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New Data on Extraterrestrial Cloud Cover Could Double the Number of Habitable Exoplanets

In news sure to delight off-world travel agencies everywhere, there could be as many as 60 billion habitable planets just in the Milky Way.

There may be something like 60 billion potentially habitable planets in the Milky Way galaxy alone. Just let that sink in for a minute: 60 billion. If it seems like an unusually high number, it's because it's been doubled from what we thought was possible before. The new higher estimate comes from astronomers at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University who realized that earlier calculations done to determine which alien planets might support life may have underestimated a major climactic influence: clouds.

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Trees In Cloud Forests Absorb Water Through Leaves As Well As Roots

Trees in cloud forests get plenty of fog to go around, but rainfall that actually saturates the ground can be rare. According to researchers from the University of California Berkeley, the trees that populate those forests have found an evolutionary workaround -- rather than depending solely on their roots to absorb water, they have developed the ability to drink in the water vapor in the clouds that surround them through their leaves.

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Monday Cute: What Clouds Do On Their Day Off [VIDEO]

Questions! Questions That Need Answering

Cummulus & Nimbus from we think things on Vimeo.

Do clouds even have jobs? If they do, seems like they have it pretty easy, wouldn't you say? Take a look at how Cummulus spends his day. Hope you're all having a wonderful Labor Day!

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Weird Vortex Over Titan’s South Pole Means That Winter is Coming

Since the Cassini spacecraft arrived in Saturn space back in 2004, it's sent back a steady stream of science and astounding imagery from this amazing system. Perhaps the most tantalizing have been data on Saturn's largest moon Titan, which sports an atmosphere and a strange environment of water ice and methane. Now, the formation of an enormous cloud over the moon's south pole suggest that things might be changing.

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Bizarre Kelvin-Helmholtz Waves Appear Over Alabama

While driving through Birmingham, Alabama, Redditor alison_bee couldn't help but notice the bizarre, repetitive wave shapes appearing in the clouds near the horizon. While these strange cloud formations look otherworldly, they're an example of what's called Kelvin-Helmholtz instability -- which is a pretty awesome name for a spectacular phenomenon.

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A Pileus Iridescent Cloud Over Ethiopia

From NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day, the above picture, taken by Esther Havens, features a dark cloud hiding a pileus iridescent cloud, sitting in the Ethiopian sky.

(via NASA)

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Real Clouds Created Indoors

Thanks to the wonders of climate engineering, architect Tetsuo Kondo and German firm Transsolar have managed to fill an indoor space with real clouds. The trick here is getting the air right and letting physics take care of the rest: By pumping cool, dry air in at floor level, the cloud stays afloat; hot, humid air in the middle forms the cloud, and hot, dry air at the top keeps it from dissipating upwards.

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Beautiful Animation Reveals Mario World’s Great Secret [Video]

There is a deep dark secret in Super Mario World, known only to Toad, who now faces certain death after being wounded. And Mario is the man to whom Toad must divulge the one true, terrible secret. The knowledge takes Mario on an existential journey, beautifully portrayed and expertly scored below:

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