Solar eclipses are some of nature's most dramatic celestial performances. Solar eclipses occur when the Earth, moon and sun are aligned in the same plane and the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, partially or completely covering our closest star. The next total solar eclipse will occur on Aug. 21, 2017 — learn more on that below.There are four types of solar eclipses: total, annular, partial and hybrid. Here's what causes each type: Total solar eclipsesThese are a happy accident of nature. The sun's 864,000-mile (1.4 million kilometers) diameter is fully 400 times greater than that of Earth's moon, which measures just about 2,160 miles (nearly 3,500 km). But the moon also happens to be about 400 times closer to Earth than the sun (the ratio varies as both orbits are elliptical), and as a result, when the orbital planes intersect and the distances align favorably, the new moon can appear to completely blot out the disk of the sun. On the average a total eclipse occurs … [Read more...] about What Is a Solar Eclipse?
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Mysterious shipwrecksFor as long as humans have taken to the sea, there have been shipwrecks. UNESCO estimates that 3 million sunken ships litter ocean bottoms worldwide, many of which date back thousands of years. Some shipwrecks are well-documented or even deliberate — navies often deliberately scuttled ships to block entrances into ports or waterways, according to UNESCO. But others are veiled in mystery. Read on for a list of shipwrecks obscured not only by ocean waves, but by mysterious circumstances.The loss of the PatriotAaron Burr, the third vice president of the United States, is most famous for killing former treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton in a duel. But Burr's life was marred by another death. His daughter, Theodosia, disappeared at sea at the age of 29, along with the rest of the passengers and crew on schooner called the Patriot.The Patriot was traveling from Charleston, South Carolina, to New York City in December 1812 with Theodosia Burr aboard on a journey … [Read more...] about The 20 Most Mysterious Shipwrecks Ever
Archaeologists are excavating the vessel that served as the flagship of the pirate Blackbeard, and the medical equipment they have recovered from the shipwreck suggests the notorious buccaneer had to toil to keep his crew healthy.Blackbeard is the most famous pirate who ever lived. His real name was Edward Teach (or possibly Thatch), and his flagship, the Queen Anne's Revenge, was formerly a French slave vessel named La Concorde de Nantesthat Blackbeard captured in November 1717. Blackbeard was able to capture this ship easily because much of its crew was either sick or dead due to disease. A few months into 1718, the Queen Anne's Revenge ran aground on a sandbar at Topsail Inlet in North Carolina. Blackbeard abandoned much of his crew at that point, leaving the site with a select group of men and most of the plunder. He was killed in battle later that year.The wreck of the Queen Anne's Revenge was rediscovered in 1996 and has been under excavation by the Queen Anne's Revenge … [Read more...] about Blackbeard’s Booty: Pirate Ship Yields Medical Supplies
Editor's Note: In this weekly series, LiveScience explores how technology drives scientific exploration and discovery. Humanity has landed robots on Mars and invented technologies capable of building materials from atoms up. But when exploring the iciest continent on Earth, humans are often surprisingly low-tech.Oh, you're going to want polar fleece. Gore-Tex, too. And avoid cotton — as soon as it gets wet in the Antarctic wind, you'll be shivering your way to hypothermia.Beyond synthetic fabrics, though, much of the technology used to survive in Antarctica is nothing new. Even the tents used to camp on the ice are not appreciably different from the ones Robert Falcon Scott and his team slept in more than a century ago when they led some of the first expeditions onto the icy continent, according to Robert Mulvaney, a glaciologist with the British Antarctic Survey. [Image Gallery: One-of-a-Kind Places]"We do now use skidoos rather than dogs to pull the sledges!" Mulvaney told … [Read more...] about Incredible Technology: How to Explore Antarctica
A parasitic fungus known to manipulate the brains of ants doesn't make slavelike "zombies" out of any old host.Instead, the microorganism is somehow able to recognize the brains of different ant species, and releases its mind-controlling chemical cocktail only when in its preferred host, new research shows."Behavioral manipulation is such a complex [characteristic] that it only occurs when there's a very close coevolution between pathogen and host," said Charissa de Bekker, a molecular biologist at Pennsylvania State University and lead author of the new study, published in August in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology."The theory is that every species of ant has its own species of fungi that it gets infected by," de Bekker told Live Science. [Mind Control: See Images of Zombie Ants]Making zombiesFungi of the genus Ophiocordyceps — so-called zombie ant fungi — need ants to complete their life cycle. When an ant comes across fungal spores while foraging, the … [Read more...] about Zombie Fungus Enslaves Only Its Favorite Ant Brains