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Mineral Resource of the Month: Gallium

The metal element gallium occurs in very small concentrations in rocks and ores of other metals — native gallium is not known. As society gets more and more high-tech, gallium becomes more useful. Gallium is one of only five metals that are liquid at or close to room temperature. It has one of the longest liquid ranges of any metal (29.8 degrees Celsius to 2204 degrees Celsius) and has a low vapor pressure even at high temperatures. Ultra-pure gallium has a brilliant silvery appearance, and the solid metal exhibits conchoidal fracture similar to glass.

 
14 Oct 2009

Down to Earth With: Peter Brewer

Whether through deep-sea gas hydrate experiments, lasers or asphyxiating squid, Peter Brewer is always seeking new ways to understand the changing chemistry of the oceans. Brewer has embarked on a series of groundbreaking projects throughout his career. During his nearly 24 years at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, he was the chief architect of the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study, launched by the United States in the late 1980s to track the cycling of carbon and other chemical elements between the atmosphere, oceans and seafloor — and to understand human impacts on these cycles.

25 Sep 2009

Putting Earth's history to sound

Geophysicist Dave Engebretson of Western Washington University in Bellingham has struggled with his eyesight since birth. But when his vision took a serious downturn in 1996 — today he has difficulty recognizing faces up close — Engebretson grasped for the world of sound. He has made a considerable hobby out of audifying scientific data — taking numbers from datasets and setting them to sound frequencies to create seconds-long clips at his home studio.

21 Sep 2009

Energy Notes: May 2008-2009

Oil and petroleum imports data are preliminary numbers taken from the American Petroleum Institute’s Monthly Statistical Report. For more information visit www.api.org.

 
20 Sep 2009

Online stargazing with GigaGalaxy Zoom

Blogging on EARTH

In need of a sense of perspective? The European Southern Observatory has a new way to look at the universe: with a zoom button.

16 Sep 2009

Benchmarks: September 16, 1987: Montreal Protocol Signed

Each year in late September to early October, atmospheric scientists watch with anticipation as ozone concentrations over Antarctica drop, opening a window in Earth’s defenses against harmful ultraviolet radiation. This ozone “hole” grew steadily in the 1990s and set a record for its size in 2006: At its peak, the hole covered an average area of 27 million square kilometers, approximately the size of North America. But scientists think that the overall ozone layer is on the slow road to recovery, thanks to the Montreal Protocol — one of the most successful international environmental agreements in history.
 
16 Sep 2009

Mineral Resource of the Month: Cobalt

Cobalt is a metal used in numerous commercial, industrial and military applications. On a global basis, the leading use of cobalt is in rechargeable lithium-ion, nickel-cadmium and nickel-metal hydride battery electrodes. Cobalt use has grown rapidly since the early 1990s, with the development of new battery technologies and an increase in demand for portable electronics such as cell phones, laptop computers and cordless power tools.

 
14 Sep 2009

Art and dinosaurs

Lillian the Albertosaur strolls through the halls of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, glancing sideways at the skeletal model of a T. rex. She’s much prettier than the skeleton, from her textured brown skin, adorned with bright purple spots, to her slightly superior smirk. Neither dinosaur is actually alive: One is a fossil, and the other is a computer graphic superimposed on a photograph of the actual museum. But somehow, Lillian does liven the place up.

08 Sep 2009

Down to Earth With: Ted Irving

Geoscience students today may take plate tectonics for granted, but the concept that Earth has a mobile crust has only been generally accepted for the past 40 years. This modern concept is due in part to the work of Ted Irving, a geologist and scientist emeritus with the Geological Survey of Canada. In the 1950s, Irving was one of the first scientists to perform a physical test of — and find hard evidence for — Alfred Wegener’s 1912 hypothesis of continental drift. Continental drift was a precursor to plate tectonics theory, which describes how Earth’s surface is not a single shell, but is divided into large plates that are constantly moving past each other.

23 Aug 2009

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