The Late Movies: Solar Eclipses

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!

Feeling Down? Lifting Weights Can Lift Your Mood, Too

There’s plenty of research that suggests that exercise can be an effective treatment for depression. In some cases of depression, in fact—particularly less-severe ones—scientists have found that exercise can be as effective as antidepressants, which don’t work for everyone and can come with some annoying side effects. Previous studies have largely concentrated on aerobic exercise, like running, but new research shows that weight lifting can be a useful depression treatment, too.

The study in JAMA Psychiatry, led by sports scientists at the University of Limerick in Ireland, examined the results of 33 previous clinical trials that analyzed a total of 1877 participants. It found that resistance training—lifting weights, using resistance bands, doing push ups, and any other exercises targeted at strengthening muscles rather than increasing heart rate—significantly reduced symptoms of depression.

This held true regardless of how healthy people were overall, how much of the exercises they were assigned to do, or how much stronger they got as a result. While the effect wasn’t as strong in blinded trials—where the assessors don’t know who is in the control group and who isn’t, as is the case in higher-quality studies—it was still notable. According to first author Brett Gordon, these trials showed a medium effect, while others showed a large effect, but both were statistically significant.

The studies in the paper all looked at the effects of these training regimes on people with mild to moderate depression, and the results might not translate to people with severe depression. Unfortunately, many of the studies analyzed didn’t include information on whether or not the patients were taking antidepressants, so the researchers weren’t able to determine what role medications might play in this. However, Gordon tells Mental Floss in an email that “the available evidence supports that [resistance training] may be an effective alternative and/or adjuvant therapy for depressive symptoms that could be prescribed on its own and/or in conjunction with other depression treatments,” like therapy or medication.

There haven’t been a lot of studies yet comparing whether aerobic exercise or resistance training might be better at alleviating depressive symptoms, and future research might tackle that question. Even if one does turn out to be better than the other, though, it seems that just getting to the gym can make a big difference.

Keystone/Getty Images
Uncombable Hair Syndrome Is a Real—and Very Rare—Genetic Condition
Keystone/Getty Images
Keystone/Getty Images

Everyone has bad hair days from time to time, but for roughly 100 people around the world, unmanageable hair is an actual medical condition.

Uncombable hair syndrome, also known as spun glass hair syndrome, is a rare condition caused by a genetic mutation that affects the formation and shape of hair shafts, BuzzFeed reports. People with the condition tend to have dry, unruly hair that can't be combed flat. It grows slower than normal and is typically silver, blond, or straw-colored. For some people, the symptoms disappear with age.

A diagram of a hair follicle

Although there have been only about 100 documented cases worldwide, one of the world's leading researchers on the condition, Regina Betz, of Germany's University of Bonn, believes there could be thousands of others who have it but have not been diagnosed. Some have speculated that Einstein had the condition, but without a genetic test, it's impossible to know for sure.

An 18-month-old American girl named Taylor McGowan is one of the few people with this syndrome. Her parents sent blood samples to Betz to see if they were carriers of the gene mutation, and the results came back positive for variations of PADI3, one of three genes responsible for the syndrome. According to IFL Science, the condition is recessive, meaning that it "only presents when individuals receive mutant gene copies from both parents." Hence it's so uncommon.

Taylor's parents have embraced their daughter's unique 'do, creating a Facebook page called Baby Einstein 2.0 to share Taylor's story and educate others about the condition.

"It's what makes her look ever so special, just like Albert Einstein," Taylor's mom, Cara, says in a video uploaded to YouTube by SWNS TV. "We wanted to share her story with the world in hopes of spreading awareness."

[h/t BuzzFeed]


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