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The sun fired off an X-class solar flare, the most powerful classification, this afternoon, from an Earth-facing sunspot called Active Region 2158. The flare was powerful enough to cause a sustained blackout of high-frequency radio communication here on Earth.
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spied the flare this afternoon, beginning at 1721 and peaking at 1745 UTC (13:21 and 13:45 EDT, respectively).
The flare was accompanied by a coronal mass ejection (CME). NOAA forecasters have issued a geomagnetic storm warning for this Friday, September 12th, when SpaceWeather.com reportsthe CME is “expected to deliver a glancing but potent blow to Earth’s magnetic field”:
The storm could reach moderate intensity (G2-class) with auroras visible across northern-tier US states such as Maine, Michigan, and Minnnesota. Another CME could be following close on its heels if today’s X-flare also launched a cloud in our direction. It all adds up to a high probability of geomagnetic storms in the days ahead.
We’ll see how this storm compares to some of the bigger flareups in recent memory.
#GoWild on the Green River!
Desolation and Gray Canyons provide a premiere wilderness river trip through Utah’s deepest canyons. Of the 84-mile long river segment, 66 miles are within the Desolation Canyon Wilderness Study Area - the largest in the lower 48 states!
The Green River enters Desolation Canyon just north of Sand Wash as it exits the Uinta Basin. Canyon walls are stream and lake deposits of the Eocene age then transition into the Cretaceous delta and sea deposits of Gray Canyon.
Over 60 rapids and riffles punctuate the week-long journey. Clean sandy beaches lined with cottonwood trees offer shade and windbreaks, idyllic for camping under the stars. More than 60 side canyons descend from the plateau to meet the Green River. Every side canyon holds a surprise for those adventurous enough to explore them. In a few, a cold, clear stream pours into a warm silty river. Even the most dry and desolate side canyon contains reminders of those who lived there for over 8,000 years. Prehistoric rock art is prolific along with the ruins of dwellings, towers, and granaries. If you ever get the chance to explore these beautiful canyons, please remember to respect all features and aesthetics of the area so that future generations can also share first-hand, nature’s order and magnificence.
Plan your next trip — The Desolation Gray Canyons of the Green River 2015 Lottery opens Dec. 1, 2014 and runs through Jan. 31, 2015! A permit is required year round for floating this section of the Green River and can be reserved atwww.recreation.gov. The lottery is for permits with launch dates between May 1, 2015 and September 30, 2015, so don’t delay!
-Chad Douglas, BLM-Utah Public Affairs
This is Duolingo, a language-learning website/app that deserves some serious recognition. It offers over 10 languages for English speakers, as well as courses for non-English speakers around the world, and they’re in the process of adding more.
But wait, I don’t want to do any more schoolwork! Not to worry little one, Duolingo is actually more like a game. You can compete with friends, and earn “lingots” (which are basically Duolingo money) to buy power-ups, extra activities, and bonus skills - like Flirting.
I’m already taking a language, what do I need this for?
It’s not really a secret that most school language courses (in America, anyway) suck and only teach you to speak the language at about a third grader’s level. Which is why Duolingo is so freaking awesome.
Teachers can’t give every student individualized attention, but Duolingo can. If you’re not learning the way you want to or as much as you want to in the classroom, Duolingo is a really great resource. It’s easy, tailored to you, and really effective.
Duolingo tracks your progress and reminds you when you haven’t studied for a while or need a refresher on something. Already semi-fluent in a language? No problem, just take a shortcut to more advanced subjects or test out of the lesson.
The lessons start with the basics (he, she, hello, thank you, etc) and move up to harder stuff. Duolingo focuses on vocabulary first, so you can learn the language and then the grammar that goes with it - much simpler than the system most schools use. It also tracks the number of words you’ve learned and how well you know them.
And you don’t even have to write out the flashcards!
Duolingo is perfect for reviewing everything you forgot over the summer or giving you the extra help you need. And if you’re trying to learn a language on your own, it’s fantastic - you don’t have to create your own lessons. Whether you’re trying to learn your second, third, or fifth language, I seriously recommend Duolingo.
Okay, what else?
Duolingo also has discussion boards, where you can ask for help with a hard lesson, make new friends, watch for updates, and share your achievements.
Even better is the Immersion feature. It won’t send you to Spain or France, but it’s pretty awesome. Duolingo takes real articles from the internet, which users translate. You can translate articles from your native language into the language you’re learning or vice versa, which gives you more experience and makes the Internet more universal.
You can suggest new languages and track Duolingo’s progress in creating new courses. Bilinguals (older than 13) can help to create these courses. Duolingo has a long list of courses that can be contributed to, like Punjabi, Hebrew, and Vietnamese. Oh, and Dothraki, Klingon, Sindarin, and Esperanto.
And the best part? IT’S COMPLETELY FREE.
If you love languages or just want to pass French class this year, USE DUOLINGO. Download the app and practice a language while you wait for the bus instead of playing Angry Birds!
Coolest app I’ve ever downloaded.
Mantelliceras Ammonite Commune, Mesozoic Era, Lower Cretaceous Period
Solar energy that doesn’t block the view
A team of researchers at Michigan State University has developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy while allowing people to actually see through the window. It is called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator and can be used on buildings, cell phones and any other device that has a clear surface. And, according to Richard Lunt of MSU’s College of Engineering, the key word is “transparent.”
IBreathtaking Satellite Photos of Earth from the European Space Agency (ESA)
The European Space Agency (ESA) presented a collection of images of the Earth taken from the satellite. More here.
The ESA has an incredible Observing the Earth archive that’s updated every week and each satelitte image is usually accompanied by a brief essay to explain a bit about what you’re looking at. Collected here are some of my favorite images from the last few years taken with too many different satellites to mention, and you can search photos back through 2005.
This is what sound looks like
You’ve never seen sound visualizations like this before. Evan Grant creates beautiful illustrations of what we hear by capturing the vibrations from sound waves in mediums like sand or water. This process — called cymatics — makes sound look so wonderfully alien.
Nine BLM Wilderness Areas Make Wilderness Society’s “15 of America’s Most Photogenic Wilderness Areas”
This year, the Bureau of Land Management and other land management agencies, non-government partners and the American public celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. For this anniversary, the Wilderness Society has been featuring beautiful wilderness areas across the United States. Their latest feature, “15 of America’s Most Photogenic Wilderness Areas,” include nine BLM-managed wilderness areas, all a part of the BLM’s beautiful National Conservation Lands!