28 October 2010

6 Extremely Weird Plants

1. Rafflesia arnoldii: this parasitic plant develops the world’s largest bloom that can grow over three feet across. The flower is a vibrant red-pink, with bumpy white spots. It has an offensive odor and has a hole in the center that holds six or seven quarts of water. The plant has no leaves, stems, or roots.

2. Hydnora africana: an unusual melon-colored, parasitic flower that attacks the nearby roots of shrubbery in the arid deserts of South Africa. The putrid-smelling blossom attracts herds of carrion beetles.

3. Dracunculus vulgaris: smells like rotting flesh, and has a burgundy-colored, leaf-like flower that projects a slender, black appendage.

4. Welwitschia mirabilis: consists of only two leaves and a stem with roots. Its two leaves continue to grow until they resemble an alien life form. The stem gets thicker rather than higher, although this plant can grow to be almost six feet high and twenty-four feet wide. Its estimated lifespan is 400 to 1500 years. Mirabilis grows in Namibia, and is thought to be a relic of the Jurassic period.

5. Drakaea glyptodon: an orchid. It is the color of, and smells like, raw meat. Pollinated by male wasps.

6. Wolffia angusta: the world’s smallest flower. A dozen plants would easily fit on the head of a pin and two plants in full bloom will fit inside a small printed letter “o.

20 September 2010

10 tips to avoid bedbugs

10 tips on how to spot the blood-suckers and what to do if you find them.

1. When sleeping in a new bed, check for signs of their feces: small, black or dark brown dots on sheets or the mattress. (If you are in a hotel and find potential bedbug fecal matter, ask for a new room far from the original.)
2. While bedbugs mostly hide out during the day, you may be able to spot the actual bug at night (using a flashlight may be helpful). Baby bedbugs are nearly invisible, but their older relatives are brown to red-brown and oval-shaped (see image above).
3. Regularly inspect places where pets sleep for signs of bedbugs.
4. In some heavily infested areas, a coriander-like odor may be present.
5. If you suspect you've been exposed to bedbugs when traveling, clean out everything you traveled with. Vacuum out your suitcase and wash all clothes in hot water if possible, whether they are dirty or not. When traveling, leave your suitcases on hard surfaces if possible (rather than carpet or upholstered furniture).
6. If you suspect there are bedbugs in your home, do not jump directly to pesticide application. Many pesticides, especially over-the-counter treatments, are ineffective in killing bedbugs and their eggs, and only add unnecessary chemicals to your living space. Professional steam or heat treatments kill eggs and adults.
7. Make sure it is indeed bedbugs that are causing your bites before treating the problem. Fleas, ticks, mites, mosquitoes, or allergic reactions may be the cause of the skin lesions. IdentifyUS suggests a variety of trapping methods you can use to find and identify a bedbug.
8. If you cannot find a bedbug, but suspect they are present, a bedbug-sniffing dog may help sniff-out the culprits.
9. Do not put infested furniture on the street or in common areas, as that may spread the problem to other homes. If you do move infested furniture out of your house, place in a locked dumpster and label it as bedbug-infested. If you have infested furniture that is useful, you do not need to dispose of it; it can be cleaned and treated.
10. Clear your clutter. Having a non-cluttered home also makes treatment easier, as there are less objects to clean.

Five ways to get rid of bedbugs

1. Steve Tvedten, author of a nontoxic pest control website, suggests using a steam cleaner on cracks and mattresses weekly, if you suspect bedbugs. Bedbugs are very sensitive to heat and cannot stand temperatures above 111 and 113 degrees Fahrenheit. An hour of high heat exposure should eliminate most infestations, according to Tvedten.
2. Low temperatures (32 to 48 degrees Fahrenheit) for longer periods of time (30 to 50 days) can also eradicate bedbug infestations.
3. Vacuum anything you can. Put other items in sealed plastic bags.
4. Wash any fabric you can in hot water.
5. You may want to use a nontoxic spray for controlling bedbugs.

11 September 2010

20 ways to detox your house


There are many things you can do to "detox" your home, some more practical than others. Here are my 20 suggestions:


No shoes in the house.
Most household dirt, pesticides, and lead come in on your shoes. Go barefoot or wear slippers. Place floor mats vertically by your entryways to wipe your shoes. This way more dirt and residue from your shoes stays outside on the mat.

Keep the air clean.
Keep your windows and doors open as much as possible to ventilate. Use green plants as natural air detoxifiers. Remove odors with baking soda. Use fresh flowers or bowls of herbs like rosemary and sage to add a pleasant fragrance to rooms. Have your air ducts and vents cleaned with nontoxic cleaners. Get a portable air cleaner/purifier, especially for the bedrooms.

Switch from the standard household cleaning products to cleaner and greener ones.
These don't damage your health or the environment's as much and work as well as the mass marketed ones. You can also use basic ingredients you have around the house, for instance, vinegar in place of bleach, baking soda to scrub your tiles, and hydrogen peroxide to remove stains. According to Annie Bond, the author of "Better Basics for the Home," she can clean anything with water and these five basic ingredients:Baking soda, washing soda, distilled white vinegar, vegetable-based liquid Soap (e.g., Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Soap), and tea tree oil.

Replace your skin care and personal products with less toxic and chemical-free options.
Deodorant, toothpaste, cosmetics, hair products, nail polish, and perfumes are often loaded with toxins. Learn how to identify them and avoid them.

Use plastics wisely
Some plastics contain Bisphenol A (BPA), which is linked to cancer, and phtalates, which are linked to endocrine and developmental problems. Avoid plastic food packaging (when you can). Don't wrap food in plastic. Don't microwave food in plastic containers. Choose baby bottles made from glass or BPA-free plastic. Avoid vinyl teethers for your baby. Stay away from children's toys marked with a "3" or "PVC." Avoid plastic shower curtains.

Hand with frying pan

Avoid nonstick pans, pots, bakeware and utensils.
Teflon contains perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) which have been linked to cancer and developmental problems.

Keep house dust to a minimum.
More dust means more toxins. Mop all surfaces at least once a week. Use a vacuum cleaner (with a HEPA filter, preferably) for your carpets. HEPA-filter vacuums capture the widest range of particles and get rid of allergens.

Avoid excess moisture.
It encourages the growth of mold and mildew. Check areas for moisture accumulation or leaks (particularly basements). Regularly clean surfaces where mold usually grows - around showers and tubs and beneath sinks.

Get a shower filter.
Many of the contaminants in tap water become gases at room temperature. A shower filter can help keep these toxins from becoming airborne.

Get a water filter.
More than 700 chemicals have been identified in drinking water. Filtering your tap water is better than drinking bottled water.

Avoid stain-guarded clothing, furniture and carpets.
These may contain PFCs. Wrinkle free and permanent press fabrics used for clothing and bedding commonly contain formaldehyde -- use untreated fabrics where possible.

Be conscious of toxins in carpeting.
Avoid products made from synthetic materials. Use natural fiber wool & cotton rugs. If possible, replace wall-to-wall carpeting with hardwood floors, all natural linoleum or ceramic tiles. Use nontoxic glues, adhesives, stains, or sealers for installation.

Seal (with a nontoxic sealer) or replace particleboard walls, floors or cabinets.
These often contain formaldehyde, which can emit irritating and unhealthy fumes for decades. Avoid plywood, fiberglass, fiberboard and paneling.

Avoid harmful pet-care products.
Avoid toxic pest control (including traditional termite exterminators).

Replace toxic lawn and garden pesticides and herbicides.
Use with less harmful natural ones.

dry cleaning

Tell the dry cleaner not to use the plastic wrap.
Or remove it as soon as possible because the plastic traps the dry cleaning chemicals on clothes and in your closet. Let your dry cleaning air out (preferably outside) before storing it. Use "wet cleaning" if you are lucky enough to have it in your area.

Use low VOC, low-odor latex (water-based) paint.
Open all windows to ventilate properly when painting indoors.

Have your house checked for carbon monoxide leaks.
These are most commonly found in leaking gas stoves, gas fireplaces, furnaces and chimneys and gas water heaters).

Check Radon levels.
Inspect poorly ventilated basements that have cracked walls and or floors. Radon is an odorless gas that forms as uranium in rocks and soil breaks down. Radon is linked to lung cancer.

We can reduce our risk of chronic illness.
Limit exposure to these toxins but don't let this become an obsession which can cause so much stress that it creates more of a negative impact on your health than the toxins themselves.

And finally, no amount of environmental toxins are as important as emotional toxicity. You can do all the above, but if your house is full of anger, resentment, jealousy, unhappiness and a lack of love, compassion, and forgiveness, the house will remain toxic.

03 September 2010

7 Nutrients You Need

Pita bread with bean sprouts, onion, and can of tunafish

1) Calcium

Recommendation: 1,000 milligrams a day.
Benefits: Bone health.
Sources: Dairy products; fish with bones; dark, leafy greens.

2) Fiber

Recommendation: 25 grams a day.
Benefits: Protects against coronary heart disease and reduces the risk of diabetes.
Sources: Fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains.

3) Magnesium

Recommendation: 310 to 320 milligrams a day.
Benefits: Helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function and develop and maintain bones.
Sources: Nuts, seeds, bran, halibut and other fish.

4) Potassium

Recommendation: 4,700 milligrams a day.
Benefits: Helps maintain healthy blood pressure and reduce the effects of salt; may reduce the risk of recurrent kidney stones and possibly decrease bone loss.
Sources: Potatoes, tomato paste and puree, white beans, yogurt, soybeans, bananas.

5) Vitamin A

Recommendation: 2,310 international units a day.
Benefits: Important for vision, red blood cell production, embryonic development, and immune function.
Sources: Organ meats, orange vegetables; green, leafy vegetables.

6) Vitamin C

Recommendation: 75 milligrams a day.
Benefits: Acts as a disease-fighting antioxidant; may help to maintain a healthy immune system.
Sources: Fruits and vegetables, including citrus fruits, red and green peppers, kiwis, and guavas.

7) Vitamin E

Recommendation: 15 milligrams a day.
Benefits: Acts as a disease-fighting antioxidant; may support eye health.
Sources: Some ready-to-eat cereals, some oils, almonds, peanut butter.

28 August 2010

Six perfect plants for dorm rooms

Check out our list of the best dorm room plants to decide which is right for you!
Dwarf Lemon Tree
It doesn't at first seem logical to put a tree in such a notoriously cramped space, but a dwarf lemon tree can work in many dorm rooms. The trees can grow up to six feet tall in good conditions, so they might require a bit of pruning to keep them to a reasonable size. But it's worth the effort for the gorgeous yellow lemons that come all year and delicious citrus smell.
Water your tree enough to keep the soil moist, and mist the leaves daily so they don't dry out. Keep it by a window for optimal sunlight, and give it fertilizer once a month. Make sure to put it in a pot that allows for drainage and air flow to the roots. You can purchase dwarf lemon trees online or grow them from seedlings, if you don't mind waiting seven or eight years before it bears fruit.
It's the hour before your chemistry final, and you're nervous to the point of nausea as you pour over your notes one last time. For an easy, natural, and healthy way to relieve the stress, look to mint. Crush or chew on a mint leaf to emit a strong aroma that can calm nerves, ease nausea and sore throats, and freshen breath by killing germs.
Mint comes in a lot of varieties (may we suggest chocolate mint?) and is very easy to grow. Put plants in a moist, well-drained pot and make sure they get plenty of sunlight all year. Mint is widely available and can be purchased in pots or as seeds.
Lavender plants are colorful and fragrant and a great way to freshen up a dorm room. To spread the yummy lavender scent around the room, you can dry out flowers to make sachets for drawers and closets.
Lavender plants like sun and air, so try to put them next to an open window or a fan. Keep your plant in sandy soil that drains well -- the roots rot easily in standing water. Buy lavender plants at nurseries or online.
aloe vera plant

Aloe Vera
Consider your aloe vera plant your own personal pharmacy -- at least for skin irritations like sunburns. Just break open a leaf and squeeze out some liquid for instant relief. Aloe vera plants are perfect for rooms that don't get much sunlight (the leaves start to turn brown if they're in the sun too long), and don't require much watering.
Try to buy mature plants. It's an easy plant to maintain that can help you out in a pinch! You won't have any trouble finding aloe vera where plants are sold.
African Violets
African violets are the perfect dorm room flower. They're small enough to fit on a windowsill, don't require much water and can grow in a variety of temperatures. And the flower isn't just known for its beauty, it's also known to clean the air of pollutants to leave you with a healthier indoor environment. Buy African violet plugs at local nurseries or online.
Successfully taking care of a cactus is one of those out-of-the-classroom tests that helps you discover a little more about yourself. In this case, if it dies you'll know you're less nurturing than a desert. The only basic guideline: Don't overwater.

17 August 2010

12 surprising reasons to eat more blueberries

1. Catechins found in blueberries activate fat-burning genes in abdominal fat cells to assist with weight loss, and belly fat loss in particular According to research at Tufts University, regularly ingesting catechins increases abdominal fat loss by 77 percent and double total weight loss.

2. They contain a group of natural phytonutrients (plant nutrient) called proanthocyanidins which have a unique ability to protect both the watery and fatty parts of the brain against damage from some environmental toxins.

3. Blueberries are one of the richest sources of proanthocyanidins. These phytonutrients decrease free radicals levels that are linked to aging (yes wrinkling!) and disease.

4. In animal studies, those given an extract of blueberries had less motor skill decline and performed better on memory tests than animals not given the blueberries. Researchers conclude that compounds inblueberries may reverse some age-related memory loss and motor skill decline.

5. Blueberries are packed with vitamins C, E, riboflavin, niacin, and folate.

6. They are a rich source of the phytonutrients ellagic acid. Ellagic acid has proven anticancer and genetic-material-protection capabilities. It also encourages a healthy rate of apoptosis how the body seeks out and destroys harmful or damaged cells, like cancer cells.

7. Because they contain plentiful amounts of the phytonutrient quercetin, they may reduce the likelihood and severity of allergies.

8. Blueberries contain minerals like iron, magnesium, manganese, and potassium.

9. Blueberries contain salicylic acid the natural version of aspirin. Salicylic acid is known to thin the blood and reduce pain.

10. Blueberries are excellent anti-inflammatory agents. They increase the amounts of compounds called heat-shock proteins that decrease as people age. When heat shock proteins decrease the result is inflammation and damage, particularly in the brain. Research shows that by eating blueberries regularly, inflammation lessens.

11. They increase the production of feel-good dopamine. Dopamine is a natural neurotransmitter (brain messenger) that tends to be low in Parkinson's.

12. They just taste great. Ok, this is no surprise but it's a great reason to eat blueberries anyway.

01 August 2010

Seven animals smarter than humans


1. Homing Pigeons

While most humans need several types of maps and a compass to find their way home after a long journey, the homing pigeon can return from extremely long distances (more than 1,100 miles) without any guidance.

Well, as a matter of fact, they do have some help: According to research by the University of Frankfurt, these pigeons have iron-containing structures in their beaks, which help them sense the Earth's magnetic field independent of their motion and posture, and thus identify their geographical position.

Research results this year indicate this magnetic charm is present in other birds as well.



Despite their size, the world's many varieties of ants have amazing skills. One of the most impressive is themycocepurus smithii from the Amazon, a super feminist species that has developed the ability to reproduce via cloning -- dispensing with both sex and males -- to evolve into an all-female breed.

According to research from the University of Arizona, it's not clear when the change happened, but by reproducing without sex, the ants avoid the energetic cost of producing males and double the number of reproductive females produced each generation.

For us humans, ants have also learned super efficient ways to organize their traffic. And 2006 research by the Berkeley University of California has established that the trap-jaw ant (odontomachus bauri) can close its mandibles at an incredible speed: The strike lasts 0.13 milliseconds, 2,300 times faster than the blink of an eye. This allows them to jump enormous heights for their size.


3. Elephants

They're huge, and sometimes they seem tired and slow. But it's no surprise that this mammal's peculiar nose is really something: Research from the University of St. Andrews suggests that elephants can keep track of up to 30 absent members of their family by sniffing out their scent and building a mental map of where they are. How useful would this little feature be for moms with several kids?

Even better, according to another study by the same University, elephants can tell whether a human is friendly or a threat by their scent and color of clothing. So good luck trying to fool them.


4. Termites

In Zimbabwe, the termite species Macrotermes michaelseni has developed a precise technique to farm a specific fungus they feed on. As this fungus can only grow at 87 degrees Fahrenheit, and temperatures outside range from 104 degrees Fahrenheit during day and 35 degrees Fahrenheit at night, the termites have come up with a system to keep the temperature steady in their mounds by constantly opening and closing heating and cooling vents.

This is such a useful idea that Loughborough University has conducted research in order to use the same technique in human buildings. Case in point - the Eastgate Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe has been modeled after the termites' system.


. Chimps

Much has been said about the intelligence of chimps, with some people claiming they're geniuses and others saying they're only as smart as a three year old kid. Of course, the actual facts fall in between.

But there is at least one area in which chimpanzees are smarter than humans -- photographic memory.A study by the Primate Research Institute at Kyoto University proves young chimpanzees have an extraordinary working memory capability for numerical recollection, better even than that of human adults tested with the same apparatus following the same procedure.

Presented with the same sequence of numbers, small chimps could recall them, outperforming humans. Not too shabby.


6. Crows

Contrary to the massive amount of animals and species facing extinction, crows are thriving, reproducing all over the world, with the small exceptions of the Arctic and the Southern tip of South America.

But, although they're proven to be smart in many ways (as Joshua Klein explains in this TED talk), officially scientists say they're not smarter than humans.

However, their amazing capacity for fast adaptation and ability to live in cities show they could be a lot more than they are today. And who knows, one day they might top us.


7. Dolphins

Ok, again, not officially smarter than humans yet, but dolphins have recently been declared the world's second most intelligent creatures (after humans). A zoologist from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, according to The Times,has even gone far to say that their "neuroanatomy suggests psychological continuity between humans and dolphins," and called for reconsideration of human-dolphin interactions. Another scientist from the Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles has even called them 'non-human persons.'

So yes, dolphins are smarter than chimps and with communication skills similar to humans'. Their brains are only second in mass to the human brain, making them cultural animals with distinct personalities with the ability to think about the future, among other faculties.

23 July 2010

14 ways honey can heal

The fossil record tells us honeybees have been around for 150 million years or more. No one knows when we discovered the treasure hidden in their hives, but paintings of beekeepers lining the walls of a cave in Spain prove that we have been practicing the art of beekeeping for at least 7,000 years. Honey is versatile. It has been prized as a sweetener, as medicine, as an offering for the gods, as currency, and as a symbol of love. In Greek mythology, for example, Cupid dips his arrows in honey before aiming them at our hearts.
According to ayurveda, honey is the nectar of life. Because it is created from the essence of a flower's sex organs, it has a natural affinity with reproductive tissue. It can also heal sore throats, colds, coughs, ulcers, burns, and wounds. And when ingested with a healing herb (like ashwagandha), honey travels to the deepest tissues, transporting the chemical properties and the subtle energies of medicine to the cellular level.
Ayurveda says that raw honey is medicine, but cooked honey is a slow poison. Why? In its natural form, honey is rich in minerals, vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, and carbohydrates. But heat strips honey of most of its nutritional value and transforms the honey molecules into a non-homogenized glue that adheres to mucous membranes and clogs subtle energy channels. Cooked honey creates cellular toxicity and may lead to immunological dysfunction. It can also clog the arteries and lead to atherosclerosis (thickening of the arteries), hampering blood flow to the vital organs. So as a general rule, honey should never be cooked, and nothing should be cooked with honey. Instead, add raw honey to yogurt, warm tea, or spread it on bread or toast.
Ayurvedic texts are full of honey-based remedies for a wide range of ailments, such as:
For obesity, high blood pressure, and/or high cholesterol, drink a cup of hot water with a teaspoon of honey and 5 to 10 drops of apple cider vinegar early in the morning daily. (Ayurvedic texts say honey scrapes fat and cholesterol from the body's tissues.)
To relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, take 1 teaspoon of honey with 200 mg powdered guggulu daily.
To heal oral ulcers, apply 1 teaspoon honey and a pinch of turmeric to canker sores, mouth ulcers, or sores on the tongue. This mixture will generate saliva and draw out toxins; spit it out to speed the healing process. For internal ulcers, mix a cup of warm milk with a teaspoon of honey twice daily.
To heal a wound, dress it daily with sterilized gauze brushed with honey; dispose at night.
For the common cold, mix 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon with 1 teaspoon honey and eat two or three times a day.
To clear your sinuses, take a mixture of 1 teaspoon each of fresh ginger juice and honey two or three times a day.
For asthma, eat a mixture made of 1/2 teaspoon bay leaf powder, 1/4 teaspoon pippali, and 1 teaspoon of honey two or three times daily.
For nausea, vomiting, and/or indigestion, mix one part lemon juice with one part honey. Dip your index finger into this mixture and lick it slowly twice daily.
For anxiety, drink 1 cup of orange juice with 1 teaspoon of honey and a pinch of nutmeg powder twice daily.
To help reduce the craving for cigarettes, chew small pieces of pineapple with 1/2 teaspoon of honey before smoking.
For abdominal pain, take a mixture of 1/4 teaspoon ground bay leaf, 1/4 teaspoon ajwan (celery seeds), and 1 teaspoon of honey before lunch and dinner daily.
For chronic fever, make a tea of 1 teaspoon of holy basil (tulsi) and 1 cup of hot water. Add 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper powder and 1 teaspoon of honey. Take two or three times a day.
To aid poor circulation, mix 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon trikatu, and 1 teaspoon honey in 1 cup of hot water. Steep for 10 minutes. Take twice a day.
To stop hiccups, mix 1 teaspoon honey and 1 teaspoon castor oil in a container. Dip your index finger into the mixture and lick it. Repeat every 10 minutes until your hiccups stop. (Hiccups are due to spasm of the diaphragm, and these ingredients in equal proportion are anti-spasmodic.)
Did you know? To make one pound of honey, a swarm of honeybees flies about 24,000 miles and visits 3 to 9 million flowers.
Because its qualities are heating and sweet, honey is good for kapha and vata, and in moderation with pitta.
Please Note: Raw honey is not recommended for infants under the age of 18 months, the very elderly, or others with compromised immune systems.

16 July 2010

Nine myths and facts about lightning

Scientists have been studying lightning for hundreds of years. Although they have a pretty good idea about what causes it, there is still more to learn about these mysterious sparks of electricity.
Given that summer is peak season for thunderstorms, it's probably a good idea to brush up on your lightning facts, particularly if you have some outdoor adventures planned.

Tornadoes and hurricanes are more dangerous than lightning
Myth: Lightning kills more people (about 58) each year than tornadoes or hurricanes. In fact, it is the most underrated weather hazard, according to the National Weather Service. Only floods are routinely responsible for more deaths than lightning.

You can get struck by lightning when you're inside
Fact: It's true that being inside a building when lightning strikes is your safest bet, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't take some precautions.
If a building gets struck the electrical current will most likely travel through the wiring or plumbing before going into the ground. That's why you should stay off of corded phones (cellular and cordless are okay) and away from running water (so no showers or hand- or dish-washing). Don't use stoves, computers, or anything else that's connected to electricity. Here are some more indoor safety tips.

Lightning always takes down planes
Myth: The reality is that lightning regularly strikes airplanes, but rarely causes plane crashes. On average, each U.S. commercial plane gets hit at least once a year. Most airplanes are made of aluminum, a good conductor of electricity, and there are also strict lightning protection requirements for planes.

You need to unplug major electronics in a storm
Fact: Electrical surges generated from lightning can damage electronics even if your house isn't struck. Unplug your computer, television, and other electronics before a storm hits because you can't necessarily depend on a surge protector You can be struck if you try to unplug your gadgets during a storm.

You should avoid cars during a thunderstorm
Myth: Cars are actually one of the safest places you can be in during an electrical storm if you can't be inside a building. Just make sure you're in a car with a hard top. Golf carts and convertibles don't count.

Lightning never strikes twice
Myth: Lightning can hit the same spot more than once during a thunderstorm.

It's not safe to be outside during an electrical storm
Fact: If you're outside, then try to find a grounded building or car to take cover in. If you can't, then here are some tips to minimize your risk: Avoid open fields and tall isolated trees or other tall objects. Stay away from water. Don't lie down on the ground.

You should stay indoors until 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder
Fact: Most people are not struck at the height of a thunderstorm, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles from where it is raining, but if you can hear thunder you are within striking distance.
The NWS suggests following this advice: "When thunder roars, go indoors and stay there until 30 minutes after the last cap of thunder."

You can tell the distance of a storm by counting
Fact: Surprisingly, that old childhood trick you learned is based on fact, not fiction. Light travels faster than sound so lightning is seen before thunder is heard.
Here's how it works according to the Federal Emergency Mnagement of website: "You can estimate how many miles away a storm is by counting the number of seconds between the flash of lightning and the clap of thunder. Divide the number of seconds by five to get the distance in miles."

14 July 2010

7 amazing auroras seen on Earth ... and beyond

The world's biggest light show

The world's biggest light show

The flickering lights over our northern- and southern-most skies at times seem like a mystical offering. Good ole northern lights (aurora borealis) and southern lights (aurora australis) — visible 65 to 72 degrees north and south latitudes respectively — are actually just natural light shows that exist in our ionosphere.
Scientists say auroras are created when a solar wind of charged particles from the sun crashes into the Earth's upper atmosphere over the polar regions. As a result, auroras are generally spotted closer to the north or south poles. You can see them here.

Bear Lake, Alaska

Bear Lake, Alaska

This photo was taken by a U.S. Air Force airman who was stationed nearby. NASA explains that auroras occur most often when the sun is in the most intense phase of an 11-year sunspot cycle. Sunspots increase in number due to violent solar flare eruptions. This means more electrons and protons are added to the solar particles sent into the Earth’s atmosphere. Consequently, this brightens up the northern and southern lights considerably.

Kulusuk, Greenland

Kulusuk, Greenland

This photo of aurora borealis was taken on Kulusuk, a small island on the east coast of Greenland. In Greenland, the northern lights are most visible on a dark, clear night from September to the beginning of April. They are present all year but cannot be seen during the summer months because of the shining midnight sun. Inuit legend says that when the northern lights “dance in the night sky, it means that the dead are playing football with a walrus skull.”

A red aurora seen from Kangaroo Island in south Australia

Kangaroo Island, Australia

Red auroras are considered among the rarest sights on Earth. People living in south Australia are often treated to aurora australis during strong geomagnetic events. The southern lights are most visible during Australia’s autumn and winter months. Experts say the best way to see aurora australis or aurora borealis is to wait for a dark, clear, moonless night. Viewers should head into rural areas to avoid light pollution from neighboring cities.

Lapland, Finland

Lapland, Finland

Lapland is home to some spectacular views of the northern lights. Lapland is a geographic region in northernmost Sweden and Finland, though Sweden has no administrative powers. The photographer says this is a shot of the boreal dawn, which occurs 200 days per year. It is never visible when the summer midnight sun is shining.

An aurora is seen in the Arctic

The Arctic

Auroras have had many names throughout the centuries. The name comes from the Roman goddess of dawn, and the Cree call them the "Dance of the Spirits." In the Middle Ages, auroras were simply called a sign from God. NASA refers to them as “the world’s greatest light show.”

Aurora over Canada as seen from the International Space Station

Canada from space

This picture was taken from the International Space Station (ISS). NASA says the ISS orbits at the same height as many auroras. "Therefore, sometimes it flies over them, but also sometimes it flies right through. The auroral electron and proton streams are too thin to be a danger to the ISS, just as clouds pose little danger to airplane.” This image shows auroras borealis over northern Canada. NASA reports that changing auroras look like “crawling giant green amoebas” from space.

A blue aurora on Jupiter


Auroras can also be spotted on other planets. This sharp blue aurora glows half a billion miles away on Jupiter. This photo is a result of a NASA Hubble Space Telescope close-up. One of the many details that make this aurora different from those seen on Earth are the “satellite footprints” within them. As NASA writes, “Auroral footprints can be seen in this image from Io (along the lefthand limb), Ganymede (near the center), and Europa (just below and to the right of Ganymede's auroral footprint).” These emissions, produced by electric currents generated by the satellites, bounce in and out of the upper atmosphere.

About Me

Hello everyone. Read my blog about nature and healthy.