All posts by Dylan D

“Nuestra Tierra—Our Earth”: A Breathtaking Time-Lapse Of Earth From Space (Video)

Using footage from the International Space Station (courtesy of NASA’s Johnson Space Center), National Geographic filmmaker Fede Castro has created one of the most breathtaking time-lapse videos of Earth from space.

The video is just over four minutes, and features the world’s major cities, as well as the aurora borealis (Northern Lights) and a few massive thunderstorms, among other things.

Take a trip around the world in just minutes in National Geographic’s video “Nuestra Tierra—Our Earth”:

Video soundtrack: Divergence – The Black Parrot

The most luxurious motorhome in the world - eleMMent Palazzo

A Look Inside The World’s Most Expensive RV (Video)

Recently an RV sold in Dubai for its asking price of $3.1 million. This hefty price tag put the RV on record as the world’s most expensive RV ever sold.

But why would someone pay so much for an RV?

Well for starters, the outside of the record-setting RV is covered in gold. Also, the RV is a double-decker that has tons of amenities, including a pop-up rooftop terrace, fireplace, master bedroom, underfloor heating, self-cleaning technology, a top speed of 93 mph, and much more.

The RV may look like a weird prehistoric creature from the outside, but the interior is lavish and fit for a king. Take a look inside the the 40-foot-long eleMMent Palazzo, from Austrian company Marchi Mobile:

So if you’d like to travel with the family in style one day, you may want to start saving up now!

Neighborhood In Oregon Buys Drone To Enforce Local Environmental Standards

The Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association in Portland, Oregon, just recently purchased a $1,500 DJI Phantom 2 Vision drone.

The association named the drone “Flying Monkey 1″.

DJI Phantom 2 Vision Drone

The purpose of the drone is to monitor a nearby rail yard and a few local construction site, making sure the sites adhere to environmental standards that the group feel are a low priority for the city.

“We’ve had an interest in keeping a better eye on them,”

said the neighborhood association’s president, Robert McCullough.

For a while now, residents in this neighborhood have been in a battle with the Union Pacific Railroad, who they feel has been the overwhelming cause of local noise and air pollution.

Residents have already established an emissions monitoring station, but wanted to take it a step further by monitoring the actual operations of these projects first hand. McCullough added,

“How else do you actually see what’s going on inside these places?”

Now McCullough and other enthusiastic residents are excited, feeling that the situation may finally be closer to being under control and have hopes the pollution will stop.

The eye-in-the-sky treatment won’t stop with the rail yard and construction sites. McCullough has eyes set on monitoring a few local developing areas that also might be breaking environmental standards.

Below is a video detailing the DJI Phantom 2 Vision drone 

The Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya, India (Photo Gallery)

Earlier this week, I was watching an episode of the BBC series Human Planet and saw clips of some amazing, natural-looking root bridges in India.

I immediately wanted to know more about them.

Cherrapunji is a subdivisional town in the East Khasi Hills district in the Indian state of Meghalaya. With over 75 feet of annual rainfall, the climate in this region is one of the wettest in the world.

A map of the region

The intense rains have created a perpetually wet and often harsh environment. Local villagers are forced to cross numerous rivers, many of which can turn into violent rapids during the rainy season.

But the wet climate has also given locals there a gift: it allows the Ficus elastica tree to thrive, giving the locals a solution to their problems.

Some Of The Dangers Of Outer Space

Okay so everyone hopefully understands that you can’t just simply survive in the openness of outer space. That’s why astronauts are required to wear sophisticated suits to keep them safe.

There are many reasons why outer space is not naturally habitable for humans, the lack of air and extreme temperatures being just the tip of the iceberg.

But with a proper suit built to provide protection and breathable air, one can spend limited amounts of time in outer space.

NASA’s futuristic new Z-2 concept suit. Click to learn more

 

According to Space.com four of the most hostile elements in space are:

1. The Empty Vacuum – The vacuum force, caused by a lack of air in space, can be large and significant. If instruments are unsealed they can break apart. If an astronaut has a suit leak or damage it will be exposed and compromised.

2. Extreme Temperature/Temperature Variation - According to Space.com,

“If an astronaut’s back is facing the sun and the front is not, the temperature difference can be as much as 275°F”

That is an extreme temperature difference for just the direction that you are facing. Astronaut suits must have heavily shielded face plates to protect astronauts from the sun, as well as the capability to handle both temperature exteremes (hot and cold).

Japanese astronaut Aki Hoshide takes a selfie with the Sun behind him during a mission in 2012. Click to enlarge (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Universetoday.com did a great piece called “How Cold is Space” that helped answer a few questions on how extreme the temperatures get in outer space. According to them, the International Space Station…

“…under constant sunlight can get as hot as 260 degrees Celsius (500 F). This is dangerous to astronauts who have to work outside the station. If they need to handle bare metal, they wrap it in special coatings or blankets to protect themselves. And yet, in the shade, an object will cool down to below -100 degrees Celsius (-148 F).”

3. Meteorite Impacts - Although colliding with other objects in space is rare, it is entirely possible and a legit threat. If you are within the orbit of a planet, where much of this debris gets captured, the threat is even higher.

The amount of satellites in space is growing by the day, steadily increasing the amount of “space junk” within Earth’s orbit. Aside from that, small meteorites zoom past the outskirts of space and into our ozone everyday.

The recent film Gravity touched on some of the potential dangers of space junk

4. Radiation Damage – This is one of the most significant threats in space, especially to equipment. There are several sources and forms of radiation in space which can all be harmful to human health in a large enough dose.

The main issue, however, is that this radiation can damage the finely-tuned instrumentation used by astronauts to do experiments in space. The radiation can alter and destroy data, and eventually renders almost all instruments in space useless.

 

In New Jersey, The Local Neighborhood Bear Walks Upright (Video)

New Jersey resident Ian Bohman was heading out for a Monday morning workout when he noticed a local bear walking upright. The spectacle was too perfect to not capture a viral worthy video. Check out the video below to see just how human-like bears can be…

At first it’s not totally clear if this video is a hoax or just a man dressed up as a bear or something, but I can assure you that the video is actually of a real bear.

According to Bohman, the bear is actually “kind of famous” in his hometown.

Kelsey Burgess, who works with the New Jersey Department of Fish, Game and Wildlife, saw the video herself. She thinks that the bear was most likely injured in a car accident.

“Bears can walk on their hind legs very well. It’s just they don’t choose to do so unless they’re forced to,”

she told ABC News.

Brown bear cubs standing up (Photo: Cheryl A. Ertelt)

Locals have seen the bear walking on its hind legs and prowling through garbage on a number of occasions, but this was the first quality video captured of the bear’s strange behavior.

Bears are reasonably common in this area of New Jersey and this one hasn’t showed any aggression towards the locals, so little has been done about relocating the bear or bringing it into captivity.

Check out the full story from YahooNews here.

“Firenados”: What Causes A Fire Tornado? (Photo Gallery)

Seven News in Australia recently released video of a fire tornado captured by Chris Tangey of Alice Springs Film and Television. A still from that video went viral and had everyone asking: What is a fire tornado? And what can cause one?

The recently surfaced “Firenado” picture was captured by Chris when he noticed a wildfire near Curtin Springs in Australia. Right as he began filming the blaze, a small tornado landed. Chris said that when the tornado touched down,

“It sounded like a jet fighter going by, yet there wasn’t a breath of wind where we were.”

According to Australia’s WPTV.com, the twister landed right in the middle of the fire,

“…causing it to build into a spinning flame.”

Chris Tangey, the Australian filmmaker who captured the firenado footage (Image courtesy of Good Morning America)

A phenomenon like this is rarely caught on video, but it isn’t exactly a rare occurrence. Here’s Jason Forthofer, a mechanical engineer at the U.S. Forest Services’s Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory in Montana, speaking about the phenomenon back in 2010:

“Also known as fire whirls, fire devils, or even firenados, these whirlwinds of flame are not really rare, just rarely documented.”

Fire tornadoes occur when intense heat and turbulent wind conditions combine to form a whirling fiery vortex. A fire tornado consists of a core—the part that is actually on fire—and an invisible pocket of rotating air that feeds fresh oxygen to the core.

Edit: We originally said the video was removed from Youtube for copyright infringement. Then, Chris Tangey himself informed us that it is available on vimeo. Thanks Chris! This footage is amazing!

Check out some stills from the video and other “Firenados” below

Warren Buffett Reveals How You Could’ve Turned $40 Into $10 Million Investing In Coca-Cola

So if you clicked this story hoping to turn forty bucks into millions of dollars overnight then I unfortunately must inform you that you will be disappointed.

Instead, this is a look into how someone could realistically have turned $40 into over $10 million investing in just one stock in 1919, courtesy of arguably the world’s greatest investor: Warren Buffett.

According to The Motley Fool at fool.com…

“A few years ago, Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A) (NYSE: BRK-B) CEO and Chairman Warren Buffett spoke about one of his favorite companies, Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO), and how after dividends, stock splits, and patient reinvestment, someone who bought just $40 worth of the company’s stock when it went public in 1919 would now have more than $5 million.”

This is what a Coke ad looked like in 1919. Click to enlarge

Today that figure is actually significantly higher: the value of the original $40 investment would be around $11 million if you cashed it in today. Of course, as an investor, the first things that come to mind are:

  1. That is almost 100 years to wait on an investment!
  2. $40 in 1919 isn’t the same as $40 invested today…

Well according to The Motley Fool, if you factor in inflation and everything else, $40 in 1919 is equivalent to about $540 in today’s money. So although $540 may seem like way more money than $40, $540 is nothing compared to $11 million!

Secondly, in 1919 Coca-Cola was not a sure bet. It was a consumer good heavily dependent on sugar cane prices, and with the uncertainty in the world at the time (following the end of World War I), there was definitely no guarantee on Coca-Cola’s sustainability as an investment at that time.

Warren Buffett’s main advice to investors is two main things. The first, is,

“It is absolutely important to understand the relative price you are paying for that business.”

A recent picture of Warren Buffet

This can be tough with the complexity of today’s markets, but getting a close estimate is not impossible.

The second main piece of advice Warren Buffett gives is to not worry so much about the timing of your investment and to instead focus more on the quality of the business you are investing in. In Buffett’s own words…

“If you’re right about the business, you’ll make a lot of money, it’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price …You don’t want to focus on when, you want to focus on what. If you’re right about what, you don’t have to worry about when.”

So although the opportunity to have invested $40 in Coca-Cola in 1919 has come and gone, there are still a ton of quality companies out there that are just starting out or already established that could be great long-term investments, just like Coca-Cola was in 1919.

For more investment advice and the full story check out The Motley Fool here!

Flying High With The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta (Photo Gallery)

The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is not only Europe’s largest ballooning event, it’s one of the largest ballooning events in the world.

The annual festival is celebrating its 36th anniversary this year. The event will take place in the city of Bristol (England) from August 7th-10th and it is FREE! So if you are dying to see an epic collection of hot air balloons or you just happen to be in the area, don’t worry if you forget your wallet.

There are all kinds of awesome things about the event (food, music, bars, etc.), but the real attraction for the majority of us who have never ridden in a hot air balloon is definitely the overall beauty of the event. Over 150 air balloons from all over the world gather in one area, creating a beautiful scene and environment.

Check out a collection of photos from former Bristol International Balloon Fiestas below (click an image to enlarge):

For more info, check out the festival’s homepage here.

Why Are People Paying As Much As $5,000 per Stem for This Orchid? (Photo Gallery)

The Rothschild’s orchid (Paphiopedilum rothschildianum) is one of the rarest and most expensive flowers on the planet.

Those familiar with the black market say that the plant fetches sums of up to $5,000 a stem.

A close up of the rare orchid. Click to enlarge

So you are probably asking why in the world this plant is so valuable? Well, here are some of the key factors that put such a high price tag on this crchid:

  1. The  Rothschild’s orchid is only native  to Kinabalu National Park in Malaysia. This strain of the orchid species is scarce even there so it is protected by the government.
  2. This specific species of orchid was not discovered until 1987 and, according to MySabah.com, “the flower only grows on the slope of Mt. Kinabalu between 500 and 1,200 meters in altitude”.
  3. Since the plant is endangered and protected by the Malaysia government it is illegal to pick. The plant is only available from smugglers on the black market at a price of up to $5,000 per stolen stem.
  4. The flower itself can take up to 15 years to take bloom. This is one reason they are so rare, and even at Kinabalu National Park in Malaysia they are extremely difficult to find.

Scientists and plant lovers alike are extremely excited to learn more about the rare and relatively new species, but they were that illegal trade on the black market could wipe out the orchids before we really have a chance to study them.

According to the BBC…

“…scientists say the illegal collection of orchids is pushing species to the edge of extinction, with dire consequences for biodiversity. With some vulnerable species available on the black market before they can even be formally named, biologists and customs officers alike are battling to preserve the captivating plants.”

The flower is also known as the Rothschild’s Slipper orchid or the “Sumazau” orchid. The second name was given because the orchid’s long stretched side pedals resemble the arms of someone participating in Sumazau, the most traditional type of dance in the Malaysian state of Sabah, where the orchids are found.
A Malaysian woman performs the Sumazau dance
The orchid is also known to the locals as “The Gold of Kinabalu” because of the plants high value and rarity in Kinabalu National Park.

Check out a few more pictures of the extremely rare Rothschild’s orchid below: