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NASA via Flickr Creative Commons // CC BY-NC 2.0
NASA via Flickr Creative Commons // CC BY-NC 2.0

The Caribbean Emits a "Whistle" That Can Be Detected from Space

NASA via Flickr Creative Commons // CC BY-NC 2.0
NASA via Flickr Creative Commons // CC BY-NC 2.0

When you think “tranquility,” what comes to mind? If you’re like many people, you envision crystal-clear waves lapping gently at the shores of the Caribbean Sea. Yet that sparkling cerulean surface conceals a massive ruckus. Researchers say the movements of the sea itself produce a whistling-type resonance. They published their findings in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Our oceans and seas are no stranger to weird noises (remember The Bloop?), but historically those sounds have been made by animals, vehicles, and natural phenomena in the water—not by the water itself.

The research team hadn’t set out to find strange sounds. Earlier studies had shown that the sea’s structure and flow create a meteorological formation known as a Rossby wave. Named for Swedish-American meteorologist Carl-Gustaf Arvid Rossby, the waves are swirls in the atmosphere produced by the meeting of cold polar air moving toward the equator and warmer equatorial air moving poleward. The topography of the Caribbean seafloor, along with the exchange of water between the sea and the ocean, produces a Rossby wave.

The Rossby wave model explains some of the activity within the Caribbean basin and at its edges, where the sea spills into the ocean. But it doesn’t explain all of it.

“We were looking at ocean pressure through models for quite different reasons, and this region just didn’t work,” University of Liverpool sea level scientist Chris Hughes of the University of Liverpool said in an interview with Gizmodo. “It felt like a sore thumb.”

To get to the sandy bottom of the issue, the team looked at pressure readings and sea level measurements over the six decades from 1958 to 2013, as well as data from tide gauges and NASA satellite readings of the Earth's gravity.

What they found was a very large whistle. When waves crash against the western side of the basin, their collision and rebound creates a reverberation, much like the way that blowing air across an opening creates a whistling noise. The researchers say the note is approximately an A flat.

The sea is so big that this Rossby Whistle, as the researchers named it, is pitched way too low for us to hear. But that doesn’t mean we can’t detect it. The whistle’s resonance is so strong that it affects our planet’s gravitational field, as the researchers learned from the satellite data.

This is a pretty neat discovery, but it also has practical implications. In addition to messing with Earth’s gravity, the whistle’s waves affect sea levels. "This phenomenon can vary sea level by as much as 10 cm along the Colombian and Venezuelan coast,” Hughes said in a press statement, “so understanding it can help predict the likelihood of coastal flooding."

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Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
3500-Year-Old Mummy Discovered in Forgotten Egyptian Tomb

As the site of the ancient city of Thebes, the modern-day Egyptian city of Luxor is filled with archaeological treasures. But until recently, two forgotten tombs—both located in the necropolis of Dra' Abu el-Naga, an important non-royal cemetery—hadn’t been fully explored. Now, National Geographic reports that experts have finally excavated these burial sites and discovered a 3500-year-old mummy, along with ornate funerary goods and colorful murals.

While excavating one of the two tombs, known as Kampp 150, experts found linen-wrapped remains that Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities believes belong to either "a person named Djehuty Mes, whose name was engraved on one of the walls ... [or] the scribe Maati, as his name and the name of his wife Mehi were inscribed on 50 funerary cones found in the tomb's rectangular chamber."

In addition to the mummy, archaeologists discovered wooden statues, masks, earthen pots, a cache of some 450 statuettes, and around 100 funerary cones—conical mud objects, which were often positioned outside a tomb's center, and could have served as identifying markers or as offerings—inside Kampp 150.

The Associated Press reported that the second tomb, known as Kampp 161, is thought to be approximately 3400 years old—about 100 years newer than its neighboring chamber—as its design is characteristic of other such structures dating back to the reigns of Amenhotep II and Thutmose IV.

Inside Kampp 161, archaeologists discovered wooden funerary masks, a decorated coffin, furniture shards, and the mural of a festival or party depicting the tomb's unknown resident and his wife receiving ceremonial offerings.

German scholar Friederike Kampp-Seyfried surveyed and numbered both tombs in the 1990s, which is how they got their names, but she did not fully excavate nor enter either one.

Officials celebrated the rediscovery of the tombs on Saturday, December 9, when they publicly announced the archaeological finds. They hope that discoveries like these will entice foreign travelers to visit Egypt, as political unrest has harmed the country's tourism industry in recent years.

“It’s truly an exceptional day,” Khaled al-Anani, Egypt's antiquities minister, said in a statement. “The 18th dynasty private tombs were already known. But it’s the first time" anyone's ever entered them.

Check out some pictures of the newly revealed relics below.

Mustafa al-Waziri, director general of Luxor's Antiquities, points at an ancient Egyptian mural found at the newly discovered 'Kampp 161' tomb at Draa Abul Naga necropolis.
Mustafa al-Waziri, director general of Luxor's Antiquities, points at an ancient Egyptian mural found at the newly discovered 'Kampp 161' tomb at Draa Abul Naga necropolis on the west Nile bank of the southern Egyptian city of Luxor, about 400 miles south of the capital Cairo, on December 9, 2017.
STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images

An Egyptian archaeological technician restores artifacts found at the newly discovered 'Kampp 161' tomb at Draa Abul Naga necropolis in Luxor, Egypt.
An Egyptian archaeological technician restores artifacts found at the newly discovered 'Kampp 161' tomb at Draa Abul Naga necropolis on the west Nile bank of the southern Egyptian city of Luxor, about 400 miles south of the capital Cairo, on December 9, 2017.
STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images

An Egyptian laborer stands next to an ancient Egyptian mural found at the newly discovered 'Kampp 161' tomb at Draa Abul Naga necropolis in Luxor, Egypt.
STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images

Ancient Egyptian wooden funerary masks and small statuettes found in and retrieved from the newly discovered 'Kampp 150' tomb at Draa Abul Naga necropolis in Luxor, Egypt.
A picture taken on December 9, 2017 shows ancient Egyptian wooden funerary masks and small statuettes found in and retrieved from the newly discovered 'Kampp 150' tomb at Draa Abul Naga necropolis on the west Nile bank of the southern Egyptian city of Luxor, about 400 miles south of the capital Cairo.
STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images

[h/t National Geographic]

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Kohske Takahashi, i-Perception (2017)
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fun
Can You Figure Out This Newly Discovered Optical Illusion?
Kohske Takahashi, i-Perception (2017)
Kohske Takahashi, i-Perception (2017)

Ready to have your mind boggled? Take a look at the image above. What shape are the lines? Do they look like curves, or zigzags?

The image, spotted by Digg, is a new type of optical illusion published in the aptly named journal i-Perception. Discovered by Japanese psychologist Kohske Takahashi, it’s called the “curvature blindness illusion,” because—spoiler—the contrast of the lines against the gray background makes our eye see some of the lines as zigzags when, in fact, they’re all smooth curves.

The illusion relies on a few different factors, according to the three experiments Takahashi conducted. For it to work, the lines have to change contrast just at or after the peak of the curve, reversing the contrast against the background. You’ll notice that the zigzags only appear against the gray section of the background, and even against that gray background, not every line looks angled. The lines that look curvy change contrast midway between the peaks and the valleys of the line, whereas the lines that look like they contain sharp angles change contrast right at the peak and valley. The curve has to be relatively gentle, too.

Go ahead, stare at it for a while.

[h/t Digg]

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