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Desktop seismology: How a maker-inspired device is changing seismic monitoring

The Raspberry Shake — a personal seismograph invented in 2016 and named after the computer that powers the instrument (the Raspberry Pi) — was intended for hobbyists. But the device’s usefulness quickly became apparent to a much wider audience, including scientists and educators around the world. 
16 Nov 2017

Travels in Geology: The diverse geology, landscapes and whiskys of Scotland's Southwestern Islands

For the geologically minded traveler, the Scottish isles of Arran and Islay showcase a suite of interesting rocks and landscapes, a wealth of cultural and recreational opportunities, and Scotland’s second-finest product (after the geology): single malt whisky.
06 Nov 2017

Getting there and getting around Scotland's Southwestern Islands

Ferry service to Arran and Islay is the primary way to access the islands from the Scottish mainland. Caledonian MacBrayne (“CalMac”) offers a “hopscotch” ticket package that goes from Ardrossan (close to Glasgow) to Brodick (Arran), across the Kintyre Peninsula, to Port Ellen (Islay), and then back to Kintyre, all on your own schedule, for £150, including ferrying your rental car. (We brought a rental car with us from the mainland, in the interest of being able to access outcrops where and when we wanted, but each island offers a municipal bus service as well.) Reserve a space for your car on the ferry during peak tourist times. Also, be prepared to be stuck on an island for a bit (usually not more than a few hours) if the weather turns.

 
06 Nov 2017

Troubled waters: Lead lurking in U.S. water supplies

In 2014, Flint, Mich., started drawing its drinking water from the highly corrosive Flint River, which leached lead from old pipes, exposing the population to lead poisoning. Such aging infrastructure exists in towns across the nation, leaving many to wonder if what happened in Flint could happen to them. The answer in many cases is yes.
30 Oct 2017

T-A-P (Testing, Awareness, Prevention)

Not all water corrosivity issues are obvious. For this reason, Ryan Gordon, a hydrogeologist at the Maine Geological Survey, recommends that regular tests be conducted at least once every three years.

30 Oct 2017

Cretaceous collagen: Can molecular paleontology glean soft tissue from dinosaurs?

In 2005, a team of molecular paleontologists reported the discovery of soft tissue from a 68-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex femur. In the decade since that controversial find, evidence has mounted that dinosaur soft tissue — which could help paleontologists answer long-standing questions about dinosaur physiology — can be recovered.
 

16 Oct 2017

Can preserved proteins reveal paint-by-numbers plumage?

Some of the most compelling dinosaur fossils are those found with clearly defined feathers. Feathers may seem fragile and unlikely to be preserved, but in fact they’re composed of durable keratin, one of the toughest natural proteins. Additionally, some fossil feathers unearthed are speckled with tiny black dots, which, according to different studies, could be remnants of either bacteria or melanosomes. Melanosomes are organelles that produce and store melanin, the main source of pigment in feathers. If melanosomes are indeed preserved in some ancient fossils, they could reveal information about dinosaur coloration and plumage — and represent further evidence of preserved proteins in dinosaurs.
 

16 Oct 2017

Getting there and getting around Flagstaff, Arizona

Flagstaff is a two- to three-hour drive from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) and a four-hour drive from McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas (LAS). The small but conveniently located Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (FLG) also offers several flights daily to Phoenix.

04 Oct 2017

Travels in Geology: Cones and craters in Flagstaff, Arizona

Few places in the country exhibit as many types of volcanic features — including jagged lava flows, crumbly cinder cones and the remnants of a towering stratovolcano — in as small an area as northern Arizona’s San Francisco Volcanic Field.
04 Oct 2017

Cassini's legacy after two decades

Scientists on Earth have received the last submission from the Cassini spacecraft. It descended into Saturn’s atmosphere at 122,500 kilometers per hour, which caused it to melt, thereby ensuring that Saturn’s moons Titan and Enceladus would remain protected from possible contamination by any errant Earth microbes. Cassini scientists had considered other options for the spacecraft’s end, including leaving it to float endlessly in space or parking it in orbit around Saturn. But ultimately, they chose to have it descend into Saturn’s atmosphere after deciding the data that could be returned from the descent were more valuable than any further data it might obtain by remaining in space. Scientists will make discoveries from these data for decades to come.

15 Sep 2017

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