikes giving it the telltale appearance (you may need to squint your eyes a bit) of a classic spike-haired punk rocker. In fact, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute named it Alviniconcha strummeri after the famous Clash frontman, punk rocker Joe Strummer. “Because they look like punk rockers in the 70s and 80s and have purple blood and live in such an extreme environment, we decided to name one new species after a punk rock icon.” These golf ball-sized punk rock snails live thousands of feet underwater, crowded around the mouths of fiery-hot hydrothermal vents. Scientists believe the extreme heat from the thermal vents are what give the snail its typical severely damaged and spiked shell. The Alviniconcha is

Check out the remarkable photos of hikers walking on crystal-clear lake ice

38-year-old Slovak hiker Tomas Nanuk made a short video of him and his friends walking across the crystal clear ice of an incredible frozen lake while hiking up Slovakia’s High Tatras mountain range. Showing hikers who look like they’re walking on thin air, the video, titled "Walking on beautiful clean ice in Slovakian Mountains," was posted on YouTube last week. Reeko’s included a few screen shots from the video in the pictorial below. It is believed the hikers were crossing the Velke Hincovo Pleso lake. One Slovakian explained that the unusual clear condition of the ice is created when temperatures fall from being relatively mild to very cold very quickly. With no recent snows, the ice being relatively thin, and the shallow depth of the lake, the frozen

Greatest meteor shower of the year occurs this weekend – meet the Geminids meteors

Forget the often-disappointing Perseids meteor shower – Geminids is not only better, it’s predicted to be especially cool this weekend. The Geminids shower has been strengthening in recent years and already surpasses every meteor shower of the year. This year, we’re holding out hope that the show is even better than last year’s brilliant display. The space big-wigs are predicting 120 meteors per hour (visible from a dark sky) but more realistically, we can expect to see 60-80 per hour – which is still a lot! Also, unlike most meteor showers which require we wake up early or stay up all night, Geminids produces a good show before midnight. Geminids meteors shoot across the sky at about 22 miles per second. Colors can vary from red, blue,

NASA spots odd circular structure in middle of Mars lava flows

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory published a perplexing photo yesterday along with the question, “What is this enigmatic landform?”  The photo shows a large, 1.2 mile wide, circular structure surrounded by a sea of smooth-looking lava flows. NASA scientists believe the mound may be lava that has pushed up beneath the lava flow (the lab rats think it’s a a giant mutant Martian amoeba). They noted: “It looks as if material is missing from the mound, so it is also possible that there was a significant amount of ice in the mound that was driven out by the heat of the lava. There are an array of features like this in the region that continue to puzzle scientists.” The image was captured via HiRISE, one of six instruments

The Skeleton Flower magically transforms into glassy, crystal-clear blossoms when it rains

The Diphylleia grayi or Skeleton Flower, grows in the moist, wooded areas of Japan and China and in the eastern United States. It’s large, fuzzy green, umbrella-shaped leaves are topped with small clusters of beautiful pearly white flowers that bloom from mid-spring to early summer. In late summer, the stalks of flowers are replaced with eye-catching cobalt blue fruit.  Oddly, as the petals of the flowers are soaked with water, they lose their white pigmentation and turn into magnificent crystal-clear flowers. Once they dry out, the pale coloring slowly returns and the flowers turn powdery white again. Check out pictures of the Skeleton Flower in the pictorial below (click picture for expanded view).

See the intercontinental path of two birds on their epic migration from Europe to Africa

The guys over at 422 South have done it again providing us a wonderful “data-visualization” of the migratory path of the European honey buzzard.  The European honey buzzard, also known as the pern, migrates every year from Europe to the warmer coasts of Africa where it spends the winter months soaking in the warm sun and sipping on drinks with little umbrellas in them.  The visual above shows the remarkable flight paths of two such honey buzzards, a male and a female, between Fall 2010 and Spring 2011.  Both birds' southward migration took them from the Veluwe forest in the Netherlands to the warmer weather on the African coast (Liberia, Ghana, and Cameroon).  After wintering in Africa, both birds flew back to the Veluwe forest (the

The Aztec Death Whistle and the sound of a thousand ghouls they make

For decades, archaeologists thought the ancient Aztec Death Whistles were nothing more than disturbing skull-shaped toys for little Aztec kids. They studied how they looked, how they were made, and where they were found. But nobody thought to blow into one. When they did, they found that the creepy clay objects made a spine-chilling noise described by one archaeologist as “the scream of a thousand corpses”. Yeah, they’re that creepy. The ancient Aztec Death Whistle is made from clay and is typically shaped like (or decorated as) a human skull. The noise they make, which sounds like thousands of people shrieking, is at the high end of human hearing.  They were first associated with Aztec death rituals after two samples were found in the skeletal hands of a