MI weekly selection #501

Source: John Wiley / Wikimedia Commons

Astronomers puzzled by distant planet’s ring

Astronomers have discovered a ring around the distant minor planet Quaoar that defies scientific understanding of how and where rings are formed. Quaoar’s ring exists in a location outside of where scientists believe particles should remain in a disk formation, prompting questions about the nature of celestial rings.

Full Story: Reuters

Mexican jumping beans follow physics principle

Mexican jumping beans, seed pods with moth larvae nestled inside, follow a random walk strategy based on the physics concept of Brownian motion when jumping. Physicists tracked how pods jump when temperatures rise in order to move to shady spots, finding that the larvae use a random walk strategy to optimize the ability to find shade and survive until the pupal stage.

Full Story: Ars Technica

Technique measures surface roughness in faults

Scientists say they’ve come up with a new way to measure surface roughness of rocks in a fault zone. The technique, which uses wavelength in the calculation, may help scientists understand how roughness affects faults and leads to earthquakes.

Full Story: Eos

Odds of phasing out coal by 2050 are very low

The world has a 5% chance of phasing out coal by 2050 under current policies. The last two climate change summits resulted in weak commitments to phase-down coal and stronger policies, or even outright mining bans, may be needed.

Full Story: The Hill

Impressionist paintings illustrated smoggy skies

Impressionist artists Claude Monet and Joseph Mallord William Turner depicted air pollution in their paintings during the Industrial Revolution in Europe. The artists’ hazy style of painting reflects changes in the environment brought by air pollution, as sulfur dioxide levels interact with light to give images a white tint.

Full Story: Live Science

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