Taxonomy term

bare earth elements

Blogging on EARTH: Rarity the only reason for Venus transit fever?

If you read one or more stories leading up to yesterday’s transit of Venus across the face of the sun (or if you followed #VenusTransit on Twitter), you likely learned that the transit is akin to a solar eclipse — when the moon crosses directly between Earth and the sun, temporarily blocking part or all of the latter from our view — with the caveat that Venus only blacks out a small dot of the sun because of its distance from Earth. So what was all the fuss about? What was it about the celestial equivalent of watching a marble roll slowly across a dinner plate that brought people out in droves, from professional and amateur scientists to casual observers and families with young children?

06 Jun 2012

Blogging On EARTH: Wisconsin's microquake mystery

On the list of earthquake-prone states, Wisconsin does not rank highly. Yes, occasionally, America’s Dairyland is subjected to light rumbles emanating from its neighbor to the south, Illinois. But Wisconsin is hardly where you’d expect to find much excitement, let alone fear, over the possibility of homegrown seismic activity. And yet, that's exactly what happened a few weeks ago, when hundreds of people in Clintonville, Wis. began dialing 911 with reports that their homes were being inexplicably shaken overnight by terrifying booms.

11 Apr 2012

Blogging on EARTH: Webb Space Telescope ensnared in political drama

Perhaps you have heard of the psychological principle of entrapment. In college, a friend of mine once described it to me while we stood in a seemingly endless line in one of the dining halls. As I recall, the essence of it is that the more money, time or effort you invest in some venture waiting for a return — a sandwich in my case — the harder it is to simply let it go or give up hope, regardless of how unfavorable the potential cost-benefit ratio is.

13 Jul 2011

Blogging on EARTH: Arsenic provides a G#ALA event in the science world

In reporting what’s new and exciting from the world of scientific and technological innovation, science writers are quick to use expressions like “Scientists say … ” and “According to researchers … ” (Mea culpa.) They are, after all, convenient devices to introduce the sentiments of some subset of the scientific community as opposed to one, or maybe several, individuals.

23 Jun 2011