Tag Archives: Earth

Record surge in atmospheric CO2 seen in 2016

Concentrations of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere surged to a record high in 2016, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Last year’s increase was 50% higher than the average of the past 10 years.

Researchers say a combination of human activities and the El Niño weather phenomenon drove CO2 to a level not seen in 800,000 years. Scientists say this risks making global temperature targets largely unattainable.

Continue reading Record surge in atmospheric CO2 seen in 2016

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Universe shouldn’t exist, CERN physicists conclude

A super-precise measurement shows proton and antiproton have identical magnetic properties, writes Cathal O’Connell.

One of the great mysteries of modern physics is why antimatter did not destroy the universe at the beginning of time.

To explain it, physicists suppose there must be some difference between matter and antimatter – apart from electric charge. Whatever that difference is, it’s not in their magnetism, it seems.

Continue reading Universe shouldn’t exist, CERN physicists conclude

23 Reasons Iceland Is The Best Country On The Planet

Iceland is a place of surreal beauty.

The incredible landscape of the island is staggering. Most of the country is an uninhabited moonscape of craters, bright green moss, towering glaciers, volcanoes, hot springs, and fields of lava rock.

It is so other-worldly that it is often the backdrop in sci-fi films. Iceland was the inspiration for Tolkien’s stories and is sometimes even used as practice for moon-landings.

Plus, the people are really, really nice — and I should know since I’m from there.

Here are just a few reasons why Iceland is the most wonderful country on Earth.

1. Because in the mid-1970s Iceland built a geothermal power plant, and accidentally created one of the most visited places in the world: the Blue Lagoon.

Iceland Blue Lagoon

Spillover water from the geothermal power plant created pools in the surrounding lava fields, and when people began to swim in those waters they found that it would heal skin ailments, so they opened it to the public.

2. Because “The Journey To The Center Of The Earth” begins in Iceland. It might be a fictional Jules Verne novel, but you can go to the actual place — it’s called Snæfellsjökull.

Iceland

3. Because Icelandic children save Puffins.

Iceland

Every August, millions of newborn puffins leave the cliffs of the Westman Island to fly over the north Atlantic. But many will get distracted by the lights of the town of Heimaey and wind up on the streets, so people of the town will scoop them up and take them to the seashore to put them back on the right track. Over the years, it has become a special activity for children.

4. Because Icelanders believe in “hidden people” that live underneath rocks.

Iceland

It is said that the often-harsh landscape of Iceland inspired the stories of hidden people. While this may seem like a strange belief, it is actually used most often to halt new construction developments, which helps to conserve the natural landscape of the country (seriously!).

5. Because there are thousands of waterfalls throughout the country. Iceland is home to the most powerful waterfall and the largest waterfall complex in Europe.

Iceland

6. Because the most famous restaurant in the country is a small hot dog stand in downtown Reykjavik.

Iceland

Hot dogs from Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur are basically the national dish of Iceland — not fermented shark.

7. Because it is the land of the midnight sun.

Iceland

To celebrate the summer’s midnight sun, Iceland holds a music festival in Reykjavik called Secret Solstice. The sun doesn’t set during the three day festival.

8. Because downtown Reykjavik looks like a wonderland of different candy-colored houses.

Iceland

9. Because Iceland is ranked as one of “the happiest places on earth,” by the World Happiness Report. It is also ranked as the world’s friendliest country.

Iceland

10. Because it is so safe that the Icelandic police publicly apologized last year for killing someone for the first time in its history.

Iceland

11. Because Iceland is a volcanic island that is constantly growing.

Iceland volcanic ash images

12. Because the terrain of Iceland is so different and vast that it also has the largest desert in Europe.

Iceland

13. Because they still speak Icelandic, which is a language that has been largely unchanged for over a thousand years. In fact, Icelanders today can still read the ancient Sagas.

Iceland

14. Because it is called the best country in the world for women. For six years in a row, Iceland has been rated as the country with the world’s smallest gender gap.

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15. Because this is the only traffic you will run into.

Iceland

16. Because Iceland is the only place in the world where you can take an elevator directly into a volcano’s magma chamber.

Iceland

17. Because Iceland has never had a military, or entered into a conflict (expect for a brief conflict that was literally called the “Cod War,” and yes it was about fish).

Iceland

18.Because it is one of the best places to catch the Northern Lights.

Iceland

19. Because comedian Jon Gnarr ran for Mayor of Reykjavik, the capital city, on a joke campaign called the “Best Party” — and actually won. One of his promises was to put a polar bear in the local zoo.

Jon Gnarr

Plus, he dresses in drag to support the pride parade in Iceland:

Jon Gnarr

20. Because nearly all of the homes are heated by geothermal energy.

Iceland

21. Because Iceland has a higher percentage of writers in its population than any other country in the world. Icelanders also published the most books per capita. In 2011, Reykjavik became a UNESCO City of Literature.

Iceland

22. Because Icelanders understand that their country is dark and cold for a lot of the year, so they have outdoor geothermal heated pools open all year round, regardless of the weather.

Iceland

The custom of bathing in hot springs dates back to the Vikings, but today you can find heated outdoor pools scattered all throughout the cities. Icelanders basically treat the outdoor pools like bars — a place where people meet and gossip after work.

23. Because the landscape of Iceland is so lunar-like that both Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong practiced for the moon landing there.

Iceland

(Recognize this place? You may have seen it in Interstellar).

This tiny glob could be humans’ earliest known ancestor

Newly discovered fossilized remains may fill in the gaps in Earth’s evolutionary history.

Paleobiologists in search of the earliest records of life on Earth have discovered what they believe is the human race’s earliest known ancestor: a 540 million-year-old deuterostome about the size of a grain of rice called Saccorhytus coronarious that may have evolved into everything from sea urchins to land mammals and humans.

Continue reading This tiny glob could be humans’ earliest known ancestor

Push and pull: How the Milky Way flies

It may not feel like it, but our Milky Way galaxy is barrelling through the Universe at more than two million kilometres (1.24 million miles) per hour.

On Monday, astronomers said they had discovered a void in deep space that helps explain the direction in which we are headed, and our speed.

It turns out our galaxy is not only being pulled by galactic forces, but pushed as well, they wrote in the journal Nature Astronomy.

Continue reading Push and pull: How the Milky Way flies

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