The Science of This Spring's Tornadoes
With the devastating Joplin, Missouri, twister arriving on the heels of April's deadly outbreak in the Southeast, many are wondering just what's in the air this spring. Are we in for more?
What's the Latest Development?
Only three weeks after an unprecedented series of twisters wrought destruction across the Southeast, residents of Joplin, Missouri, are still digging out from the destruction of a tornado. It is shaping up to be an unusually active year: "Over the last couple of decades, an average of about 1,200 tornadoes touched down each year in the continental United States. This year, about 1,076 had been counted even before this week's activity in Missouri and elsewhere." Experts say America's history of urban sprawl makes larger areas of land susceptible to tornadoes.
What's the Big Idea?
What can explain this increase in tornado frequency and strength? "The Gulf of Mexico is warmer than normal, sending more moist air over the South. The jet stream has also been moving somewhat farther south than usual, bringing it into contact with that excess moisture and triggering the large storms. ... It is impossible to link specific storms and weather events to climate change. But one of the predictions of the climate change models is that we'll be in for more intense storms as average global temperatures climb. That is what appears to be happening, both in summer and in winter."
The way that you think about stress can actually transform the effect that it has on you – and others.
- Stress is contagious, and the higher up in an organization you are the more your stress will be noticed and felt by others.
- Kelly McGonigal teaches "Reset your mindset to reduce stress" for Big Think Edge.
- Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Three scientists publish paper proving that not Venus but Mercury is the closest planet to Earth
- Earth is the third planet from the Sun, so our closest neighbour must be planet two of four, right?
- Wrong! Neither Venus nor Mars is the right answer.
- Three scientists ran the numbers. In this YouTube video, one of them explains why our nearest neighbour is... Mercury!
The blood of horseshoe crabs is harvested on a massive scale in order to retrieve a cell critical to medical research. However, recent innovations might make this practice obsolete.
- Horseshoe crabs' blue blood is so valuable that a quart of it can be sold for $15,000.
- This is because it contains a molecule that is crucial to the medical research community.
- Today, however, new innovations have resulted in a synthetic substitute that may end the practice of farming horseshoe crabs for their blood.
The distance between the American dream and reality is expressed best through literature.
- Literature expands our ability to feel empathy and inspires compassion.
- These ten novels tackle some facet of the American experience.
- The list includes a fictional retelling of the first Native American to graduate from Harvard and hiding out in inner city Newark.
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