Taxonomy term

departments

Benchmarks: March 1913: The first complete geologic timescale is published

Ask a geologist when the Paleogene Period started and odds are very good the answer will be about 65.5 million years ago. Ask about the Carboniferous and you’ll likely hear 359 million years ago. Ask how old Earth is and the answer will almost invariably be 4.55 billion years, give or take a few tens of millions of years. Today, most geologic ages are well established and widely agreed upon. But the geologic timescale wasn’t always so settled.
 
08 Mar 2013

Down to Earth With: Terry Plank

“You’re a genius! Now here’s half a million dollars to use however you please.”

That, in essence, was what geochemist and volcanologist Terry Plank was told when she received a surprising phone call early last October. The voice on the other end of the line was that of Robert Gallucci, president of the MacArthur Foundation, who was calling to inform her that she’d been selected to receive one of the foundation’s 23 fellowships — the so-called “genius grants” — for 2012. The prestigious, “no strings attached” grants award $500,000 over five years to innovative individuals to allow them the flexibility to pursue creative, often otherwise out-of-reach interests.

18 Feb 2013

Benchmarks: February 3, 1953: Jacques Cousteau's "The Silent World" is published, opening a window on the underwater world for millions

Few names are as evocative as Jacques Cousteau. The sunlight-infused blue glow of the marine subsurface, the endless array of otherworldly creatures that populate the ocean, and masked divers stealthily easing through the sea — trailed, of course, by glittering streams of bubbles emanating from Cousteau’s famed contraption — are morsels of the vivid imagery that his name often brings to mind. And with good reason: After all, he’s the one who introduced us to the real world below the waves, long before Bob Ballard found the Titanic or the Discovery Channel showed us what it’s like to swim with the sharks.
 
03 Feb 2013

Benchmarks: January 1, 1960: The Discovery of "Extinct Radioactivity" The quest to date the elements that formed the solar system

On June 30, 1918, Leo Kern saw a fireball blaze across the sky above his farm near Richardton, N.D., lighting up the night sky as if it were daytime and then exploding with a deafening boom that shook houses and rattled windows. Kern ducked behind a telegraph pole as fragments that sounded like “whistling bullets” struck his barn, he later reported to geologist T.T. Quirke of the University of Minnesota. What Kern and other witnesses all over  the southwestern corner of the state had seen was a 90-kilogram meteor entering Earth’s atmosphere and breaking up 100 kilometers above the surface. Kern had no way of knowing it at the time, but he had also witnessed the arrival of a message from the dawn of the solar system — one that scientists wouldn’t decode for another 42 years. 
 
01 Jan 2013

Down to Earth With: Antarctic meteorite hunters

Dotted with snow dunes and nunatak mountain ranges, Antarctica’s glacial landscapes give the continent an otherworldly feel — but the scenery isn’t what’s truly alien. Antarctica is littered with meteorites, hundreds of thousands of which have been untouched since the moment of impact. For more than 35 years, the volunteer scientists of the Antarctic Search for Meteorites (ANSMET) program have been scouring the icy plains in search of meteorites from meteoroids, the moon and even Mars.

15 Dec 2012

Benchmarks: November 29, 1991: The Interstate 5 dust storm injures hundreds

It was about 2:30 p.m. on the day after Thanksgiving and traffic was heavy on Interstate 5, which connects Northern and Southern California. A 31-year-old substitute teacher was traveling southbound on I-5 with her husband, 32, and their two sons, ages 4 and 1. They were a little north of Coalinga, a farming town in the San Joaquin Valley about 250 kilometers south of San Francisco. 
 
01 Nov 2012

Down to Earth With: Lawson Brigham

Lawson Brigham, a Distinguished Professor of Geography and Arctic Policy at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks and retired U.S. Coast Guard captain, has worn many hats in his career. He has been the deputy director and Alaska Office director of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission in Anchorage; chair of the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment of the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum of the eight Arctic nations; vice chair of the Arctic Council’s working group on Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment; and a contributing author to the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment.

18 Oct 2012

Benchmarks: October 1, 1960: Camp Century, a cold war ice fortress is built

The soldiers who staffed Camp Century enjoyed many of the same accommodations as their fellow soldiers at bases around the world. They had a mess hall, a chapel, a theater, a dispensary, an emergency room and even a hobby shop, all onsite. Just like their counterparts elsewhere, Camp Century’s soldiers got out of bed, shaved, showered and went to work. However, when Camp Century personnel opened the door and walked from their quarters, they saw only one thing: snow. No sun, no moon, no sky, and no distant horizon. Just a corridor with walls, floor and ceiling made of snow.
 
02 Oct 2012

Down to Earth With: Bruce Benson

In a remarkable career spanning nearly 50 years, Bruce Benson has held just two jobs. In 1965, a year after earning his bachelor’s degree in geology, he founded the Benson Mineral Group, an oil and gas exploration and production company that he has owned and chaired ever since. From this foundation, Benson’s business interests have spread into salvaging, banking, mortgage servicing, cable television, geothermal power, real estate and even pizza.

19 Sep 2012

Benchmarks: September 23, 1933: The U.S. oil industry arrives in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia currently produces about 11 million barrels of oil per day, edging out Russia and the U.S. to rank first in the world in production, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The desert kingdom also has proven reserves of more than 260 billion barrels — spread among numerous fields (though most reside in a handful of giant fields) — amounting to about one-fifth of the world’s total. The country exports more oil than any other and exerts an undeniably prominent influence on the world oil market from its seat in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
 
03 Sep 2012

Pages