Tag Archives: phenomena

Did You Know {22} ~ Northern Lights, Arctic Circle

These dancing celestial hues have been both feared and revered throughout history. Today, although we know their cause – charged particles ejected from the sun reacting with the earth’s atmosphere – they are no less awe-inspiring. Enormous curtains of bright green, red and blue sway among the stars. To see them, you must travel north to the Arctic circle, away from light pollution, on a clear, dark night when the solar winds are blowing. Wait, look up and you might just catch the greatest show on earth.

Civilizations {10} ~ Nazca

~Early Nazca society was made up of local chiefdoms and regional centers of power centered around the ritual site of Cahuachi.

~The Nazca are known for their Nazca Lines—geometric shapes, lines, and animal figures carved into the desert floor.

~Like the Moche, the Nazca decline was likely due to environmental changes.

Source: https://courses.lumenlearning.com/suny-hccc-worldcivilization/chapter/the-nazca/

Did You Know {13} ~ Sailing Stones, U.S.A

When visitors stumbled upon scores of heavy stones that appeared to have moved across the dried lake bed of Racetrack Playa in California’s Death Valley National Park, leaving a tell-tale trail in their wake, scientists were baffled. How had so many boulders, some weighing 300kg, moved as much as 250m across this remote part of the valley, asks Quora user Farhana Khanum?

Adding to the mystery, some trails were gracefully curved, while others were straight with sudden shifts to the left or right. Who, or what, had moved the stones? A slew of theories emerged, from magnetic fields to alien intervention to dust devils to pranksters.

It took a NASA scientist to crack the case. In 2006, Ralph Lorenz developed a kitchen table model using a small rock frozen in an inch of water in a Tupperware container to demonstrate ice shove, the phenomenon behind the mysterious sailing stones.

In winter, Racetrack Playa fills with water and the lakebed’s stones become encased in ice. Thanks to ice’s buoyancy, even a light breeze can send those frozen boulders sailing across the muddy bottom of the lakebed. Stones with rough bottoms leave straight tracks, while those with smooth bottoms drift and digress. Warmer months melt the ice and evaporate the water, leaving only the stones and their mysterious trails.

People can see these sailing stones in a few locations, including Little Bonne Claire Playa in Nevada and most famously, Death Valley’s Racetrack Playa.

Did You Know {12} ~ Blood Falls, Antarctica

Blood Falls, in East Antarctica’s McMurdo Dry Valleys, looks like slowly pouring scarlet-red blood, staining snowy white Taylor Glacier and Lake Bonney below.

The trickling crimson liquid isn’t blood, however. Nor is it water dyed by red algae, as early Antarctica pioneers first speculated. In fact, the brilliant ochre tint comes from an extremely salty sub-glacial lake, explains Quora user Aditya Bhardwaj.

About two million years ago, a hyper-saline body of water became trapped beneath Taylor Glacier, isolated from light, oxygen and heat. As the saltwater trickles through a fissure in the glacier, it reacts with the oxygen in the air to create this spectacular, rust-hued cascade.

Did You Know {7} ~ Pink Lake Hillier, Australia

Fly over Western Australia for a rare visual treat: nestled among dense emerald-green woodlands surrounded by the deep blue of the Southern Ocean are a series of lakes in a shocking shade of bubblegum pink. One of the most well known is Lake Hillier, a 600m-long lake on the edge of Middle Island in the Recherche Archipelago off Western Australia’s south coast. Surrounded by a thin ring of sand and an expansive forest of paperbark and eucalyptus trees, the rosy pink lake punctuates a stunning landscape.

But even more surprising than its Pepto-Bismol shade is that “nobody seems to be able to definitively explain its distinctive colour,” according to Quora user Garrick Saito. Possible causes include the presence of green algae that can accumulate high levels of beta-carotene, a red-orange pigment; haloarchaea, a type of microorganism that appears reddish in large blooms; or a high concentration of pink brine prawn.

Most tourists admire the chromatic splendour of Lake Hillier from a helicopter or plane ride. For on-the-ground visitors, there’s an added treat: Lake Hillier is highly saline but the water isn’t toxic, so pack your swimsuit and go for a swim. Thanks to its high salinity, you’ll bob like a cork.

Did You Know {6} ~ Fairy Circles, Namibia

Across the arid grasslands of the Namib Desert lies an eerie sight: millions of circular patches of land void of plants, each between 2m and 15m in diameter, arranged in a honeycomb-like pattern across 2,500km of land. These disks of bare soil, known as fairy circles, pockmark the landscape in Namibia, as if giant moths ate through the vast carpets of grassland.

Scientists have suggested radioactive soil, or that toxins released from plants kills the vegetation in circular patterns. Others believe the circles are the work of sand termites. To store water, they burrow in the soil in ring-like patterns and consume the roots of vegetation to allow underlying grains of sand to absorb falling rain.

Another hypothesis ascribes the circles to competition for resources. In harsh landscapes, plants compete for water and nutrients. As weaker plants die and stronger ones grow, vegetation “self-organizes” into unusual patterns.

Considering the eerie beauty of these phenomena, perhaps the most fitting theory is that of local bushmen, who say fairy circles are nothing less than the footprints of gods.