Underwater Astonishments

David Gallo shows jaw-dropping footage of amazing sea creatures, including a color-shifting cuttlefish, a perfectly camouflaged octopus, and a Times Square’s worth of neon light displays from fish who live in the blackest depths of the ocean. This short talk celebrates the pioneering work of ocean explorers like Edith Widder…

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Brain Magic

First, Keith Barry shows us how our brains can fool our bodies — in a trick that works via podcast too. Then he involves the audience in some jaw-dropping (and even a bit dangerous) feats of brain magic. Take a look at our $5 Club. We may have something you…

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The Danger Of A Single Story

Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding. Take a look at our…

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Your Elusive Creative Genius

Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses — and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius. It’s a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk. Take a look at our $5 Club. We…

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Watching A Thunderstorm Live

Watching A Thunderstorm Live

A stationary supercell in South Dakota recently offered a stunning example, letting photographer Nicolaus Wegner capture its growth in a time-lapse video (above) without having to chase it — or vice versa. Its lack of mobility may have made it slightly less dangerous for Wegner, aside from the threat of lightning, but it also gave him a rare opportunity to record a supercell from start to finish.

Filmed June 1, the video opens with footage of the young storm vacuuming up warm, moist air from below to fuel its growth. While supercells are often nudged along by wind, this one seems anchored in place as its rotating air mass — known as a mesocyclone — mushrooms into a monster. It steadily tightens into more intricate and imposing shapes, and by the 1:00 point it’s like a wispy alien spaceship glowing eerily from within. As with most nature videos of this quality, it’s best watched in HD and full-screen modes with the music turned up full.
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Aside from its obvious beauty, what makes a supercell super? The rotation starts with wind shear, slicing air into layers and forming a horizontal axis that’s then tilted vertically by updrafts. These updrafts exceed 100 mph in some cases, helping supercells and multicells grow 10 to 100 times more energetic than a typical thunderstorm, which can already release as much energy as a 20-kiloton nuclear explosion.


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