Auroras, exoplanets, and sleepy monks

Our favorites from the week

Auroras, exoplanets, and sleepy monks
[Image Credits, left to right: NASA, NASA, and robstephaustralia]

From Mary Beth Griggs:

One of Scienceline’s managing editors, Stephanie Warren wrote a great article at Popular Mechanics about the ice-laden Gamburtsev mountains in Antarctica, whose origin was recently written about in Nature. These alp-like mountains are buried under thousands of feet of ice.

In another blow to a region already struggling with disaster, Japanese officials banned rice originating from the Fukushima area from entering the market after investigators found that the rice supply had been contaminated with highly radioactive cesium.

And on the lighter side of science, check out the space station time lapse over at Bad Astronomy. It is easily one of the most beautiful videos of Earth I’ve ever seen. The lightning and auroras are stunning.

From Joey Castro:
Scientists have found that Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa, may be more hospitable to life than previously thought. The moon meets two requirements crucial for life: liquid water and energy (heat).

Now, what about intelligent life on other planets (or moons)? In a post on Discover’s new blog, The Crux, SETI’s Seth Shostak says that even with the recent discoveries of Earth-like exoplanets, SETI’s chances of finding intelligent life hasn’t significantly increased. Bummer.

On the bright side, we still have a lot to learn about the life on our own planet. One recent finding: a species of tropical reef fish love massages.
From Sarah Fecht:

Scientific American’s Video of the Week includes some surreal time-lapse video footage of Earth, as seen from the International Space Station. The dancing auroras, molten city lights and flashing thunderstorms will make you dizzy.

In the middle of every night, monks in France interrupt their dreams for a 2 to 3-hour prayer session, before heading back to bed. You’ve got to wonder: what does that do to their circadian rhythms? In Mind Hacks, Vaughan Bell describes that the monks’ natural clocks never reset, and the monks suffer hallucinations as a result.

Popular Mechanics rounds up some unconventional uses for the kind of light that comes from fireflies’ butts.

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