World’s ‘Most Beautiful’ Eternal Flame Reveals New Gas Source
Nestled behind a waterfall in western New York state is an eternal flame whose beauty is only surpassed by its mystery. It is one of a few hundred “natural” eternal flames around the world, fed by gas seeping to the Earth’s surface from underground, said Arndt Schimmelmann, a researcher at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind.
But even within this rarefied group, this flame is special. Perhaps lit by Native Americans hundreds or thousands of years ago, it is fed by a new type of geologic process that hasn’t been recorded before in nature, Schimmelmann told OurAmazingPlanet.
Typically, this type of gas is thought to come from deeply submerged, ancient and extremely hot deposits of shale, a kind of rock. Temperatures have to be near the boiling point of water or hotter to break down the large carbon molecules in shale and create smaller molecules of natural gas, Schimmelmann explained.
A curiosity “nobody believed in”
In this case, though, the rocks that feed the flame are only warm — “like a cup of tea” — as well as geologically younger than expected, and shallow, Schimmelmann said. Those findings suggest the gas is being produced by a different process, whereby some sort of catalyst is creating gas from organic molecules in the shale, he said.
“This mechanism has been proposed for many years, but it was a curiosity that nobody believed in,” Schimmelmann said. “We think there’s a different pathway of gas generation in this location and that there probably is elsewhere as well.” If that’s true, and gas is naturally produced this way in other locations, “we have much more shale-gas resources than we thought,” he added.
Originally, Schimmelmann and his colleague Maria Mastalerz, of the Indiana Geological Survey, were tasked by the U.S. Department of Energy to estimate the total amount of methane that seeps out of the ground in parts of the eastern United States. To help, they recruited Giuseppe Etiope, a researcher at the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Italy, and world expert on natural gas seeps and eternal flames, Schimmelmann said.
A flame eternal
Etiope guided the researchers to the aforementioned eternal flame in Chestnut Ridge Park in western New York, calling it “the most beautiful in the world,” Schimmelmann said. They also looked at a “permanently burning pit” in Cook Forest State Park in northwestern Pennsylvania, although this eternal flame is not as special because it’s supplied by an old gas well, Schimmelmann said. The team reported their findings on the New York eternal flame in a studypublished in the May issueof the journal Marine and Petroleum Geology.
Their results were consistent with estimates that about 30 percent of all methane emitted worldwide comes from natural sources such as these gas seeps. When possible, it can actually be beneficial to set fire to these gas seeps to create “eternal flames.” Fire converts methane to carbon dioxide, whichtraps about 20 times less heat than methane in the atmosphere, Mastalerz told OurAmazingPlanet.
However, “macro seeps” that can be lit and form eternal flames remain rare. In most cases, gas percolates through soil — where methane-eating bacteria convert it into carbon dioxide, Schimmelmann said — or it comes out in a location that can’t sustain combustion. In the case of the New York flame, gas percolates in a naturally hollowed-out chamber, where the flame flickers eternally.
The New York gas seep also features the highest concentration of ethane and propane of any seep in the world, according to the study.
Isabel Chen, a medical student at UBC, is part of a team that has invented a mobile panic button for street-based sex trade workers in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
A voice or text message is first recorded onto a SIM card, which is inserted into a GPS-enabled device such as a pager that would only need to be charged once a week. Pressing a button on the pager activates the GPS and sends an emergency message and GPS location to a contact who can get help. Because the GPS is not activated until the device is activated, the anonymity of the user is preserved.
This is such a great idea I’m surprised it wasn’t already invented years ago!
I’m sure everyone has heard about the great Lake Baikal, and if you haven’t,boy, are you missing out.
This ancient lake, which is about 25 million years old, and thought to be the oldest in the world, contains 20% of the world’s unfrozen fresh water. That’s right, it contains just 1% less fresh water than all the Great Lakes combined,while it’s surface area is over 7 times smaller.
Why is that, you ask? It’s because Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world: It’s maximum depth is 1642 meters, which is deep enough for the Eiffel Tower to stand on itself 5 times and not reach the surface.
But it gets better: the Lake Baikal is among the clearest lakes of the world, so you can see the bottom to a depth of nearly 40 meters, and you can drink right from it, no purifying needed. Furthermore, Lake Baikal sustains 2630 different species of animals and plants, 80% of which are unique to it, and can’t be found anywhere else.
Oh, and by the way? Under both the lake and it’s underwater sediment some of Earth’s tallest mountains(plural!) are submerged, their height over 7000 meters.
Lake Baikal is perhaps one of the world’s most amazing, awe-inspiring, and unique locations, and I would seriously recommend everybody who has some free time on their hands to discover more on their own.
Awesome bubble geometry!
Einstein addressing students at Lincoln University, May 1946.
“As for the Negroes this country still has a heavy debt to discharge for all the troubles and disabilities it has laid on the Negro’s shoulders; for all that his fellow-citizens have done and to some extent are still doing to him. To the Negro and his wonderful songs and choirs we owe the finest contribution in the realm of art which America has so far given to the world. And this great gift we owe, not to those whose names are engraved on this ‘Wall of Fame’ but to children of the people, blossoming namelessly as the lilies of the field.” 
“There is … a somber point in the social outlook of Americans … Their sense of equality and human dignity is mainly limited to men of white skins. Even among these there are prejudices of which I as a Jew am dearly conscious; but they are unimportant in comparison with the attitude of ‘Whites’ toward their fellow-citizens of darker complexion, particularly toward Negroes. … The more I feel an American, the more this situation pains me. I can escape the feeling of complicity in it only by speaking out.”
Racism is America’s greatest disease” and “Racism is a disease of the white man.” Albert Einstein
African Students Who Invented Anti-Malaria Soap, Awarded $25,000
AFRICANGLOBE – Two African students have created a malaria-repellant soap using local herbs, and have won, consequently, a $25,000 Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC) award.
The GSVC is the only international competition of Social Business Plans, dedicated to students, young graduates, and entrepreneurs with high social and/or environmental startups.
Moctar Dembélé who hails from Burkina Faso and Gérard Niyondiko, from Burundi, are the first non American born/citizen, to win the Global Social Venture Competition. [Read more.]
The tulip tree reveals mitochondrial genome of ancestral flowering plant
The extraordinary level of conservation of the tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) mitochondrial genome has redefined our interpretation of evolution of the angiosperms (flowering plants), finds research in biomed Central’s open access journal BMC Biology. This beautiful ‘molecular fossil’ has a remarkably slow mutation rate meaning that its mitochondrial genome has remained largely unchanged since the dinosaurs were roaming the earth.
First algae powered building goes up in Hamburg
A 15-unit apartment building has been constructed in the German city of Hamburg that has 129 algae filled louvered tanks hanging over the exterior of the south-east and south-west sides of the building—making it the first in the world to be powered exclusively by algae. Designed by Arup, SSC Strategic Science Consultants and Splitterwerk Architects, and named the Bio Intelligent Quotient (BIQ) House, the building demonstrates the ability to use algae as a way to heat and cool large buildings.
30,000 year old flower revived.
Scientists have resurrected a flower from plant tissues found frozen in Siberian permafrost, thought to be 30,000-32,000 years old. The new Silene stenophylla is healthy and fertile, and producing viable seeds.
The experiment has excited many because it proves that material trapped in the permafrost is recoverable and usable - scientists have been working to recover other species of plant and animal life from the same area, such as the woolly mammoth.