break science


This demo didn’t go exactly as I planned, but there’s two liquids inside a glow stick separated by a glass tube. When you break the glass and mix the two, light happens. And in this case, some stains on my wall. Oops.

NASA Astronaut Reveals the First Flower to Bloom in Space

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly tweeted the images of the very first bloom of a flower in outer space from the International Space Station. This orange flower is a mark of how far the human race has conquered the heavens this century. The success that was achieved from an experimentation with plant growth in zero gravity speaks volumes about how scientists are teaming up with astronauts to create solutions for agriculture in space.

View the otherworldly images of this break-through below!

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GLaDOS has some tests for the LEGO Dimensions heroes that can only be solved using the LEGO Toy Pad. How will it work? Watch and find out, there might be cake … 



You are looking at the first-ever photos of a male moustached kingfisher!

Chris Filardi is director of Pacific Programs at the Museum’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation. This month, he’s blogging from the remote highlands of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, where he is surveying endemic biodiversity and working with local partners to create a protected area. He writes, “In the western Pacific, first among these ghost species is the moustached kingfisher (currently classified as Actenoides bougainvillei excelsus), a bird I have sought for nearly 20 years. Described by two female specimens brought to collectors by local hunters in the 1920s, the bird has only been glimpsed in the wild once. Scientists have never observed a male. Its voice and habits are poorly known. Given its history of eluding detection, realistic hopes of finding the bird were slim.

Until on our third morning we heard an unmistakable “ko-ko-ko-kokokokokokokoko-kiew” of a bird that could only be a large forest kingfisher. We paused, waited for what seemed like eternity, and then heard another cry from the mossy forest. It had to be the bird.

Within moments our eyes caught movement: a large shadow of wings and a thick body abruptly stopped in a tangle. Our recordist Frank Lambert saw the bird first and called me over. There in plain sight pumping its tail, crest alert, in full colors, was the moustached kingfisher. And then, like a ghost, it was gone.”

But not for long! Read the full blog post.

WOW! Where did this hurricane come from?! Hurricane Patricia is the strongest hurricane in all recorded history. I’ve been so busy with work, I haven’t looked at the news all week. Look at that horrifying path! She’ll hit Texas over the weekend, which is already dealing with massive flooding and surely the governor will declare a state of emergency (and, sorry guys for the political jab, be forced to request federal assistance from Obama. Awkwarrdd…).

Oh man, this is horrible.

To put Patricia into perspective, Hurricane Katrina - which devastated New Orleans, killed ~2,000 people, and exposed how deeply weak the United States disaster response system really is - clocked maximum winds of 174 miles per hour (280kmh). Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 was the previous record holder with 196 mph/315kmh winds (~6,500 people killed).

Patricia is clocking 200 miles per hour (322kmh), making her the strongest storm, ever. No one knows what to expect regarding damage.

Eight million people in Mexico are in imminent danger, and millions more are at extremely high risk. Let’s hope Mexico is prepared…

Reader unquietcode asks:

I saw this post recently and it made me wonder what’s going on. If you look in the upper right of the frame as the camera submerges, you can see a little vortex of water whirring about. Even with the awesome power of the wave rolling forward a little tornado of water seems able to stably form. Any idea what causes this phenomenon?

This awesome clip was taken from John John Florence’s “& Again” surf video. What you’re seeing is the vortex motion of a plunging breaking wave. As ocean waves approach the shore, the water depth decreases, which amplifies the wave’s height. When the wave reaches a critical height, it breaks and begins to lose its energy to turbulence. There are multiple kinds of breaking waves, but plungers are the classic surfer’s wave. These waves become steep enough that the top of the wave  overturns and plunges into the water ahead of the wave. This generates the vortex-like tube you see in the animation. Such waves can produce complicated three-dimensional vortex structures like those seen in this video by Clark Little. Any initial variation in the main vortex gets stretched as the wave rolls on, and this spins up and strengthens the rib vortices seen wrapped around the primary vortex. (Source video: B. Kueny and J. Florence)

Gravitational Waves Detected for First Time

A century after being proposed by physicist Albert Einstein, scientists have made the first detection of gravitational waves – massive celestial objects on the move causing spacetime itself to ripple – a historic discovery that opens up an entirely new way of studying the cosmos.

The detection was made by the twin LIGO interferometers on Sept. 14, 2015, located in Livingston, La., and Hanford, Wash., just two days after the system was significantly upgraded to boost its sensitivity.

Learn more about this groundbreaking discovery!

Papahānaumokuākea Expands, Now Largest Conservation Area on Earth

Today, President Obama announced that Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, located in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, will expand from 139,818 square miles to 582,578 square miles. That’s bigger than the total land area of the state of Alaska – and makes Papahānaumokuākea larger than any other land or ocean conservation area on Earth.

Map showing the expanded area of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. The new boundary extends out to the U.S. EEZ (shown in purple). The monument’s original area is shown in blue. Image: NOAA

Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument hosts an amazing array of wildlife, from 14 million seabirds representing 22 species that breed and nest within its boundaries, to over 7,000 species of marine life, one quarter of which are found only in the Hawaiian Archipelago.

Fishes on a deep reef at Pearl and Hermes Atoll in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA

The monument is also of great importance to Native Hawaiians, with significant cultural sites found in the original monument area on the islands of Mokumanamana and Nihoa. This expansion will help protect and sustain Hawai’i’s marine life and cultural sites for future generations.

Mokumanamana, or Necker Island, is known for its numerous wahi pana (religious places) and mea makamae (cultural objects). Photo: James Watt/NOAA

Originally designated in 2006 by then-President George W. Bush, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument previously protected the waters within 50 miles of the uninhabited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. In 2010, the monument was inscribed as a mixed natural and cultural World Heritage Site by UNESCO, making it the first mixed UNESCO World Heritage Site in the United States.

Now, President Obama has expanded most of the monument out to 200 nautical miles within federal waters. The expanded area will provide additional protection for open ocean features including seamounts, submerged reefs and sunken islands. The monument will continue to be managed by NOAA, US Fish and Wildlife, and the State of Hawai'i, and will also include the Office of Hawaiian Affairs within the co-trusteeship.

Commercial fishing and other resource extraction activities, which are currently prohibited in the boundaries of the existing monument, are also prohibited within the expanded monument boundaries. Noncommercial fishing, such as recreational fishing and the removal of fish and other resources for Native Hawaiian cultural practices, is allowed in the expansion area by permit, as is scientific research.

This previously-undescribed species of octopod was discovered in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands in 2016 at a depth of 4,290 meters. Photo: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2016 Hohonu Moana: Exploring Deep Waters off Hawaiʻi

“We are honored to be a partner in the management and protection of what is now the largest protected area in the world,” said John Armor, acting director of NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. “Through daily interaction, management, research and outreach, we will continue working with our partners to to protect this unique ocean treasure, home to rare natural and cultural resources. The monument holds a sacred place in Native Hawaiian culture. With this announcement, it also holds a place in history for global ocean conservation.”

A high-density community of brisingid sea stars was discovered in the expansion area of Papahānaumokuākea in 2016. Photo: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2016 Hohonu Moana: Exploring Deep Waters off Hawaiʻi

This expansion not only provides direct protection to this global resource, but also brings critical attention to the need for increased ocean conservation and protection worldwide. Despite its remote location in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument faces a looming threat of global climate change that will affect its land and marine ecosystems, as well as its cultural resources – a threat that ocean resources are facing across the globe.

For additional photos and video visit our media resources page.

  • Ferre:*breaks into science museum at night for fun*
  • Courf:u beautiful rule breaking moth