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Benchmarks: October 8, 1871: The deadliest wildfire in American history incinerates Peshtigo, Wisconsin

On Oct. 8, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire burned through 900 hectares of the city, killing as many as 300 people and leaving another 100,000 homeless. More than 17,400 buildings were destroyed and financial losses totaled more than $200 million at the time (equivalent to $3.7 billion in 2016 dollars).

08 Oct 2017

Geomedia: Radio: "Big Picture Science" aptly named

Titles can sometimes be a hard thing to live up to, but “Big Picture Science,” a weekly radio program broadcast on about 100 stations nationwide, delivers on its name. The show, which cleverly covers everything from a study of frogs in pants to efforts to create a compassionate computer, lives up to its mission of presenting a wide-angle view of science and technology.

27 Sep 2017

Benchmarks: September 23, 1806: Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery returns from the West

It’s been called the greatest camping trip of all time. Statues, counties, waterways, mountains, military vessels, and even two colleges bear the names of the journey’s leaders. Their journals are among our greatest national treasures, and their adventures have inspired generations of explorers. Two hundred and eleven years ago this month, Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and their 31-man Corps of Discovery returned to St. Louis, the frontier town where they had started their journey 28 months and nearly 13,000 kilometers of wilderness earlier on May 14, 1804.

23 Sep 2017

Down to Earth With: Paleobiologist Gregory Erickson

As an undergraduate at the University of Washington, Gregory Erickson wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. He started out as an engineering major, then dabbled with getting a degree in wildlife management. In 1986, having taken numerous science courses, he happened to compare notes with his best friend, a geology major, and realized he was just a few courses shy of obtaining a geology degree himself. Eager to finish college, Erickson signed up for a class in vertebrate paleontology focusing on dinosaurs — a decision that ultimately changed his life.

22 Sep 2017

Benchmarks: August 31, 1886: Magnitude-7 earthquake rocks Charleston, South Carolina

In late August 1886, Charleston, S.C., was in the grip of a heat wave. It was so hot during the day that many offices were closed and events were postponed until later in the evening when temperatures had cooled. So, when powerful seismic waves rippled across the city at 9:51 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 1886, people were sent scrambling not just out of homes, theaters and the opera house, but out of churches, offices and other buildings in which they might not have otherwise been at that late hour.

31 Aug 2017

Geomedia: Books: Exploring space is risky business

Space is deadly, and the explorers who risk their lives to venture farther into these depths rank among the bravest heroes of all time. In “Mankind Beyond Earth: The History, Science, and Future of Human Space Exploration,” Claude A. Piantadosi portrays the history and future of space exploration through the lens of space medicine, which reminds us of the many threats to the human body that await as we venture away from our planet.

30 Aug 2017

Geomedia: Books: Earth faces challenges, but are they tipping points?

The 2016 book, “Tipping Point for Planet Earth,” by paleoecologists Anthony D. Barnosky and Elizabeth A. Hadly, is a serious book on a serious topic, and a well-written, one-stop resource for anyone who wants to understand a host of looming problems. The book focuses on the alarming number of worrisome planetary trends now underway, mainly as a result of the convergence of population growth and human-induced global warming. Chapters cover people (population growth), “stuff” (increased purchases of material goods), storms, hunger, thirst (failing water supplies, clean or not), toxins, disease and war. These trends have merited serious attention from environmental scientists and deserve the same from politicians. Whether they are tipping points, however, is a point of contention.

27 Jul 2017

Benchmarks: July 15-24, 1975: Apollo-Soyuz mission launches space collaboration

The space race between the United States and the Soviet Union spurred innovations and historic firsts for humankind from Sputnik to the moon landing. However, much of the drive to break through those technological barriers and explore the vast, starry landscape of space was rooted in a desire to display military dominance in space amid the competition and animosity of the Cold War.

15 Jul 2017

Down to Earth With: Paleoclimatologist Gifford H. Miller

“Hope for the unexpected.” This motto has pulled paleoclimatologist Gifford H. Miller to remote corners of the world to conduct fieldwork for more than half a century. Miller, a professor of geological sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU) and associate director of the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research, thrives on the pursuit of knowledge, asking tough questions about the global climate system whose answers have far-reaching implications. But it’s the thrill of unexpected discoveries — of which he’s made many — that keep him returning for more. His discoveries, including the extinction timing of giant birds in Australia, the existence of “zombie mosses” that document the life-cycle of Arctic ice caps, and the finding of lake sediments that tell the story of Iceland’s deglaciation, have led to advances in our understanding of Earth’s climate history and the role humans have played in it.

30 Jun 2017

Geomedia: Mixed media: Geo-art collaboration shifts perspectives on earth materials

“Arts and Sciences.” The phrase is familiar to students and faculty on most campuses, often serving as the moniker of colleges or other curricular subdivisions within universities. While the pairing suggests a joint enterprise of some sort between the two fields, it might more aptly be termed, “Arts or Sciences,” as curricula rarely encompass both.

23 Jun 2017

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