Category Archives: nature

Eleanora Duse

If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive…

Christopher C. Burt

Many people wonder if the earth’s climate has become more extreme in recent years. People ask themselves: “Was last summer really the hottest ever in the West? Were the floods in the spring unprecedented?” The answer to these kinds of questions would be an unqualified “no.” After all, at one time a glacier sat on Chicago’s doorstep; at another time palm trees grew in northern Canada. A more relevant question to ask ourselves is whether recent extreme weather was the worst in recorded history. It’s the recorded history of the past century or two that provides a benchmark against which we measure what happens today.
Scientists, of course, have many ways of estimating the earth’s temperature and climate in past millennia, including dendrology and the study of ice cores and ocean sediments. What they can’t do is provide details of specific extreme weather events in eons past.


NorthAmericaParts of the US are braced for potentially record-breaking low temperatures as a “polar vortex” brings more freezing weather.
Forecasters say temperatures in the north and central US could feel as low as -60F (-51C) with the effect of wind chill.

Denise Chow

2D9859993-exoplanet-hd106906b.blocks_desktop_largeAn enormous alien planet — one that is 11 times more massive than Jupiter — was discovered in the most distant orbit yet found around a single parent star.
The newfound exoplanet, dubbed HD 106906 b, dwarfs any planetary body in the solar system, and circles its star at a distance that is 650 times the average distance between the Earth and the sun. The existence of such a massive and distantly orbiting planet raises new questions about how these bizarre worlds are formed.

Hayao Miyazaki

In the past, humans hesitated when they took lives, even non-human lives. But society had changed, and they no longer felt that way. As humans grew stronger, I think that we became quite arrogant, losing the sorrow of ‘we have no other choice.’ I think that in the essence of human civilization, we have the desire to become rich without limit, by taking the lives of other creatures.


image.jpg.pagespeed.ce.AzAgSPM8b2Philippines: typhoon Haiyan kills more than 1000 people
A day after the category 5 “super typhoon” churned through the Philippine islands, rescue teams are struggling to reach far-flung regions, their efforts hampered by roads destroyed, ferry services cancelled and fallen trees.



sky1Every year we celebrate Look Up At The Sky Day on 12th April, it is a wonderful event to us. So look up and see the bright and sunny side of life or just gaze at the stars. Brighten up the world of your sweetheart, loved ones, family and friends also make them happy on this beautiful day.

Nachman of Breslov

03_sky-xxxWhen you look outside, what do you see? The market, wagons, horses, people- all running in different directions. Fifty years from now this market will be completely different. There will be different horses and wagons, different merchandise and different people. I will no longer be here and you will no longer be here.
So let me ask you as you stand here now- how can you be so busy and preoccupied that you don’t even have time to look up at the sky?




BearИркутская область. Медведь украл борщ у дачников под Усть-Илимском в Иркутской области. Зверь вышел из леса на запах свежесваренного супа, сообщает пресс-служба регионального ГУ МВД.
Хозяева в этот день сварили борщ, оставили его на веранде остыть и ушли спать в баню, так как дом ещё не достроен. Ночью они проснулись от грохота и увидели, как медведь выламывает окно на веранде. Испугавшись, люди вызвали полицию.
Прибывшие правоохранители заметили гуляющего по участку зверя и испугали его выстрелом в воздух. От страха медведь сразу ушел обратно в лес. Как выяснилось, он успел съесть всю кастрюлю супа.
Как говорится в сообщении пресс-служба регионального ГУ МВД, это уже не первый случай, когда косолапые выходят на приусадебные участки под Усть-Илимском в поисках пищи. Однако ни одного случая нападения на людей не зафиксировано.

The Herbitage

beebalmI have always believed that any plant is a “weed” until we find a use for it. Herbs, for instance, are basically just weeds. They grow in ground that hasn’t been prepared, under conditions that our pretty, hybridized show plants can’t tolerate. They are mostly drought proof, insect resistant, and deer repellent. Some of them spread like wild fire. They love benign neglect. They just happen to taste good and be good for us. But until we knew all that, they were, well, just weeds.



Richard Ingham

CurrentThe Atlantic current that gives western Europe its mild climate is dramatically slowing, and Britain, Ireland and parts of the European continent could be plunged into bitter winters a decade or so from now, scientists say.

Christine Talos

BelgiqueUn terrible orage a touché la station balnéaire de Knokke-Le-Zoute, en Belgique.

La tempête a été filmée par de nombreux amateurs. Les images sont impressionnantes.



有害物質を持たない / 育成のとき化学肥料を必要としない / 廃棄のとき有害物質を発生させない /
三~四年で成長する / 優れた抗菌作用がある 


Lee Smolin

cover_timereborn2cover_timereborn_180Time Reborn: From the crisis in physics to the future of the universe

What is time?

This deceptively simple question is the single most important problem facing science as we probe more deeply into the fundamentals of the universe.

Dennis Overbye

Is nature discrete or continuous? Is the universe infinite or finite? Is life inevitable, or is it a lucky accident? Will we ever find company in the cosmos?
Is the truth of the world to be found in the ways things change, like the river that you cannot step into twice, or the ways they remain the same, like the law of gravity or, indeed, the name of that river?
I could go on all day. Feel free to write in with your own.
A final answer to any of these questions would be a landmark of human progress. But it might be in the nature of being human that we will never answer them but have to hug them both in a kind of Hegelian surrender. And so we live in the tension between opposites.

It all depends on how you look at it.




Daily Mail

article-2342471-1A577F14000005DC-986_634x626A team of researchers has discovered evidence that an planet may be forming quite far from its star – and much further than has been seen before.
Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope say they have discovered evidence of a planet forming 7.5 billion miles away from its host star – about twice the distance Pluto is from our Sun.
Planet formation far away from a small parent star goes against conventional planet-making wisdom.


これは地球から176光年離れたTW Hydraeの観測中に発見されたもので、TW Hydraeからは120億キロメートル離れている。例えば地球は親星から1億4900万キロメートル離れている。
学者らはいくつかの矛盾に直面している。例えば、TW Hydraeの年齢は800万年に過ぎないが、これは星が惑星になるためには不十分だと考えられている。また質量は太陽の55%に過ぎない。またTW Hydraeの周りを回っている今回発見された天体は、地球の6個分から28個分の質量に匹敵しうる。

Stephen Blythe

rainforestThe trees are the first thing one notices upon entering the rainforest. They are huge – up to 150 feet (45 m) tall!
Trees in the rainforest must grow rapidly to reach the sun at the canopy. To be competitive, they grow tall without growing as wide as trees in moderate climates. They have developed several methods of supporting great height without requiring great width. Having “prop roots” is one method of doing this.

Luca Turin

Turin.LucaWhat is important about all this is that the social behaviour of atoms – the branch of science known as chemistry -depends largely on how many atoms there are in the outer orbit. It is as if atoms are more comfortable with filled orbits, and are constantly searching for partners to swap electrons and achieve peace. For example, if one atom has seven electrons in its outer circle, it behaves like a collector trying to fill that yawning gap on its shelf and snaps up any electron around.

Alan Guth

Alan GuthThe universe is big. We often say that we live in a small world, but the 25,000-mile trek around the planet Earth is still a longer trip than most of us have ever attempted. The farthest location ever reached by humans is the moon, about 240,000 miles from the earth. While the luner landing was a spectacular achievement, we would have to travel 400 times farther if we wished to extend our exploration to the sun. This glowing sphere is so large that if a map of the earth were drawn to cover the sun’s surface, the entire area of our planet would fit comfortably within the outline of the Dominican Republic. The sun is not uniquue, but is one of many stars. A journey to our nearest stellar neighbor, a three -star system called Alpha Centauri, would carry our astronauts a hundred million times faster than a trip to the moon, a distance so great that even light requires four years to traverse it. If the astronauts looked homeward from Alpha Centauri, the separation between the earth and moon would look no bigger than a thumbtack viewed from 400 miles away.

Alex Vilenkin

vilenkin_pic1The fireball then continues to expand by inertia, but now it consists of normal matter, its gravity is attractive, and the expansion gradually slows down. The decay of the antigravity material marks the end of inflation and plays the role of the big bang in this theory.
The beauty of the idea was that in a single shot inflation explained why the universe is so big, why it is expanding, and why it was so hot at the beginning. A huge expanding universe was produced from almost nothing. All that was needed was a microscopic chunk of repulsive gravity material. Guth admitted he did not know where the initial chunk came from, but that detail could be worked out later. “It’s often said that you cannot get something for nothing,” he said, “but the universe may be the ultimate free lunch.

S. Braun, P. Ronzheimer, M. Schreiber, S. S. Hodgman, T. Rom, I. Bloch, U. Schneider

NegTemp_lightgrayIn cold regions on earth, negative temperatures on the Fahrenheit or Celsius scale can often occur in winter; in physics, however, they were so far impossible. On the absolute temperature scale that is used by physicists and also called Kelvin scale, one cannot go below zero – at least not in the sense of getting colder than zero Kelvin. According to the physical meaning of temperature, the temperature of a gas is determined by the chaotic movement of its particles – the colder the gas, the slower the particles. At zero Kelvin (-460°F or -273°C) the particles stop moving and all disorder disappears. Thus, nothing can be colder than absolute zero on the Kelvin scale. Physicists of the Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching have now created an atomic gas in the lab that has nonetheless negative Kelvin values. These negative absolute temperatures lead to several striking consequences: Although the atoms in the gas attract each other and give rise to a negative pressure, the gas does not collapse – a behavior that is also postulated for dark energy in cosmology. Also supposedly impossible heat engines can be realized with the help of negative absolute temperatures, such as an engine with a thermodynamic efficiency above 100%.


220px-Calabi-Yau-alternateSuperstring theory is an attempt to explain all of the particles and fundamental forces of nature in one theory by modelling them as vibrations of tiny supersymmetric strings.
General relativity typically deals with situations involving large mass objects in fairly large regions of spacetime whereas quantum mechanics is generally reserved for scenarios at the atomic scale (small spacetime regions). The two are very rarely used together, and the most common case in which they are combined is in the study of black holes. Having “peak density”, or the maximum amount of matter possible in a space, and very small area, the two must be used in synchrony in order to predict conditions in such places; yet, when used together, the equations fall apart, spitting out impossible answers, such as imaginary distances and less than one dimension.
The major problem with their congruence is that, at Planck scale (a fundamental small unit of length) lengths, general relativity predicts a smooth, flowing surface, while quantum mechanics predicts a random, warped surface, neither of which are anywhere near compatible. Superstring theory resolves this issue, replacing the classical idea of point particles with loops. These loops have an average diameter of the Planck length (about 10−33 cm), with extremely small variances, which completely ignores the quantum mechanical predictions of Planck-scale length dimensional warping.
Singularities are avoided because the observed consequences of “Big Crunches” never reach zero size. In fact, should the universe begin a “big crunch” sort of process, string theory dictates that the universe could never be smaller than the size of a string, at which point it would actually begin expanding.



Susan L. Woodward

800px-Biomes_of_the_world.svgBiomes are the major regional groupings of plants and animals discernible at a global scale. Their distribution patterns are strongly correlated with regional climate patterns and identified according to the climax vegetation type. However, a biome is composed not only of the climax vegetation, but also of associated successional communities, persistent subclimax communities, fauna, and soils.
The biome concept embraces the idea of community, of interaction among vegetation, animal populations, and soil. A biome (also called a biotic area) may be defined as a major region of distinctive plant and animal groups well adapted to the physical environment of its distribution area.

J. Bristol Foster

This table from Foster’s paper (Evolution of Mammals on Islands, Nature, April 1964) shows relative sizes of island-dwelling mammal species and subspecies as compared with their presumed mainland relatives.

National Geographic Education

Europeans visited and colonized remote islands beginning in the 1500s. They sometimes caused harm. For example, they brought devastating diseases unknown to islanders, who had no resistance to them. Many island people perished from diseases such as measles.
On their ships, Europeans also brought animals—including cats, dogs, rats, snakes, and goats. These invasive species preyed on native island plants and animals. They also took over native species’ niches and destroyed the natural ecological balance of the islands.
Since the days of the early explorers, islands have been important as places for ships to take on supplies and for their crews to rest. Later, islands became part of ocean trade routes, linking distant parts of the world. Islands became particularly important to seafaring thieves known as pirates.
Like stepping stones, islands have helped people migrate over vast expanses of ocean from one continent to another.
Today, millions of people live on islands all over the world. Some even own them—islands are available for purchase just like any other piece of real estate.


Mimulus flower photographed in visible light (left) and ultraviolet light (right) showing a nectar guide visible to bees but not to humans.
Under ultraviolet, the flowers have a darker center, where the nectaries are located, and often specific patterns upon the petals as well.

Tengyo Kura



David K. Lync, Bernard H. Soffer

The solar spectrum peaks in the green part of the spectrum, right? Wrong! It only peaks in the green when plotted in wavelength units. It peaks in the nearinfrared when plotted in frequency units.
Many people believe that the solar spectrum and the color sensitivity of the eye both peak at around 0.5 μm (500 nm) in the green. The notion is sometimes stated even more strongly, i.e., that evolution has produced a human eye whose color sensitivity has been optimized to match the solar emission spectrum. But this apparent wavelength coincidence between the solar spectrum and the eyes’ sensitivity is an artifact resulting from the units in which the solar spectrum is plotted. Comparing irradiance to sensitivity is like comparing apples to oranges: they are fundamentally different quantities and their shapes and peaks should not be likened to one another although they can legitimately be multiplied together.

Ruth Netting

The light from the Sun looks white. But it is really made up of all the colors of the rainbow. All light travels in a straight line unless something gets in the way to: reflect it (like a mirror); bend it (like a prism); or scatter it (like molecules of the gases in the atmosphere).
Sunlight reaches Earth’s atmosphere and is scattered in all directions by all the gases and particles in the air. Blue light is scattered in all directions by the tiny molecules of air in Earth’s atmosphere. Blue is scattered more than other colors because it travels as shorter, smaller waves. This is why we see a blue sky most of the time.

Adri De Visser

Lioness adopts baby antelope in Uganda national park after eating its mother
When I got there, I saw the lionesses feeding on a Uganda antelope’s carcass.
I followed them for a while and they went up a tree to rest from the sun.
I was watching them when I heard a noise. It was the antelope’s fawn that had been hiding in the long grass.

Temple Grandin, Catherine Johnson

Dogs are very different from a lot of other animals we work with because they are hyper-social and hypersensitive to everything we do. Dogs are so tuned in to people that they are the only animal that can follow a person’s gaze or pointing finger to figure out where a piece of food is hidden. Wolves can’t do it, and neither can chimpanzees.

Dogs are genetic wolves that evolved to live and communicate with humans. That’s why dogs are so easy to train compared to other animals.

Anne Bertoni

Vivre à l’image de cette beauté, c’est cela que je voudrais savoir faire. La netteté de ce pays, la transparence, la profondeur et le miracle de cette rencontre de l’eau, de la pierre et de la lumière, voilà la seule connaissance, la première morale. Cette harmonie n’est pas illusoire. Elle est réelle, et devant elle je ressens la nécessité de la parole.

Pierre Loti

Ayant passé mon unique matinée à revoir mille choses, avec une mélancolie toujours croissante, sous ces nuages d’hiver, – j’avais oublié ce vieux jardin et ce berceau de vigne à l’ombre duquel s’était décidée ma vie, et je voulus y courir, à la dernière minute avant le départ de la voiture qui allait m’emporter pour jamais.


La cour était déserte encore lorsqu’il descendit. Il fit quelques pas et se trouva comme transporté dans une journée de printemps. Ce fut en effet le matin le plus doux de cet hiver-là. Il faisait du soleil comme aux premiers jours d’avril. Le givre fondait et l’herbe mouillée brillait comme humectée de rosée. Dans les arbres, plusieurs petits oiseaux chantaient et de temps à autre une brise tiédie coulait sur le visage du promeneur.

Michael Balter

Many children (and adults) have heard Aesop’s fable about the crow and the pitcher. A thirsty crow comes across a pitcher partly filled with water but can’t reach the water with his beak. So he keeps dropping pebbles into the pitcher until the water level rises high enough. A new study finds that both young children and members of the crow family are good at solving this problem, but children appear to learn it in a very different ways from birds.

Ernie Small

For most species, conservation efforts are being determined by qualities that humans admire or dislike, including economic importance. The most universally admired physical characteristic is size: huge creatures elicit great respect, whereas the majority of species, which are small, tend to be ignored. Glamorous appearance is critical for sympathetic attention, and there are numerous features such as colour and impressive architecture that contribute to what makes a species attractive. However, bizarre or ferocious appearance, if entertaining, can also be a key to conservation. We are hard-wired to admire many of the larger mammals, provided that they have features reminiscent of health and intelligence in humans, or are “cute and cuddly” like human babies. Most bird species also possess many admirable traits. However, most animals distantly related to humans, particularly invertebrates, usually have few characteristics considered attractive. The majority of the world’s threatened species are insects, but except for butterflies and bees, most are usually perceived very negatively. Unfortunately, numerous animal groups in dire need of conservation, such as frogs and snakes, are decidedly handicapped by both their appearance and behaviour. The majority of species are undiscovered, and so are hardly in a position to compete for conservation attention. While there are advantages to conservation focussed on particular species, preservation of diverse habitats is preferable in order to benefit the planet’s life-sustaining ecosystems and their constituent biodiversity, including humans.

>Jill Britton

>Porch of Maidens, Acropolis, Athens

The ancient temple fits almost precisely into a golden rectangle.
Mathematicians had the contribution of the Greeks in mind when they christened the ratio “phi” in tribute to the great Phidias, who used the proportion frequently in his sculpture.