Taxonomy term


Why meteors snap, crackle and pop

Keen-eared observers sometimes report hearing popping, whistling or buzzing at the same time they see meteors pass far overhead, a perplexing phenomenon called the electrophonic effect. What causes the effect — or if it’s even real — has been discussed for centuries; famed astronomer Edmond Halley is said to have dismissed it as a figment of people’s imaginations. In a new study in Geophysical Research Letters, researchers suggest that not only is it real, but that it is caused by radio waves induced by meteors and converted to sound waves near Earth’s surface.

17 Aug 2017

Baby Louie dinosaur fossil gets a formal name

A baby dinosaur found fossilized with a clutch of eggs in China in the 1990s has finally been identified as an embryo from a new species of giant oviraptorosaur, according to a study in Nature Communications. The specimen, nicknamed “Baby Louie” and once featured on the cover of National Geographic, has been formally classified as a caenagnathid oviraptorosaur named Beibeilong sinensis, which translates to “Chinese baby dragon,” by Hanyong Pu of the Henan Geological Museum in Zhengzhou, China, and colleagues.

16 Aug 2017

Red Planet Roundup: August 2017

With two rovers patrolling the surface of Mars, six spacecraft orbiting above it, and scientists here on Earth studying the Red Planet from afar, new findings are announced often. Here are a few of the latest updates.

03 Aug 2017

Stock traders' algorithm finds slow earthquakes

Traders in financial markets use a variety of computer algorithms to help them decide when to buy or sell different stocks. Geologists have now adapted one of these algorithms to improve detection of subtle slow-slip events along faults, paving the way for a better understanding of regional seismic hazards.

02 Aug 2017

Titan's oddly oriented dunes may be electrostatically sculpted

Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, which has a dense, nitrogen-rich atmosphere with evidence of large amounts of frozen water at the surface, is a world apart from Earth’s moon. Among other strange phenomena, Titan has vast fields of frozen hydrocarbon particles that form 100-meter-tall dunes whose crests point east, opposite the prevailing west-blowing winds predicted by atmospheric models of Titan. In a new study in Nature Geoscience, researchers have found that these mysterious dunes may be sculpted in part by electrostatic charging of the frozen hydrocarbon grains.

01 Aug 2017

Evidence of devastating drought found beneath the Dead Sea

The Dead Sea, a landlocked lake bordered by Israel, Jordan and Palestine, is nearly 10 times saltier than the ocean. And it’s getting saltier. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the water level has dropped by nearly 30 meters, largely because of diversions of the Jordan River, the lake’s primary tributary and the arid region’s main source of fresh water.

31 Jul 2017

Eavesdropping on Old Faithful

The Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park has erupted predictably within a 10-minute window every hour for more than 150 years, but the inner workings that power its regular 30-meter-high eruptive plumes are largely still a mystery. Recent monitoring of the gusher is revealing new secrets about its plumbing system, which may help the National Park Service plan for future infrastructure expansions around the popular attraction.

28 Jul 2017

Nineteenth-century cows muddied Southern California continental shelf

When offshore ecosystems deteriorate, scientists often look at changing ocean conditions, urban runoff or fishing as potential explanations. Cows usually don’t come to mind. But new research investigating the seafloor off the coast of Los Angeles suggests that 19th-century cattle, despite their terrestrial lifestyle, left a lasting impact on the underwater habitat there.

26 Jul 2017

Complex Kaikoura earthquake forces rethink of multifault ruptures

Just after midnight on Nov. 14, 2016, the northern end of New Zealand’s South Island was hit by a magnitude-7.8 earthquake. Epicentered about 60 kilometers southwest of the popular tourist town of Kaikoura, the quake was the strongest the area had seen since the 1855 magnitude-8.2 Wairarapa quake struck the Cook Strait. The Kaikoura quake led to two deaths as well as extensive damage to roads, rails and buildings.

24 Jul 2017

Earth-like exoplanet shows signs of supporting life

A recently discovered exoplanet 40 light-years from Earth appears to orbit its home star at a distance suggesting it could support liquid water. The planet, dubbed LHS 1140b and reported in a study in Nature, is located in the constellation Cetus and orbits a red dwarf star. The rocky planet is 10 times closer to its star than Earth is to the sun, but the red dwarf only puts out a fraction of the light that the sun does, meaning LHS 1140b lies in the middle of the habitable zone around the star.

24 Jul 2017