earth organics

“Plant These to Help Save Bees: 21 Bee-Friendly Plants” by Hannah Rosengren, 2013.

Hello tumblr! I’m re-posting this now since originally posting it last fall because while it’s been so exciting to see this illustration shared so many times on tumblr, twitter, facebook, instagram, etc- the credit has more often than not been lost along the way or removed. It’s great to see people advocating for the bees but frustrating to see a post with thousands of shares and no credit. Always, always credit the artist when posting images online- and if you’re not sure who it is, take one minute to look it up. It makes a huge difference.

How Humans Change Space Itself

It’s no surprise that humans influence the surface of our planet, but our reach can go farther than that. Humans affect space, too.

We know storms from the sun can naturally change the space environment around Earth, which can have an impact on satellites and power grids.

Scientists now know that Cold War era nuclear tests in the 1950s caused similar effects.

Particles around Earth are organized into layers known as radiation belts. These 1950s tests created a temporary extra layer of radiation closer to Earth. 

The effects of this could be seen all around the world. Aurora appeared at the equator instead of the poles, utility grids in Hawaii were strained, and in some cases, satellites above test sites were affected. 

Some types of communications signals can also affect Earth’s radiation belts

Very low-frequency waves, or VLFs, are used for radio communications. They are often used to communicate with submarines, because these waves can penetrate deep into the ocean. 

The waves can also travel far into the space environment around Earth. When these waves are in space, they affect how high-energy particles move, creating a barrier against natural radiation.

The outer edge of this radio-wave barrier corresponds almost exactly the inner edge of Earth’s natural radiation belts – meaning it could be human activity that at least partly shapes this natural radiation around Earth.  

For more NASA sun and space research, visit www.nasa.gov/sunearth and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

Foreshadowing from Steven’s Dream

The foreshadowed moment of Greg’s abduction leads me to wonder whether other details about the movie they watched are also relevant. 

“They only kidnapped cows because they needed milk for their cereal planet.”

And we already know that the gems are running low on resources and their planet is starving. Perhaps, as I’ve been suggesting for a very long time now, the key is to work together. In the same way cereal and milk are complements, the end goal might really be for organic and gem life to co-exist to make a delicious breakfast.

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The March for Science isn’t just for white lab geeks. It’s about social justice.

  • The March for Science on Saturday is set to be one of the largest interdisciplinary shows of force by biologists, chemists, mathematicians, medical doctors, climatologists and other scientists. 
  • If organizers have done their jobs right, it won’t just be white folks in lab coats.
  • The march will take place in more than 600 locations in the U.S. and around the world on Earth Day. Organizers said it will be “an unprecedented gathering of people standing together to acknowledge and voice the critical role that science plays in each of our lives,” according to an official website. 
  • No doubt, science is at the center of social and racial injustice issues that have sprung up in recent years. Read more. (4/22/17, 10:31 AM)
11 Electrifying Facts about Jellyfish

Some are longer than a blue whale. Others are barely larger than a grain of sand. One species unleashes one of the most deadly venoms on Earth. Another holds a secret that’s behind some of the greatest breakthroughs in biology. In every way, jellyfish are fascinating creatures and today we’re celebrating them with 11 wild facts!

1. Jellyfish have inhabited the ocean for at least half a billion years, and they’re still flourishing even as the sea changes around them.

2. Jellyfish are soft-bodied sea creatures that aren’t really fish. They’re part of a diverse team of gelatinous zooplankton, zooplankton being animals that drift in the ocean.

3. A noted feature of jellyfish is a translucent bell made of a soft delicate material called mesoglea. Sandwiched between two layers of skin, the mesoglea is more than 95% water held together by protein fibers. The jellyfish can contract and relax their bells to propel themselves. They don’t have a brain or a spinal cord, but a neural net around the bell’s inner margin forms a rudimentary nervous system that can sense the ocean’s currents and the touch of other animals.

4. Jellyfish don’t have typical digestive systems, either. These gelatinous carnivores consume plankton and other small sea creatures through a hole in the underside of their bells.

5. The nutrients that jellyfish consume are absorbed by an inner layer of cells with waste excreted back through their mouths.

6. One species of jellyfish glows green when it’s agitated, mostly thanks to a biofluorescent compound called green fluorescent protein, or GFP. Scientists isolated the gene for GFP and figured out how to insert it into the DNA of other cells. There, it acts like a biochemical beacon, marking genetic modifications, or revealing the path of critical molecules. Scientists have used the glow of GFP to watch cancer cells proliferate, track the development of Alzheimer’s, and illuminate countless other biological processes. Developing the tools and techniques from GFP has netted three scientists a Nobel Prize in 2008, and another three in 2014.

7. The jellyfish’s sting, which helps it capture prey and defend itself, is its most infamous calling card. In the jelly’s epidermis, cells called nematocysts lie coiled like poisonous harpoons. When they’re triggered by contact, they shoot with an explosive force. It exerts over 550 times the pressure of Mike Tyson’s strongest punch to inject venom into the victim. 

8. The venom of one box jellyfish can kill a human in under five minutes, making it one of the most potent venoms of any animal in the world.

9. Jellyfish who may be the most successful organisms on Earth. There are more than 1,000 species of jellyfish, and many others that are often mistaken for them.

10. Ancient fossils prove that jellyfish have inhabited the seas for at least 500 million years, and maybe go back over 700 million. That’s longer than any other multi-organ animal. And as other marine animals are struggling to survive in warmer and more acidic oceans, the jellyfish are thriving, and perhaps getting even more numerous.

11. Some jellyfish can lay as many as 45,000 eggs in a single night. And there’s some jellyfish whose survival strategy almost sounds like science fiction. When the immortal jellyfish is sick, aging, or under stress, its struggling cells can change their identity. The tiny bell and tentacles deteriorate and turn into an immature polyp that spawns brand new clones of the parent.

From the TED-Ed Lesson Jellyfish predate dinosaurs. How have they survived so long? - David Gruber

Animation by Silvia Prietov

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A representation of the age span carbon dating is able to accurately predict.

Carbon dating works by understanding the properties of two isotopes of carbon, carbon 12 and carbon 14. Carbon 12 does not decay and remains constant in a sample, whereas carbon 14 decays at a very even, constant rate.

By measuring the ratio of carbon 12 to carbon 14, we can understand how long a sample has been around for.

The half life of carbon 14 is around 5,730 years. As seen by the second graph, this means that if a sample has half of the carbon 14 it should usually have, it has been around for 5,730 years. A quarter of the amount, double that time, one eight of the original amount, more still.

Keep reading

The Extreme World of Deep Sea Cephalopods

Although it is the home of approximately 98% of the ocean’s species, the deep sea is a frontier yet to be explored by natural scientists. Of the estimated 500.000 to 10 million species living on or above the seafloor, new species are discovered and described by marine biologists every year. Being one of the biggest and most extreme environments on Earth, the deep sea’s biodiversity is enormous in both species of prey and predators. From demonic red octopi to gigantic squid wrestling with sperm whales, the most interesting group of marine predators would be the deep sea’s cephalopods.

The biggest problem living as a squid at 5000 meters depth is the pitch black environment you have to hunt in. A great variety of cephalopods have adapted to their surroundings in the most extreme ways. One of the easiest feeding strategies is what we call “passive hunting”, and one of the more scary-looking squid known to science – the genus Magnapinna – uses this technique in the most bizarre way. Known commonly as Bigfin squid, or Long-armed squid, this group is known for its irregular big fin-size and extremely long arms. Although previously only known from caught juveniles, in 2007 an eerie video was made by a research facility in the Gulf of Mexico. What they saw was a 8 meters-long adult squid, floating around in the abyss.

Magnapinna sp.

Another more obvious feeding strategy is active hunting: squid are known to chase and ambush their prey using their intelligence and extremely complicated eyes. While we know that the eyes of squid are highly adapted and look similar to those of a mammal, there’s one species that takes it a step further. The so-called strawberry squid (Histioteuthis heteropsis) gets its name from the strawberry-like appearance of its skin. The light-producing speckles, or photophores, are supposed to confuse predators. What’s more interesting however, is the fact that it has one “normal” eye and one big green eye. It is believed that the smaller eye detects bioluminescence generated from potential prey, while the other eye watches the sky and filters faint light from above.

Histioteuthis heteropsis

While the strawberry squid tries to confuse its own predators, sometimes the best defense is simply being bigger than the predator. Some squid have evolved to be gigantic, take for example the Humboldt squid (Dosidicus gigas) from the gulf of Mexico. The human sized squid are known to be hostile towards divers and even hunt in packs – sometimes referred to as “a squad of squid”. An even bigger squid can be found in the deep: the Giant and Colossal squid (genus Architeuthis and Mesonychoteuthis) are known to reach sizes over 10 meters. There is only one animal capable of fighting a gigantic squid: the 16-meter long Sperm whale. Although never observed by biologists, evidence of squid-whale battles can be found on stranded whales. Circular marks, believed to be caused by the suckers of the squid, cover the hide of several found Sperm whales.

Lastly, there’s one group of cephalopods often overlooked by the general public. Having the creepiest name from the deep sea, the Vampire squid is one of the most interesting organisms on Earth. Its Latin name Vampyroteuthis infernalis literally means “vampiric squid from hell”, but its name is scarier than the animal itself. The Vampire squid feeds on the so-called deep sea snow: flakes of waste material that slowly falls to the ocean floor. It uses a long thread-like appendage to collect the snow and brings it to its mouth.

Thought to be the common ancestor of both squid and octopi, the bright red molluscs share a lot of characters with the other cephalopods. There are however some differences. When threatened, Vampire squids cannot simply swim away. Instead, they use an unique arsenal of defensive strategies. The filaments between their tentacles can be used to protect their soft bodies, exposing spiny structures on the inside of the tentacles. In addition, Vampire squid have no ink-sacs like other lineages, but can emit fluorescent fluids to scare predators away.

Vampyroteuthis infernalis

There’s a lot we still don’t know about the deep sea and its inhabitants, but every day new species are being discovered by marine biologists. We don’t have to look for other planets to find aliens, the weirdest organisms can be found below the waves, waiting for us.

Hi I’m Werner, master student and invertebrate enthusiast. Most information was found through the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute: if you’re interested in deep sea stuff like me, check out their site.

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Some of the most remote locations on earth in the Arctic. 


These are scenes from my latest video that I just put up. You can watch it here:


This video has footage and the story of an Arctic expedition I was on with Astronaut Chris Hadfield. We ride straight INTO ice, walk through a beach full of skeletons, enter one of the most remote places on Earth, eat the oldest organisms on Earth! (all for real!)


This was a bucket list adventure. Hope you enjoy!