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Energy Notes: July 2012-2013

Oil and petroleum imports data are preliminary numbers taken from the American Petroleum Institute’s Monthly Statistical Report. For more information visit www.api.org.

04 Nov 2013

Down to Earth With: Kirk Johnson

In 1967, at a family picnic in Casper, Wyo., 6-year-old Kirk Johnson stumbled across a fossil that looked to him like an ancient rattlesnake tail (it turned out to be a brachiopod). Not long after, while hiking in his home state of Washington, he accidentally knocked over a piece of shale, fortuitously discovering a fossil leaf. The ensuing epiphany that he had a knack for finding fossil treasures led to what he now calls his “paleo obsession.”

16 Oct 2013

Benchmarks: Sept. 26, 1912: Birth of Preston Cloud, geologist who deciphered banded iron formations

Banded iron formations (BIFs) represent some of the earliest, and most controversial, evidence that the early Earth was devoid of oxygen. These deposits were recognized for their economic value in the mid-1800s, but it wasn’t until the late 1960s when Preston Cloud focused his intellect on  the origins of (BIFs).

26 Sep 2013

Down to Earth With: Tanya Atwater

When Tanya Atwater began graduate school in marine geology in 1967, it was considered unlucky for women to be aboard ships. Undaunted, Atwater signed up to work on the first research cruise to take a close look at a seafloor spreading center. Voyage after voyage, she and her mentors fought for her right to work on oceanographic vessels, and it is fortunate they did. Atwater has since had a remarkable career studying plate tectonics and was instrumental in piecing together the evolution of the San Andreas Fault plate boundary.

16 Sep 2013

On the web: Mount St. Helens goes online to reach the masses

If you’ve ever felt the mysterious allure of volcanoes — both terrifying and spectacular — you can now experience the infamous eruption of Mount St. Helens from the safety of your computer. The new Mount St. Helens Science and Learning Center website (www.mshslc.org) offers exciting interactive experiences and more to volcano enthusiasts and earth science students with just a few clicks of a mouse.

25 Aug 2013

Down to Earth With: Neil Armstrong: First astrogeologist on the moon

One year ago this month, Neil Armstrong died in Cincinnati, Ohio, at the age of 82. Armstrong will be forever remembered for that historic first step he took on the moon on July 20, 1969, but he also held another distinction: He was the first person to explore the geology of another planetary body.

President John F. Kennedy mandated in his famous 1961 speech at Rice Stadium in Texas that the primary goal of the Apollo program was to land humans on the moon and return them safely to Earth before the end of the decade. The science mission was an important, but secondary, goal.

04 Aug 2013

Benchmarks: August 3, 1769: The La Brea Tar Pits are described

Long before Los Angeles’ infamous traffic packed the pavement of Wilshire Boulevard, the area teemed with hundreds of species of Ice Age animals that became trapped in an asphalt quagmire of a different sort: the La Brea tar pits.

03 Aug 2013

July 28, 1996: Kennewick man is discovered

On the evening of July 28, 1996, archaeologist James Chatters received an unexpected call at his home in Richland, Wash., from the local coroner. Two spectators at the local hydroplane races had found a skull in Columbia Park on the banks of the Columbia River near Kennewick, Wash. The coroner wanted Chatters, a paleontologist and forensic anthropologist affiliated with Central Washington University who often consulted for Benton County, to look at the skull and determine if it belonged to a recent murder victim. When the coroner arrived with the skull in a 5-gallon bucket, Chatters had scant notion that the discovery would end up challenging the reigning theory of the origins of the first Americans and would embroil scientists in a protracted, precedent-setting legal battle against the federal government.

27 Jul 2013

Down to Earth With: Anna Henderson

Politicians and pundits communicate with talking points. In Washington, D.C., a catchy sound bite often trumps a filibustering speech, and a grandiose idea must usually fit into only a few sentences. In science, however, communication occurs as dense journal articles or professional textbooks that flesh out complexities in minute detail. Bridging the gap between these two diverse communication styles in order to convey scientific issues to policymakers is the job of the American Geosciences Institute’s William L. Fisher Congressional Geoscience Fellows.

16 Jul 2013

Down to Earth With: James White

]James White contends that he has one claim to fame: He grew up just 50 kilometers from Dolly Parton in eastern Tennessee. His father worked as a chemist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, an enclave of science west of Knoxville. Now a chemist himself, White actually has more claims to fame than he is willing to admit. He has co-authored more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific publications; he is the director of the University of Colorado’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR); and he has been named an Institute for Scientific Information highly cited scientist — an honor bestowed on less than 0.5 percent of all publishing researchers.

17 Jun 2013

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