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Prof. Jörg Wiedenmann

Scientists Find Awesome Fluorescent Corals in the Red Sea

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Prof. Jörg Wiedenmann

The deep sea is more colorful than we thought. Corals living 165 feet beneath the surface of the Red Sea glow green, yellow, and red, according to a new report by an international team of scientists in PLOS ONE.

Green fluorescent corals have been routinely observed in shallow waters, but the deep water corals spotted off the coast of Eliat, Israel are unusual for their wide spectrum of color. Orange-red colors are absent from shallow reefs, but present at greater depths of 165 to 195 feet below the surface.

Fluorescent pigments act as a kind of sunblock for coral at shallow depths, protecting it from harmful UV rays. But some of the corals produce a fluorescent glow even in the absence of a light source in regions of the ocean where getting any sunlight at all can be difficult. These corals don’t need sunscreen. So why the glow?

While scientists are still figuring that out, it might be a way to get more light to the symbiotic algae that live in the reefs and produce oxygen for the corals. These zooxanthellae undergo photosynthesis, so the light produced by the corals may help them survive and thrive at greater depths in the absence of sunlight.

The pigments found in corals might also be useful in scientific laboratories. The fluorescent pigments could be used to highlight specific cells or structures in biomedical imaging.

[h/t: Nature News]

All images by Prof. Jörg Wiedenmann

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iStock
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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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