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

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    Hello, and welcome to January
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    at the Scientific American blog network.
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    I'm Karen Bondar, and you know,
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    this month was kind of
    a wacky one for the network.
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    We are going all over the place,
    from extreme weather events
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    to extreme viral behavior,
    to the evolutionary psychology
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    behind the booming industry
    that is -- monster pornography.
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    I'm gonna throw it right over to
    John Horgan to explain that one first.
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    Monster porn;
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    this is written primarily by women,
    for women and it involves
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    fantasies of women having -- sex
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    often, at least initially,
    non-consensual sex
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    with -- bigfoot, with Godzilla, T-Rex,
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    giant robotic aliens -- I mean,
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    every possible crazy entitiy
    that you can imagine.
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    The angle I came up with was --
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    that not just the human mind in general,
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    but especially the female mind
    and the female libido
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    are completely mysterious.
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    I mean, because who could possibly
    predict something as crazy as --
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    monster porn?
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    This month on her blog, The Artful Amoeba,
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    Jennifer Frazer gets us a history
    about a virus that has managed to
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    successfully invade an animal host
    from a plant host.
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    This is mind boggling!
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    Tobacco ringspot virus
    normally causes trouble
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    in plants like soybean, raspberry,
    and of course, tobacco.
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    So it came as a shock
    when scientists discovered the virus
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    had apparently invaded honeybees.
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    Honeybees and plants are separated
    by about 1.6 billion years of evolution.
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    So, host leap of that magnitude
    is mid boggling about.
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    The virus may have been added by
    a high mutation rate
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    and also by the fact that can be
    a sexually transmitted disease of plants.
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    Which means it can get around
    virus per packet, we call polen.
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    Since bees regularly wallow in the stuff --
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    the virus clearly had
    a motive and an opportunity.
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    When scientist discovered the virus
    comfortably ensconced
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    inside bee's wings,
    antennae, nerves and blood,
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    it became clear that,
    no matter how improbable,
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    the virus clearly had the meets as well.
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    We are all very aware
    of the crazy cold weather
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    that has been going on in a lot of places
    in North America this month.
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    Mark Fischetti is here to explain
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    what this polar vortex is
    and exactly why such cold temperatures
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    in such extreme storm events
    are happening.
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    We keep about this Polar Vortex
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    every time the temperature has dropped,
    like it's some mystical beast
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    that comes down from the North Pole
    and grips us into a deep freeze.
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    So, what is this thing anyway?
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    The Polar Vortex is a prevailing wint pattern that circles the Arctic flowing from West to East all around the entire planet.
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    Normally it does state far North and locks the cold air up towards the North Pole, but occasionally the Vortex weakens, then allows that cold air to drift down through Canada into the U.S.
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    The Vortex when does that also push the jet stream much further south and keep it there, so we do stay in the cold for days on in.
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    So, what causes the vortex to weaken, in the first place?
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    Well, we have to read the blog for the details but here's a hint: it has to do with a lost of arctic sea ice in the summer time.
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    Well there you have it, just a small sampling of some of the highlights from January at the Scientific American blog network.
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    Make sure you check back to... your favorite blogs, you know, weekly there are so many cool histories coming in your away.
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    I get the highlights just of a few of them and I will be back to do just that again in February.
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    Well, my blog has details, but you can think about like this:
Title:
What Is the Polar Vortex? - Best of the Blogs #12
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Video Language:
English
Team:
Scientific American
Project:
Best of the Blogs
Duration:
04:11

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