Saturday, February 18, 2017

The discovery that overturns all knowledge of geography. It was found a new continent Called 'Zealandia'

Topography of Zealandia. The linear ridges running north-northeast and southwest away from New Zealand are not considered part of the continental fragment, nor are Australia (upper left), Fiji or Vanuatu (top centre). Credit: wikipedia

Kids are frequently taught that seven continents exist: Africa, Asia, Antarctica, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America.

Geologists, who look at the rocks (and tend to ignore the humans), group Europe and Asia into its own supercontinent - Eurasia - making for a total of six geologic continents.

But according to a new study of Earth's crust, there's a seventh geologic continent called 'Zealandia', and it has been hiding under our figurative noses for millennia.

The 11 researchers behind the study argue that New Zealand and New Caledonia aren't merely an island chain.

Instead, they're both part of a single, 4.9-million-square kilometre (1.89 million-square-mile) slab of continental crust that's distinct from Australia.

"This is not a sudden discovery but a gradual realisation; as recently as 10 years ago we would not have had the accumulated data or confidence in interpretation to write this paper," they wrote in GSA Today, a Geological Society of America journal.

Ten of the researchers work for organisations or companies within the new continent; one works for a university in Australia.

But other geologists are almost certain to accept the research team's continent-size conclusions, says Bruce Luyendyk, a geophysicist at the University of California, Santa Barbara (he wasn't involved in the study).

"These people here are A-list earth scientists," Luyendyk tells Business Insider.

"I think they have put together a solid collection of evidence that's really thorough. I don't see that there's going to be a lot of pushback, except maybe around the edges."

Why Zealandia is almost certainly a new continent
N. Mortimer et al./GSA Today
The concept of Zealandia isn't new. In fact, Luyendyk coined the word in 1995.

But Luyendyk says it was never intended to describe a new continent. Rather, the name was used to describe New Zealand, New Caledonia, and a collection of submerged pieces and slices of crust that broke off a region of Gondwana, a 200 million-year-old supercontinent.

"The reason I came up with this term is out of convenience," Luyendyk says.

"They're pieces of the same thing when you look at Gondwana. So I thought, 'why do you keep naming this collection of pieces as different things?'"

Researchers behind the new study took Luyendyk's idea a huge step further, re-examining known evidence under four criteria that geologists use to deem a slab of rock a continent:

Land that pokes up relatively high from the ocean floor

  • A diversity of three types of rocks: igneous (spewed by volcanoes), metamorphic (altered by heat/pressure), and sedimentary (made by erosion)
  • A thicker, less-dense section of crust compared to surrounding ocean floor
  • "Well-defined limits around a large enough area to be considered a continent rather than a microcontinent or continental fragment"

Over the past few decades, geologists had already determined that New Zealand and New Caledonia fit the bill for items 1, 2, and 3.

After all, they're large islands that poke up from the sea floor, are geologically diverse, and are made of thicker, less-dense crust.

This eventually led to Luyendyk's coining of Zealandia, and the description of the region as 'continental', since it was considered a collection of microcontinents, or bits and pieces of former continents.

The authors say the last item on the list - a question of "is it big enough and unified enough to be its own thing?" - is one that other researchers skipped over in the past, though by no fault of their own.

At a glance, Zealandia seemed broken-up. But the new study used recent and detailed satellite-based elevation and gravity maps of the ancient seafloor to show that Zealandia is indeed part of one unified region.

The data also suggests Zealandia spans "approximately the area of greater India", or larger than Madagascar, New Guinea, Greenland, or other microcontinents and provinces.

"If the elevation of Earth's solid surface had first been mapped in the same way as those of Mars and Venus (which lack […] opaque liquid oceans)," they wrote.

"We contend that Zealandia would, much earlier, have been investigated and identified as one of Earth's continents."

The geologic devils in the details

The study's authors point out that while India is big enough to be a continent, and probably used to be, it's now part of Eurasia because it collided and stuck to that continent millions of years ago.

Zealandia, meanwhile, has not yet smashed into Australia; a piece of seafloor called the Cato Trough still separates the two continents by 25 kilometres (15.5 miles).

N. Mortimer et al./GSA Today
One thing that makes the case for Zealandia tricky is its division into northern and southern segments by two tectonic plates: the Australian Plate and the Pacific Plate.

This split makes the region seem more like a bunch of continental fragments than a unified slab.

But the researchers point out that Arabia, India, and parts of Central America have similar divisions, yet are still considered parts of larger continents.

"I'm from California, and it has a plate boundary going through it," Luyendyk says.

"In millions of years, the western part will be up near Alaska. Does that make it not part of North America? No."

What's more, the researchers wrote, rock samples suggest Zealandia is made of the same continental crust that used to be part of Gondwana, and that it migrated in ways similar to the continents Antarctica and Australia.

The samples and satellite data also show Zealandia is not broken up as a collection of microcontinents, but a unified slab.

Instead, plate tectonics has thinned, stretched, and submerged Zealandia over of millions of years. Today, only about 5 percent of it is visible as the islands of New Zealand and New Caledonia - which is part of the reason it took so long to discover.

"The scientific value of classifying Zealandia as a continent is much more than just an extra name on a list," the scientists wrote.

"That a continent can be so submerged yet unfragmented makes it a useful and thought-provoking geodynamic end member in exploring the cohesion and breakup of continental crust."

Luyendyk believes the distinction won't likely end up as a scientific curiosity, however, and speculated that it may eventually have larger consequences.

"The economic implications are clear and come into play: What's part of New Zealand and what's not part of New Zealand?" he says.

Indeed, United Nations agreements make specific mentions of continental shelves as boundaries that determine where resources can be extracted - and New Zealand may have tens of billions of dollars' worth of fossil fuels and minerals lurking off its shores.

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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Sciencealert . Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The ambitious project of the American Natural History Museum through which all the Darwin's manuscripts will be published online

Three quarter length studio photo showing Darwin's characteristic large forehead and bushy eyebrows with deep set eyes, pug nose and mouth set in a determined look. He is bald on top, with dark hair and long side whiskers but no beard or moustache. His jacket is dark, with very wide lapels, and his trousers are a light check pattern. His shirt has an upright wing collar, and his cravat is tucked into his waistcoat which is a light fine checked pattern. Credit: wikipedia
While we can never pick Charles Darwin’s brilliant brain, a collaborative project is bringing us closer to his thoughts than ever before. As of his week, to mark the 155th anniversary of the publication of his iconic book On the Origin of Species, the Darwin Manuscripts Project has made a treasure chest of Darwin’s hand-written notes available online, allowing people across the globe to trace the development of the man that changed the way we look at the world.

The project, which is a collaboration between the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) and Cambridge University Library, was founded in 2003, and set out to digitize and transcribe a collection of Darwin’s writings. So far, more than 16,000 high resolution images of the naturalist’s notes, scientific writings and sketches have been made publicly available, but the project is only halfway through.

In mid-July 1837 Darwin started his "B" notebook on Transmutation of Species, and on page 36 wrote "I think" above his first evolutionary tree. Credit: wikipedia
The documents hitherto released cover 25 years of Darwin’s life, “in which Darwin became convinced of evolution; discovered natural selection; developed explanations of adaptation, speciation, and a branching tree of life; and wrote the Origin,” according to the AMNH site.

You can even see a drawing by one of Darwin’s children, a scene of carrot and aubergine cavalry, which was sketched on the back of a page of the On the Origin of Species manuscript. You can also see his first use of “natural selection” as a scientific term, among many other things.

By June 2015, the archive will host more than 30,000 documents authored by Darwin between 1835 and 1882. The next release will cover the notes of his eight post-Origin books. The ultimate goal of the project, the AMNH explains, is to provide “access to the primary evidence for the birth and maturation of Darwin’s attempts to explore and explain the natural world.”

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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Iflscience . Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Frederik The Great: The most beautiful stallion in the United States

Mirror mirror on the wall: Frederik is said to be the fairest of them all, with many dubbing him the world's most handsome horse
He's the real life Black Beauty.

And Frederik The Great, a breathtakingly beautiful Friesian stallion from the United States, may just be the world's most handsome horse.

Sharing his name with the ruler of Prussia from 1740-1786, the highly acclaimed horse has a muscular build, striking black features and flowing mane.

Credit: dailymail
The mane attraction: Frederik The Great is a breathtakingly beautiful Friesian stallion from the United States

The beautiful stallion is owned by Pinnacle Friesians where he stands at stud in the Ozark Mountains in the US

With a Facebook fan page of more than 12,500 followers and a blog to his name, the stunning stallion has amassed quite a hefty fan following.

So popular is the horse that an online gallery featuring artwork of him has been created. 

Lustrous locks: 'That hair! It's like someone crossed a horse with the hunky lead from a romance novel,' Boredom Therapy wrote Credit: dailymail
A breathtaking video shot recently shows Frederik galloping freely, with his long black mane billowing in the wind.

'That hair! It's like someone crossed a horse with the hunky lead from a romance novel,' Boredom Therapy wrote. 

The equine treasure's legacy will continue with his first offspring born in August 2015.

Stunning stallion: Frederik is as photogenic as he is handsome 

Vaughn, a Friesian colt, shares the same striking appearance as its father and at just nine months old is completely adorable.

Fans of Frederik The Great have expressed their love for the handsome horse.

'Frederik, you are the most beautiful horse that I have ever seen. Only God could of created such artistry. Breath taking & magnificent,' one person wrote.

'There will NEVER be a more majestic, handsome, sexy horse on the face of the earth. Never, ever. I wish I could just touch and 'smell' him just once,' wrote another. 

Photography by Cally Matherly.

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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Dailymail . Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Deep-sea dragonfish, one of the most bizarre creatures of the Sea - VIDEO

Dragonfish are the stuff of nightmares with their oversized jaws and rows of fanglike teeth. The deep sea creatures may be only several centimeters long, but they can trap and swallow sizeable prey. How these tiny terrors manage to open their mouths so wide has puzzled scientists, until now.

In most fish, the skull is fused to the backbone, limiting their gape. But a barbeled dragonfish can pop open its jaw like a Pez dispenser — up to 120 degrees — thanks to a soft tissue joint that connects the fish’s head and spine, researchers report February 1 in PLOS ONE. 

BIG GULP This X-ray image reveals that a dragonfish has eaten a large lanternfish in a single gulp.
Nalani Schnell of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris and Dave Johnson of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., examined preserved specimens of nine barbeled dragonfish genera. 

Five had a flexible rod, called a notochord, covered by special connective tissue that bridged their vertebrae and skulls. When Schnell and Johnson opened the mouths of the fish, the connective tissue stretched out. The joint may provide just enough give for dragonfish to swallow whole crustaceans and lanternfish almost as long as they are.

OPEN WIDE  Some species of dragonfish (Eustomias obscurus shown) open their jaws like Pez dispensers, thanks to a flexible joint at the base of their skulls. The joint may allow the fish to swallow bigger prey, which they trap with their fanglike teeth.

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    I'm working on a theory for some time in trying to combine science with religion, looking for an answer to the question 
"What is the purpose of life in Creation?  Is it possible for life to be an unintended consequence of our Universe?

Finally due to space,science and exploration throughout the Universe we got everyone to agree with the fact that we are not the only planet with life.  My blog is full of interesting articles about Creation of the Universe with all his laws,  NASA's Missions,  History,   Science,  Physics, Health, Nature, Ancient origins and Culture.