Life, sire, is as mundane as you want it to be. How would you possibly enjoy the morning dew if you don’t walk barefoot on the grass? How would you know how pretty the sky looks tonight if you don’t actually look up at it? Incredible things happen on our planet; it’s just unfortunate that most of us don’t have the time to pause for a second and let it all sink in. Here are 9 amazing things that happen on Earth.
Boy, you really haven’t seen anything yet.
1. Abraham Lake
Truth is really stranger than fiction. Would you otherwise expect a photograph like this? No, right, because paintings work like this. Perhaps the Earth is God’s canvas, and this is one of the prettiest pieces he’s ever created. It is a lake, yes, but it’s also as dangerous as a bomb. These pale blue blobs floating like oil in water under the ice are actually gas bubbles, carrying little dollops of methane that look magical when they’re trapped in winter ice. But like they say, anything so beautiful, has to be dangerous. Come spring, these bubbles loosen, get free, and make their way to the surface. When the ice breaks they will pop and fizz into the air — and disappear. Circle of life?
2. Aurora or Northern lights
You must’ve heard of this one, but it’s nothing short of awesome, so there’s really no harm in reading about it again. Northern Lights is essentially a natural electrical phenomenon characterised by the appearance of streamers of reddish or greenish light in the sky, especially near the northern or southern magnetic poles. The effect is caused by the interaction of charged particles from the sun with atoms in the upper atmosphere. It’s like our creator wants us to take a break from our mundane lives, and travel, just to show us what is possible. This is possible.
Putting an insect on a list of naturally occurring phenomena might not sound right, but the birth and death of the Periodical Cicadas is perhaps the rarest, and possibly the greatest, natural phenomenon that occurs on our planet. Here’s how it goes: In dry forests on the east coast of North America, this phenomenon occurs once every 17 years, and is the biggest insect emergence to occur on the planet. Billions of nymphs of cicadas come out from the ground, and climb the nearest tree. By the time they reach the top, they shed their skin and come out in their winged forms. The transformation takes one full night, and the insects are ready to embark on their rather short journey by sunrise. Over the next few days, the cicadas fall and die, essentially creating a feast for carnivores. By becoming a meal for the predators, the cicadas leave one last gift for the forest. The nutrients the insects imbibe for seventeen years while underground are all given to the Earth, in what is regarded as the single largest dose of fertilizer in nature. Mother Earth works in mysterious ways, doesn’t she.
4. Finnish Lapland
If I ever end up seeing this in my lifetimes, I’ll most probably end up slapping myself, trying to wake up from this beautiful dream. Absolutely surreal, this picture was taken last winter in Finnish Lapland where weather can include sub-freezing temperatures and driving snow. These surreal landscapes are nothing but a result of common trees becoming cloaked in white and appearing, to some, as watchful aliens or bizarre statues. Whatever they are, they are nothing short of a dream.
5. Fire Rainbows
Okay, let’s just clear one thing out before we manage to upset some people. Technically, this isn’t called a ‘Fire Rainbow’. It is, in fact, a Circumhorizontal Arc. But since, fire rainbow sounds 10 times more awesome than circum arc, we are going to stick with just that. So at around 20,000 ft (or more) up in the sky, at exactly 58 degrees, when light passes through the hexagonal ice crystals that make up the cirrus clouds, a fire rainbow appears. Yes, it complicated, which is why it is the rarest of all naturally occurring phenomena. The light enters through a vertical side face of the hexagon and leaves through the bottom, causing the light to refract, or bend, like in a prism. If the crystals are aligned precisely, then the whole cloud lights up as a rainbow. Extremely complex, incredibly beautiful, but only a lucky few have had the opportunity to witness it.
6. Freeze Waves in Antarctica
Freezing blue towers are created when ice gets compressed, and the trapped air bubbles are squeezed out. During summer, the surface ice melts, and a new layer compresses on top. Gorgeous, the ice appears blue because when when light passes through thick ice, blue light is transmitted back out but red light is absorbed. Antarctica is perhaps the only large mass of land that isn’t completely explored. But here’s some more dope on the ice continent.
7. Sailing Stones
It’s exactly like it sounds. For years, scientists have been left puzzled, and unable to figure out the reason behind these large rocks (which are substantially heavy) moving, leaving a long trail behind. Located in Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park, the rocks’ apparent movement has been blamed on absolutely everything under the sun, from space aliens and magnetic fields, to even pranksters. But no one has actually seen the rocks move, which only adds to the mystery. Some researchers believe that dust is what is moving these rocks, that weigh as much as 318 kilos. Others believe that strong winds are what help these humongous rocks march ahead. Although both theories were proven false, one research team calculated that under certain winter conditions in Death Valley, enough water and ice could form to float the rocks across the muddy bottom of Racetrack Playa in a light breeze, leaving a trail in the mud as the rocks moved. Even though we aren’t cent percent sure, this seems to be the only logical explanation around.
To put it simply, waterspouts are mini tornadoes over water. But just to sound worldly wise, a waterspout is an intense columnar vortex usually appearing as a funnel-shaped cloud, that occurs over a body of water. They are connected to a towering cumuliform cloud or a cumulonimbus cloud. While it is often weaker than most of its land counterparts, stronger versions spawned by mesocyclones do occur, that are not particularly good news. Either way, it’s best to steer clear, and take photographs from a certain distance.
9. Volcanic Lightning
Needless to say, volcanic lightning is nothing short of a visual spectacle unfolding in front of your eyes. This naturally occurring phenomenon has been witnessed and documented in nearly 200 eruptions over the last 200 years.
So how does it work? Physics, that’s how. The ash that is to be erupted begins as electrostatically neutral rock or rock fragments. Heat and movement within the volcano is thought to be the first source of particle charging, although the main process by which ash particles acquire a charge is friction. When an object (in this case ash) with a neutral charge comes in contact with another object with differing electrostatic qualities, electrons can potentially flow and one of the objects can become charged relative to the other. It’s alright, it can get a bit heavy to understand if you’re as clueless about science as I am. But it makes for one stunning view.