Saturday, 22 September 2012

Rainbow Roses

The Rainbow roses were shaped by Dutch flower company owner Peter VanDe Werken, who formed them by developing a method for injecting natural pigments into their stems while they are growing to make a striking multicolored petal effects. The dye are produced from natural plant extracts and absorbed by the flowers as they grow. A particular procedure then controls how much color reaches each petal- with stunning results. By treating the stalk with natural pigments, Van De Werken has managed to make each petal a different color. The pigment is absorbed and travels to the petals where it modifies their hue.

Lighting is hotter than the surface of the sun

Lightning can be up to 18,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is almost two times the surface temperature of the sun! If lightning is so burning, why is it that we get our energy from the sun? Though lightning is scorching hot, its radiant energy pales in comparison with the sun’s. Whereas it’s true that lightning can set a tree on fire, the distance to its target must be very undersized for it to feel the full heat of lightning. The sun’s core though is close to 15 million degrees Fahrenheit!

“Brinicle” The Icicle of Death

An unusual underwater phenomenon they called “icicle of death” has been filmed by BBC crew in Antarctica. This has equipped with high end time-lapse cameras, the group recorded salt water being excluded from the sea ice and sinking down to the ocean floor. The temperature of this brine is less than 0C, leading water to freeze in an icy casing called “brinicle.” When “brinicle” met the sea bed, a web of ice formed that froze the whole thing it touched, as well as sea urchins and starfish. The strange phenomenon was filmed for the first time by cameramen Hugh Miller and Doug Anderson for the BBC One series Frozen Planet. The icy phenomenon is mainly caused by cold, sinking brine, which is more-dense than the rest of the sea water. It forms a brinicle as it contacts warmer water below the surface. It’s a bit of a race against time because no-one really knew how fast they formed. The location underneath the ice offs the foothills of the volcano Mount Erebus, in water as cold as -2C – really not easy to access.

Monday, 10 September 2012

China's mysterious 'river of blood'

The Yangtze River, China’s longest river, suddenly turned a red colour over the last few days. As of yet, scientists are unsure as to why. Although the source of the problem is unknown, I think we can rule out a couple of possible explanations. For instance, biological activity is often offered as a cause of discolouration of water bodies. However, in this instance, I would be inclined to say that this is not the problem. Intrusion of colour causing bacteria is usually the result of a decrease in oxygen concentration of a water body. But, as this is a river, and by definition is free moving, a significant decrease in oxygen levels on this scale is unlikely. I would also think an algal bloom is an unlikely cause, the main microorganisms that cause large discolourations or “red tide” are predominantly marine based, and of course, this is fresh water.

On the other hand, one cause that could most certainly be valid is industrial pollution; the surrounding area of the river is home to China’s largest industrial centre. Since the phenomenon has happened so quickly, it is possible that it is the result of a large release of chemical dyes into the river at some point upstream. But this will not be confirmed till analysis is complete.

If it is not found to be the direct result of a pollutant release, I would be inclined to attribute the problem to Acid Mine Drainage. AMD, can occur when water flows over or through sulphur-bearing materials forming solutions of net acidity. It is mainly associated with abandoned coal mines and currently active mining. An iron percipitate is formed and is the cause of a red/orange discolouration. Of course, there are many other probable causes; the addition of red clay to the water is one. But, whatever the prognosis, this event shows how sensitive water bodies are to changes in their environment.