The sails of the Sydney Opera House are illuminated as part of the Vivid Sydney festival of lights on Friday.
(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

The sails of the Sydney Opera House are illuminated as part of the Vivid Sydney festival of lights on Friday.

(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Chilean Volcanic Eruption Creates Air Travel Headaches Down Under
After starting to erupt on June 4, a Chilean volcanic complex’s ash cloud is creating a winter of discontent for travelers in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcanic complex in central Chile, seen here Saturday morning, has emitted a steady stream of ash, grounding dozens of flights in Australia.
Watch an animation of how the ash has circled the Southern Hemisphere to create a “plume of gloom” hovering in prime Australian airspace.
Ash from the eruption could stay airborne and mess up flights for months, Reuters reports.
This “false-color” satellite image shows low-angled sunlight — 10 days before the hemisphere’s winter solstice — lighting up the plume’s northern side, while the south side is in deep shadow.
NASA’s Earth Observatory describes the coloring of the image:

In this image, low-angled sunlight (10 days before the winter solstice  in the Southern Hemisphere) illuminates the north side of the plume,  while the south side is in deep shadow. The ash colum rises from a  fissure about 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) north of Puyehue Volcano. The  high-altitude lakes to the west of the eruption site are bright blue  (likely from ash suspended in the water) and partially covered by  floating pumice, a type of volcanic rock permeated with gas bubbles. Ash-covered snow is gray, and vegetation is red.

Image courtesy: NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

Chilean Volcanic Eruption Creates Air Travel Headaches Down Under

After starting to erupt on June 4, a Chilean volcanic complex’s ash cloud is creating a winter of discontent for travelers in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcanic complex in central Chile, seen here Saturday morning, has emitted a steady stream of ash, grounding dozens of flights in Australia.

Watch an animation of how the ash has circled the Southern Hemisphere to create a “plume of gloom” hovering in prime Australian airspace.

Ash from the eruption could stay airborne and mess up flights for months, Reuters reports.

This “false-color” satellite image shows low-angled sunlight — 10 days before the hemisphere’s winter solstice — lighting up the plume’s northern side, while the south side is in deep shadow.

NASA’s Earth Observatory describes the coloring of the image:

In this image, low-angled sunlight (10 days before the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere) illuminates the north side of the plume, while the south side is in deep shadow. The ash colum rises from a fissure about 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) north of Puyehue Volcano. The high-altitude lakes to the west of the eruption site are bright blue (likely from ash suspended in the water) and partially covered by floating pumice, a type of volcanic rock permeated with gas bubbles. Ash-covered snow is gray, and vegetation is red.

Image courtesy: NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

What We’re Reading: Ancient Fossils, Opossums, and Bones

Photo by Flickr user Alice Chaos 

Ancient Fossils Have Evolution’s First Shells

This story details a process called biomineralization, and the first known evidence of the phenomenon, found in 750 million-year-old, spectacularly preserved fossils. Biomineralization is the ability to convert minerals into hard, physical structures — the process that allows for bones, shells, teeth and hair, Wired’s Brandon Keim explains. It also strives to tackle the question ofwhy — after 3 billion years without them — did bones evolve at all? (Brandeim Keim, Wired Science)

A Fast Life and Success that Starts in the Pouch


Natalie Angier writes here on what she deems “our own private Australia,” the opossum.  The opossum is the United States’ only living example of a marsupial animal — one that gestates its young in its pouch. Scientists, she reports, say that the earliest living marsupials probably closely resembled these animals, and that all other marsupials were derived from them. A fascinating look at an animal with 50 teeth and a “casually relentless adaptability” that we don’t often think about. (Natalie Angier, New York Times)

Storms Brewing


Elizabeth Kolbert’s latest piece in the New Yorker’s Talk of the Town takes a sweeping look at weather related disasters worldwide — including the tornados in Joplin, Missouri, the Mississippi River flooding, drought along China’s Yangtze River and excessive rainfall in Colombia — and presents a harsh look at the administration’s climate policies. “Since the midterm elections, Obama has barely mentioned climate change, and just about every decision that his administration has made on energy and the environment has been wrong,” she writes.  The story ends with a warning. Worth reading. (Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker)   

'Alzheimer's' in the Down Syndrome Brain


Scientists have found amyloid plaques and tau tangles — well-known markers of Alzheimer’s disease — in the brains of adult patients with Down Syndrome.  This may helps explain why older people with Down Syndrome develop a form of dementia that’s similar to Alzheimer’s.  But the brain region where the plaques and tangles are found is different, Science reports. (Sarah C.P. Williams, Science NOW)

 Photo by Flickr user Alice Chaos

(Source: newshour.pbs.org)