As had been expected, Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina at 7:15 am ET. on September 14, 2018. While downgraded to a Category 1, with sustained of 90 mph, the storm still packed a powerful punch, causing widespread flooding, destroying several structures and knocking out power to over 900,000 homes. While that was bad enough, what made things worse was Florence’s languid, 6 kph pace which caused the storm to linger close to the coastline. Armed with an unlimited supply of water vapor from the warm Atlantic Ocean, it dumped a record 23 inches of rain in South Carolina and 35 inches in North Carolina over the course of just four days. While Florence, now a tropical depression has moved on, the trillions of gallons of rainwater that is making its way into rivers and streams is resulting in flooding of epic proportions.
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What could be better than enjoying pristine water views aboard a luxurious cruise ship? How about floating leisurely across the skies inside a palatial airship that promises a birds-eye view of our gorgeous planet? If British aerospace firm Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) has its way, you will soon not only be floating amid the clouds but also heading to remote, unexplored destinations.
The “Ediacaran biota,” a common name given to a large group of over 200 types of fossils that have been found across the world, have baffled scientists for decades. Over the years, researchers have debated whether the strange-looking organisms were fungi, algae, or just ancient animals that had failed to evolve. Now, some experts believe they have proof that the mysterious creatures were indeed animals, probably one of the first ones on Earth.
Approximately 4.6 billion years ago, our solar system was a cloud of dust and gas known as the solar nebula. As gravity caused the material to collapse in on itself, it spun faster and faster and eventually flattened into a disk. Researchers believe that most of the material accumulated in the center, to form the sun, while the rest clumped together, creating protoplanets – balls of gas, dust, and rocks, about the size of Mercury or Mars. Over the years, some of the protoplanets collided to form our eight planets, while the rest continue to whirl around the sun as asteroids or rocky debris. However, the one thing scientists are not sure is the process by which the planets came together. Now, a 4.565 billion-year-old space rock, the oldest igneous meteorite ever discovered, may provide clues to this age-old mystery.
Florida residents are no strangers to harmful algal blooms (HABs), or “red tides.” The natural phenomena, which occurs along the state’s Gulf Coast annually, is the result of excessive growth of microalgae Karenia Brevis. The single-celled organisms, which are only visible through a microscope, are dangerous because they release brevetoxin – a nerve toxin, that attacks the nervous systems of animals with often fatal results.
Just a few decades ago, humans were the only species believed to be smart enough to grasp the concept of zero — the idea that nothing can be counted as something. While a select group of animals including dolphins, primates, and a few birds have since been added to the list, experts have always maintained that only “intelligent” species are capable of processing the difficult concept. Now, researchers from Melbourne’s RMIT University in Melbourne and France’s Université de Toulouse, assert that honeybees, which like all insects are considered to be at the low end of the cognitive spectrum, also understand the abstract mathematical notion of nothing.
While whales are known to grieve the loss of their loved ones, the recent story of an orca mom clinging to her dead calf for over two weeks demonstrates unprecedented evidence of the strength of the species’ familial bonds. The heart-wrenching saga began on July 24, 2018, after a female calf born to J35, aka Tahlequah — a member of the endangered Southern Residents Killer Whales (SRKW) pod — died 30 minutes after birth. Instead of letting the carcass sink into the ocean, the grieving mother began carrying the lifeless body by balancing it on her forehead or nudging it along the water surface with her nose.
Large predators are increasingly appearing in unexpected places — alligators in saltwater marshes, killer whales in rivers, and mountain lions far away from the closest mountain. Experts hypothesize that as successful conservation efforts increase the local populations of these predators, they are moving beyond their usual habitats in search of food. However, Brian Silliman, professor of marine conservation biology at Duke University has a different theory. He believes the animals are recolonizing habitats they lived and hunted in for centuries — before human activity pushed them to the brink of extinction, and long before researchers began studying them.