Phoenix Microburst 1

Photographs Of A Microburst Pouring Down On Pheonix

Phoenix Microburst 1

Phoenix Microburst 2

Helicopter Reporter Jerry Ferguson (with help from Pilot Andrew Park took these unbelievable photos earlier this week while filming the weather for a local television station. No, it is not an A-bomb detonated over Phoenix. The photo depicts a dangerous weather phenomenon known as a microburst.

Microbursts are small but powerful rushes of rain-cooled air that collapse toward the ground from a parent thunderstorm. They are basically like a tornado in reverse – while a tornado funnels wind in and up, a microburst’s wind is funneled down and out. Microbursts are created by the downdrafts found in strong thunderstorms and are triggered by two main physical processes — the drag that’s created by falling rain and hail, and evaporation. Once the downdraft hits the ground, the wind — with gusts up to 150 mph — spread out over the land in all directions.

Microburst Crosssection

Below is a timelapse video of the same storm shot by Bryan Snider from the vantage point of Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport. The rainshafts in this footage make it look like Mother Nature turned on a faucet.



Via Colossal

LSD Brain

This Is Your Brain On Drugs

A research group at Imperial College London have made what major break through in understanding LSD’s impact on the brain. The first modern brain scans of people high on the drug have given researchers an unprecedented insight into the neural basis for effects produced by LSD. The scientists measured blood flow, functional connections within and between brain networks, and brainwaves in the volunteers on and off the drug.

The brain scans revealed that trippers experienced images through information drawn from many parts of their brains, and not just the visual cortex at the back of the head that normally processes visual information. Under the drug, regions once segregated spoke to one another.

Further images showed that other brain regions that usually form a network became more separated in a change that accompanied users’ feelings of oneness with the world, a loss of personal identity called “ego dissolution”.

There is more about the findings in the Guardian article: LSD’s impact on the brain revealed in groundbreaking images. More images and detailed information can be found in the original paper.

See also: Benoit Paillé’s LSD Photos

First Space Flower

First Ever Extra Terrestrial Zinnia Flower

First Space Flower

This orange beauty, bathing in natural sunlight for the first time, is the first Zinnia flower to have ever grown entirely in space. It’s part of the VEG-01 experiment on the International Space Station.

The Veggie experiments will allow the crew members to begin the first steps of in-orbit food production as well as educational outreach and recreation for long-duration missions. The experiment allows scientists to gain a better understanding of plant cultivation and will help determine ways to carry out self-sustaining life support systems during long distance space travel, possibly to Mars.

The facility has previously grown lettuce which was consumed by the crew last year. The next set of crops, called VEG-03, has two types of Chinese cabbage and more romaine lettuce. It will arrive at ISS in March via SpaceX’s CRS-8 mission. In 2018, NASA will send a set of dwarf tomato plants to ISS and we could witness crew members eating the first space salads.

Surprising, the Zinnia flowers almost died from over watering, a mold outbreak, and too much bureaucracy from NASA:

In late December, Kelly found that the plants “weren’t looking too good,” and told the ground team, “You know, I think if we’re going to Mars, and we were growing stuff, we would be responsible for deciding when the stuff needed water. Kind of like in my backyard, I look at it and say ‘Oh, maybe I should water the grass today.’ I think this is how this should be handled.”

The Veggie team on Earth created what was dubbed “The Zinnia Care Guide for the On-Orbit Gardener,” and gave basic guidelines for care while putting judgment capabilities into the hands of the astronaut who had the plants right in front of him. Rather than pages and pages of detailed procedures that most science operations follow, the care guide was a one-page, streamlined resource to support Kelly as an autonomous gardener. Soon, the flowers were on the rebound, and on Jan. 12, pictures showed the first peeks of petals beginning to sprout on a few buds.

Space Flower

Space FlowerAll photos via Scott Kelly/NASA

Pluto's Spinning Moons

Pluto’s Spinning Moons

Pluto's Spinning Moons

Most inner moons in the solar system keep one face pointed toward their central planet, much like our own moon. This is called gravitational locking, or tidal locking. The gif above shows that certainly isn’t the case with the small moons of Pluto, which behave like spinning tops. Pluto is shown at center with, in order, from smaller to wider orbit: Charon (which you can see is actually tidally locked), Styx, Nix, Kerberos, and Hydra (which all spin).