YouTube / MinuteEarth
YouTube / MinuteEarth

Why Do Rivers Curve?

YouTube / MinuteEarth
YouTube / MinuteEarth

Here's a question I hadn't thought to ask: Why don't rivers just run straight? Why do they curve in oddly regular, sinuous bends? It seems logical that water would flow straight from source to destination, just powering through (the shortest path between two points is a straight line, right?). So what's up with all the curvy rivers around the world?

In about two and a half minutes, the folks at MinuteEarth give us a solid explanation incorporating fluid dynamics, fractals, and some interesting examples of what happens when rivers get "too bendy" and the bends collide. Enjoy:

The narrator is Emily Elert, science writer and longtime contributor to Popular Science. I look forward to more MinuteEarth videos!

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Mark Ralston, AFP/Getty Images
How a Hairdresser Found a Way to Fight Oil Spills With Hair Clippings
Mark Ralston, AFP/Getty Images
Mark Ralston, AFP/Getty Images

The Exxon Valdez oil tanker made global news in 1989 when it dumped millions of gallons of crude oil into the waters off Alaska's coast. As experts were figuring out the best ways to handle the ecological disaster, a hairdresser from Alabama named Phil McCroy was tinkering with ideas of his own. His solution, a stocking stuffed with hair clippings, was an early version of a clean-up method that's used at real oil spill sites today, according to Vox.

Hair booms are sock-like tubes stuffed with recycled hair, fur, and wool clippings. Hair naturally soaks up oil; most of the time it's sebum, an oil secreted from our sebaceous glands, but it will attract crude oil as well. When hair booms are dragged through waters slicked with oil, they sop up all of that pollution in a way that's gentle on the environment.

The same properties that make hair a great clean-up tool at spills are also what make animals vulnerable. Marine life that depends on clean fur to stay warm can die if their coats are stained with oil that's hard to wash off. Footage of an otter covered in oil was actually what inspired Phil McCroy to come up with his hair-based invention.

Check out the full story from Vox in the video below.

[h/t Vox]

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Huntsman Marine Science Centre
Fisherman Catches Rare 'Cotton Candy' Lobster, Donates It to Aquarium
Huntsman Marine Science Centre
Huntsman Marine Science Centre

Lucky, a cotton candy-colored lobster, has been turning heads ever since he was caught off the coast of Canada's Grand Manan Island last month. As The Dodo reports, the rare blue-pink crustacean has since been donated to the Huntsman Marine Science Centre in New Brunswick, where he continues to dazzle visitors.

#guardian2011 #evolutionfisheries #rainbowlobster #rarestoftherare

A post shared by Robinson Russell (@robinsonfrankrussell) on

"If all of this attention is making Lucky blush, exactly what color would he turn?" the Marine Centre wrote in a Facebook post about Lucky's newfound fame.

Robinson Russell, the fisherman who caught the crustacean and donated it to the aquarium, said, "I have been fishing for over 20 years and it’s the first one I’ve ever seen of that color."

Researchers with the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine told The Dodo that a lobster of Lucky's pigmentation is roughly one in 100 million, making it just as rare as an albino lobster. By another estimate, lobsters like Lucky turn up once every four to five years.

Researchers says the coloring is caused by a genetic mutation that affects pigments in the lobster's shell. Most lobsters tend to be gray or brown—turning red only when boiled—but yellow, bright orange, and blue lobsters have all been spotted in the past.

Check out National Geographic's video below to see Lucky on the move. 

[h/t The Dodo]

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