One of the great innovations of the twentieth century is likely not well-known, but this video from the Ri Channel is looking to change that:
This is X-ray crystallography.
Discovered in 1913 by William and Lawrence Bragg, x-ray crystallography is a technique that reveals the atomic and molecular structure of a crystal. When a narrow beam of x-rays is shown through the crystal, it diffracts into a pattern of rays through the other side.
"To date 28 Nobel Prizes have been awarded to projects related to the field" and 100 years after its discovery, the Curiosity Rover is using x-ray crystallography to analyze soil on Mars.
Science! And if you haven’t seen these yet, we’ve shared some of our favorite science videos for kids over at RiChannel.org, where they know great science videos.
Watch a butterfly drink turtle tears from a Yellow-spotted Amazon River Turtle (Podocnemis unifilis). Wait, what?
It’s true: butterflies and bees will drink turtle tears as a source of sodium and minerals. In turn, the turtles get their eyes cleaned. The video above was filmed in Peru by Ryan M. Bolton, photographer/videographer and trained conservation biologist. Farther below, there’s a photo in Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park by conservation photographer Pete Oxford. Via LiveScience:
Turtle tears are not the only source of such salts for butterflies; the insects also readily get the salt from animal urine, muddy river banks, puddles, sweaty clothes and sweating people, said Geoff Gallice, a graduate student of entomology at the Florida Museum of Natural History, who has witnessed butterflies flocking to turtle tears in the western Amazon rain forest.
This region is lower in sodium than many places on Earth, because it is more than 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) from the Atlantic Ocean, a prime source of salt, and is cut off from windblown mineral particles to the west by the Andes Mountains. Dust and minerals make their way into the Amazon from the east, sometimes all the way from north Africa. But much of this material is removed from the air by rain before it reaches the western Amazon, Torres said.
Related viewing: bees drinking turtle tears, and more amazing nature in the archives.
Turning light into heat 24 hours a day, Concentrated Solar Power plus molten salt storage technology (CSP+) works like a typical steam turbine/electrical power generator system on the inside, but on the outside, it is a phenomenal scene of massive mirrors and a brightly-lit tower right out of a sci-fi novel! There are a few different concentration systems, and new mirror designs continue to break ground.
Spain currently leads the way on operating stations and projects under construction, but solar thermal power stations are becoming a more popular energy solution in the United States, too, with over two dozen new plants announced! Take a tour:
Russell Beard of Earthrise goes on a tour of Gemasolar, near Seville, Spain - the first Concentrated Solar Thermal Power plus molten salt storage (CSP+) plant to produce energy 24 hours per day. This power tower plant produces 20MW, enough to power 25,000 homes but much bigger CSP+ plants are now being in the Middle East and the US that will produce 100MW and 150MW. Even larger CSP+ plants are possible.
24/7 solar! The kid should see this.
Japanese artist Motoi Yamamoto creates intricate temporary installations using salt — an essential material for both the human body and the ocean. He pours the tiny grains into images that look very different far away than they do up close — maze-like, lace-like, map-like, nature-like, and tempest-like patterns that are specially designed for the installation space, and then are swept up by gallery patrons returned to the sea at the end of the exhibitions.
His inspiration came from grief:
The mainspring of my work is derived from the death of my sister from brain cancer… Since then, I have had the dilemma, in grief and surprise, of thinking about what I had and lost. I started making art works that reflected such feelings and continue it as if I were writing a diary. Many of my works take the form of labyrinths with complicated patterns, ruined and abandoned staircases or too narrow life-size tunnels, and all these works are made with salt. A common perception towards them is “nearly reachable, yet not quite” or “nearly conceivable, yet not quite”…
Drawing a labyrinth with salt is like following a trace of my memory. Memories seem to change and vanish as time goes by. However, what I sought for was the way in which I could touch a precious moment in my memories which cannot be attained through pictures or writings. What I look for at the end of the act of drawing could be a feeling of touching a precious memory.
For a deeper dive, this 12 minute documentary by John Reynolds & Lee Donaldson explores Yamamoto’s breathtaking work further.
h/t This Is Colossal.