Above: Mr. Bear goes for a stroll near the Kamchatka volcano. Credit: Richard Li
Welcome to the June 2021 issue of Cool Things! Each month, we want to bring you news on scientific discoveries, historical information, and other interesting finds from across the internet. We have a lot to share today, so let's dive in!
No Place Like Home: A Self Portrait of Earth
Above: Crescent Earth as seen from Apollo 17. Digital restoration by Toby Ord.
The Apollo missions of the 60s and 70s were supplied with the best technology of the time and cutting edge machines to get them safely to and from the Moon. While the rockets, capsules, and computers are amazing, perhaps the most impactful thing they carried was a camera.
A World Beneath Our Feet
Above: The world 23 million years ago!
For Ranger Greg Francek, it had started out as an ordinary day. There was no way he could know that he was about to discover an entire prehistoric ecosystem beneath his feet. Last summer, Francek stumbled upon an amazing petrified forest was found in the Sierra Nevada mountains. These fossilized trees dated back 23 million years to the Eocene, a time when the mountains didn't even exist.
After excavation began something even more amazing was found: the first of many fauna fossils. Mastodons, rhinoceroses, camels, horses, birds, fish, tortoises, and tapirs were all part of the ancient ecosystem uncovered. Check out the full report here!
Supersonic Back in Action!
Above: Concept art of United's upcoming supersonic plane. Reminds us an awwwful lot of the Concorde 🤔
The "Overture," a jet designed by Boom Supersonic, is planned to be the first supersonic airline available since the Concorde. It's not expected to be operational until 2029, but in the meantime you can check out a piece of the original Concorde here. United might have the newest, but nothing beats the original. 😏
A Meteorite in Magma
Above: If we're quick enough maybe we'll find some Star Bits... Wait this isn't Zelda!
It might look like a way-point in a video game, but this is real life. This amazing photograph from @gunarto_song
on Instagram shows the path of a meteorite
above the active Indonesian volcano
, Mount Merapi. Gunarto explained that he was preparing to shoot the mountain when the light fell from the sky. The long exposure setting the camera was set to caused it to appear as a brilliant beam coming from above!
Above: A cicada infected with a mind control fungus!
The fungus grows inside the genitals of the bugs and produces chemicals to put the cicadas into a mating frenzy. It eventually bursts through the exoskeleton and replaces their abdomen, allowing it to further spread through mating. The cicadas affected don't seem to be in any sort of pain or even know that they're being controlled by the fungus. Massospora isn't known to be especially dangerous to humans, but it still might bug you out a little! 🐛
This entry comes from Alan! It looks like our Plesiosaur found a buddy, not to mention the beautiful betta fish hanging out too! Thanks for sharing Alan!