Wed, 01/17/2018 - 12:02am

NC Science Now Reporter's blog

What Makes a Face

Let’s face it, there’s a lot involved in the human face.

It’s a complicated mix of physiology and psychology. The information a human face can relay is almost unending. The human face is debateably the most useful, and possibly the most underestimated, means of communication that people have.

So let’s learn a little more about the face.

Bays of Mystery

Carolina Bays provide one of the most intriguing geologic mysteries around.

Think about it. Not only are scientists still trying to determine how Carolina Bays were created, the exact number of Carolina Bays is also unknown.

Jerry Reynolds, the Carolina Bay expert with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, tells me he’s seen estimates ranging from 400,000 to 2.5 million bays in the Southeast United States. Bays can be found from Maryland to Georgia, but the majority of Bays are found in North and South Carolina.

Beyond the Bench

Remember that old saying: “Things aren’t always what they seem.”

It’s especially true when you’re talking about the bench in front of the Durham County South Regional Library near Research Triangle Park.

As you can see from the photo, the bench is very much a bench. But it turns out, that particular bench is also part of a project sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to test what you could call next-generation air monitoring stations.

Sustainable Estate

In the late 19th century when he built his grand estate, George Vanderbilt’s goal wasn’t just to have a place to relax and entertain family, friends, and business associates. He also wanted a place that would preserve the environment in and around Asheville that he had grown to love.

It’s not surprising then that the nation’s first planned and sustainable forestry program was started at Biltmore, where Vanderbilt’s vision for a sustainable estate began and continues today.

All About the Gyre

The lines and clumps of sargassum (reddish brown grass floating at sea that forms the foundation of a complex sea community) can stretch for miles along the ocean’s surface here in the North Atlantic. Get high above the surface and you’ll find the orange and brown seaweed as far as the eye can see. And you can’t see it all, because the area known as the Sargasso Sea stretches for almost 2 million square miles.

Flash Facts

It’s time for a news flash, or at least a lightning flash.

The folks at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tell me that lightning flashes more than three million times a day around the world. That’s about 40 flashes per second. Not all of those flashes hit the ground and those flashes are pretty quick—lasting only about 30 microseconds.

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