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Unearthing tension: Sand runs the world, but most don’t realize the conflict it generates

As William Blake famously wrote, “To see a World in a Grain of Sand / And a Heaven in a Wild Flower” is to “Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand / And Eternity in an hour.” But as innocuous, ubiquitous and just plain mundane sand can be, it can also be the source of significant conflict and violence while often being extracted to the detriment of our planet....

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Whale songs are being drowned out by human ocean vessels, study finds

Whales are best known for their massive size and the biggest among them are the baleen whales. Containing 16 different whale species, the biggest of the baleen whales — the blue whale — measures in at a staggering 31 meters (102 feet) and 190 tons (210 short tons). Even the smallest baleen whale, the pygmy right whale, is a not-inconsiderable 6 meters (20 feet) and 3,000 kilograms (6,600 lb)....

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Not clowning around: Clown fish can count each other’s stripes and will fight enemies they recognize

Even before the Disney Pixar vehicle “Finding Nemo” turned a pair of clown fish into popular ocean-dwelling protagonists, these distinctive orange and white fish were adored for their charismatic coloring and habit of turning venomous sea anemones into their apartments. These qualities have made clown fish (Amphiprion ocellaris) some of the jewels of home aquariums but these flashy bars serve a purpose beyond looking festive....

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Groundwater resources are drying up across the globe. New research suggests we can fight the drip

Humans rely on groundwater for many things, but especially our food. Roughly 30 percent of all the planet’s available freshwater comes from groundwater, or water that is found underground in the spaces between rocks, soil and sand. It is primarily used for agriculture and billions of humans are dependent on it, facing severe food deprivation without it....

Originally posted on salon.com

Puzzling new planet is too big for its sun, challenging dominant theories of planet formation

It’s difficult to fathom how much bigger the Sun is than our little planet. Even though it’s just an average-sized star, you could squeeze 1.3 million Earths inside it. But planets in other solar systems don’t always have such a massive size difference, as detailed in an intriguing new report in the journal Science, which describes the discovery of a planet named LHS 3154b....

Originally posted on salon.com