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There Are 1600-Foot-Tall Waves Under the Ocean

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Deep underneath the ocean, there are swells that would put big wave surfers to shame. The biggest waves on Earth can’t be seen breaking against the shore, but underwater, they can reach heights almost as high as the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, and can be observed throughout the year. 

Generated by tides pulling water across the varied topography of the ocean floor, as well as wind blowing across the water's surface, the largest documented waves in the world are in the eastern border of the South China Sea, which separates China and Vietnam from the Philippines. These underwater waves can reach heights of up to 500 meters (1640 feet). Unlike surface waves that crash over a period of seconds, they last for hours, growing larger as they move across the sea floor. 

As part of a new study published in Nature, a team of scientists dropped mooring lines with measuring instruments from buoys on the surface down to the ocean floor, observing the physics at play underwater. 

These massive underwater waves move marine life across the sea, allowing creatures to surf the tide into shore to feed or breed, a key activity in maintaining the South China Sea’s coral reef system. The mixing also serves to distribute heat from the surface of the water to the depths of the ocean. 

“It’s like a giant washing machine,” Thomas Peacock of MIT, one of the paper’s co-authors, said in a press statement. “The mixing is much more dramatic than we ever expected.”

[h/t: slashdot]

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infographics
All the Plastic Ever Produced, Visualized
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iStock

Humanity has a plastic problem. The cheap, durable material has become a vital part of our vehicles, food packaging, and even the inner structures of our homes. We’ve already produced 8.3 billion metric tons of the stuff, and most of it is sitting in landfills where it could take centuries to break down.

In early 2017, a study published in the journal Science Advances highlighted the literal weight of this growing issue. Researchers calculated that the bulk of all the plastic that’s been made by humans is equivalent to that of 25,000 Empire State Buildings or 80 million blue whales. Of that, only 9 percent has been recycled. The amount of plastic waste currently trashing our planet adds up to 6.3 billion metric tons, and the researchers don’t see our plastic addiction getting any less severe in the near future. By 2050, the plastic in our landfills is expected to hit 12 billion metric tons. You can see more alarming statistics from the study in the infographic below.

Infographic showing plastic production statistics.
University of Georgia, Janet A Beckley

Of all the trash we produce, plastic is some of the toughest to get rid of [PDF]. Scientists are looking into solutions, such as plastic-chomping caterpillars and germs, but for now consumers can do the planet a favor by investing in more reusable goods.

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Noriyuki Saitoh
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Art
Japanese Artist Crafts Intricate Insects Using Bamboo
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Noriyuki Saitoh

Not everyone finds insects beautiful. Some people think of them as scary, disturbing, or downright disgusting. But when Japanese artist Noriyuki Saitoh looks at a discarded cicada shell or a feeding praying mantis, he sees inspiration for his next creation.

Saitoh’s sculptures, spotted over at Colossal, are crafted by hand from bamboo. He uses the natural material to make some incredibly lifelike pieces. In one example, three wasps perch on a piece of honeycomb. In another, two mating dragonflies create a heart shape with their abdomens.

The figures he creates aren’t meant to be exact replicas of real insects. Rather, Saitoh starts his process with a list of dimensions and allows room for creativity when fine-tuning the appearances. The sense of movement and level of detail he puts into each sculpture is what makes them look so convincing.

You can browse the artist’s work on his website or follow him on social media for more stunning samples from his portfolio.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

[h/t Colossal]

All images courtesy of Noriyuki Saitoh.

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