When you drill 364 meters (1194 feet) down into Antarctic ice, taking out a cylindrical section called an ice core, you can find out about the Earth’s temperature and carbon dioxide levels from over 20,000 years ago. Information is held within the oxygen atoms in the ice and the air bubbles that formed within it.
Measuring ice cores is an effective form of time travel for scientists like the British Antarctic Survey team, who are studying how the Earth’s climate is changing. And Antarctica is full of untapped information:
Antarctica is thought to have been covered by ice for over 30 million years. So far, scientists have drilled ice cores stretching back 800,000 years, and they are now working to extend their records back to 1.4 million years ago.
In this video, Ice Core Scientist Nerilie Abram explains the process. You can also read more about the team’s work here.
How do you make a cloud? On her show, Head Rush, Mythbuster’s Kari Byron demonstrates how clouds are formed by making one in a bottle.
For this experiment, you can use a bicycle pump with a rubber stopper attachment, rubbing alcohol and a clear 1 liter bottle. Don’t forget goggles and some adult supervision! Steve Spangler’s Science has more:
The reason the rubbing alcohol forms a more visible cloud is because alcohol evaporates more quickly than water. Alcohol molecules have weaker bonds than water molecules, so they let go of each other more easily. Since there are more evaporated alcohol molecules in the bottle, there are also more molecules able to condense. This is why you can see the alcohol cloud more clearly than the water cloud.
Clouds on Earth form when warm air rises and its pressure is reduced. The air expands and cools, and clouds form as the temperature drops below the dew point. Invisible particles in the air in the form of pollution, smoke, dust or even tiny particles of dirt help form a nucleus on which the water molecules can attach.
From the archives: clouds and experiments.
Update: Here’s an even more simple version of the experiment! Thanks, @nicolasdickner.
Watch the spring thaw of seasonal dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide) on Mars, brought to us by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.