In a world dominated by magical thinking, superstition and religion, give yourself the benefit of doubt. This is one skeptic's view of the Universe.

"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."

-George Carlin

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.

-Albert Einstein

“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”

-Carl Sagan

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.

-Christopher Hitchens

 

brookhavenlab:

Where do our planet’s oceans come from? New research done in part at Brookhaven shows it may come from the rocks deep in the Earth’s mantle.
The water is trapped inside a blue rock called ringwoodite that sits between the Upper Mantle and Lower Mantle in a spot called the Transition Zone about 450 miles beneath the Earth’s surface.
Northwestern geophysicist Steve Jacobsen and University of New Mexico seismologist Brandon Schmandt have found deep pockets of magma in this zone, an indicator of water that is squeezed out of the rocks by enormous pressures and temperatures.
Jacobsen and his team used a diamond-anvil cell at one of the UV beamlines at our National Synchrotron Light Source to mimic those pressures on a sample of ringwoodite. Compressed between two tiny diamonds and laser-heated to almost 3000 degrees Fahrenheit, the sample sweated out its water. 
But it’s not in a form familiar to us — it’s not liquid, ice, or vapor. It’s water trapped in the molecular structure of the minerals in the mantle rock. If just one percent of the weight of mantle rock located in the Transition Zone is H2O, that would be equivalent to nearly three times the amount of water in our oceans!! 

brookhavenlab:

Where do our planet’s oceans come from? New research done in part at Brookhaven shows it may come from the rocks deep in the Earth’s mantle.

The water is trapped inside a blue rock called ringwoodite that sits between the Upper Mantle and Lower Mantle in a spot called the Transition Zone about 450 miles beneath the Earth’s surface.

Northwestern geophysicist Steve Jacobsen and University of New Mexico seismologist Brandon Schmandt have found deep pockets of magma in this zone, an indicator of water that is squeezed out of the rocks by enormous pressures and temperatures.

Jacobsen and his team used a diamond-anvil cell at one of the UV beamlines at our National Synchrotron Light Source to mimic those pressures on a sample of ringwoodite. Compressed between two tiny diamonds and laser-heated to almost 3000 degrees Fahrenheit, the sample sweated out its water. 

But it’s not in a form familiar to us — it’s not liquid, ice, or vapor. It’s water trapped in the molecular structure of the minerals in the mantle rock. If just one percent of the weight of mantle rock located in the Transition Zone is H2O, that would be equivalent to nearly three times the amount of water in our oceans!! 

Scientists Discover Water in Stardust and It Suggests We're Not Alone

The water forms within dust grains when they’re bombarded with charged winds from the sun. The chemical reaction set up by the winds was hypothesized by scientists in the past, but this is the first time anyone’s actually found H2O trapped inside real stardust.

The finding saw John Bradley, from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, take a very close look indeed at the outer layers of interplanetary dust particles that were found in the Earth’s stratosphere. Incredibly high-resolution microscopy revealed tiny pockets of water in the already-tiny specks of dust—each of which themselves measured less than 25-micrometres, half the width of a human hair. New Scientist explains how the water forms:

"The dust is mostly made of silicates, which contains oxygen. As it travels through space, it encounters the solar wind. This stream of charged particles including high-energy hydrogen ions is ejected from the sun’s atmosphere. When the two collide, hydrogen and oxygen combine to make water."

Roll the new finding together with the fact that there are plenty of organic compounds in interplanetary dust, and the suggestion is, as New Scientist points out, that stardust contains all the basic ingredients needed for life like that on our planet. Because it’s believed that similar stardust grains exists in solar systems throughout the universe, the finding bodes well for the existence of life elsewhere. In other words, we’re almost certainly not alone. [PNAS via New Scientist]

skeptv:

How much water is in a cloud?

How do clouds defy gravity when they are full of water? Just how much water is in a cloud? Maddie Moate explains the startling science behind clouds which are all too often taken for granted.

via Earth Unplugged.
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EarthUnplugged
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/earthunplugged
Google+: http://goo.gl/RKq6q

scienceisbeauty:

Absolutely mesmerizing. From the paper “Shape oscillation of a levitated drop in an acoustic field” (arXiv.org, PDF)

skeptv:

Cactus “Flesh” Cleans Up Toxic Water

University of South Florida engineering professor Norma Alcantar and her team are using the “flesh” from Prickly Pear cacti, called mucilage, to clean up oil and other toxins from water. With support from the National Science Foundation, Alcantar has spent the last few years confirming something that her grandmother told her years ago — that cacti can purify water.

"This research is a good example of the NSF’s investment in sustainable chemistry which promotes the replacement of expensive and/or toxic chemicals with earth-abundant, inexpensive, and benign chemicals," says Debra Reinhart, program director in the Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems Division of the NSF’s Engineering Directorate. The research is currently funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GOMRI) through the Consortium of Molecular Engineering of Dispersant Systems (C-MEDS).

The objectives of this research are to develop a water purification system based on an economically feasible method of water purification using cactus mucilage for low-income inhabitants of rural communities that are sensitive to existing economic, social, and cultural patterns. This project transcends national boundaries as it includes collaborations between investigators at the University of South Florida, two leading Mexican public universities, and the National Institute of the Environment in Mexico.

The cactus project has been assessed for the rural communities of Temamatla in central Mexico, Port-au-Prince, Haiti post-2010 earthquake, and for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2011.

Temamatla is located 25 mi / 40 km southeast of Mexico City and was critical for this study owing to its proximity to volcanic soils where the concentration of heavy metals such as cobalt, mercury, nickel, copper, zinc, iron, manganese, chromium, iodine, arsenic, molybdenum, and lead in local water supplies may be higher than recommended values.

In Haiti, the outcomes of the project were to determine the composition of the ground water beds after the earthquake and evaluate the feasibility of implementing a low cost technology for disaster relief based on cactus mucilage. The cactus mucilage is also able to disperse crude oil efficiently at much lower concentrations than synthetic dispersants.

The broader implications of this project include the multidisciplinary participation of American and Mexican researchers in issues that are relevant to both countries owing to their proximity and preexisting ties. Such collaboration will promote mutual opportunities and infrastructure for research, education, training, networking, future partnerships, and most importantly, the proposed technology will improve current water-related issues and problems in areas of extreme need.

via Videos at NSF.


But I have bad news about pyjamas. Because I’m afraid your cotton pyjamas take 9,000 litres of water to produce. And it takes 100 litres of water to produce a cup of coffee. And that’s before any water has actually been added to your coffee. We probably drank about 20 billion cups of coffee last year in the UK. And – irony of ironies – it takes something like four litres of water to produce a one-litre plastic bottle of water. Last year, in the UK alone, we bought, drank and threw away nine billion plastic water bottles. That is 36 billion litres of water, used completely unnecessarily. Water wasted to produce bottles – for water. And it takes around 72,000 litres of water to produce one of the ‘chips’ that typically powers your laptop, Sat Nav, phone, iPad and your car. There were over two billion such chips produced in 2012. That is at least 145 trillion litres of water. On semiconductor chips. In short, we’re consuming water, like food, at a rate that is completely unsustainable.

skeptv:

Mining minerals from seawater - Damian Palin

The world needs clean water, and more and more, we’re pulling it from the oceans, desalinating it, and drinking it. But what to do with the salty brine left behind? In this intriguing short talk, TED Fellow Damian Palin proposes an idea: Mine it for other minerals we need, with the help of some collaborative metal-munching bacteria.

via TED Education.


After recently reading about a new electromagnetic desalination technique I was wondering about what they’d do with all the brine. This is very interesting.

jtotheizzoe:

Plink.
There are few things more beautiful in their simplicity than the rebounding columns of water that result from droplets hitting a larger body of liquid. It’s something we’ve all seen, time and time again, from raindrops to leaky sinks. With the advent of modern technology, we are able to see beyond normal time, and capture these transient moments on a scale of time and space without which we could not appreciate their brilliance.
How this beauty works: That particular shape, the droplets that rise up when another droplet strikes the pool, is called a “backjet”. The force of a falling droplet divides the liquid it falls into, creating a void and exerting pressure on the liquid around it. The molecules of water rush back together at high velocity, driven by surface tension and reacting to the pressure exerted by the displaced liquid. When that tiny hole snaps back together, the force drives excess water upward, creating the beautiful “backjet” you see here.
Along the edge of the flat, mushroom-like cap, tiny sub-droplets are breaking off in an almost fractal manner, each driven to division by an outward force that pinches them off and overpowers the surface tension.
See more of Markus Reugels’ stunning droplet photography at Colossal. 

jtotheizzoe:

Plink.

There are few things more beautiful in their simplicity than the rebounding columns of water that result from droplets hitting a larger body of liquid. It’s something we’ve all seen, time and time again, from raindrops to leaky sinks. With the advent of modern technology, we are able to see beyond normal time, and capture these transient moments on a scale of time and space without which we could not appreciate their brilliance.

How this beauty works: That particular shape, the droplets that rise up when another droplet strikes the pool, is called a “backjet”. The force of a falling droplet divides the liquid it falls into, creating a void and exerting pressure on the liquid around it. The molecules of water rush back together at high velocity, driven by surface tension and reacting to the pressure exerted by the displaced liquid. When that tiny hole snaps back together, the force drives excess water upward, creating the beautiful “backjet” you see here.

Along the edge of the flat, mushroom-like cap, tiny sub-droplets are breaking off in an almost fractal manner, each driven to division by an outward force that pinches them off and overpowers the surface tension.

See more of Markus Reugels’ stunning droplet photography at Colossal. 

8bitfuture:

Self-filling water bottle draws water from the air.
The water bottle draws inspiration from the Namib Desert beetle, which is able to draw in 12 percent of its weight in water from the air using hydrophilic areas on its back which cause water to condense.

“We use nanotechnology to mimic this beetle’s back so that we too can pull water from the air,” Sorenson told PRI. “We see this being applicable to anything from marathon runners to people in third-world countries, because we realize that water is such a large issue in the world today, and we want to try to alleviate those problems with a cost-efficient solution. We are looking to incorporate this in greenhouses or green roofs in the immediate future, and then later on, we’re looking to see how far we can really scale this up to supply maybe farms or larger agricultural goals.”
Arguably the most remarkable part might be that fact that Sorenson insists the technology does not require much energy; he said the company’s showed how solar cells and a rechargeable battery can be enough. This means the device could potentially be attached to vehicles, buildings, or even a running human, and still be able to grab all the power it needs supply to move the air over the specially-coated surface.

8bitfuture:

Self-filling water bottle draws water from the air.

The water bottle draws inspiration from the Namib Desert beetle, which is able to draw in 12 percent of its weight in water from the air using hydrophilic areas on its back which cause water to condense.

“We use nanotechnology to mimic this beetle’s back so that we too can pull water from the air,” Sorenson told PRI. “We see this being applicable to anything from marathon runners to people in third-world countries, because we realize that water is such a large issue in the world today, and we want to try to alleviate those problems with a cost-efficient solution. We are looking to incorporate this in greenhouses or green roofs in the immediate future, and then later on, we’re looking to see how far we can really scale this up to supply maybe farms or larger agricultural goals.”

Arguably the most remarkable part might be that fact that Sorenson insists the technology does not require much energy; he said the company’s showed how solar cells and a rechargeable battery can be enough. This means the device could potentially be attached to vehicles, buildings, or even a running human, and still be able to grab all the power it needs supply to move the air over the specially-coated surface.

(Source: thenextweb.com)

jtotheizzoe:

The world can be a very different place, and what’s impossible to one may be possible to another, depending on how you look at it.
Some lessons on surface tension and how to defy them.

Click through to Hyperphysics, an amazing educational website by Georgia State University. It’s the most straight forward and accessible physics reference I’ve ever seen.

jtotheizzoe:

The world can be a very different place, and what’s impossible to one may be possible to another, depending on how you look at it.

Some lessons on surface tension and how to defy them.

Click through to Hyperphysics, an amazing educational website by Georgia State University. It’s the most straight forward and accessible physics reference I’ve ever seen.

jtotheizzoe:

explore-blog:

30 seconds of breathtaking awe at physics – watch a water droplet bounce in ultra-slow-motion. Then, see 7 more everyday things in mesmerizing slow motion.

( Open Culture)

Who knew water could bounce on water?!?

Surface tension is amazing. Phenomena like this are dependent on the size of the drop, of course, so that the mechanical force of falling and bouncing doesn’t overcome the hydrogen bonding that keeps the droplet/surface intact.

Definitely the coolest example of crazy fluid dynamics I’ve seen since these superhydrophobic nanotubes (also in GIF form).

(Source: )

npr:

Today, NASA scientists presented findings that prove water once ran across the surface of Mars. Though the rocks have yet to be analyzed, scientists say the photographs clearly indicate that these rock formations were smoothed and shaped by water. The next step, says NASA, will be drilling into the rock for evidence of carbon deposits. — rachel
Photo: NASA

npr:

Today, NASA scientists presented findings that prove water once ran across the surface of Mars. Though the rocks have yet to be analyzed, scientists say the photographs clearly indicate that these rock formations were smoothed and shaped by water. The next step, says NASA, will be drilling into the rock for evidence of carbon deposits. — rachel

Photo: NASA