A few hundred miles off the coast of Ghana is Null Island—the point of zero longitude and zero latitude. It’s not a real island in the physical sense, but data, photos, and whole people have been there, if only for a little while. How they got there comes down to shoddy programming.
The latest episode of MinuteEarth offers a surprisingly deep dive on the origins of clouds, (explaining, for example, why warm, humid air is more buoyant than warm, dry air), and in characteristically clear, concise, and accessible terms. One of my favorite installments in recent memory.
Not all spoiled food is created equal. Most everyone has an aversion to rotten foods. After all, they taste awful. But what about the foods we spoil intentionally? What separates rancid meet, for example, from moldy cheese, or bacteria-laden Salami?
Relatedly, why do branching river channels form fractals? Check out this latest installment of Minute Earth to find out.
The ocean is full of plastic. Not big pieces of plastic, as you've probably heard, but tiny bits of plastic. Microplastic. Plastic that hasn't decomposed, but broken down into small pieces that are incredibly durable. We've found this stuff throughout the world's oceans, at every depth. What kind of environmental…
Fables tell us that it's really stupid to build a house on sand. In reality, you can build your house on sand—as long as you live in a tectonically stable part of the world. If you don't, an earthquake will turn the sand into quicksand, and as a consequence, it will turn your house into history.
As Minute Earth rightly points out, we could avoid a lot of flesh wounds by having thicker armored skin like a pangolin. But the energy needed to generate and maintain that armor wasn't evolutionarily worth it for us to expend because we put so much fuel into our enormous brains. We can think of ways to escape danger…
Dinosaurs! No. Blue whales! No? Pandas? Ha. It really depends on what you consider a thing and what's not a thing. And what's actually living and what's not traditionally considered living but is. And what's on Earth and what's inside Earth. Because if we're counting any sort of organisms, it could very well be…
Between 2006 and 2012, 127 Americans died from being struck by lightning. Here's how you can avoid joining their ranks.
Time capsules are meant to give future generations a glimpse of what life was like many years ago. But not surprisingly, humans tend to fill time capsules with only the good artifacts of a civilization, making the story seem rosier than it really was. So when archaeologists and researchers want to find out the real…
Analogies are great because they trick us into learning when we think we're just talking about beer. Want to know how all those microbreweries survive among the big behemoth brands? Gotta learn about the biodiversity of ferns and trees in the forest to make it happen.
It is, after all, the best side of the road. But how did it become the crowd favorite of most drivers on the planet?
Take a deep breath. You're lucky to be able to. Without a handy blanket of atmosphere gases to swaddle us all, we'd be no more than a twinkle in evolution's eye. But that wonderful blanket of gas is slowly escaping, molecule by molecule, and there's not much we can do about it.
Most of us just accept that fact that food left in the freezer too long will eventually become covered in ice and almost inedible. But have you ever stopped to think about why that happens exactly? After all, it's not like everything in your freezer is completely thawing and refreezing every day.
It's easy to forget that almost nothing you eat was grown remotely near you and plenty of it wasn't even grown recently. And for that miracle of modern day life, we have gigantic metal plates, frozen to subzero temperatures to thank. Or at least that's how it all started.
You'd think with all the tumultuous weather and winds the Earth experiences, the planet would be covered in a fairly even mix of green space. But it's not. Some parts are covered in fertile rain forests, while others are barren deserts. And it's all because of a weather effect known as Hadley Cells.
A few weeks ago Minute Earth raised the question of why plants are green. After all, their green color means they're reflecting green light, so wouldn't black plants that absorb all light be most efficient?
We already know why all plants appear green: it's because they're full of the light-absorbing chemical known as chlorophyll. But since they appears green—bouncing back green and yellow light waves—it means it's not 100 percent efficient at absorbing all of the sun's rays. So why aren't all plants black instead?