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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

One Big Lava Lamp

One Big Lava Lamp

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Sunday, November 3, 2019/Categories: natural history, photography, environment

               1960's Lava Lamp (credit, file photo)

I was invited into a Nashville recording studio once while a good friend was recording a project with some of finest bluegrass and acoustic musicians in the City. It was great fun. Decked out around the soundboard, sofas, and recording gear were Lava Lamps, the novelty toy popular in the 1960's, which bubbled away in various technicolors. Perhaps they provided the musicians a bit of relaxation and humor during the long sessions.

A natural 'lava lamp' has been photographed deep within the Atlantic Ocean. The Landsat 8 camera captured an image of the Atlantic Gulf stream approximately 300 miles east of South Carolina in infrared. The Gulf Stream is a portion of the global ocean 'conveyor belt' that moves water and heat from the tropics towards the poles. Like the toy lamps that cycle heated oils and wax, ocean current moves water upwards at varying temperatures. High resolution infrared instruments allowed the differentiation of water temperatures in the wider ocean patterns. In the Landsat image, temperatures range from 64-70F (18-21C) with coolest temperatures in purple and warmest in white.

Ben Franklin is credited with discovering the Gulf Stream and included it on maps in his day. He knew the current was a big deal but he didn't know how big it actually was, influencing continents and climates on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Ben Franklin Map (credit: Library of Congress)                    Atlantic Gulf stream (credit: NASA)

As one of our earliest scientists and inventors, Ben would have loved a Lava Lamp on his desk.



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