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.
This raw movie footage was taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft as it raced towards Jupiter in February 1979. Clearly visible is the constantly changing attitude of Voyager’s scan platform, which houses the narrow angle camera that took this particular sequence.
In total, 3531 frames were aligned to produce this film.
This 33 year old moving image has an old quality, and yet it still feels like the future. A few facts to narrate over this silent film:
Jupiter is the fourth brightest object in the sky (after the Sun, the Moon and Venus)… in 1610 when Galileo first pointed a telescope at the sky he discovered upiter’s four large moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto (now known as the Galilean moons)…
Jupiter was first visited by Pioneer 10 in 1973 and later by Pioneer 11, Voyager 1, Voyager 2 and Ulysses. The spacecraft Galileo orbited Jupiter for eight years. It is still regularly observed by the Hubble Space Telescope.
The gas planets do not have solid surfaces, their gaseous material simply gets denser with depth… What we see when looking at these planets is the tops of clouds high in their atmospheres…
Jupiter is about 90% hydrogen and 10% helium… with traces of methane, water, ammonia and “rock”. This is very close to the composition of the primordial Solar Nebula from which the entire solar system was formed. Saturn has a similar composition, but Uranus and Neptune have much less hydrogen and helium.
Wolfram Research co-founder and author Theo Gray has made the most amazing Periodic Table table for his collection of elements! And he’s collected so many in a variety of forms over the years… liquids, solids, bottles of gases, crystals, and cheeky substitutions. What a great, hands-on way to experience what could otherwise just be a bunch of memorized letters and numbers.
Related reading: Gray’s wonderful book The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe.