Category Archives: Videos

The Tiny Earth

We are living on a tiny life-bearing rock, an oasis, in a large, very large and hostile desert called “Universe”. The universe is big, really big, in fact, even our solar system is shockingly large compared to Earth. But again, our brains have problems dealing with the big numbers and the large objects.

Jacqui Frank of Business Insider has prepared video comparing our planet with large objects (and distances) in the Universe. These amazing to-scale visuals will help to recognize how small (and fragile) our planet is.

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Astronomers Think They’ve Found Evidence for a Ninth Planet Beyond Pluto – And It’s a Giant!

Astronomers now think there’s a ninth planet in the solar system almost certainly. The farthest planet from our Sun is probably a giant, smaller than Neptune but likely larger than the Earth. It is informally called Phattie, but commonly known as Planet Nine.

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A giant prehistoric crocodile discovered in the Sahara: Machimosaurus rex

National Geographic grantee Federico Fanti and his research team have unearthed a sea-dwelling crocodylomorph (a teleosaurid) skeleton in southern Tunisia, in the Sahara desert: Machimosaurus rex. It is the world’s largest marine crocodyliform, and was previously unknown to science. Its length is estimated at more than 30 feet (9.14 meters). The giant was probably weighed three tons.

The fossil dates back 130 million years ago. The head of the crocodile alone is over 5 feet long. The discovery proves that this animal lived 25 million years past the hypothesized global extinction at the end of the Jurassic period.

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A “Happy New Year” Message from the International Space Station

Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly of NASA, Flight Engineer Tim Kopra of NASA and Flight Engineer Tim Peake of the European Space Agency wished the people of Earth a Happy New Year. Kelly is nearing the completion of the ninth month of a year-long mission on the orbital laboratory, while Kopra and Peake arrived December 15, 2015, to begin a six-month mission on the complex.

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What Earth would look like if all the ice melted

Our planet is getting warmer every year, and the horrible fact is, global warming is accelerating. As a natural result, the glaciers are melting at an increasing speed.

Almost 10% of the world’s land surface is currently covered with glaciers, mostly in places like Greenland and Antarctica. The amount of water locked up in ice and snow is only about 1.7 percent of all water on Earth (332,500,000 cubic miles, or 1,386,000,000 cubic kilometers), but the majority of total freshwater on Earth, about 68.7%, is held in ice caps and glaciers. And if all land ice melted the seas would rise about 70 meters (about 230 feet).

What if all these ice melted? What would Earth look like? Alex Kuzoian of Business Insider prepared a video showing the effects of the global melting, and if it happens, “this would dramatically reshape the continents and drown many of the world’s major cities.”

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The Tallest Tree in the World: Hyperion

Redwoods (scientific name: Sequoia sempervirens) are the tallest trees in the world, they easily reach heights of 300 feet (91 meters) and even more. They are not the tallest only, also evergreen and very long-lived: their lifespan is more than 1000 years, and some have been documented at even more than 2,000 years old. They can grow up to 29.2 feet (8.9 m) in diameter at breast height/dbh. Redwoods live in California, United States; and before commercial logging and clearing began by the 1850s, this massive tree occurred naturally in an estimated 2,100,000 acres (8,500 km2) along much of coastal California (excluding southern California where rainfall is not sufficient) and the southwestern corner of coastal Oregon within the United States. Now, unfortunately, an estimated 70% or more of ancient old-growth redwood trees have been displaced by environmental changes or cut down.

Among the redwoods, a tree named Hyperion dwarfs them all. The tree was discovered on August 25, 2006, by naturalists Chris Atkins and Michael Taylor, and is 379.7 feet (115.7 meters) tall.

The tree is estimated to contain 530 m3 (18,600 cu ft) of wood and to be roughly 700–800 years old. Researchers stated that woodpecker damage at the top may have prevented the tree from growing taller. According to Michael Taylor, “It’s possible it could’ve topped out at 380 feet (116 meters)”.

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If Earth’s life time was the distance from Los Angeles to New York City

Our old planet, the Earth is 4.54 billion years old. In fact, the human mind can no longer make any sense of large numbers like that. Numbers like 1, 2, 14, 20, 50 are all quantities that we encounter quite frequently in our daily lives. And our brain evolved to conceptualize numbers like that: our ancestors saw two lions; they hunted five deer in one hunting party, the population of their tribe was 20, etc… But when the numbers are getting big, i.e. 1,000; 10,000… the problem begins: these numbers become increasingly difficult to conceptualize. Now, what happens when we try to conceptualize quantities like billions, like the Earth’s age? We can’t actually rationalize the immensity of such a big number. Because we haven’t a model of 4.54 billion that’s been compressed into something recognizable to the human mind.

To put this number into a perspective, Alex Kuzoian of Business insider prepared a beautiful video: you can watch Earth’s lifespan as the distance from Los Angeles to New York City. Along the trip, we see the formation of our Moon, the beginning of the life, the evolving of the multi-cellular organisms, and the rise and fall of the dinosaurs. Probably the most interesting part is that modern humans only evolved 175 meters (570 feet) from the finishing line of this journey. And the big jump to the first multi-cellular organisms.

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Hybrid Big Cats

Four of the five species of the big cats (the Panthera genus – lion, tiger, leopard, jaguar and snow leopard), the exception being the snow leopard can hybridize with each other to produce numerous hybrids. In fact, breeding of two different pantheras to produce hybrid big cats has been banned in many zoos and animal sanctuaries due to no conservation value of the hybrid, and the risk it poses on the mother that gives birth to it.

For instance, the liger’s increased growth rate and enormous size can cause the tigress giving birth to have a difficult delivery, endangering both the mother and her liger cubs, which may be born prematurely or require a Caesarian. Common problems in cubs that survive are neurological disorders, obesity, genetic defects, and a shortened lifespan; though a few have reportedly made it to their twenties, many don’t survive past the age of seven.

Moreover, male ligers have lowered testosterone levels and sperm counts, rendering them infertile while females, though capable of reproducing with either a lion or a tiger, often give birth to sickly cubs that don’t survive.

However, hybrids do occur by accident in captivity.

Most hybrids would not survive in the wild due to the males being infertile, but a few (such as the Leopon – leopard father, lion mother) are fertile and have a chance of survival in the wild.

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