What We Loved This Week, Dec. 13 – 19

Volcano Lightning

A thunderstorm complete with volcanic lightning rages over Mount Etna in Catania, Italy. Image Source: The Atlantic

2015’s Most Astounding Volcanic Eruptions Around The World

Volcano Red Clouds

Due to a massive smoke column over 12 miles high, the eruption of Chile’s Calbuco volcano caused widespread evacuation in the surrounding area. Image Source: The Atlantic

About 50 of the world’s 1,500 or so active volcanoes erupt each year. While 2015 may not have seen more eruptions than usual, many of those eruptions sure seemed especially astonishing. In August, Hawaii’s Mount Kilauea erupted while a 3.8 magnitude earthquake occurred underneath the volcano. In December, Sicily’s Mount Etna erupted twice in one month, spewing lava and ash more than a mile into the air. And there’s plenty more where that came from…

Volcano Red Glow

The Villarrica Volcano of Pucon, Chile, is among the most active in South America. Image Source: The Atlantic

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Photo Of The Day: The World’s Lightest Material Balances On A Cherry Blossom

Graphene Aerogel On Flower

Image Source: 9GAG

Created in 2013 by a research team from China’s Zhejiang University, grapheme aerogel (featured atop a cherry blossom in the photo above) is considered the world’s lightest material — so much so that it is seven times lighter than air.

That’s not to say it’s incredibly fragile or useless: the material can recover completely after more than 90 percent compression, and absorb up to 900 times its own weight in oil at a rate of 68.8 grams per second. In fact, it’s these properties that has led researcher Gao Chao to hope that the material can be used to mop up oil spills, squeezed to reclaim the oil, and then thrown back in the ocean to mop up more oil, Extreme Tech reported.

Five Of The World’s Weirdest Monuments

Apart from space travel, art is the most uniquely human creation in the world. Alone among animals, humans express themselves artistically by creating representations of themselves and the world around them. We do this with paint, clay, and – if the artist is an undergraduate in the humanities – menstrual blood.

For sheer impact, however, it’s difficult to beat monumental art. While any teenager can splatter paint on canvas and pretend she’s doing it bad on purpose, the sheer will involved in hoisting hundreds of tons of stone or bronze virtually guarantees that the artist has something important to share with the world. Some of these sculptures, though, are flat-out bizarre:

Georgia’s Stonehenge


Image Source: Julia World

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