The Coldest Place on Earth

By Anupum Pant

A couple of days back I wrote about the hottest place on earth. That made me think of how cold the coldest place would be. I was sure it’d be somewhere in one of the poles, but I wasn’t sure where exactly it was.

This is what Google said:

Aerial photograph of Vostok Station, the coldest directly observed location on Earth. The lowest natural temperature ever directly recorded at ground level on Earth is −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F; 184.0 K), at the Soviet Vostok Station in Antarctica, on July 21, 1983.

After a little more digging, I found that his was the old record. Turns out, the coldest place on earth now, not counting the laboratories, is still in the high ridges of the East Antarctic plateau close to Vostok station. It’s called the Dome B. And the coldest times happen when all the conditions are perfect.

When the conditions are right, the temperatures during winters can reach minus 92 degrees Celsius!

Superfluid Helium is One Strange Liquid

By Anupum Pant

Helium can’t be frozen into a solid (at atmospheric pressure) – the very property which allows it to go from a simple liquid Helium state (warmer) at minus 269 degree C – where its boiling and evaporating quickly – to a much calmer Liquid Helium II stage (cooler).

Liquid Helium  II is obtained at a temperature lower than minus 269 degree C, at about minus 271 degree C – known as the Lambda point.

Liquid Helium II is a superfluid. Superfluid Helium has no viscosity. It behaves extraordinarily. As a summary of how extraordinary superfluid Helium is, here is a list of things it can do:

  • Superfluid Helium will leak out of solid ceramic containers which have extremely tiny pores that no other liquid can penetrate.
  • If it is taken in a container and the container is spun around the central axis, the superfluid will not spin.
  • Somehow if you manage to spin it, because it has no friction, it won’t stop.
  • It can climb walls of a container by forming an extremely thin film and defying gravity.
  • It can produce an eternal frictionless fountain.
  • It can conduct electricity better than some of the best metal conductors like Copper! It’s a big thing for a liquid to be able to do that.

Here is a summary video you can watch below.

But, I’d suggest watching the whole documentary here. It explains everything that superfluid helium can do in nice detail. Also, the researcher makes sure it is in a very simple language…

Hallucinogenic Honey From The Himalayan Bees

By Anupum Pant

With over 3.5 Million Gurungs living in Nepal, the Gurung people are found all over the country and beyond. However, near the peaks of Himalayas, beyond which no human settlements are found, lives a secretive Gurung tribe called the honey hunters, in the secret villages that are surrounded by thick forests.

In these high forests live a certain kind of bee, the world’s largest honey bee – The Giant Bee of Himalayas (up to 3 cm length) – are found in huge nests built on the overhanging rocks of cliff faces. These nests can reach up to 5 feet in diameter and each of these nests can contain about 60 kg of honey! But that is not even the most interesting part about them yet…

The honey made by these bees is a product that comes from the nectar of kinds of poisonous flowers. That is probably what makes this honey – Red Honey – medicinal, intoxicating and hallucinogenic. Since it is difficult to harvest and has special properties, this kind of honey is expensive and sells for about 4 times the price of normal honey in the foreign market. So, the honey hunters take absurd risks to get the honey from overhanging nests up in the cliffs.

Also, besides the mad hallucinogenic honey, another awesome thing I did not know was that bees create a Mexican wave to warn the attackers approaching their nest. Seen at 14:40 of the documentary below.

I stumbled upon this amazingly beautiful 25-minute documentary by Raphael Treza which takes you through the ways of this tribe and their mad honey hunting ritual.

Also, you can’t miss this detailed Photo-documentary which beautifully captures, in still images, the Gurung tribe’s ways. [Here]

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