Have you ever noticed that almost every barn you have ever seen is red? There’s a reason for that, and it has to do with the chemistry of dying stars. Seriously.
Yonatan Zunger is a Google employee who decided to explain this phenomenon on Google+ recently. The simple answer to why barns are painted red is because red paint is cheap. The cheapest paint there is, in fact. But the reason it’s so cheap? Well, that’s the interesting part.
Red ochre—Fe2O3—is a simple compound of iron and oxygen that absorbs yellow, green and blue light and appears red. It’s what makes red paint red. It’s really cheap because it’s really plentiful. And it’s really plentiful because of nuclear fusion in dying stars. Zunger explains:
The only thing holding the star up was the energy of the fusion reactions, so as power levels go down, the star starts to shrink. And as it shrinks, the pressure goes up, and the temperature goes up, until suddenly it hits a temperature where a new reaction can get started. These new reactions give it a big burst of energy, but start to form heavier elements still, and so the cycle gradually repeats, with the star reacting further and further up the periodic table, producing more and more heavy elements as it goes. Until it hits 56. At that point, the reactions simply stop producing energy at all; the star shuts down and collapses without stopping.
As soon as the star hits the 56 nucleon (total number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus) cutoff, it falls apart. It doesn’t make anything heavier than 56. What does this have to do with red paint? Because the star stops at 56, it winds up making a ton of things with 56 neucleons. It makes more 56 nucleon containing things than anything else (aside from the super light stuff in the star that is too light to fuse).
The element that has 56 protons and neutrons in its nucleus in its stable state? Iron. The stuff that makes red paint.
And that, Zunger explains, is how the death of a star determines what color barns are painted.
i love this
This combination of pictures released by the US National Archives in Washington shows altered headshots of Adolf Hitler. The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) had asked Eddie Senz, a New York make-up artist to clone the portrait of German leader Hitler after D-Day on 6 June 1944 because they feared that “Der Fuehrer” would flee from Germany.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations has declassified their Adolf Hitler files, which entertain the idea that Hitler survived World War II and went into hiding. The FBI investigated claims that the Nazi leader had faked his own death, and the newly released files show lab reports on Hitler’s marriage certificate, will, as well as other political documents.
The bureau has made 867 pages of files and documents public, hundreds of which are devoted to speculation that Hitler escaped Germany and lived safely in Argentina with other Nazi leaders, body doubles, and possibly even Eva Braun after the war. One report details an eyewitness account of Hitler entering Argentina with a large party of men and women and proceeding on horseback to a secret location.
As in all the documents, names have been blacked-out. In the reprinted report below, the word blank designates such names. Otherwise, the text has been preprinted exactly:
BLANK reports contact with BLANK. Claims to have aided six top Argentine officials in hiding ADOLF HITLER upon his landing by submarine in Argentina. HITLER reported to be hiding out in foot-hills of southern Andes.
According to BLANK, he was one of four men who met HITLER and his party when they landed from two submarines in Argentina approximately two and one-half weeks after the fall of Berlin.
The newly public online FBI Vault also has a treasure trove of reports on topics ranging from Animal Mutilations to Organized Crime to UFO Sightings.
Google has had some stunning logos over the years, but this one is a showstopper.
I really really love this.
anybody else think of avatar?
Long ago, the websites lived together in harmony…
Then everything changed when Windows Vista attacked!
Only Google, Master of All Search Engines could stop it.
But when the internet needed it most, Google vanished.
Years passed, and a new Search Engine was discovered, a Search Engine named Bing.
And Bing couldn’t search for shit. Everyone died.
This is officially one of my favorite posts.
The folks over at NASA apod just put up an awesome galaxy collisions, simulations and observations video for the public. I made a little gif set to go along with the video which can be found here.
What happens when two galaxies collide? Although it may take over a billion years, such titanic clashes are quite common.
Images Credit: NASA, ESA; Visualization: Frank Summers (STScI);
Simulation: Chris Mihos (CWRU) & Lars Hernquist (Harvard).
Since galaxies are mostly empty space, no internal stars are likely to themselves collide. Rather the gravitation of each galaxy will distort or destroy the other galaxy, and the galaxies may eventually merge to form a single larger galaxy.
Expansive das and dust clouds collide and trigger waves of star formation that complete even during the interaction process. Pictured above is a computer simulation of two large spiral galaxies colliding, interspersed with real still images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.
Our own Milky Way Galaxy has absorbed several smaller galaxies during its existence and is even projected to merge with the larger neighboring Andromeda galaxy in a few billion years.