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The Late Movies: Solar Eclipses

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I've personally only seen solar eclipses in the classroom, generally using complex pinhole projection devices designed to keep little-kid eyes safe. But when I saw this video from Argentina of a group of solar eclipse watchers, I realized the experience of people seeing this phenomenon as adults is very different. Watching the video, these people are totally freaking out -- and I found a similar pattern in other eclipse videos. Check it out, and prepare to witness why a tiny web video doesn't really capture the experience of watching the frickin' sun going away. Par for the course: screaming, applause, sounds of wonderment and/or fear.

Argentina (El Calafate), July 11, 2010

People seem to be blowing horns (vuvuzelas?) as it starts, then the freaking out starts. There's a palpable sense of relief when the sun reappears.

CBS Coverage of Annular Eclipse Visible from Africa

A good explanation of what an annular eclipse is, and professional video.

Washington DC, 1984

Cloudy weather blocks much of this eclipse, when it peeks through, it's beautiful. If you want to zoom forward to about 3:30, you'll see some beautiful shots as misty clouds float over the eclipse.

Turkey, March 29, 2006

There's a good mixture of freakouts and decent photography here. Zoom forward to about 1:10 to see the main action.

And here's another video of the same event by San Francisco's Exploratorium crew, on location in Turkey. The photography is amazing.

Eclipse as Seen from Space

This is not a total eclipse; it's shot by NASA's STEREO craft while in space. In the video we see the moon pass in front of the sun -- a very weird experience. (For a similarly non-earthbound perspective, check out this video of the moon passing in front of the earth.)

Brian Cox Sees an Eclipse in Varanasi, India

From the BBC series Wonders of the Solar System, includes excellent photography and some fanciful audio during the main event. "That's the solar system, coming down and grabbing you by the throat," says Cox during the eclipse.

San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, 1991

This was apparently the longest total solar eclipse until 2132. It's sort of a mini-documentary. If you jump to the 4-minute mark you can witness what is basically a party/mass freakout on the beach.

Have You Seen a Solar Eclipse?

Share your experience in the comments!

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Belly Flop Physics 101: The Science Behind the Sting
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Belly flops are the least-dignified—yet most painful—way of making a serious splash at the pool. Rarely do they result in serious physical injury, but if you’re wondering why an elegant swan dive feels better for your body than falling stomach-first into the water, you can learn the laws of physics that turn your soft torso a tender pink by watching the SciShow’s video below.

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What's the Saltiest Water in the World?
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Saltwater is common around the world—indeed, salty oceans cover more than two-thirds of the globe. Typical saltwater found in our oceans is about 3.5% salt by weight. But in some areas, we find naturally occurring saltwater that's far saltier. The saltiest water yet discovered is more than 12 times saltier than typical seawater.

Gaet’ale is a pond in Ethiopia which currently holds the record as the most saline water body on Earth. The water in that pond is 43.3% dissolved solids by weight—most of that being salt. This kind of water is called hypersaline for its extreme salt concentration.

In the video below, Professor Martyn Poliakoff explains this natural phenomenon—why it's so salty, how the temperature of the pond affects its salinity, and even why this particular saltwater has a yellow tint. Enjoy:

For the paper Poliakoff describes, check out this abstract.

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