Huahua Xiao, Michael Gollner, and Elaine Oran, University of Maryland

Novel blue fire tornado is small but efficient

While studying fire tornadoes—whirlwinds of red and yellow flame and ash—in the lab, scientists have stumbled on a new blue fire tornado that is stable, quiet, and only 6 centimeters tall, Popular Science reports. Although typical fire tornadoes can be catastrophically unruly, researchers hope to harness their power for energy production and to clean up oil spills. This novel blue form of the phenomenon, detailed in a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, burns almost soot-free, suggesting it could accomplish those tasks with less pollution than a traditional fire tornado if employed for industrial use—but more data are needed to say for sure, as the tiny efficient tornado has just been discovered out of the blue.