Monthly Archives: May 2015

Grow your own bismuth crystals


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Thanks to bismuth's low melting point of 271°C, you can grow your own crystals by melting and then cooling bismuth in a stove pot. A pound of pure bismuth runs $25 (shipping included) -- much cheaper than buying large crystals -- and you can even use molds to create geodes or other shapes. Check out the video, or if you prefer written instructors, see this tutorial. Read more

Metamorphic meat: lava-cooked steaks


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Researchers at Syracuse University developed a car-sized furnace, capable of melting up to 800 pounds of basaltic rock into lava, to study how lava flow morphology is influenced by factors such as temperature, slope (of the land), snow and ice, effusion (pour) rate, barriers, lava composition, and surface roughness.

While the furnace has already yielded plenty of helpful data, students found yet another use: cookouts at 1,000°C! No word yet on how a volcano-baked steak tastes, though. Suggested future include s'mores and hot dogs. Watch the video below, and then check out the Syracuse University Lava Project website for photos and descriptions of their work. Read more

Earthquake vs. Desk


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Most earthquake deaths result from collapsing buildings and objects. Stronger buildings are the best safeguard, but the steep cost makes them an unrealistic option for cash-strapped regions. Read more

Rare 4.2 earthquake rattles Michigan


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On May 2, a rare earthquake shook Michigan, rolling in at magnitude 4.2, the second strongest quake recorded in the state. Fortunately, although items fell off of shelves and windows vibrated, the state suffered no major destruction or injuries from the quake. Read more

Underwater volcano might be erupting off of Oregon coast


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Almost every day for the last five months, hundreds of small earthquakes have rattled Axial Seamount, an underwater volcano located three hundred miles off of the Oregon coast. At the same time, underwater pressure sensors have revealed that the surrounding seafloor had been slowly rising. Then, on April 24, almost eight thousand earthquakes rumbled Axial and the seafloor dropped almost eight feet! Read more