NASA Helps Unravel Mysteries of Venusian Atmosphere

by Karen C. Fox
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Underscoring the vast differences between Earth and its neighbor Venus, new research shows a glimpse of giant holes in the electrically charged layer of the Venusian atmosphere, called the ionosphere. The observations point to a more complicated magnetic environment than previously thought – which in turn helps us better understand this neighboring, rocky planet.

Planet Venus, with its thick atmosphere made of carbon dioxide, its parched surface, and pressures so high that landers are crushed within a few hours, offers scientists a chance to study a planet very foreign to our own. These mysterious holes provide additional clues to understanding Venus’s atmosphere, how the planet interacts with the constant onslaught of solar wind from the sun, and perhaps even what’s lurking deep in its core…

(read more: NASA - Goddard)

How Languages Evolve:

Explained in a Winning TED-Ed Animation

by Ayun Halliday

Language. It’s as adaptable as Darwin’s finches.

It’d be interesting to know how the Internet changes the game. Seems like it would go a long way toward democratizing the process by which lingo gets mingled.

Alex Gendler’s TED-Ed lesson, winningly animated by Igor Coric, rolls back the clock to a time when communal groups would subdivide and strike out on their own, usually in order to beef up the food supply.

This sort of geographic and temporal separation was bound to take a toll, linguistically. Evolution is need-based. Vocabulary and pronunciation eventually betray the specifics of the speaker’s surroundings, their circumstances and needs…

(read more: Open Culture)

Path of the Pronghorn

Since 2003, Wildlife Conservation Society conservation scientists have been involved in a long-term study of the Path of the Pronghorn, an age-old migration route that connects summer range in Grand Teton National Park with winter range far to the south in the western Wyoming’s Green River Valley. The Path is:

One of the longest overland mammal migrations in North America, and the longest left in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
The only remaining pronghorn migration route to and from Grand Teton National Park.

More than 100 miles long, but at its narrowest, less than 150 yards wide.
More than 90% on federal lands.

(via: Wildlife Conservation Society)

Fish Out of Water Learn to Walk

Around 400 million years ago, fish left the water and started to evolve into land-loving creatures. But how did the transition happen? A new and unusual experiment could shed some light on the kinds of changes that enabled fins to become limbs. Researchers took a fish species known to be able to walk on its fins from time to time, and raised it on land. Watch the fish promenade in this Nature Video.

Read the paper: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature13708

Read the News & Views: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature13743

Ta-Nehisi Coates and the case for reparations

In a wide-ranging interview with Vox’s Ezra Klein, Ta-Nehisi Coates explains how he reported his essay in The Atlantic on “The Case for Reparations,” why he tries to approach journalism as a historian rather than as a “Senate aide,” and what you should read next if you want to understand American racism.

Read the article here: The Atlantic

* This is a long interview, but its really well worth the watch. (Pls don’t fucking argue with me about this unless you watch the whole thing, or have read the article.)

TedTalks - Edith Widder: How We Found the Giant Squid

Humankind has been looking for the giant squid (Architeuthis) since we first started taking pictures underwater. But the elusive deep-sea predator could never be caught on film. Oceanographer and inventor Edith Widder shares the key insight — and the teamwork — that helped to capture the squid on camera for the first time.

(via: TED - YouTube)