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Benchmarks: August 27, 1958: Operation Argus creates first anthropogenic space weather

Sixty years ago this month, a fleet of nine U.S. Navy ships with 4,500 people aboard maneuvered into the Atlantic. Eight of these ships continued to the South Atlantic, about 1,800 kilometers southwest of Cape Town, South Africa, while the ninth headed to the North Atlantic, near the Azores. The clandestine military operation — code-named Operation Argus — was not an invasion, but a scientific mission, carried out at a staggering pace and inspired by an unpublished research paper by an elevator engineer with an interest in accelerator physics.

27 Aug 2018

Geomedia: Books: Informative and inspiring: "Why Dinosaurs Matter"

In his new book, “Why Dinosaurs Matter,” vertebrate paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara aims to explain why, in fact, studying ancient life does matter. Lacovara has spent his career excavating and publishing on dinosaurs and paleoenvironments, as well as communicating the wonders of paleontology. To share this passion, Lacovara founded Edelman Fossil Park at Rowan University in New Jersey, a publicly accessible quarry containing vertebrate and invertebrate fossils from the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary, roughly 66 million years ago.

21 Aug 2018

Down to Earth With: Volcanologist Scott Rowland

When Scott Rowland returned to his home on Oahu after earning a bachelor’s degree in geology at Oregon State University, intent on heading to graduate school, he was torn between studying volcanoes or groundwater. Ultimately, he chose to study Hawaii’s basalt lavas as a graduate student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

14 Aug 2018

Mineral Resource of the Month: Tin

The main source of tin is cassiterite (SnO2), a tin oxide mineral; cassiterite has been the primary source of tin throughout history. Most of the world’s identified tin resources occur as placer deposits, a large number of which are located along the Southeast Asian tin belt. The remaining resources occur as hydrothermal hard-rock veins. In the United States, tin deposits are rare; there are no known extensive tin placer deposits and the few hard-rock deposits are currently not economically exploitable.

12 Aug 2018

Benchmarks: July 29, 1958: The Birth of NASA

Growing up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., meant that my house was often frequented by guests who wanted to visit our nation’s capital. Without fail, this meant my family and I would be taking a trip to one of the Smithsonian’s most popular attractions, the National Air and Space Museum. I can’t count the number of times I visited the museum before I left for college, but it was a lot. Although glimpsing the museum’s collection of aircraft and spacecraft was cool at first, I would much rather have spent those afternoons wandering the halls of the National Museum of Natural History.

29 Jul 2018

Down to Earth With: Paleobiologist Rowan Lockwood

In 1608, Captain John Smith noted that oysters “lay as thick as stones” on the floor of the Chesapeake Bay. The shell reefs — built up by hundreds of years of oyster generations — were so large, ships wrecked against them. And each oyster was so massive, to eat one, you had to cut it into pieces — like a steak.

27 Jul 2018

Geomedia: Books: Revisiting the Galileo affair

Galileo’s commitment to Copernican cosmology — with Earth orbiting the sun — despite his 17th-century inquisition and imprisonment by Roman Catholic authorities remains a pivotal moment in the history of modern physics and astronomy, and in the history of tension between science and religion. Though today we take the fundamentals Galileo espoused for granted, in his day, the scientific debate among proponents of different celestial models remained hotly contested.

19 Jul 2018

Benchmarks: June 15, 1991: Mount Pinatubo erupts

Twenty-seven years ago this month, the calm in central Luzon, the largest and most populous island in the Philippines, turned to chaos. On June 15, 1991, Mount Pinatubo disgorged 5 cubic kilometers of material over a few hours, and ash clouds soared 35 kilometers into the atmosphere. The substantial eruption — the second largest of the 20th century — burned itself into memories and history books.

15 Jun 2018

Mineral Resource of the Month: Chromium

Although chromium is a metal, it does not occur naturally in metallic form. Chromium can be found in many minerals, but the only economically significant chromium-bearing mineral is chromite. Chromite has been mined from four different deposit types: stratiform chromite, podiform chromite, placer chromite, and laterite deposits. Most of the world’s resources, however, are located in stratiform chromite deposits, such as the Bushveld Complex in South Africa. The economic potential of chromite resources depends on the thickness and continuity of the deposit and on the grade of the ore. Many of the major stratiform chromite deposits also contain economic levels of platinum, palladium, rhodium, osmium, iridium and ruthenium.

13 Jun 2018

"Greening" stormwater in Philadelphia

When environmental geologist David Wilcots joined Sci-Tek Consultants in 2014, he became involved with the Philadelphia Water Department’s Green Stormwater Infrastructure project. Sci-Tek’s goal was to redesign certain areas of the city’s urban landscape so that “less stormwater goes into the sewage system” and more goes into the ground, explains Wilcots. 

29 May 2018

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