Using footage from the International Space Station (courtesy of NASA’s Johnson Space Center), National Geographic filmmaker Fede Castro has created one of the most breathtaking time-lapse videos of Earth from space.
The video is just over four minutes, and features the world’s major cities, as well as the aurora borealis (Northern Lights) and a few massive thunderstorms, among other things.
Take a trip around the world in just minutes in National Geographic’s video “Nuestra Tierra—Our Earth”:
We tend to imagine that purity is the ultimate indicator of the quality of water. So why is 100%, ultra-pure water not good for us?
Well the simple answer is that water (H20) purely comprised of hydrogen and oxygen doesn’t provide our body with the natural electrolytes and salts we need to survive.
There is no such thing as truly pure water in the natural world. Even water in the purest springs and lakes contains small amounts of dissolved minerals such as sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium and magnesium.
When these minerals dissolve in water, they form the ions which we commonly refer to as electrolytes.
According to eatbalanced.com,
“Maintaining the correct concentrations of these ions in and outside cells in the body is essential for transmitting electrical impulses along nerves and for muscle contraction. They allow us to perform all the “bioelectrical” functions such as moving, heart-beating, thinking, and seeing.”
But not only does pure water fail to provide these essential electrolytes, it tries to rob your body of them when you drink it, potentially creating a fatal imbalance (if you drink enough of it).
This is a result of a process of diffusion, in which dissolved material tends to move from more concentrated solutions to less concentrated ones.
You can think of it this way: imagine a room with no gravity, split in half down the middle. You throw a couple hundred bouncy balls into the left side of the room. Since there’s no gravity, they bounce around everywhere.
But if you cut a bunch of holes in the barrier, they will slowly start to spread over to the right side. Some may cross back over to the left, but eventually, they will be evenly distributed across the entire room.
That’s how diffusion works inside you as well.
One of the reasons water is the main component of your body, from you lungs and skin to your blood and organs, is because it’s a universal solvent (ie. it can dissolve anything soluble and is neutral).
The water in your organs (the left side of the space room) maintains very specific levels of minerals (the bouncy balls).
When you drink ultra-purified water, it pulls the minerals out of your blood just like the right side of the space room pulled some of the bouncy balls over from the left. Ultra-pure water will even strip the copper off the inside of a pipe!
If you drank enough of it, the lack of minerals would eventually kill you.
These dissolved minerals, often referred to as “impurities”, are also what gives us the different flavors we taste when we consume different tap waters or brands of bottled water.
David Rees of National Geographic examined “Ultra-Pure” water. Check out the video below to see what he found.
“The President” is one of the world’s largest, oldest and most famous trees.
This giant sequoia is located in the only place giant sequoias are found: on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California.
The President is surrounded by smaller trees, which are referred to as the “House” and “Senate” to stick with the political theme. It is approximately 3,200 years old and measures 247 feet high, 27 feet in diameter, and 45,000 cubic meters in volume.
Because of its massive size, the tree had never been captured in a single image. That is, until a group of National Geographic scientists and photographers got together to study and photograph the iconic tree back in 2012.
The team battled cold temperatures while putting together intricate pulley and lever systems to scale the tree. It took a total of 32 days and 126 individual frames to stitch together a full, single image of the tree. It is the first full image of The President ever:
The video below includes footage from those 32 days and shows how the image above came together:
Check out some more images of The President below:
Raccoons get a bad rap sometimes. They’re often seen as masked garbage bandits, siphoning through our trash and then disappearing back into the night.
But the truth is, raccoons are just a very versatile and adaptable species. They’re opportunistic with their feeding, and as humans settles in their historical environments, our garbage became one of the easiest ways to find a meal.
Many raccoons have also learned that sometimes humans will do this crazy thing where they actually give away food (silly humans) to raccoons. It seems that the raccoons in the video below have developed a particular taste for Doritos.
Disclaimer: Pardon the brief profanity right at the beginning, the camerawoman clearly couldn’t control her excitement lol:
In the wild, raccoons are solitary creatures that actually snag most of their food from the water. Their lightning-quick reflexes and dexterous paws allow them to snatch up crayfish, frogs and other aquatic creatures.
Raccoons will also eat fruits, plants and, of course, our leftovers. Their adaptability has allowed them to thrive throughout North America from southern Canada all the way down through Central America.
You can learn more about raccoons from National Geographic here.
NASA’s half a billion dollar Kepler telescope mission launched in March of 2009, with the primary goal being to answer the question: “What fraction of the stars you see in the night sky have planets that are not only Earth-sized, but also lukewarm in temperature, allowing water to exist in liquid form?” (liquid water is one of the biological prerequisites for life)
In a former Higher Learning Post we discussed how the Kepler missions have successfully identified hundreds of potential Earth-size planets that have a “Goldilocks” distance orbit from their stars.
In a space agency briefing earlier this month, NASA announced that they have identefied the most Earth-like planet yet. The planet is known as Kepler-186-F, and according to Dan Vergano from National Geographic the planet has,
“Red sunshine, seas, and maybe aliens? Scientists analyzing data from NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope today report the closest thing yet to another Earth, a world in a habitable orbit around a red dwarf star some 493 light-years away.”
Kepler-186-F according to National Geographic is “1.1 times wider than Earth” and “the mass is 1.5 times that of Earth”. Also the planet’s solar system consists of five planets that orbit a red dwarf star.
According to pioneering planet hunter Geoff Marcy of the University of California, Berkeley,
“This is an historic discovery—the first Earth-size planet found in the habitable zone around its star. This is the best case for a habitable planet yet found.”
Although the planet has a very simialar size to Earth, the planet’s red dwarf star is about half the size of our Sun. Kepler-186-F makes up for having a smaller star by having a tighter orbit cycle that is only 130 days.
It is not certain what type of atmoshper the planet has, but scientists are optimistic that although the planet may be cooler and dimmer than Earth the planet is still warm enough to prevent seas from freezing.
The Kepler spacecraft is still on the lookout for new discoveries, and scientists continue to analyze data as we continue our search for other habitable planets in our galaxy.
The skin cell gun was created by Jörg C. Gerlach of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, along with colleagues at Stem Cell Systems GmbH in Berlin. It takes stem cells from healthy skin and puts then in a solution with water. This solution is then sprayed onto the burned area using the specialized cell gun.
Scientists have been able to grow sheets of skin from stem cells for decades. However, it takes weeks for this skin to grow, and the new skin is very fragile. The skin cell gun works in days, and the skin it grows is healthy and strong.
Check out this National Geographic video that talks more about the process and tells the story of one of the first people to receive the ground-breaking treatment:
As part of their 125th Anniversary edition last October, National Geographic decided to publish a series of pictures predicting what the average American would look like in the year 2050. Here’s some of the images (click an image to see full size version):
Did you think those were photoshopped? If so, you’d be wrong. National Geographic predicted that by 2050, the “average American” will be of mixed race. So for their anniversary issue, they hired world famous photographer Martin Schoeller to take pictures of different mixed race people.
Their prediction is backed up by plenty of data. The year 2000 was the first time the Census Bureau even allowed people to select more than one race- 6.8 million people did so. By 2010, that number had increased by more than 30% to 9 million.
In 2010, 15% of new marriages were between members of different races, according to the Wall Street journal, who also created this graphic showing the percentage of mixed-race marriages state by state.
Hawaii has the highest rate of interracial marriage at just over 42%. Presently, mixed-race couples account for 8.4% of the total marriages in the US.