Month: January 2016

This is what Niagara Falls looks like when all the water is shut off

Would you believe the millions of gallons of water that rush over Niagara Falls can be turned off? It’s happened before and is about to happen again. All the water from the American side of Niagara Falls (the American Falls) will be rerouted in order to allow repairs to infrastructure. When that happens, we’ll see the bone-dry cliff where the water previously roared. The last time the falls were shutoff was 1969 (see photo above and pictorial gallery below). The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stopped the flow in order to see how the rushing water was eroding the falls. To do this, the 60,000 gallon-per second flow was diverted to Horseshoe Falls and the Robert Moses generating plant upriver. Now the parks department once again wants to temporarily

Look how cute giraffes are when they sleep (hint: they use their butt for a pillow)

They tower nearly two stories tall (up to 20 feet), weigh well over 2,000 pounds, and stand on long, lanky legs that let them reach speeds up to 40 mph. But with such a massive, gangly frame, how do they lay down to sleep? First, to lie down, the giraffe kneels on its front legs, folding them under its body, and then lowers its body to the ground, sort of like an accordion. Getting back up is pretty much the opposite process – the giraffe first gets on its knees and then spreads its hind legs to raise its back-end to full height. Then they straighten their front legs and viola, they’re back upright again. Luckily giraffes don’t have to do this awkward routine very often –

Did you know China has a telescope on the Moon?

Did you know China has a telescope on the Moon? The 15-centimeter telescope was delivered to the moon aboard the Chang’e 3 lunar lander which landed on the moon in December 2013.  In the photo above, the small arrow points to the Chang'e 3 rover and the big arrow points to the Chang'e 3 lander and telescope base. If you’ve looked through a telescope before, you know that because of the earth’s rotation, the stars do not stay fixed in the viewfinder for very long. Since the moon rotates 27 times more slowly than Earth, the scope is much easier to stay fixed on stars.  The scope sees in ultraviolet light too, a big advantage for any telescope outside of the earth’s atmosphere. The telescope is remote controlled

Wonderful, beautiful, striking pictures of ice that look like works of art

Water, frozen into a solid state - we see it on the ground in the winter, on top of mountains, and in our refrigerators – but how often have you thought about how marvelous ice is? In our Solar System, ice is abundant and found naturally on most of the planets. On Earth, it plays a key role in our water cycle and climate. And yes, it can be beautiful! Check out the pictorial gallery below for wonderfully striking images of ice sculptures found all around us.  Click on a picture to start the gallery.

World’s largest canyon discovered under Antarctic ice sheet – dwarfs Grand Canyon in size

We know little about lies beneath the vast expanse of ice in Antarctica but researchers this week announced two new findings that boggle the mind – analysis of satellite imagery reveals that underneath Princess Elizabeth Land in East Antarctica, lies a hidden world  containing a canyon as deep and twice as long as the Grand Canyon and a massive subglacial lake estimated to be about 775 square miles in area. Scientists first spotted signs of the canyon using satellite imagery. They then used radio-echo waves sent through the ice to confirm that a canyon did indeed exist, unseen, several miles beneath the ice. The canyon is believed to be over 600 miles long and in places, more than half-a-mile deep.   Researchers think the landscape underneath the ice sheet was carved

Inversion layer creates picture that blurs the line between Earth and Space

  A wonderfully beautiful picture taken on the outskirts of the Atacma Desert shows a Geminids meteor falling in a perfectly dark sky above the apparently daylight landscape surrounding the La Silla Observatory (Chile). The picture, appearing to show a night sky in the daytime, is difficult to believe is not two separate images. Alas, the image’s unusual characteristic is possible because of an "inversion layer" located slightly above the 7,900 foot observatory. An “inversion” is an unusual deviation from the normal atmospheric properties that vary with altitude. Normally the air within the lower atmosphere (called the troposphere) near the surface of the Earth is warmer than the air above it. This occurs because the lower atmosphere is heated from solar radiation striking the Earth’s surface. Given