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Astronomers find missing half of the universe

Astronomers recently located half of the ordinary matter in the universe — a detection that has eluded scientists for decades.

29 Oct 2018

Extinct gibbon found in Chinese tomb

About 2,200 years ago, a Chinese noblewoman was buried in a tomb with a menagerie of animals, including 12 horses, a leopard, a lynx and a species of gibbon unknown to modern science. The new ape, identified using detailed cranial and dental measurements as a new genus and species — Junzi imperialis — may represent the first ape to have gone extinct due to human influence after the last ice age.

26 Oct 2018

Dangers of Van Allen Belts driven by "local acceleration"

Between about 13,500 and 58,000 kilometers above Earth’s surface, billions of high-energy particles — predominately electrons — congregate to form the outer Van Allen Belt. Nearly 4,000 kilometers closer to Earth, the outermost boundary of its twin, the second Van Allen Belt, also encircles the planet.

25 Oct 2018

Ecuadorian volcano plays its pipe

An active volcano in central Ecuador may be the largest musical instrument on Earth: After eruptions in 2015, Cotopaxi’s newly configured crater started emitting distinctly musical rumblings that scientists may be able to use to monitor future activity at the volcano.

24 Oct 2018

Monsoon strength affects global ice volumes, not vice versa?

In the 1920s, Serbian scientist Milutin Milankovitch proposed that cyclical changes in Earth’s orbital eccentricity, as well as its axial tilt and orientation, shape global climate. Part of his theory — widely accepted since — is that the amount of solar radiation, or insolation, reaching high northern latitudes is a major factor in regulating global ice volume and albedo, which in turn control the strength of tropical monsoons. But in a new study, researchers suggest that instead of global ice volume regulating monsoon strength, it’s mostly the other way around.

22 Oct 2018

First Antarctic tetrapods

Tetrapods include all those animals with four limbs. Humans are tetrapods, as are dogs and dinosaurs and salamanders. The earliest tetrapods evolved on land from fish with bony fins during the Devonian Period between about 420 million and 359 million years ago. Until now, fossils of the earliest four-legged forms were only known from equatorial regions, but paleontologists working in South Africa now report the discovery of fossil tetrapods that lived in the Late Devonian Antarctic.

18 Oct 2018

Sipping carbon-neutral fuel from the atmosphere

In the near future, vehicles may be powered by carbon that comes from the sky, rather than out of the ground. Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology pulls carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and converts the carbon into pellets that can be used to make hydrocarbon fuel that works in traditional engines. A new study details the process, which has been tested over the last three years, and offers some cost-saving solutions that make DAC more economically feasible than ever.

16 Oct 2018

Surfactants slow oceanic carbon dioxide uptake

The oceans are the largest long-term carbon sink on Earth, absorbing about a quarter of all anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. The rate of exchange of carbon dioxide between the oceans and the atmosphere is thought to be primarily controlled by wind-driven turbulence at the sea surface. More turbulence leads to increasing gas exchange and higher rates of carbon uptake by the ocean. 

12 Oct 2018

Pluto's surprising dunes

Images and data sent back by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft during its flyby mission to Pluto (and beyond) show a series of regularly spaced linear ridges sandwiched between a mountain range and Sputnik Planitia, a vast plain of nitrogen, carbon monoxide and methane ice. “When we first saw the New Horizons images, we thought instantly that these were dunes, but it was really surprising because we know there is not much of an atmosphere [on Pluto],” said Jani Radebaugh, a planetary scientist at Brigham Young University and co-author of a study in Science announcing the findings, in a statement.

10 Oct 2018

Where will the San Andreas Fault rupture next?

In 1906, the San Andreas Fault Zone ruptured, and the shaking that followed brought the city of San Francisco to its knees. Buildings toppled and fires raged and, in the end, more than 3,000 people died as a result. Since then, Californians have often wondered aloud when and where the next “Big One” will strike. Geologists do not know the answers, but recent research has offered a new clue: Field mapping of the San Andreas’ southernmost reaches, near the Salton Sea, reveals a type of fault structure that researchers think may be just right for triggering a big earthquake.

08 Oct 2018

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