Flower Nanostructures created in a beaker

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These false-color SEM images reveal microscopic flower structures created by manipulating a chemical gradient to control crystalline self-assembly.

To create the flower structures, Noorduin and his colleagues dissolve barium chloride (a salt) and sodium silicate (also known as water glass) into a beaker of water. Carbon dioxide from air naturally dissolves in the water, setting off a reaction which precipitates barium carbonate crystals. As a byproduct, it also lowers the pH of the solution immediately surrounding the crystals, which then triggers a reaction with the dissolved waterglass. This second reaction adds a layer of silica to the growing structures, uses up the acid from the solution, and allows the formation of barium carbonate crystals to continue.

Images courtesy of Wim L. Noorduin
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Scientific Illustrations by Noel Badges Pugh

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Noel Badges Pugh creates scientific illustrations as well as artwork with a more psychedelic perspective. Inspired by nature and dreams, all’s created with an utmost appreciation for the details and structure of each subject. One of his more recent series is a field guide on different kinds of bees and wild flowers.

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Light pillars over Ontario

Light pillars form when a bright light (from the sun, the moon or man-made light sources) reflects off the surfaces of millions of falling ice crystals associated with thin, high-level clouds. The pillars, which are often mistaken for UFO sightings, are typically seen in polar regions and they might lengthen or brighten as you gaze at them.
Photographer Jay Callaghan shot the beautiful photo below, on his back deck in 25 February at 1:45 am , as he was looking northeast toward Chemong Road in Peterborough, Ontario.

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That’s how crows build their nests in Tokyo

crow-nest-tokyo-hangers-kashiwakuraPhoto by Yosuke Kashiwakura

The crows that live in Tokyo build their nests out of metal clothes-hangers. In such a large city, there are few trees, so the natural materials that crows need to make their nests are scarce. As a result, the crows steal hangers from the people who live in apartments nearby, and carefully assemble them into nests. The completed nests almost look like works of art based on the theme of recycling.
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Lake in Tanzania turns animals into statues

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Lake Natron takes its name from natron, a naturally occurring compound made mainly of sodium carbonate, with a bit of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) thrown in. Here, this has come from volcanic ash, accumulated from the Great Rift valley. Animals that become immersed in the water die and are calcified.
Photographer Nick Brandt, while in Tanzania, discovered perfectly preserved birds and bats on the shoreline. “I could not help but photograph them,” he says. “No one knows for certain exactly how they die, but it appears that the extreme reflective nature of the lake’s surface confuses them, and like birds crashing into plate glass windows, they crash into the lake.”

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Shockfossils: Making artwork with a 5 million volt electron accelerator

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Physicist and artist Todd Johnson makes shockfossils, lightning-style sculptures, created with a 5 million volt particle accelerator.

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Incredible Underwater Ice Bubbles Trapped in Canada Lake

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The rare phenomenon occurs each winter in the man-made lake, Abraham Lake, located at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.  Bubbles are created as the plants on the lake bed release methane gas, which freezes as it comes closer to the cold lake surface.  That is, until spring comes and the ice starts to thaw.

Photos by Chip Phillips/Rex Features.

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The Waitomo Glowworm Caves

The breathtaking limestone caves in Waitomo, New Zealand, are home to hundreds of thousands of the beetles – which light up the caverns like bright blue stars. The caves are a perfect breeding ground for glow-worms, which can only survive in very dark, damp places where their light can be seen.
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Sailing in a strawberry milkshake

Lake Retba, which runs through Senegal, West Africa, gets its color from an unusually high salt content—in some up to 40-percent! Microbiologist Michael Danson says that the water gets its candy-colored hue from the salt-loving organism Dunaliella salina (an algae). “They produce a red pigment that absorbs and uses the energy of sunlight to create more energy, turning the water pink,” he told the Daily Mail.

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