Amazing Video of the Sun Melting Steel

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Melting steel in a solar oven.

Melting steel in a solar oven (aka solar concentrator) isn’t new or unique, but it’s always cool to see and a good reminder of just how much energy is hitting the sunny side of the planet at any moment. The video below shows a short exerpt of James May’s “ Big Ideas” series (James is better known for the Top Gear show), and they start by cooking, er, burning a sausage, and then they melt a steel plate. Impressive to see how quickly it turns to a liquid. (video)

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Migrating Robins Can Actually See Magnetic Fields

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A European robin wearing goggles.

It has been known for decades that some birds are able to sense the Earth’s magnetic field and set their direction as if following a compass heading, which is an extremely useful ability for birds migrating long distances. The ability is believed to be linked to the availability of light and it is thought that specialized molecules in the birds’ retinas allow them to literally see the magnetic fields, which appear as patterns of light and shade superimposed over the regular image from light. Now a new study shows that the internal compass also depends on the birds having clear vision in their right eyes.

 

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Photo of the Only Atomic Bomb Ever Detonated in Space

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Exploding nuke in space.

Since we’re coming up on the Fourth of July, and towns everywhere are preparing their better-than-ever fireworks spectaculars, we would like to offer this humbling bit of history. Back in the summer of 1962, the U.S. blew up a hydrogen bomb in outer space, some 250 miles above the Pacific Ocean. It was a weapons test, but one that created a man-made light show that has never been equaled — and hopefully never will. Here it is: (video)

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Luna Ring – Transforming the Moon into a Solar Power Plant

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Luna Ring

We’ve heard about schemes to gather solar power directly from space before, but designers at Japan’s Shimizu Corporation have taken the idea to a new level with the Luna Ring, a concept solar power plant on the moon. The plan involves building a 6,800 mile “solar belt” around the moon, beaming electricity to earth with microwaves and lasers, and setting up receiving stations on Earth where the power can then be used.

 

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A Crisis for Global Warming Research

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The Maldives cabinet holds an underwater meeting in a bid to draw attention to the dangers of global warming for the island nation.

Plagued by reports of sloppy work, falsifications and exaggerations, climate research is facing a crisis of confidence. How reliable are the predictions about global warming and its consequences? And would it really be the end of the world if temperatures rose by more than the much-quoted limit of two degrees Celsius?

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