The Birth Of An Island, A Goldfish In A Wheelchair, And Other Amazing Images Of The Week

Plus, lava lamp art

Born With A Bang

Nature Communications reported the birth and evolution of two volcanic islands in the Red Sea this week. This image from 2011 shows one of the two eruptions in the Zubair archipelago that created the Sholan island. The researchers used remote sensing techniques and determined that the infant islands both grew rapidly at first, because magma was flowing into two fractures. This discovery was especially surprising, since the region was not previously recognized as volcanically active. Scientists don’t know much about how new volcanic islands along mid-ocean ridge systems are formed, especially since it’s very rare to witness such events.

Robot Ratatouille

Who needs a chef when you have a robot like this one? This isn’t your average cooking cyborg–robotic experts from the Dutch Company Lacquey and at Cornell University are developing robots that can chop slippery foods. These mechanical chefs rely on 3-D visual feedback and physical cues to detect what they’re grasping. He is already preparing healthy meals at Cornell–after a training period, he was able to cut up and rearrange lettuce, tomatoes and cheese to make a salad. Bon Appétit!

Ceres Close-Up

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft took this image of Ceres this week from 3,200 miles away. This snapshot is part of the ninth and final set of images that were taken primarily for navigation purposes. You can see several secondary craters, or craters formed by the impact of debris from larger impact sites. As Dawn gets closer to the dwarf planet, smaller surface details like these are becoming more visible.

We Call It His Lucky Fin

Nemo’s got nothing on this fish! Reddit user Leability uploaded a picture of this little guy in a goldfish wheelchair yesterday. Apparently he was having trouble staying upright, so someone fashioned him a sling out of what appears to be a t-shirt tag and a piece of cork. Other Redditors suggested he might have a swim bladder infection, and they recommended feeding him peas, which can help relieve sick goldfish. This is not the first time a goldfish has needed help swimming, but he might just be the cutest.

A Misleading Map

Everyone knows that in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue, and then he discovered America. But did a Chinese Muslim named Zheng He discover it first? Some people believe this map is from 1418, and they think it provides evidence that he discovered the continent more than 70 years before Columbus stepped foot on the Native Americans’ land. This map is impressively detailed, which ends the debate–only Europeans represented the globe like this, and the Arctic didn’t appear on a Chinese map until 1593. “This map is a complete nonsense,” said Professor Timothy Brook of the University of British Columbia. He says this map is a copy of a European map from the early 17th century.

Bubbly Beauty

Looking at this image might remind you of a lava lamp, but it’s actually just a hodgepodge of paint, soap, and glitter. Graphic designer Ruslan Khasanov made psychedelic gifs and videos by mixing household materials for his piece Odyssey, and the differing densities of the various liquids created these beautiful bubbles. To create motion, he gently prodded the soapy soup with brushes or blew air on it with a syringe. “The process is more like chaos: the whole space is filled with paint and oil, things and tools are scattered everywhere,” he said.

Getting Closer Every Day

New Horizons has been heading toward Pluto since 2006, and now NASA has released these images to show just how much progress the spacecraft has made. On April 16, Pluto was a tiny blob more than 65 million miles away. The more recent May 12 image shows that Pluto is now a much larger blob. At a mere 46.6 million miles away, surface features are starting to come into view. New Horizons is scheduled to fly by the dwarf planet on July 14, nine years after its launch, which is not bad mileage for a celestial body that’s 4.67 billion miles away.

We Are Family

If you’ve ever felt small, get ready, because this giant family portrait is about to make you feel even smaller. If you look closely at this diagram, which maps evolution on Earth over millions of years, you’ll see humans wayyyy down in the bottom right corner–the second from the last name. Most of these species are still living, though the graphic doesn’t include the millions of organisms that have died out over time. Leonard Eisenberg created this Great Tree of Life diagram to counteract creationist themes he’s seen in science classes. “By emphasizing the ‘family’ aspect of evolution, in a fun way with attractive art, [this] makes evolution less scary, more ‘family’ friendly, and easier for students to understand and teachers to teach,” Eisenberg told Business Insider.

Remembering Ride

May 26 would have been Sally Ride’s 64th birthday, and Google commemorated the first American woman in space with five animated Doodles. Her life partner Tam O’Shaughnessy wrote that though Ride is remembered for her historic flight, she was much more than that–she was also a physicist, a science writer, and an inspirational advocate who kept kids excited about science. “I know she would be honored by today’s Google Doodle,” O’Shaughnessy wrote. “With whimsy, it expresses Sally’s sense of fun and adventure, and her ability to inspire young people. And who knows–maybe her Doodle will motivate some girl or boy somewhere in the world to become a scientist and adventurer just like Sally.”

The Ultimate Trekkie

If this building looks familiar to you, you may have seen it before–in an episode of Star Trek. This office block was built in the shape of Star Trek‘s USS Enterprise, and it will house offices for the Chinese game developer NetDragon Websoft. They began building in October 2010, and construction was completed in October. Liu Dejian, the founder of NetDragon, spent $97 million on building this extreme collectors’ item. When NetDragon originally contacted CBS for permission, they thought it was a joke. “They realized somebody in China actually did want to work out a building modeled on the USS Enterprise only after we sent the relevant legal documents,” NetDragon told The Wall Street Journal.