This timelapse video captures the past 10 years’ worth of weather as seen by the GEOS-12 satellite during its service. It’s a mesmerizing look at the large-scale convective flow of Earth’s atmosphere. The prevailing winds for each region are clear from the motion of the clouds, but short-term effects are visible as well. June through November marks the Atlantic hurricane season, and you can see as storm after storm gets generated near western Africa and shoots westward toward North and Central America. You can also see the pattern tracks of these storms in these maps, which show 170 years’ worth of worldwide hurricane tracks. (Video credit: NOAA; via Scientific American)
The terrain is very different than the near side and recently UC Santa Cruz researchers published a study as to why that is. They theorize that there was a “giant splat" from an ancient smaller moon that caused this feature:
"The mountainous region on the far side of the moon, known as the lunar farside highlands, may be the solid remains of a collision with a smaller companion moon. The near side is relatively low and flat, while the topography of the far side is high and mountainous, with a much thicker crust. A Mars-sized object collided with Earth early in the history of the solar system and ejected debris that coalesced to form the moon. The study suggests that this giant impact also created another, smaller body, initially sharing an orbit with the moon, that eventually fell back onto the moon and coated one side with an extra layer of solid crust tens of kilometers thick."
The Cosmos extends, for all practical purposes, forever. After a brief sedentary hiatus, we are resuming our ancient nomadic way of life. Our remote descendants, safely arrayed on many worlds throughout the Solar System and beyond, will be unified by their common heritage, by their regard for their home planet, and by the knowledge that, whatever other life may be, the only humans in all the Universe come from Earth. They will gaze up and strain to find the blue dot in their skies. They will love it no less for its obscurity and fragility. They will marvel at how vulnerable the repository of all our potential once was, how perilous our infancy, how humble our beginnings, how many rivers we had to cross before we found our way.
The purity of humanity exists. It is there in the mountains, the ice fields, the jungle, along the rivers and in the valleys. Jimmy Nelson found the last tribesmen and observed them. He smiled and drank their mysterious brews before taking out his camera. He shared what real people share: vibrations, invisible but palpable. He adjusted his antenna to the same frequency as theirs. As trust grew, a shared understanding of the mission developed: the world must never forget the way things were.
by Nicola De Maio, Christian Schlotterer and Carolin Kosiol
“The genomes of related species contain valuable information on the history of the considered taxa. Great apes in particular exhibit variation of evolutionary patterns along their genomes. However, the great ape data also bring new challenges, such as the presence of incomplete lineage sorting and ancestral shared polymorphisms. Previous methods for genome-scale analysis are restricted to very few individuals or cannot disentangle the contribution of mutation rates and ﬁxation biases. This represents a limitation both for the understanding of these forces as well as for the detection of regions affected by selection. Here, we present a new model designed to estimate mutation rates and ﬁxation biases from genetic variation within and between species. We relax the assumption of instantaneous substitutions, modeling substitutions as mutational events followed by a gradual ﬁxation. Hence, we straightforwardly account for shared ancestral polymorphisms and incomplete lineage sorting. We analyze genome-wide synonymous site alignments of human, chimpanzee, and two orangutan species. From each taxon, we include data from several individuals. We estimate mutation rates and GC-biased gene conversion intensity. We ﬁnd that both mutation rates and biased gene conversion vary with GC content. We also ﬁnd lineage-speciﬁc differences, with weaker ﬁxation biases in orangutan species, suggesting a reduced historical effective population size. Finally, our results are consistent with directional selection acting on coding sequences in relation to exonic splicing enhancers” (read more/open access).