Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Weird and Wonderful: The Technicolor tree

Tom Stubbs

Believe it or not, this isn't the work of an artist. This is the Rainbow Eucalyptus tree (Eucalyptus deglupta), famous for its exceptional colour making it look like something from Narnia. The tree is truly a living dynamic piece of natural art, but how does it get this bizarre appearance? Unlike most trees we are familiar with that have thick ‘corky’ bark, the Rainbow Eucalyptus has smooth and thin bark. It frequently exfoliates these thin layers. As the newly exposed bark ages slowly it changes colour, beginning with bright green and darker green, then bluish to purplish, then pink and orange, before it finally reaches a brownish maroon and falls off. These individual slices of bark are constantly changing at different rates meaning the tree is always changing colour and there is always a great range of colours. For obvious reasons the Rainbow Eucalyptus is a very popular ornamental plant, although it originates from the rainforests of Mindanao (Philippines). While we are on the topic of colour, check out this amazing little moth, the Rosy Maple Moth (Dryocampa rubicunda) from North America, how cute.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Reach for the stars

NASA astronaut and flight engineer Sunita Williams appears to touch the Sun in this amazing photograph snapped from space. It was taken during the 32nd expedition to the International Space Station after an epic 6 hour spacewalk on September 5th 2012. The astronauts had been making routine repairs and installing a Main Bus Switching Unit (MBSU). Earlier this week two astronauts at the international space station were forced to make repairs with a $3 toothbrush, they saved around $100 billion of damage. The Space Station is currently home to six astronauts: Sunita Williams and Joe Acaba of NASA, Aki Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka, Yuri Malenchenko and Sergei Revin.