This popular video of weird jiggly grass in Russia looks cool, but what is it really?

So this is weird.

The ground in Russia is ... jiggly?

GIF from Siberian Times/YouTube.


This video was posted on July 20, 2016, on the Siberian Times' YouTube page. And as of this writing, it's had over a million views, probably because it's a super weird and curious phenomenon.

So what the heck is going on? Is this an optical illusion? A mass of jelly under the grass?

Basically, this piece of ground is the Earth's equivalent of a giant water bed.

Though the video's title calls it a methane bubble, this Wired article is on point in its declaration that we're basically seeing the Earth's version of a giant water bed.

Up that far north, the ground often freezes solid for months. Some of the ground actually never melts at all and is known as permafrost. In the summer, when the top layer of ground thaws, some of the water can get trapped between the deeper permafrost layer and vegetation (like this grass), forming the wiggly, jiggly mass you can see in the video.

The video was made by two Russian researchers, Alexander Sokolov and Dorothee Ehrich, during a research trip to the remote Bely Island above the Arctic Circle. There, they found 15 of these mysterious patches.

This isn't the only weird thing happening on the tundra, by the way.

Though we usually only hear about the tundra on shows like "Ice Road Truckers," there have been some pretty cool findings there lately. For example, scientists recently found several mammoths, wooly rhinos, and other extinct animals.

Mammoth skeleton from Siberia. Photo from Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images.

We've even been able to revive ancient, frozen plants and giant viruses.

Also, did I mention that there are explosions and flammable lakes?

Yeah, there are explosions and flammable lakes.

GIF from University of Alaska Fairbanks/YouTube.

Remember how the jiggly-grass video was labeled as a methane bubble? Turns out that the methane bubbles idea isn't so far-fetched.

When frozen soil thaws, microbes in the soil start eating it and kind of poop out methane, a flammable gas. Sometimes it bubbles up naturally (the Russian scientists detected some methane in their water beds, for example), but sometimes it gets trapped under the soil or under lake ice. And if too much pressure builds up, it might pop like a giant balloon.

These weird phenomena may become more common in the future.

Generally, there's a natural rhythm to the seasons. And these weird happenings are, to some extent, just natural things that happen in the tundra.

But there is also evidence that, thanks to climate change bringing bigger and bigger thaws each year, more and more stuff might change.

For example, we've built a lot of our infrastructure, like buildings and oil pipelines, on frozen soil. If that melts, those structures might fall apart. Also, that methane that can bubble up? Yeah, turns out it's a greenhouse gas, just like carbon dioxide, which is pretty bad for the environment.

This jiggly grass could actually be kind of an important sign. One patch by itself isn't bad, but because more earthy water beds could be tied to global warming, we should definitely keep an eye on them.

Basically, if we can slow down climate change, we can keep the natural rhythm of the seasons going strong. Hopefully, that'll also keep our random jiggly wiggly water beds and exploding lakes in check.

Watch the full video of the grassy water bed below:

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less