Friday, March 18, 2011

Are you ready for this weekend's SUPERMOON?

Learn what makes a big full moon a true 'supermoon' in this infographic.

On Saturday, March 19, at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time, the SUPERMOON arrives! The moon will appear bigger due to it's orbit, the moon will appear bigger, brighter, and more beautiful than usual.

At its peak, the supermoon of March may appear 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than lesser full moons (when the moon is at its farthest from Earth), weather permitting. Yet to the casual observer, it may be hard to tell the difference.

The supermoon will not cause natural disasters, such as the Japan earthquake, a NASA scientist has stressed.
That's a relief! There will however be slight effect on ocean tides. For the full story and more moon facts, check out the

So get your cameras, binoculars, and telescopes and get out there and have a peek at the largest moon in nearly two decades!

Transylvanian Treasure Horde of Gold Discovered!

Image: Mihai Barbu, Reuters via National Geographic
Here's a few images of a treasure trove of gold goodies that was unearthed in Transylvania and belonged to the Dacians, an ancient civilization from around the time of the Roman Empire™.

From National Geographic:
Most of the 2,000-year-old accessories tip the scales at about 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) each, more than some laptops—a heft that materials scientist Paul Craddock found "surprising."

"Yes," Craddock concluded, "they did have a lot of gold."

"They" are the Dacian people, mysterious contemporaries of the ancient Romans. Ruling Transylvania centuries before Bram Stoker dreamed up Dracula, the Dacians left behind no writings but, the bracelets suggest, were apparently flush with treasure—as historians have long suspected, given the mineral wealth of the region's mountains and rivers.
Full story at Nat Geo...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Atlantis finally found in Spain--on land?

Using satellite imaging of a marshland area north of Caldiz, Spain, researchers believe they may have found the submerged "ringed city" of Atlantis. The findings will be featured on a National Geographic special tonight called Finding Atlantis.

Lead scientist Richard Freund says that Atlantis was wiped out by an ancient tsunami that came inland and "sank" the city. From Yahoo:
"It is just so hard to understand that it can wipe out 60 miles inland, and that's pretty much what we're talking about," said Freund, a University of Hartford, Connecticut, professor who lead an international team searching for the true site of Atlantis.

To solve the age-old mystery, the team used a satellite photo of a suspected submerged city to find the site just north of Cadiz, Spain. There, buried in the vast marshlands of the Dona Ana Park, they believe that they pinpointed the ancient, multi-ringed dominion known as Atlantis.

The team of archeologists and geologists in 2009 and 2010 used a combination of deep-ground radar, digital mapping, and underwater technology to survey the site.

Freund's discovery in central Spain of a strange series of "memorial cities," built in Atlantis' image by its refugees after the city's likely destruction by a tsunami, gave researchers added proof and confidence, he said.
Read the full story at Reuters.

And if Atlantis piques your interest, over at Flooby Nooby (What? that's the title!) there's a great post of 10 lost civilizations that mysterious disappeared.

/props to Boing Boing for the info!
/image: Nat Geo via MSNBC

Friday, March 11, 2011

Africa's Natural Nuclear Reactors

Image: United States Geological Survey and the Mineral Information Institute via Scientific American
Hat tip to Beam Me Up for finding this unusual story from Scientific American about a cache of uranium in a mine in Oklo (in Gabon) in western Africa that, in prehistoric times, had output a steady stream of energy for thousands of years. Now we're not talking Three-Mile Island here, it's more like 100 kilowatts of energy, but still, I find the idea of a "natural" nuclear power plant really intriguing.

From the Scientific American article by researcher Alex P. Meshik, PhD, who's studied the phenomenon:
Physicists confirmed the basic idea that natural fission reactions were responsible for the depletion in uranium 235 at Oklo quite soon after the anomalous uranium was discovered. Indisputable proof came from an examination of the new, lighter elements created when a heavy nucleus is broken in two. The abundance of these fission products proved so high that no other conclusion could be drawn. A nuclear chain reaction very much like the one that Enrico Fermi and his colleagues famously demonstrated in 1942 had certainly taken place, all on its own and some two billion years before.

Shortly after this astonishing discovery, physicists from around the world studied the evidence for these natural nuclear reactors and came together to share their work on “the Oklo phenomenon” at a special 1975 conference held in Libreville, the capital of Gabon. The next year George A. Cowan, who represented the U.S. at that meeting (and who, incidentally, is one of the founders of the renowned Santa Fe Institute, where he is still affiliated), wrote an article for Scientific American [see “A Natural Fission Reactor,” by George A. Cowan, July 1976] in which he explained what scientists had surmised about the operation of these ancient reactors.
Fascinating! Seems like fodder for a sci-fi story, doesn't it? Ancient astronauts plunder prehistoric earth for natural nuclear energy to power their spaceships and rayguns!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Gorgeous Glacier Cave Photos!

Now these are straight out of a sci-fi movie--or at least you'd swear they were! Eric Guth, who works for an Alaskan expedition company took some amazing photos of a cavern deep inside an glacier. Here's a few choice shots:

All photos: Eric Guth
Read the full story.
Hat tip to Boing Boing!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pardon my dust....

I'm doing a little reformatting, mainly behind the scenes, but also some aesthetic changes. I've had my hands full for a bit with work life as well, which has slowed things down. I expect regular posting to resume withing a week (sooner would be great!).