Dazzling satellite video reveals lightning dancing inside a mega-complex of thunderstorms

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An animation of GOES-16 weather satellite imagery showing a complex of thunderstorms over Iowa on June 14, 2018, with an overlay of lightning mapping. (Source: RAMMB/CIRA GOES-16 Loop of the Day) As a giant complex of thunderstorms blew across Iowa and into Illinois and Missouri on June 14, the GOES-16 weather satellite was watching — and mapping the crackling lightning discharges. The result is the video above, originally posted to the terrific GOES-16 Loop of the Day ...read more

Dating Do-Over For Anzick-1, Famous First Americans Burial

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A white post to the left of the cliff base marks the location where the grave of Anzick-1 was found half a century ago. (Credit: PNAS) He is arguably the most famous ancient American baby: an infant First American whose partial remains were found 50 years ago on a Montana ranch. But while Anzick-1, as the child is known, changed our understanding of the human history of the Americas, critics have complained the dates around the burial are messy, and throw the significance of the site into quest ...read more

Last month was the fourth warmest May on record, two reports out today agree

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Here’s how surface temperatures around the globe in May varied from the long-term average for the month. Last month was the fourth warmest May globally on record. (Source: NASA/GISS) In their monthly climate reports released today, both NASA and NOAA agree that last month was fourth warmest among all Mays dating back to 1800. This means that the period 2014 through 2018 has brought the five warmest Mays in 138 years of record-keeping, according to NOAA&ac ...read more

Vote for Groups C and D in the Geology World Cup

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I’ll have another post later today with some of the geology news of the weekend, including the eruptions in Kīlauea and Fernandina, along with the earthquake in Japan. However, first I’ll give everyone a chance to vote for Groups C and D in the Geology World Cup. If you haven’t voted in Group A or Group B, do it! Group C Part of the Great Barrier Reef, seen from space. NASA. Australia: The only country that is also a whole con ...read more

22,000-year-old Panda Skull Shows New Family Line

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The Cizhutuo fossil, a 22,000-year-old giant panda skull. (Credit: Yingqi Zhang and Yong Xu) When Qiaomei Fu got her hands on a 22,000-year-old panda skull in 2014, she was both surprised and elated. An expert in paleogenomics, Fu had done most of her past work on the DNA of ancient humans, but she has a personal interest in pandas. Now, in 2018, she and her team at the Chinese Academy of Sciences are the first to have sequenced the entire mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genome of an ancient giant p ...read more

Happy National Pollinator Week!

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Danny Perez CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 From June 18 to June 24 we celebrate the pollinators that make most of our food possible. This week, take a moment to make and share your observations with scientists. Our editors selected five projects in need of your help. More about pollinators from Penn State’s website: “Pollinators include bees, butterflies, beetles, flies, some birds and some bats. They move pollen from male structures (anthers) of flowers to t ...read more

Ayahuasca, the Psychedelic Antidepressant?

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A traditional Amazonian psychedelic brew is an effective and rapid-acting antidepressant, according to a paper just published. But the new study revives some long-standing questions. Ayahuasca is a mixture of herbs, traditionally used for spiritual and therapeutic purposes. The main active ingredients are N,N-DMT, a potent psychedelic, and several molecules that inhibit the enzyme MAO. The MAO inhibitors serve to prevent the N,N-DMT from being broken down by the digestive system, allowing it to ...read more

El Niño is gestating in the Pacific, possibly heralding warmer global temps and extreme weather in 2019

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Here is how sea surface temperatures differed from the the 1981-2010 average during May of 2018. (Source: ENSO Blog/Climate.gov) While 2019 is still a long way off, we’ve now got some strong hints that the coming year could bring even warmer global temperatures, plus droughts in some regions, and floods in others. These climatic and weather effects would come from an El Niño that seems to be gestating in the tropical Pacific. A warming of tropical Pacific ...read more

Science Festivals: Report from the Front Lines

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By Caroline Nickerson Over the past few months, members of the SciStarter team have been working around the country to share new citizen science projects at science festivals. It’s been so much fun to join others excited about science and get a chance to meet some of you! Organizing a science festival is a labor of love, fueled by the passion of the coordinators, exhibitors, and participants. The Cambridge Science Festival was one of the first of its kind in the United S ...read more

What Does God Look Like?

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A composite image of over 500 U.S. Christian’s perceptions of what God looks like. (Credit: Joshua Jackson Et Al) What would you say if you saw this stranger on a bus? Well, if you’re Christian, you might say he’s God. Psychologists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill surveyed 511 Christians in the U.S. and, based on the participants’ combined perceptions, this is roughly what they thought Go ...read more

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