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Apocalyptic fact of the day: if our sun went out

Don't worry, it probably won't -- at least, not for another 5 billion years or so. But if it did, a very interesting thing would happen: our atmosphere would freeze, and precipitate out into oxygen and nitrogen snow. (That's an interesting image: our atmosphere snowing onto us.) In fact, it would look a lot like normal snow, since solid oxygen is clear with a very pale sky-blue color, and solid nitrogen is clear and colorless. Difference is, there would be a lot more of it than we're used to. For the math stuff, we turn to ask an astronomer:

"How much snow would there be? The earth's atmosphere has a mass of about 5000 trillion metric tons (this can be estimated using atmospheric pressure, newton's law Force = Pressure / Area = Mass x Acceleration, and the earth's gravitational acceleration and the surface area). If we assume that the "snow" formed when the atmosphere freezes has a density comparable to freshly fallen water snow (about 100 kg/m^3), then we can find the depth of the frozen atmosphere: Depth of "Snow" = Atmosphere's Mass / Density of Snow / Surface Area."

In plain English, this works out to about 100 meters of snow -- more than enough to cover all but the tallest buildings. If our sun went out, (hypothetical) alien visitors who arrived a year or so after the fact would find nothing but an atmosphere-less world covered with icy snow, a blank slate save for the occasional Sears Tower poking out of the tundra. Creeeeepy.

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Bone Broth 101
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Whether you drink it on its own or use it as stock, bone broth is the perfect recipe to master this winter. Special thanks to the Institute of Culinary Education

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Why Can Parrots Talk and Other Birds Can't?
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If you've ever seen a pirate movie (or had the privilege of listening to this avian-fronted metal band), you're aware that parrots have the gift of human-sounding gab. Their brains—not their beaks—might be behind the birds' ability to produce mock-human voices, the Sci Show's latest video explains below.

While parrots do have articulate tongues, they also appear to be hardwired to mimic other species, and to create new vocalizations. The only other birds that are capable of vocal learning are hummingbirds and songbirds. While examining the brains of these avians, researchers noted that their brains contain clusters of neurons, which they've dubbed song nuclei. Since other birds don't possess song nuclei, they think that these structures probably play a key role in vocal learning.

Parrots might be better at mimicry than hummingbirds and songbirds thanks to a variation in these neurons: a special shell layer that surrounds each one. Birds with larger shell regions appear to be better at imitating other creatures, although it's still unclear why.

Learn more about parrot speech below (after you're done jamming out to Hatebeak).

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