While the Earth’s magnetic field likely won’t flip anytime soon, new evidence published in the Geophysical Journal International suggests that when it does, that reversal (which would make compasses point south) could happen within the span of a human lifetime — a lot quicker than previously thought. 
According to the researchers, the Earth’s last magnetic flip occurred 786,000 years ago and occurred in less than 100 years. While scientists say there is no documented evidence past reversals caused biological catastrophes, such a flip could adversely impact our electrical grid.
ESA satellites have revealed Earth’s magnetic field is decreasing 10 times faster than previously thought, which is leading some to believe the next magnetic flip could happen within 2,000 years.
(Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons, oskay)

While the Earth’s magnetic field likely won’t flip anytime soon, new evidence published in the Geophysical Journal International suggests that when it does, that reversal (which would make compasses point south) could happen within the span of a human lifetime — a lot quicker than previously thought. 

According to the researchers, the Earth’s last magnetic flip occurred 786,000 years ago and occurred in less than 100 years. While scientists say there is no documented evidence past reversals caused biological catastrophes, such a flip could adversely impact our electrical grid.

ESA satellites have revealed Earth’s magnetic field is decreasing 10 times faster than previously thought, which is leading some to believe the next magnetic flip could happen within 2,000 years.

(Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons, oskay)

Happy Thursday! Like you, this spotted hyena is very excited the weekend is coming up. In the meantime, enjoy a few facts about this hearty mammal from Africa. 
Although hyenas look like dogs, they’re actually more closely related to cats.
Spotted hyenas are the largest of three hyena species — the other two being brown and striped hyenas.
The animals live in large groups called clans that can include up to 80 members. Clans are led by females.
Clans often split into smaller cells, which reintegrate later using ceremonial one-on-one greetings.
Hyena etiquette requires the less-dominant animal initiate the greeting.
Spotted hyenas make a variety of sounds including “laughing.”
(Text Credit: Spotted Hyena Facts, National Geographic / Spotted Hyenas Don’t Deserve Their Bad Rap)

Happy Thursday! Like you, this spotted hyena is very excited the weekend is coming up. In the meantime, enjoy a few facts about this hearty mammal from Africa. 

  • Although hyenas look like dogs, they’re actually more closely related to cats.
  • Spotted hyenas are the largest of three hyena species — the other two being brown and striped hyenas.
  • The animals live in large groups called clans that can include up to 80 members. Clans are led by females.
  • Clans often split into smaller cells, which reintegrate later using ceremonial one-on-one greetings.
  • Hyena etiquette requires the less-dominant animal initiate the greeting.
  • Spotted hyenas make a variety of sounds including “laughing.”

(Text Credit: Spotted Hyena Facts, National Geographic / Spotted Hyenas Don’t Deserve Their Bad Rap)

Why Do Leaves Change Color and Fall Off Trees?

If you’re driving through Connecticut, you’ve probably noticed a lot of colors on your commute. Fall foliage has been on full display these last few weeks, with reds, oranges, and yellows covering trees all over New England. You may even have spent your weekend raking leaves up. But have you ever stopped to consider why leaves change color? Or how they fall off trees? 

Read More

What the heck is this? Last week, we asked you about this curiosity found in the Connecticut River. Today, the jury is back. Eric Schultz, an associate professor of ecology and biology at the University of Connecticut, says it’s a bryozoan.
Likely called pectinatella magnifica, this colonial organism (made up of individual animals called zooids), can either attach itself to other river objects or float freely. Very cool animal and a great photo. Thanks for the submission!

What the heck is this? Last week, we asked you about this curiosity found in the Connecticut River. Today, the jury is back. Eric Schultz, an associate professor of ecology and biology at the University of Connecticut, says it’s a bryozoan.

Likely called pectinatella magnifica, this colonial organism (made up of individual animals called zooids), can either attach itself to other river objects or float freely. Very cool animal and a great photo. Thanks for the submission!

This slice-through of a supermassive star shows its inner core converting helium into oxygen. Astrophysicists at the University of California, Santa Cruz and the University of Minnesota now believe certain non-rotating primordial stars (weighing between 55,000 and 56,000 times the mass of our Sun) may have ended their lives as supernovae, which completely unbound the stars, leaving no remnant black holes. This allowed them to seed early space with heavier elements (like carbon, oxygen, neon, magnesium, and silicon) that made up later stars, solar systems, and galaxies.

This slice-through of a supermassive star shows its inner core converting helium into oxygen. Astrophysicists at the University of California, Santa Cruz and the University of Minnesota now believe certain non-rotating primordial stars (weighing between 55,000 and 56,000 times the mass of our Sun) may have ended their lives as supernovae, which completely unbound the stars, leaving no remnant black holes. This allowed them to seed early space with heavier elements (like carbon, oxygen, neon, magnesium, and silicon) that made up later stars, solar systems, and galaxies.

This four image montage of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko was captured by the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft. At the time, the spacecraft was about 16 miles from the center of the comet. The jets seen in the center are a product of ices sublimating and gases escaping from inside the nucleus. The ESA plans to land a rover on the comet in November.
(Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM)

This four image montage of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko was captured by the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft. At the time, the spacecraft was about 16 miles from the center of the comet. The jets seen in the center are a product of ices sublimating and gases escaping from inside the nucleus. The ESA plans to land a rover on the comet in November.

(Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM)