It was a great day for science-loving geeks everywhere. Here are the day’s big stories, in no particular order:
Amateur astronomers captured an enormous explosion on Jupiter
Welcome to the age of armchair astrophysics. Two amateur stargazers independently reported a huge flash as something — either a small comet or asteroid — went crashing into the Solar System’s largest planet in the wee hours of Sep 10. The fireball was only visible for a brief second, and whether it will leave lasting scars like 1994’s Shoemaker-Levy 9 crash has yet to be seen. A video (also available below) and running update of user-submitted images are available at the link. [Space]
This weirdly blue berry uses the same trickery of light as those gorgeous butterflies, only better
It’s called structural color, and its derived not from intensely concentrated pigment, but from a cellular arrangement that reflects only blue light. You’ve seen it in gorgeous butterflies and those metallic-looking beetles, but now biologists have discovered that the berry of the Pollia condensata plant (which lives in sub-Saharan Africa) bears the most intense, unpigmented blue color of any organism on the planet.
Unlike similarly deep-colored fruits, however, condensata berries are nearly-empty husks that offer almost no nutritional value. [New Scientist]
Solar is pricey and windmills kill birds. Time to get airborne.
It was only a matter of time before energy harvesting found a way to lift off, this time literally. The planet’s most abundant renewable resource next to solar is wind; after all, this rock just keeps spinning. But collecting that energy has yet to be cost-effective and overwhelmingly impressive enough for most consumers (and corporate consumers) to make the switch. How to fix it? Grab it straight from the sky with the help of airborne wind farms. In a new report from the journal Nature, the theoretical limits of energy extraction from the wind at altitudes between 200 meters and 20 kilometers “can sustain an equivalent of 200 Earth habitations.” We’d have been satisfied with just the one, but hey, yes, 200 sounds great. Let’s get to it people. [Nature]