diatom

This image shows a collection of diatoms at a magnification of 200. Diatoms are aquatic, photosynthetic protists and are one of the simplest forms of phytoplankton. They are abundant in nearly every habitat where water is found – oceans, lakes, streams, mosses, soils and even the bark of trees. Nearly all diatoms are microscopic; cells range in size from about 2 microns to about 500 microns (0.5 mm), or about the width of a human hair.

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The Microscopic Creature That Lives in a Glass House

Ever wonder what it’s like to live in a glass house? Striatella unipunctata, a tropical diatom often found on coral reefs, spends its entire life like this. Because their cell walls are made of silica, the main component of glass, diatoms are often called “algae that live in glass houses.” Though since the silica also contains water, “algae that live in opal houses” might be closer to the truth! (Photo: SERC Phytoplankton Lab) 

vimeo

The American Museum of Natural History takes you on a tour of some of the most beautiful things you will only see if you have access to a microscope - the shells of microfossils, how they are made and how they are used.

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From Drifter to Dynamo: The Story of Plankton

Most plankton are tiny drifters, wandering in a vast ocean. But where wind and currents converge they become part of a grander story… an explosion of vitality that affects all life on Earth, including our own. Watch the latest “Deep Look” video from KQED and pbsdigitalstudios:

http://youtu.be/jUvJ5ANH86I

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Navicula pendant lamp by David Trubridge

The Navicula pendant lamp is another nature inspired design by the New Zealand based designer, David Trubridge. The lamp, that just recently got recommended for the Darc Award 2017, is inspired by the many microscopic diatoms that float in the ocean. It is illuminated by a row of LED pin point lights at the inside of the skeleton, that is made of CNC cut Bamboo-Plywood.

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One more Plankton Panel. From top to bottom:

1. Freshwater Phytoplankton, mainly Diatoms and Dinoflagellates / from Lake Chuzenji, Nikko, Tochigi Pref., Japan / Microscope:Leica DMRD (DIC)  (CC BY-SA 2.5)

2. Assorted diatoms as seen through a microscope. These specimens were living between crystals of annual sea ice in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. Image digitized from original 35mm Ektachrome slide. These tiny phytoplankton are encased within a silicate cell wall. (Public Domain - NOAA)

3.  Phytoplankton - the foundation of the oceanic food chain. (Public Domain - NOAA)

anonymous asked:

What's the most unique gem in the world?

I guess that depends on your definition of unique. 

If you define unique as rare (and valuable), then gems such as alexandrite, grandidierite, jeremejevite, musgravite, and black opal are some of the most unique gems in the world, found in very specific, limited regions of the world. With these, finding them in a pure form is incredibly difficult, which is why they’re usually worth so much. Black opal is one of my favorites, since it looks like a rock swallowed a galaxy.

If you define unique more subjectively - on uniqueness of appearance rather than rarity - then there are a few other gems that stand out. To list just a few that are my personal favorites:

Ammolite: this gem is similar to opal – both fossilized shell-making, silica-rich creatures but in this case made from fossilized ammonites (nautilus) rather than diatoms (which are a kind of plankton) – but you can find it as whole nautiloids that can then be made into gemstone pieces (though I kind of prefer it whole but that’s my inner paleontologist speaking)

Fluorite: possibly my favorite gemstone mineral, fluorite is awesome for a couple of reasons - namely, it forms in near-perfect cubic crystals, is dazzlingly glowy under UV light, and comes in almost every color (usually clear, purple, and green, and occasionally a rare blue or impure yellow)

Hackmanite: this gem is a particular kind of sodalite that actually changes color in response to light (it’s called tenebresence, and it’s the same concept as transition lenses in glasses - just natural and in a really pretty gem)  - when it’s mined, it’s usually purple, but over time, it turns white; if it’s put back in the dark, it’ll fade back to purple, and you can repeat this over and over and over

Labradorite: with this gem, light reflects off the crystal structure in such a way that the rock has really strong blue-green iridescence, and it looks different every way you turn it - the light will hit it in one spot and the dull grey rock will suddenly explode with all this amazing blue color

Pietersite: I love this gem because it can come in any color - from brown to yellow to red to blue to purple to grey - and I’ve never seen two pieces that look even close to identical. Technically, it’s a variation of quartz - a really, really awesome variation of tiger’s eye quartz that looks nothing like other quartz types

These are just a few examples, and this is a really long and rambling answer to a very short question, but I think uniqueness can be defined objectively in terms of rarity and worth, or subjectively in terms of how freaking cool and special they are

all gems are freaking awesome

Comet Clark is near the Edge 

Sweeping through this stunning field of view, Comet 71P/Clark really is in the foreground of these cosmic clouds. The 2 panel telescopic mosaic is color enhanced and is about 5 degrees (10 full moons) across. It captures the faint comet’s position on the night of May 23/24 over 5 light-minutes from Earth, very near the line-of-sight to bright star Antares and the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex.

In the frame Antares, also known as Alpha Scorpii, is at bottom center surrounded by a dusty cosmic cloud reflecting the cool giant star’s yellowish light. Globular star cluster M4 shines just right of Antares, but M4 lies some 7,000 light-years away compared to Antares’ 500 light-year distance. Slightly closer than Antares, Rho Ophiuchi’s bluish starlight is reflected by the dust in molecular clouds toward the top.

You can spot the small coma and short tail of the comet as a faint smudge near the center of the left edge of the frame. Just look for the comet’s striking greenish color, produced as diatomic carbon molecules fluoresce in sunlight.

Credit: Raul Villaverde Fraile