Just Plain Weird
Strange stories and amazing facts from Kid Scoop!
What do you do when you find the body of a fish that is about 18 feet long? Jasmine Santana, a marine science instructor from the Catalina Island Marine Institute, was snorkeling in Toyon Bay on the east side of Catalina Island about an hour from the southern California coast, when she spotted the carcass of an oarfish.
The oarfish is the largest bony fish in the world and it is rare to see one close to shore. They normally live in waters thousands of feet deep. Apparently they can grow to about 50-feet long.
Other members of CIMI were snorkeling in the Bay, and it took about 15 of them to bring it ashore. The Institute runs camps to teach oceanography, kayaking and marine biology and under their parent organization, Guided Discoveries, operate summer camps for children from around the world.
Now the Institute has to decide what to do with their unusual find!
Photo courtesy of Catalina Island Marine Institute
Rare Wisps of Icy Light
By Diane K. Fisher
The sky has to be clear to see them. They are wispy clouds that glow in the dark sky for a while after the Sun goes down. They are called noctilucent clouds. Noctilucent means "night glowing."
These clouds are too faint to see during the day. The twilight sky gives a dark background to their delicate white or slightly blue wisps. And the Sun, having set below the horizon, still shines through the upper atmosphere where these clouds form and sets aglow their tiny ice crystals.
Even the highest cumulonimbus, or thunder storm clouds, are not found above about 12 miles high. Passenger jets fly under about 7 miles high. But noctilucent clouds are about 50 miles high! This part of the atmosphere is called the mesosphere. It is the coldest region on or near Earth!
In order to turn into a water drop or an ice crystal, water vapor needs a little particle of dust to condense around. What kind of dust floats up that high? And how does the water get up that high to make ice crystals?
Although noctilucent clouds are still somewhat of a mystery, scientists think that some of the tiny particles could be small meteors from space that have burned up in Earth's upper atmosphere. They leave behind tiny particles of soot and dust. Another source of particles is erupting volcanoes. Their ash is so fine that some of it could well float up to that altitude.
Now, what about the water? How did it get way up there? There is very little water in that part of the atmosphere. It's much drier than the Sahara Desert! But some water could have come from methane, volcanoes, and rising from lower in the atmosphere. The greenhouse gas methane is a source because it can react with other things in the atmosphere and produce water at this high altitude. Methane is produced by both natural activities (like rotting plant material) and human activities (like dairy farming, with all its burping cows).
In the Northern Hemisphere, noctilucent clouds are most often seen in the summer from mid-May to mid-August. They are most often seen at higher latitudes. In North America, that would be the northern USA and Canada, although they have been spotted as far south as Utah.
If you are looking for noctilucent clouds in August, you can also look for the Perseid meteor shower August 12 and 13. If you are lucky, perhaps you will see both amazing events on the same night! Learn more about observing meteor showers at NASA's The Space Place.
"There are three principles that should govern better materials. Firstly, they should be able to be created almost anywhere on the planet. Secondly, they should require considerably less energy to produce than current materials. Lastly, they should be able to be disposed of by nature's wonderful open-source recycling system."
Styrofoam is a product used extensively in packaging including everything from TV packaging to food. But it's impossible to recycle and it stays around the planet for thousands of years poisoning the environment.
Eben Bayer co-invented a kind of packaging material called MycoBond which is biodegradable and is made from mushrooms.
Mushrooms grow a substance called mycelium. This can act as a kind of "glue" to hold together natural packaging material such as seed husks in a process that doesn't require petroleum. The result is a strong material that can be formed into any shape and can be a substitute for Styrofoam packaging and can also be composted and will benefit soil as is degrades.
This product is in development but its makers believe it can be made anywhere in the world and if used extensively, would greatly reduce the amount of waster polluting the planet.
"To see a world in a grain of sand."
Professor Gary Greenberg set out to do just that. He spent five years taking samples of sand from all over the world and then with a new photographic process he invented, was able to view a magnification over 250 times real life.
What the magnification revealed was fragments of crystals, volcanic rock, shells, creatures and other rocks worn away over thousands of years.
Sand is made from the debris of rivers and streams as it flows toward the sea, rather than by tidal movement. Over time, each particle of sand becomes as unique as a snowflake.
You can see more of Dr. Greenberg's pictures at sandgrains.com.
Spiderwebs In Trees
The worst floods in Pakistan's history occurred in 2010. One fifth of Pakistan's land area was covered in water. The water took a long time to recede. As a result of the floods, spiders climbed up into the trees and as they couldn't return to the land, they formed these cocoons in the trees.
Source: Huffington Post
A murmuration is a collective noun that describes a flock of starlings. Impress your teacher with this new word!
Check out this amazing film of a flock of starlings swarming. Many hundreds or even thousands of birds move simultaneously in flight, dipping and climbing with liquid movement.
Filmed by Sophie Windsor Clive and Liberty Smith.
'Brinicle' ice finger of death
A bizarre underwater "icicle of death" has been filmed by a BBC crew.
With timelapse cameras, specialists recorded salt water being excluded from the sea ice and sinking.
The temperature of this sinking brine, which was well below 0C, caused the water to freeze in an icy sheath around it.
Where the so-called "brinicle" met the sea bed, a web of ice formed that froze everything it touched, including sea urchins and starfish.
The unusual phenomenon was filmed for the first time by cameramen Hugh Miller and Doug Anderson for the BBC One series Frozen Planet.
The icy phenomenon is caused by cold, sinking brine, which is more dense than the rest of the sea water. It forms a brinicle as it contacts warmer water below the surface.
Mr Miller set up the rig of timelapse equipment to capture the growing brinicle under the ice at Little Razorback Island, near Antarctica's Ross Archipelago.
"When we were exploring around that island we came across an area where there had been three or four [brinicles] previously and there was one actually happening," Mr Miller told BBC Nature.
The diving specialists noted the temperature and returned to the area as soon as the same conditions were repeated.
"It was a bit of a race against time because no-one really knew how fast they formed," said Mr Miller.
"The one we'd seen a week before was getting longer in front of our eyes... the whole thing only took five, six hours."
Against the odds
The location - beneath the ice off the foothills of the volcano Mount Erebus, in water as cold as -2C - was not easy to access.
"That particular patch was difficult to get to. It was a long way from the hole and it was quite narrow at times between the sea bed and the ice," explained Mr Miller.
"I do remember it being a struggle... All the kit is very heavy because it has to sit on the sea bed and not move for long periods of time."
As well as the practicalities of setting up the equipment, the filmmakers had to contend with interference from the local wildlife.
The large weddell seals in the area had no problems barging past and breaking off brinicles as well as the filming equipment.
"The first time I did a timelapse at the spot a seal knocked it over," said Mr Miller.
But the team's efforts were eventually rewarded with the first ever footage of a brinicle forming.
Source: BBC Nature
Elk Saves Marmot
Shooter, a four-year-old elk, saves the day for a tiny marmot.
Earlier this year, zookeepers in Pocatello, Idaho watched in confusion as their 10-foot tall elk, Shooter, first put a foot in his drinking trough and then his whole head.
When he pulled his head from the water, he had a little marmot in his jaws. A marmot is a kind of squirrel and this little critter must have fallen into the water by mistake. Shooter gently placed the marmot on the ground and then nudged it with his foot to encourage the little creature to scurry away.
Source: Mail Online