I always knew that Dragonflies were enemies to insects but I had no idea they were as cold, calculating and viscous as they actually are.
The top-10 list website, Listverse has set of 10 surprising facts about dragonflies. Here is my favourite fun-fact from the list:
Fact: They Can Isolate Their Prey in a Swarm
Dr. S.D. Wiederman discovered when he began studying the way Emerald dragonflies select their prey. Curious about the way dragonflies hunt, Dr. Wiederman and his team placed a nano-electrode inside the visual processing neuron of a dragonfly. They then positioned the "subject" in front of a TV monitor with two moving objects.
In simple nervous systems, multiple objects tend to fade out; the insect can’t handle the attention multitasking. But dragonflies have the ability to switch their attention between objects at will. Under observation, the dragonfly focused first on one object, then shifted to watch the second, then shifted back to the first again, never losing track of where they were. This selective attention span allows the dragonfly to single out one target in a swarm, then zero in on it exclusively-while remaining aware of the rest of the swarm to avoid a collision.
All I can say is thank goodness that they are not big enough to hunt us.
More dragonfly fun-facts on Listverse.
Photo credit: Dragon Fly | Flickr by meke http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_CA / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
NASA recently released a colourised photo representing the ocean salinity differences around the world.
I thought it was pretty cool to see how much of an influence the Amazon River, St. Lawrence River and the ice caps at the north pole. Makes sense when you think about it but I clearly hadn’t thought about it before.
This information comes from data captured by NASA’s Aquarius instrument.
Jet Propulsion Laboratory website explains what’s going on and why we should care about this:
Launched June 10, 2011, aboard the Argentine spacecraft Aquarius/Satelite de Aplicaciones Cientificas (SAC)-D, Aquarius is NASA's first satellite instrument specifically built to study the salt content of ocean surface waters. Salinity variations, one of the main drivers of ocean circulation, are closely connected with the cycling of freshwater around the planet and provide scientists with valuable information on how the changing global climate is altering global rainfall patterns.
The salinity sensor detects the microwave emissivity of the top approximately 1 inch (1 to 2 centimeters) of ocean water - a physical property that varies depending on temperature and saltiness. The instrument collects data in 240-mile-wide (386 kilometers) swaths in an orbit designed to obtain a complete survey of global salinity of ice-free oceans every seven days.
They also released a very cool visualization showing the ocean surface salinity changes from December 2011 to December, 2012.
Photo credit: NASA
Check out the trailer for the feature-length film, Midway. It's both fascinating and heartbreaking at the same time.
Using spare narration and stunning imagery, Chris Jordan’s feature film Midway explores the plight of the Laysan albatross plagued by the ingestion of our plastic trash. Both elegy and warning, the film explores the interconnectedness of species, with the albatross on Midway as a mirror of our humanity.
Midway is a feature length film in production schedules to premiere in late 2013. Our film is made possible from generous donation and grants. Please contribute through Fractured Atlas. All donations are tax deductible.
We covered Chris's first photographic journey to Midway Atoll back in 2009.
Thanks to Ray for the tip.
The European Union has just launched the second of three weather satellites which should greatly increase the accuracy of weather forecasts.
The 3.2 billion Euro project called MetOp is a joint venture between the European Space Agency and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) and involves a total of three satellites. MetOp-A launched back in 2006 and MetOp-C is scheduled to launch sometime in 2016-2018.
The sensors on MetOp-B is considerably more accurate than before:
The [satellite] measurements slice the atmosphere into air columns measuring a single horizontal kilometre wide. Scanners measure the temperature and humidity to within 1-degree C and relative 10 percent, respectively. "These crucial instruments will be used for weather forecasting and to help us all gain a better understanding of the Earth's systems," stated Gene Martin, POES Project instrument manager.
With the massive increase in near real-time atmosphere data you can bet that the lonely weather forecasters in the
I just got a sad email from my friend Tim, owner of the White Squall Paddling Centre in Parry Sound, Ontario. Due to recently announced Federal Government budget the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve found out that their funding was cut for 2012-2013.
Here is the email:
Sorry to bother you, but the Biosphere needs your help. They have had their core funding cut to zero – effective this year. It means Greg and Becky don’t have funding to continue unless something happens. They have come up with an innovative and simple funding effort called the $57K campaign. Basically, they need $57,000 to get through this initial crisis – and they are asking for donations of $57 in the hopes that 1000 people will heed the call. It’s not huge for each of us, but will make a huge difference for the continuing of their work.
Designated by UNESCO in 2004, the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve is an area of 347,000 hectares that stretches 200 km along the eastern coast from Port Severn to theFrenchRiver, in the world’s largest freshwater archipelago, also known as the 30,000Islands. The unique geography and geology of the area create more than 1,000 distinct habitat types which support a variety of rare species, including plants, mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.
So far they have been able to raise $2,000 but still have a long way to go. The GBBR is a fantastic organization and have been extremely supportive of the sea kayak campers who use the area. I’m opening my wallet, are you able to help?
You can learn more as well as contribute here.