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← What Is the Polar Vortex? - Best of the Blogs #12

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Showing Revision 15 created 03/24/2015 by Igor Padilha dos Prazeres.

  1. Hello, and welcome to January
  2. at the Scientific American blog network.
  3. I'm Carin Bondar, and you know,
  4. this month was kind of
    a wacky one for the network.
  5. We are going all over the place,
    from extreme weather events
  6. to extreme viral behavior,
    to the evolutionary psychology
  7. behind the booming industry
    that is -- monster pornography.
  8. I'm gonna throw it right over to
    John Horgan to explain that one first.
  9. Monster porn;
  10. this is written primarily by women,
    for women and it involves
  11. fantasies of women having -- sex
  12. often, at least initially,
    non-consensual sex
  13. with -- bigfoot, with Godzilla, T. rex,
  14. giant robotic aliens -- I mean,
  15. every possible crazy entity
    that you can imagine.
  16. The angle I came up with was --
  17. that not just the human mind in general,
  18. but especially the female mind
    and the female libido
  19. are completely mysterious.
  20. I mean, because who could possibly
    predict something as crazy as --
  21. monster porn?
  22. This month on her blog, The Artful Amoeba,
  23. Jennifer Frazer gets us a history
    about a virus that has managed to
  24. successfully invade an animal host
    from a plant host.
  25. This is mind-boggling!
  26. Tobacco ringspot virus
    normally causes trouble
  27. in plants like soybean, raspberry,
    and of course, tobacco.
  28. So it came as a shock
    when scientists discovered the virus
  29. had apparently invaded honeybees.
  30. Honeybees and plants are separated
    by about 1.6 billion years of evolution.
  31. So, host leap of that magnitude
    is mid boggling about.
  32. The virus may have been added by
    a high mutation rate
  33. and also by the fact that can be
    a sexually transmitted disease of plants.
  34. Which means it can get around
    virus per packet, we call polen.
  35. Since bees regularly wallow in the stuff,
    and do it with gusto,
  36. the virus clearly had
    a motive and an opportunity.
  37. When scientists discovered the virus
    comfortably ensconced
  38. inside bee's wings,
    antennae, nerves and blood,
  39. it became clear that,
    no matter how improbable,
  40. the virus clearly had the meets as well.
  41. We are all very aware
    of the crazy cold weather
  42. that has been going on in a lot of places
    in North America this month.
  43. Mark Fischetti is here to explain
  44. what this polar vortex is
    and exactly why such cold temperatures
  45. in such extreme storm events
    are happening.
  46. We keep praying about this polar vortex
  47. every time the temperature has dropped,
    like it's some mystical beast
  48. that comes down from the North Pole
    and grips us into a deep freeze.
  49. So, what is this thing anyway?
  50. Well, my blog has the details,
    but you can think about like this:
  51. The polar vortex is a prevailing
    wind pattern that circles the Arctic,
  52. flowing from West to East
    all around the entire planet.
  53. Normally it does state far north
    and locks the cold air up
  54. towards the North Pole,
    but occasionally the vortex weakens
  55. and allows that cold air to drift down
    through Canada into U.S.
  56. The vortex, when it does that,
    can also push the jet stream
  57. much further south and keep it there,
  58. so we do stay in the cold for days on in.
  59. So, what causes the vortex to weaken,
    in the first place?
  60. Well, we'll have to read the blog for
    the details, but here's a hint:
  61. it has to do with a lost
    of arctic sea ice in the summer time.
  62. Well, there you have it,
    just a small sampling
  63. of some of the highlights from January
  64. at the Scientific American blog network.
  65. Make sure you check back
    to all of your favorite blogs, you know,
  66. weekly there are so many cool histories
    coming in your away.
  67. I get the highlights just of a few of them
  68. and I will be back to do
    just that again in February.