300-Foot Wide Floating Saucer of Ice Forms on a River in Maine

iStock.com/Onfokus
iStock.com/Onfokus

People are crowding the banks of Presumpscot River in Westbrook, Maine to see a strange natural phenomenon. As temperatures in Maine have plunged, a giant, floating ice disk has formed on the river's surface, NBC News reports—and it's gaining worldwide attention.

The ice disk appeared when a cold snap hit the Portland, Maine suburb earlier in January. It isn't unusual to see ice chunks floating down the Presumpscot River this time of year, but this floe is notable for its size (roughly 300 feet across!) and shape. From land, it looks like a near-perfect circle, prompting comparisons to flying saucers and the moon. And as of Wednesday, January 16, the disk had been slowly spinning counter-clockwise.


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The uncanny sight is actually the result of a natural process. According to experts, the disk likely formed when a chunk of river ice got caught in a vortex powered by a waterfall 100 feet upstream. As the ice spun it would have bumped into the shore continuously, smoothing out its rough edges into a smooth circle.

CBS 13 reports that the giant ice pancake stopped spinning on Wednesday after getting caught on another piece of ice near the the riverbank. It continuous to attract spectators and serve as a landing pad for local ducks.


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[h/t NBC News]

A Simple Hack for Recycling Your Contact Lens Blister Packs

Marco Verch Professional Photographer and Speaker, Flickr (Cropped) // CC BY 2.0 
Marco Verch Professional Photographer and Speaker, Flickr (Cropped) // CC BY 2.0 

As convenient as monthly and daily-use contact lenses can be for those who aren't blessed with 20/20 vision, they can also be harmful to the environment and contribute to microplastic pollution when they’re flushed down the drain.

The good news is that the blister packs your contact lenses come in can be recycled in a way that requires very little time and effort. If you're a contact lens wearer and want to do your part to reduce plastic waste, there’s a simple solution: Just place the empty blister packs inside a plastic bottle and drop it into the plastic recycling bin once it’s full. (Just make sure you're discarding the foil covering the blister pack first.)

Of course, it’s always better to use as few plastic bottles as possible, so only do this if you were already using those bottles anyway. If your household is fairly anti-plastic, there’s another option. Contact lens manufacturer Bausch + Lomb offers its own recycling program, called One by One. The company collaborated with TerraCycle to reduce waste by recycling all parts of the product, including the used blister pack, top foil, and contact lenses themselves. The company accepts all brands of contact lens products and estimates that it has recycled more than 25,000 pounds of packaging to date.

“Once received, the contact lenses and blister packs are separated and cleaned,” Bausch + Lomb explains on its website. “The metal layers of the blister packs are recycled separately, while the contact lenses and plastic blister pack components are melted into plastic that can be remolded to make recycled products.”

The reason why so many plastic blister packs end up in landfills is because the pieces are too small to be sorted properly at recycling plants. It’s the same problem that affects plastic bottle caps, which is why it’s recommended to leave the caps on, as long as your recycling program allows it.

Optometry offices across the country are participating in Bausch + Lomb's recycling program, and you can visit the company’s website to find out if there are any drop-off points near you. If it's more convenient, you can also place the items in a cardboard box and mail them in, using a free shipping label that’s available online.

Photographer Captures Rare and Amazing Photos of North Carolina’s ‘Pollen Apocalypse’

A stock image of a bee
A stock image of a bee
iStock.com/Dimijana

A photographer’s images of the recent “pollenpocalypse” in Durham, North Carolina, don’t exactly portend the end of days, but the high pollen count likely wreaked havoc on local residents’ allergies. According to Geek.com, Jeremy Gilchrist’s photos of a yellow-green skyline appear as if they’ve been filtered, but the photographer swears “no tricks” were used in the capturing of these images.

While pollen is often associated with flowers, Durham’s pollen haze came from a variety of area trees, including pine, oak, and mulberry. During allergy season, trees have been known to drop massive “pollen bombs,” some of which contain up to a billion pollen grains.

Gilchrist used a drone to photograph these “pollen clouds,” which hung in the air and blanketed everything in sight, including cars, porches, and the ground. "It was surprising to see it up that high," Gilchrist, who has worked as a meteorologist, said while describing the green clouds to CNN.

A thunderstorm rolled in soon after the photos were taken, washing away the pollen and providing temporary respite, but meteorologists warned that the pollen count would soar to high levels on Thursday. So if you live in the area and suffer from allergy symptoms, you might want to wear a mask or wrap a breathable scarf around your mouth and nose when you step outside.

The nearby capital of Raleigh is the fifth-worst city in the U.S. for pollen right now, according to the Weather Channel. To track the pollen count in your city, check out Pollen.com’s interactive allergy map.

[h/t Geek.com]

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