Something New Up Above
It’s hard to tell as a human, but the atmosphere can behave a lot like the sea. Evidence: these strange waves in the above time-lapse. More on what could be a brand new cloud formation at Popular Science.
(GIF courtesy of Alex Schueth)
Tumblr Q&A: Francie Diep On Tumbleweeds
This conversation is the first in a new Popular Science Tumblr series. We plan to bring you interviews with our writers and editors about the job of finding and telling compelling stories about science and technology. Francie Diep, who wrote “Unleashing An Epidemic To Kill the Tumbleweeds,” published yesterday on our website, is our first subject. This interview has been edited and condensed.
Why would anyone want to kill off tumbleweeds?
Tumbleweeds are these weird, quirky plants. We all grew up seeing them in Westerns — these plants bouncing along. The thing is, they’re actually not from here. They come from the Russian steppes, and because of that there isn’t much around here that kills them. When they’re alive and still green they take over land and drive out grass. Cows won’t eat them. Farmers don’t like them. When they’re dead and dry and tumbling they can bury towns and kindle fires.
What drew you to this story?
The way this other invasive species, this fungus, was being brought in just to wipe out another plant. I saw it in this agricultural research magazine. I think as a kid we all watched that video telling you not to bring plants and animals where they don’t belong. It was interesting that people were actually doing that for conservation. It turns out there’s a whole bunch of scientists applying to do the same thing with other species. That surprised me.
What else surprised you as you reported this story?
One thing I thought was kind of fun was that when the scientists first received the fungus they had to test it in something called a “biosafety level three greenhouse.” I didn’t even know they had that for plants.
Where can Tumblr go to read your story?
If there’s a Popular Science story that interests you, or if you have a question for our writers or editors, drop us a line at our brand-new email@example.com dedicated inbox.
(Tumbleweed gif courtesy of http://www.awesomelyluvvie.com/2013/05/5-plugins-wordpress-blog.html/tumbleweeds2 via giphy.com)