NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg is a self proclaimed crafter. A week ago she made a stuffed dinosaur from scraps on the space station. The little T-rex is made form the lining of Russian food containers and the toy is stuffed with scraps from an old T-shirt. While many toys have flown into space, this is the first produced in space.
Photo by Malcom Burrows
To the best of our knowledge, the mechanical gear—evenly-sized teeth cut into two different rotating surfaces to lock them together as they turn—was invented sometime around 300 B.C.E. by Greek mechanics who lived in Alexandria. In the centuries since, the simple concept has become a keystone of modern technology, enabling all sorts of machinery and vehicles, including cars and bicycles.
As it turns out, though, a three-millimeter long hopping insect known as Issus coleoptratus beat us to this invention. Malcolm Burrows and Gregory Sutton, a pair of biologists from the University of Cambridge in the U.K., discovered that juveniles of the species have an intricate gearing system that locks their back legs together, allowing both appendages to rotate at the exact same instant, causing the tiny creatures jump forward.
The finding, which was published today in Science, is believed to be the first functional gearing system ever discovered in nature. Insects from the Issus genus, which are commonly called “planthoppers,” are found throughout Europe and North Africa. Burrows and Sutton used electron microscopes and high-speed video capture to discover the existence of the gearing and figure out its exact function.
Read more about the first mechanical gears ever found in nature at Smithsonian.com.
This is bonkers
Tintype by photographer Ed Drew, shot and developed while he was serving in Afghanistan in the Air Force Combat Search and Rescue Unit. More cool photos on his webpage.
Bison herd at Fermilab in Illinois frolicking in the deep water left by heavy spring rains (and why does Fermilab have a bison herd? Because reasons.)
in which a douchecanoe with a limited command of English messages me on okcupid and I respond by spamming him with horse_ebooks quotes but he still doesn’t take the hint…and things start to get weird…
Underground Salt Cathedral, Poland
Located 135 meters (443 ft) underground is the famous Wieliczka Salt Mine in southern Poland. Now a museum, the mine’s attractions include dozens of statues, three chapels and an entire cathedral that has been carved out of the rock salt by the miners. The mine, built in the 13th century, produced table salt continuously until 2007, as one of the world’s oldest salt mines still in operation. Commercial mining was discontinued in 1996 due to low salt prices and mine flooding.
Entered into the Unesco World Heritage List in 1978, the mine is located in the town of Wieliczka within the Kraków metropolitan area. The mine reaches a depth of 327 meters (1,073 feet) and is over 287 kilometres (178 miles) long. A wooden staircase with 378 steps provides access to the 64 meters (210 feet) level of the mine. There is a 3 kilometers (1.9 mi) tour of the mine’s corridors, and chapels.