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lucas joel

Benchmarks: June 4, 1783: The era of aviation launches with the first balloon flight

In the small French town of Gonesse in August 1783, a large, spherical and nebulous object painted with red and yellow stripes fell from the sky and began fluttering about on the ground. The town’s peasants, fearful, attacked the object with pitchforks, and then tied it to a horse’s tail to be dragged through the streets.

04 Jun 2016

Above oil seeps, photosynthetic life flourishes

The direct effects of oil and gas releases in the ocean are typically negative — as in the case of 2010’s Deepwater Horizon oil well disaster, which devastated marine ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico. But scientists have now found that when natural oil and gas seeps upwell toward the ocean’s surface, they can also carry nutrients such as nitrates and nitrites from the seafloor that feed communities of phytoplankton, which flourish as a result.

30 May 2016

Geomedia: Performance: Bella Gaia is a show in orbit and Earth is the star

On the screen, images of the far reaches of the cosmos — galaxies, stellar nebulae and supernovae — loom high over a stage. The words, “The Living Universe,” appear and the view zooms in: first on our galaxy, then on our solar system and, finally, on Earth. Bella Gaia, a live performance piece featuring dance and music set in front of a large projection-screen displaying images of Earth from space, begins.

13 May 2016

Magnesium part of Earth's magnetic field engine

Earth’s magnetic field, which arises from convective flows in the planet’s core, known as the geodynamo, has existed for at least 3.4 billion years, meaning that the field-generating processes must have existed for that long as well. But what exactly those processes have looked like throughout Earth’s history, particularly early on, has been poorly understood. In a new study, researchers suggest that magnesium mineral formation in the core is a previously unrecognized but important piece of the puzzle.

26 Apr 2016

Bat signals

Bats, the only true-flight mammals, first appeared during the Early Eocene after a period of acute global warming known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. Despite decades of study, however, much remains unknown about bats. Recent discoveries are shedding new light on the natural history of these creatures, which today comprise one of the most diverse mammalian groups.

07 Apr 2016

Mammoths may have suffered from bone disease

The demise of mammoths, which went extinct by the end of the Pleistocene about 12,000 years ago, is thought to have been brought about by a combination of climate change and overhunting by early humans. A new study indicates that another culprit might have contributed as well: Mammoth bones retrieved from Northern Eurasia — from sedimentary strata close to the animals’ last known appearance in the fossil record — appear to show evidence for bone diseases associated with nutrient deficiencies.
28 Feb 2016

Scarps and craters reveal moon's dynamic side

During their 1972 mission to the moon, Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt tried to ascend a steep rise in the lunar rover. The rover could not make it, so the pair drove up the incline in a zigzag pattern. The rise, it was later found, is the lobate scarp of a lunar thrust fault — one of many such features that, thanks to detailed images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), are now known to occur across the moon’s surface. In a new study, researchers suggest these faults were formed by the same gravitational forces that cause the rise and fall of tides on Earth.

19 Feb 2016

Down to Earth With: Yosemite's first park geologist Greg Stock

As a child growing up in the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, Greg Stock and his family took frequent trips to Yosemite National Park. One of his first memories is of hearing and seeing a giant rockfall tumble down the face of El Capitán. Today, Stock studies such rockfalls and how they impact safety in the area as the first park geologist employed at Yosemite. 
09 Feb 2016

Benchmarks: February 1962 and 1984: John Glenn and Bruce McCandless make space flight history

On the morning of Feb. 20, 1962, John H. Glenn sat inside the Mercury Friendship 7 space capsule, perched atop a rocket that had initially been designed to deliver nuclear warheads to the far ends of the world. That rocket would propel Glenn into space, and into the history books, as the first American to orbit Earth. 
07 Feb 2016

Travels in Geology: Rocks and Climbing at Kentucky's Red River Gorge

People don’t often think of Kentucky as a destination to hike and rock climb amid dramatic sandstone arches and red rock gorges. But maybe they should.

04 Feb 2016