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Visualization of the Sun's Invisible Magnetic Field

Most of us can appreciate the Sun and all its complexities, but there is a lot going on with the big ball of gas and plasma that goes unnoticed. To help clear up some of the mystery, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) recently shared the video above, which explains the Sun's magnetic field lines through the use of a computer model.

"The Sun is a beautifully magnetically driven star, but we can't actually see magnetic field lines," explains the video's narrator, GSFC solar physicist Holly Gilbert. "They're essentially invisible, and so we have to turn to models in order for us to see the global magnetic structure of the Sun."

The model in the video—which was created using a vector magnetograph, according to Nerdist—shows the magnetic activity of the Sun over the course of four years. Using color-coded lines to represent open magnetic field lines that extend far into space and others that loop out and back into the Sun, the visualization spotlights the sun's activity. The result is a psychedelic dancing orb that is both fun to watch and informative. 

Knowledge of the star's magnetic structure is crucial for scientists. It helps researchers better understand things like solar storms, the fields of radiation that spacecraft travel through, and what the GSFC refers to as "space weather on Earth," Gilbert explains.

Head to GSFC's website for more about the study of the sun's magnetism.

Banner image via NASA Goddard on YouTube

[h/t Nerdist]

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26 Facts About LEGO Bricks

Since it first added plastic, interlocking bricks to its lineup, the Danish toy company LEGO (from the words Leg Godt for “play well”) has inspired builders of all ages to bring their most imaginative designs to life. Sets have ranged in size from scenes that can be assembled in a few minutes to 5000-piece behemoths depicting famous landmarks. And tinkerers aren’t limited to the sets they find in stores. One of the largest LEGO creations was a life-sized home in the UK that required 3.2 million tiny bricks to construct.

In this episode of the List Show, John Green lays out 26 playful facts about one of the world’s most beloved toy brands. To hear about the LEGO black market, the vault containing every LEGO set ever released, and more, check out the video above then subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up-to-date with the latest flossy content.

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Of Buckeyes and Butternuts: 29 States With Weird Nicknames for Their Residents
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Tracing a word’s origin and evolution can yield fascinating historical insights—and the weird nicknames used in some states to describe their residents are no exception. In the Mental Floss video above, host John Green explains the probable etymologies of 29 monikers that describe inhabitants of certain states across the country.

Some of these nicknames, like “Hoosiers” and “Arkies” (which denote residents of Indiana and Arkansas, respectively) may have slightly offensive connotations, while others—including "Buckeyes," "Jayhawks," "Butternuts," and "Tar Heels"—evoke the military histories of Ohio, Kansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. And a few, like “Muskrats” and “Sourdoughs,” are even inspired by early foods eaten in Delaware and Alaska. ("Goober-grabber" sounds goofier, but it at least refers to peanuts, which are a common crop in Georgia, as well as North Carolina and Arkansas.)

Learn more fascinating facts about states' nicknames for their residents by watching the video above.

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