Don't Kill that Spider! They Eat over 400 - 800 Million Tons of Insects a Year!

Photo via Wikipedia

Photo via Wikipedia

Next time you notice a spider crawling around your room, you might want to think twice about killing it. 

In a new study released last week, researches found that spiders eat between 400 to 800 million tons of insects a year. To compare - the entire human population on earth eats about 400 million tons of meat and fish each year. When put in that context, one can't help but marvel at the sheer volume of insects spiders ingest each year!

The authors of the study wrote in "The Science of Nature," that "our estimates for spiders appear to be of the same order of magnitude as the prey kill by whales in the world's oceans which has been estimated to be in the range of 280-500 million tons annually."

This newly published information illustrates the important role spiders play in ridding the environment of unwanted pests and insects that carry disease and parasites. 

Beyond serving a very useful function, Spiders are also incredibly adaptable - they can be found living in some of the most extreme environments on the planet ranging from the hottest deserts to the cold regions of the northern most islands in the arctic. They also have been discovered in some of the highest altitudes that living organisms can be found. Wherever they can find food - they can survive.

The researches of the recent study estimated that there is about 25 million tons of spiders on the planet, meaning that each individual spider eats a lot of insects.

"Our estimates of the global annual prey kill imply that spiders exert considerable predation pressure on insect populations, especially in forests and grasslands," wrote Nyffeler and Birkhofer. 

Check Out These Magnificent Photos of Angels in the Clouds

How often do you pause to look up at the sky and appreciate the beauty of nature? When was the last time you sat and looked for shapes in the clouds? What might be some shapes you'd see? One shape that comes up from time to time is - Angels! There are a good number of people who see angels in the clouds, and when they do, they are very keen to capture them on camera. We've gathered a collection of gorgeous angel clouds captured on film to share with you. These angels have appeared all around the world from Florida to Thailand, Slovakia to Afghanistan. It shows that angels are everywhere, watching over us and sending us  blessings. Enjoy! 

Beautiful red fire colored angel, seen in Royal Palm Beach, Florida the day the current Pope was elected. 

A stunning angel captured shining through the sky above the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand.

A U.S. marine, Aaron Kressley, took a picture of this angel in the clouds that was above his military base in Afghanistan. 

Photo: Aaron Kressley

Photo: Aaron Kressley

A Beautiful Angel Face was seen above in Ireland

Fire Angel swimming in the skies of Devon, England

Photo: Ian Williamson 

Photo: Ian Williamson 

Flock of angels gracing the skies in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Photo: Watari Goro

Photo: Watari Goro

Seen during a prayer service in Aurora, Colorado

Angel wings over Mobile, Alabama. 

Photo: Jennifer Burgess

Photo: Jennifer Burgess

A stunning angel cloud gliding over the sunset at Outer Banks, North Carolina. 

Angel watching over a mom and her children in Lexington, South Carolina. 

Photo: Michaela Chewar

Photo: Michaela Chewar

Beautiful angel captured on camera in the countryside in Gerlachov, Slovakia by a mother and children.  

Photos: Andrea Dikantova

Photos: Andrea Dikantova

Angel flying in with storm clouds in Central Virginia.

Photo: Michael Hostetler 

Photo: Michael Hostetler 

Guardian Angel captured in the sky over Cape Coral, Florida.  

Just Unearthed! Ancient Statue of Famous Egyptian Pharaoh Found in Cairo Slum (Video)

PHOTOGRAPH BY KHALED DESOUKI, AFP, GETTY IMAGES

PHOTOGRAPH BY KHALED DESOUKI, AFP, GETTY IMAGES

Imagine walking out of your apartment past a construction site and seeing people unearthing a massive ancient statue that is over 3000 years old. This is exactly what happened for several people in a slum in Eastern Cairo recently on March 9 when a team of archeologists from Germany and Egypt found what they believe to be a statue of Pharaoh Ramses II. The neighborhood  where the archeologists discovered the statue is in the eastern part Cairo and is located over the ancient city of Heliopolis, the center of worship for the ancient Egyptian sun god Re. The excavation of the site is particularly difficult to work in because of a rising water table, piling rubble and industrial waste near the site.

PHOTO BY IBRAHIM RAMADAN, ANADOLU AGENCY, GETTY IMAGES

PHOTO BY IBRAHIM RAMADAN, ANADOLU AGENCY, GETTY IMAGES

The statue measures about 26 feet in height and is made out of the stone quartzite. The remains are missing a inscription bearing the name of the pharaoh, but because of the statue's proximity to a temple devoted to Ramses II, the ministry of antiquities believes that it is a statue of Ramses II. When asked about the discovery, Khaled al-Anani, Egypt's antiquities minister, reported that they had discovered "the bust of the statue and the lower part of the head and now we removed the head and we found the crown and the right ear and a fragment of the right eye." In addition to this exciting new discovery, a limestone statue of Pharaoh Seti II, the grandson of Ramses II, was also found at the site. 

PHOTOGRAPH BY IBRAHIM RAMADAN, ANADOLU AGENCY, GETTY IMAGES

PHOTOGRAPH BY IBRAHIM RAMADAN, ANADOLU AGENCY, GETTY IMAGES

Excavation will continue in Cairo and, if the remaining pieces can restore the statue, it will be erected at the Grand Egyptian Museum, which is set to open in 2018.

Pharaoh Ramses II is one of the most famous rulers of ancient Egypt. He ruled Egypt from 1279 to 1213 B.C. His 60 year reign was one of the longest in ancient Egyptian history.  Through the course of his rule he led several military exploits to expand Egypt's geographical reach as far south as modern Sudan and as far east as Modern Syria. The prosperity and growth that happened under Ramses's 60 year reign earned him the title: "Ramses the Great." 

Pharaoh Ramses II of Egypt in Abu Simbel.

Pharaoh Ramses II of Egypt in Abu Simbel.

Just over 10 years ago, archaeologists discovered one of the largest sun temples in Cairo under a marketplace. Housed in the temple were several statues of Ramses II, some of which weighted up to five tons. One statue discovered in the temple depicted Ramses II wearing a leopard's skin; meaning that he likely served as high priest to Ra at the time the temple was erected. 

Over time, what used to be the site of Heliopolis became covered by several, modern day residential buildings. Because of this fact, many  researchers believe that myriad treasures from the ancient world lie hidden under the wider city of Cairo just waiting to be unearthed.

Here is a brief video of the excavation from March 9: 

Can You Believe These Incandescent Flowers Are Real?

BEE BALM - PHOTO BY CRAIG BURROWS

BEE BALM - PHOTO BY CRAIG BURROWS

WHEN YOU INITIALLY look at the plants that Craig Burrows’ photographs, you might think that they are from an alien planet because of their wild, incandescent quality and the astounding colors they give off. They definitely don't look real. You might be surprised to learn though that both the plants and the colors are real.

When we generally look at flowers and plants, we see them with sunlight or another form of white/yellow light. The colors that we generally perceive are based off of the light that the plants and flowers reflect back - green, yellow, red, purple, etc. What Burrows discovered and takes advantage of with his photography is plants ability to fluoresce, which means that  when plants absorb ultraviolet light, they emit longer wavelengths visible to the human eye. To put it in terms you might understand - this is the same thing that happens with a black-light poster. “The flower literally glows,” Burrows says.

In order to capture the glowing light of the flowers requires Burrows to use ultraviolet-induced visible fluorescence photography. Burrows discovered this technique online three years ago. The concept fascinated him, so he read a tutorial and immediately set to work. Burrows has shot more than five dozen plants since then, including: Mexican sunflowers, calla lilies, and silk floss tree flowers.

Burrows finds the process of capturing the fluorescent glow of the flowers and plants so engrossing that he often loses track of time. “I usually tell myself it will only be an hour, but by the time I finally quit it’s usually been three or four,” he says.

After taking the photos - Burrows does put in several hours on Photoshop, adjusting white balance, contrast, noise and sharpness, and removing dust. It’s tedious, but it yields big dividends. The plants truly glow, each leaf, petal and stem blooming in otherworldly colors.

What do you think? 

JUVENILE BLANKET FLOWER - PHOTO BY CRAIG BURROWS

JUVENILE BLANKET FLOWER - PHOTO BY CRAIG BURROWS

DANDELION - PHOTO BY CRAIG BURROWS

DANDELION - PHOTO BY CRAIG BURROWS

ICE PLANT FLOWER BUDS - PHOTO BY CRAIG BURROWS 

ICE PLANT FLOWER BUDS - PHOTO BY CRAIG BURROWS 

PLAINS COREOPSIS - PHOTO BY CRAIG BURROWS 

PLAINS COREOPSIS - PHOTO BY CRAIG BURROWS 

WHITE HOLLYHOCK - PHOTO BY CRAIG BURROWS

WHITE HOLLYHOCK - PHOTO BY CRAIG BURROWS

KANGAROO PAWS FLOWER - PHOTO BY CRAIG BURROWS

KANGAROO PAWS FLOWER - PHOTO BY CRAIG BURROWS

HAWTHORNE FLOWERS - PHOTO BY CRAIG BURROWS

HAWTHORNE FLOWERS - PHOTO BY CRAIG BURROWS

MEXICAN SUNFLOWER - PHOTO BY CRAIG BURROWS

MEXICAN SUNFLOWER - PHOTO BY CRAIG BURROWS

NARCISSUS FLOWER - PHOTO BY CRAIG BURROWS

NARCISSUS FLOWER - PHOTO BY CRAIG BURROWS

JADE PLANT FLOWER - PHOTO BY CRAIG BURROWS

JADE PLANT FLOWER - PHOTO BY CRAIG BURROWS

All You Need to Know about Tesla's New Solar Roof

Ahead of the curve as usual, Tesla announced some very exciting news in the arena of solar energy. In its fourth-quarter investor letter, Tesla announced that it will begin selling and installing its solar roof later this year.

In October 2016, Tesla unveiled its solar roof product, which was about a month before the company acquired SolarCity in a deal worth $2.1 billion. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said it looks "quite promising" that the solar roof could be cheaper than a normal roof, factoring in the price of labor.

Here's everything we know about the new solar roof product:

Tesla will offer four types of shingles to match different housing aesthetics in an effort to get homeowners to ditch clunky solar panel add-ons in favor of a beautiful roof.

"First of all, I’ve never seen a solar roof that I would actually want… they're weird," Musk said on a conference call Nov. 1. "Every one of them that I’ve seen is worse than a normal roof, without exception. So unless you’re going to beat a roof on aesthetics, why bother?"

Here you see Tesla's textured glass option.

3-solarroof.jpg

Tesla tucked the solar cells behind the glass...

... And in doing so, you can't really tell the roof has solar cells. That's the crux of Tesla's solar roof vision: to create something that's both aesthetically appealing and efficient.

Musk has been emphasizing the importance of competing on an aesthetic level when it comes to the new solar product offering.

Musk seemed most excited about Tesla's French slate tile offering, saying the style is "one of the hardest things to do." This photo gives you a nice look at the solar cell hidden in the tile.

"My roof is a French slate roof, that’s one of the tile styles I wanted to do," Musk said on the conference call. "And we were able to get that. Super hard.”

Musk said at the event that each French slate tile was made using a process known as hydrographic coloring, a process that uses water to apply printed designs.

"The production process itself makes each tile specially unique, it’s sort of a special snowflake tile," Musk said at the solar roof unveiling.

Tesla's hydrographic process is being overseen by a brand new Tesla glass tech division, Musk said on the Nov. 1 call. He said the process is "using a lot of techniques from the automotive glass business."

 

You can read more about Tesla's new glass division here.

Musk said the solar roof could cost less than an actual roof, but still hasn't given specific pricing information. However, Lyndon Rive, SolarCity's former CEO, said on the Nov. 1 call that "we think we can get to that price point of 40 cents a Watt over time in large scale" for the solar cells, which would put it in line with the competition.

"We’ll have the best cell at the lowest price. Just as we have the best battery cell at the lowest price," Musk said on the Nov. 1 call. "We have the highest energy density cell at the lowest price."

Rive said on the call that the solar roof would most likely not fall under a lease or power purchase agreement, but instead as a straightforward loan. "In that case, there is no asset ownership challenge. We would just transfer the ownership to the new homeowner," he said.

 

Tesla's smooth glass tile is meant to offer "more of a modern look," Musk said at the event.

Unlike the textured glass tile and French slate offering, the smooth glass tile seen here was purposefully designed so you could see the solar cells from certain angles.

"From the vantage point of the street or anywhere near the house it looks completely opaque, but to the sun it’s transparent," Musk said. Although, it's hard to imagine why a feature you can only see from an aerial vantage point would be a huge selling point.

Lastly, Tesla's Tuscan glass tile offering. The roof shown at the event wasn't exclusively made up of Tesla's Tuscan tile. Instead, only the darker tiles seen here come with the solar cells.

Like the smooth glass tile, Musk made a point of showing how looking at the Tuscan tile from different angles will determine whether you can see the solar cell.

Here's a better shot of how the Tuscan glass tiles look once they're installed.

Musk also made a point of showing the durability of Tesla's glass tiles with a weight taste. He also wrote in an Oct. 28 tweet that you can walk on the tiles like you would with regular asphalt shingles.

Musk also tweeted that the solar glass tiles can incorporate heating elements to clear snow while generating energy. He said it wouldn't be energy intensive to melt the snow, but "strongly net positive" in an Oct. 28 tweet.

The solar cells will be produced at a plant in Buffalo, New York. Tesla and Panasonic will produce the solar cells at the Buffalo manufacturing facility in mid-2017. Tesla is referring to the Buffalo plant as Gigafactory 2.

Musk's solar roof product is one of several energy products Tesla is offering now that it's merged with SolarCity.