September 20, 2012
What could possibly be more awesome than a TORNADO MADE OF FIRE?!? Not much. This is a spectacular natural phenomenon that occurs in wildfires. It’s the same atmospheric process that causes dust devils- the difference here is that the strong updraft is from the heat of the fire, so it’s much more intense than a normal dust devil. The hot air rises rapidly and the surrounding winds happen to be flowing into the updraft at just the right angles so that the rising column of air gets a twist. From there the law of conservation of angular momentum takes over and the vortex becomes self-sustaining. This one was captured recently in Australia.
Also from the department of TOTALLY AWESOME: Warp Drives (like the ones they used in Star Trek) may actually be much closer to reality than ever thought. NASA physicist Dr. Harold White has recently done some tweaking of the theoretical design of the famous Alcubierre Warp Drive, originally proposed in 1994 by physicist Miguel Alcubierre. The original design, while theoretically possible, was completely impractical because it required more energy than a human mind can comprehend. But with Dr. White’s tweaks, the amount of energy required to run this thing suddenly became more plausible. Essentially the ship would be able to travel much faster than light, without actually traveling faster than light. It does this by literally compressing a region of space-time ahead of it and expanding a region behind it. The ship itself is in a bubble in which it never breaks the speed of light relative to the space-time it’s in. Think of it like surfing a wave of space-time. Granted, the amount of energy require to run the Warp Drive is still roughly equivalent to 1.5 million Hiroshima bombs, but with a little antimatter (about 500 kilograms) that number is not out of reach. The problem is that the idea hasn’t been tested in real life. So Dr. White and his team are currently attempting to actually warp space-time on a microscopic scale in their lab. Take a moment to digest that. Right now, we are attempting to warp space-time in a lab. It doesn’t get much more awesome than that. For more info on how the drive actually works check out this article on Extreme Tech or this article on Discovery News.
Jack White’s latest side project, The Dead Weather, will be playing their first public show in NYC @ Bowery Ballroom on April 14th. They played a private show right here in Nashville for the opening of White’s new label offices/record store/recording studio/photo studio complex back in early March. In other news via Brooklyn Vegan, AC/DC will be heading back to the US for some extended tour dates. I was under the impression that the Nashville show at Sommet Center was to be their last performance in the US… apparently I was gravely mistaken.
In case you’ve been under a rock for the past few days, Lake Fever has posted a special 5-song issue of their “Lake Fever Sessions” video series starring Superdrag. They play several tracks from their new record Industry Giants, which was recorded at Lake Fever. Pretty effin’ awesome if you ask me. I suggest reading Joe Baine Colvert’s blurb to the right of the videos about his teenage years and first discovering Superdrag. The photo to the left was taken by me when I ran into them at SXSW. Speaking of that… I FINALLY got all my pics from Austin on my Flickr, so go have a look. There are a lot of random candid shots on there that weren’t in the Scene slideshows.
For your daily dose of “awww how cute,” check out this article about a new dog that will be a strong contender for the world’s smallest dog. His owners oh-so-cleverly named him Tom Thumb. Via sister sisyphus.
While we’re on the subject of really tiny animals… might as well mention this new species of tree frog discovered in the Andes Mountains. It’s called Noble’s Pygmy Frog. How cute.
The Boston Globe’s Big Picture blog has a set of amazing photos of Mt. Redoubt, the Alaskan volcano that recently erupted. I knew it was only a matter of time before they had a post full of nice Redoubt imagery. I have a hard to choosing between the aerial shots and the nighttime lightning shots as my fav.
This May 10 through June 13, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are co-funding the greatest tornado chasing effort in history. It’s called VORTEX-2, and in classic scientific tradition, they came up with a really cool acronym, and then figured out words that would work with the acronym and also describe their project. The result- Verification Of Rotation in Tornadoes EXperiment 2 (VORTEX 2). As if we need verification that tornadoes rotate…. No matter how silly the name, I’d still LOVE to be right there with them!
io9’s quote of the day today: “The Best Green Technology is Population Control.” Just read this whole excerpt by author Paolo Bacigalupi. My favorite quote from the interview:
Advertising agencies and PR firms are delighted to sell us any number of “green” gizmos and they’re throwing in some nice self-esteem blowjobs for all of us, using their persuasive talents to assure us that we’re enlightened and forward thinking because we just stuffed a green X into our Prius.