Taxonomy term

News

Earthworms churn out calcite crystals

Any gardener can tell you that earthworms play a major role in soil ecology. But that information hasn’t always been common knowledge. Charles Darwin was one of the first to study earthworms, and in 1881, he discovered the curious fact that many species leave behind calcite crystals as they work their way through the soil. Now, new research might shed some light on the enduring mystery of how and why earthworms produce the crystals.

10 Feb 2009

Wanted: Interim nuclear waste storage site

The United States is in a nuclear waste holding pattern. Yucca Mountain, the site of the proposed geological repository that is supposed to permanently store the country’s nuclear waste, was supposed to open in 1998. Controversy has led to numerous delays, and the repository won’t open until 2020 — assuming everything goes smoothly from here on out.

06 Feb 2009

Criminals steal London dino's dung

Blogging on EARTH

A series of robberies over the past five years at London’s Natural History Museum has curators frustrated — and puzzled. From stuffed squirrels to scarab beetles, it seems that anything that can be carried is vulnerable. But most oddly, some thieves made off with a piece of fossilized dinosaur dung.

04 Feb 2009

Larger raindrops may make tornadoes more likely

A huge thunderstorm was gathering above central Oklahoma on May 20, 1977. As the storm intensified, a tornado began to form and struck the ground, leaving wreckage in its path. Although the tornado itself is now well-known, the forces behind its formation are still surprisingly sketchy. Using high-resolution modeling, however, a new study reveals how some atmospheric conditions can make tornadoes more — or less — likely to form.

03 Feb 2009

Scientists Go to the Movies

Hollywood’s sometimes sloppy depiction of scientific concepts often galls scientists. Some productions strive for accuracy; others — well, they wing it. Not surprisingly, there are gaffes. Movie stars burst through glass without a scratch, plants grow where they shouldn’t and woolly mammoths help construct the Egyptian pyramids. Now, the National Academy of Sciences is fighting back.

30 Jan 2009

Weird whale tusks act as matchmakers

In the depths of the ocean, the bizarre beaked whale looks more like an eerie mutant than a gentle giant. With its bird-like beak and sharp tusks that jut out from the top of its head, anyone would wonder: What’s with all the weaponry? Now scientists think they’ve found the purpose of these weird tusks — and it is not nearly as maleficent as you may think.

30 Jan 2009

Danger in the Deep: Chemical weapons lie off our coasts

Flash back to 1944: It’s a misty Hawaiian morning and a military vessel carries a nervous crew and deadly cargo from Pearl Harbor into the Pacific. The crew’s instructions are clear: Travel eight kilometers out to sea and dump tons of unused chemical weapons that are piled on deck. As the ship reaches the open ocean, the captain slows the vessel and sailors start pushing their lethal freight into the water. During the next half-hour, several thousand chemical bombs go overboard and into the abyss.

27 Jan 2009

Obama asks EPA to reconsider state-set emissions standards

Just a week into his presidency, Barack Obama has already set out to reverse several of Bush’s policies, including policies on long-contentious climate and energy issues.

26 Jan 2009

Travels in Geology: Atop the German Alps

Mountaineers in the “High Points Club” have a lofty goal: to “tag,” or reach, the highest elevations of every country in the world. Many of the 193 summits are best left to the professionals, but at least one, the highest point in Germany, is accessible to anybody with a train ticket. At 2,962 meters, the Zugspitze towers over the German Alps. But unlike most alpine peaks, you don’t need ropes, crampons and ice axes to stand on the summit.

23 Jan 2009

Fish guts can alter ocean's chemistry

The ocean’s surface waters contain many more microorganisms than fish — and so for years, the carbonate-shelled microorganisms were thought to be the main contributor to the carbonate chemistry in deep ocean waters. Now, new research suggests that the tiny pellets that most bony fish produce in their guts can affect the chemistry of the oceans.

22 Jan 2009

Pages