Taxonomy term

february 2011

Benchmarks: Henri Becquerel discovers radioactivity on February 26, 1896

February 26, 1896, was an overcast day in Paris — and that presented a problem for French physicist Antoine Henri Becquerel. Becquerel was hoping to demonstrate a link between minerals that glow when exposed to strong light and a new type of electromagnetic radiation called X-rays. The weather thwarted this experiment — but that failure inadvertently produced an entirely new discovery: natural radioactivity.

28 Feb 2011

Hazardous Living: Discovery's emotional final voyage

Today, at 4:53 p.m. ET, the space shuttle Discovery launched for the last time. When it returns to Earth in 11 days, the shuttle will be retired.

24 Feb 2011

Killer quake strikes New Zealand

A magnitude-6.3 earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand, at about 1 p.m. local time Tuesday. The quake killed at least 65 people and buried 100 more in rubble. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reports that the quake was an aftershock of an earthquake that hit the region last September.

22 Feb 2011

A memoir: A decade-plus of tracking lunar larceny

In the back alleys of the world’s capitals and in the ballrooms of presidential palaces exists a black market that preys on the imagination of some and the greed of others. These black-market items were neither carved nor painted; in fact, they are not of this Earth. They traveled 400,000 kilometers via six Apollo missions and three unmanned Soviet missions to and from the moon.

22 Feb 2011

Energy Notes: October 2009-2010

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

20 Feb 2011

2012 budget requests a mixed bag for science

The Obama administration emphasized scientific innovation and education in its fiscal year 2012 budget requests. On Monday, the president’s science advisor, John Holdren, summarized the requests across the different agencies as part of a “tough-love” strategy outlined in the president’s State of the Union speech in January to “win the future.”

17 Feb 2011

How oil and water helped the U.S. win World War II

World War II U.S. Gen. Omar Bradley is often cited as the originator of the famous military quote: “Amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics.” Irrespective of its origins, the adage holds true for most extended conflicts — and World War II is no exception. Managing logistics for the production, movement and consumption of energy was one of the critical determinants of success during the war.

15 Feb 2011

Mineral Resource of the Month: Copper

Copper, the “red metal,” was the first metal used by humans more than 10,000 years ago; it was one of the most important materials in the development of civilization. The alloying of copper with tin to form bronze, a harder, stronger and more readily cast metal, gave rise to the Bronze Age. Copper continues to be important today. It is the third-most-used metal in the world, and new uses for it continue to be developed.

14 Feb 2011

Getting There, Getting Around and Getting Informed

Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey’s capital, are both easy to fly to from the United States. Within Turkey, most travelers opt for the inexpensive but well-developed bus system, including overnight routes that take you from one part of the country to another while you sleep. (I recommend bringing earplugs and a sleep mask if you actually want to get some sleep.)

07 Feb 2011

Travels in Geology: Ever-Changing Turkey

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus famously quipped that “change is the only constant.” Few places on Earth are as emblematic of change, both geological and historical, as the Republic of Turkey.

07 Feb 2011