Taxonomy term

march 2016

Mass measured for smallest exoplanet yet

By the late 19th century, astronomers had calculated correctly that Mars — about half the diameter of Earth — holds roughly one-tenth the mass of Earth, whereas its density is about 71 percent that of our planet. These fundamental planetary traits have also long been known for Mercury and Venus. But measuring the masses and densities of the many roughly Earth-sized exoplanets discovered lately — which, to space telescopes, appear as mere specks as they pass in front of, or transit, their home stars — has proved challenging.

22 Mar 2016

Travels in Geology: Gotland getaway: Sweden's 'tropical' escape in the Baltic

Gotland, a Silurian-aged coral-reef island with white sand beaches, lies not in the tropics but in the Baltic Sea off the southeastern coast of Sweden just a short trip from Stockholm. In addition to the carbonate geology, visitors can view medieval churches and thatched-roof Viking farms, and experience the moody, atmospheric weather featured in the films of director Ingmar Bergman.

21 Mar 2016

Getting there and getting around Gotland

Useful websites for planning your trip to Gotland include the island’s own commercial sites: Gotland.com and Destination Gotland. Start there for everything from travel to entertainment events, and for ideas on what to see.

21 Mar 2016

The ups and downs of an island

In 1835, Captain Robert FitzRoy and the crew of the HMS Beagle — who were exploring and studying the Chilean coast with Charles Darwin in tow — arrived at Isla Santa Mariá near the city of Concepción six weeks after a magnitude-8.5 earthquake jolted the region. Along with scenes of dried seaweed and dead mussels lining the island’s shores well above the high-tide line, comparison of a bathymetric survey of a shallow bay adjacent to Santa Mariá to one conducted the previous year suggested to FitzRoy that the earthquake had thrust the island 2.4 to 3 meters out of the water.

18 Mar 2016

Benchmarks: March 17, 1944: The most recent eruption of Mount Vesuvius

Four-and-a-half years into World War II, the residents of San Sebastiano, Italy — a Neapolitan village on the western slopes of Mount Vesuvius — had already endured much misery: dictatorial rule, invasion, occupation and bombings. In mid-March 1944, they faced yet another catastrophe, this one a natural disaster that would destroy their town.

17 Mar 2016

Protracted drought threatens California levees

Levee failures are most often associated with the onslaught of water from large storms, such as Hurricane Katrina, whose landfall in 2005 caused more than 50 floodwalls and levees around New Orleans to fail.

But the lack of water can also weaken these critical earthen structures, according to recent research presented last December at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. 

15 Mar 2016

Geologic Column: Blockbuster solutions

Science makes leaps forward when practitioners take unconventional approaches to problem-solving, such as that in the movie “The Imitation Game.” Could such unconventional steps help us solve some of today’s biggest problems?

14 Mar 2016

Down to Earth With: Glaciologist Ted Scambos

As a young boy, Ted Scambos was fascinated by space and technology, and spent many hours watching aircraft take off and land at the Air Force bases where his father, a pilot, was stationed. For his birthday or Christmas, he says he would often ask for a new telescope or a book about the planets. By sixth grade, Scambos had decided to become an astronomer. But by high school, his attention shifted from outer space to chemistry, and he set up an elaborate chemistry set in his parents’ basement. As Scambos’ interests evolved, he gradually realized that although astronomy and chemistry were both very hands-on disciplines at first, the deeper he delved, the more esoteric they became. Instead, he found himself drawn to geology, especially after discovering how much he enjoyed fieldwork.

11 Mar 2016

Comment: How 'Frankenstein' prevents us from tackling climate change

During the unusually dark and stormy summer months of 1816 following the eruption of Mount Tambora, Mary Shelley wrote “Frankenstein.” The story has continued to shape the public’s distrust of scientists and the scientific method.

09 Mar 2016

Red Planet Roundup: March 2016

With two rovers patrolling the surface of Mars, five spacecraft orbiting above it, and scientists here on Earth studying the Red Planet from afar, new findings are announced often. Here are a few of the latest updates.

08 Mar 2016

Pages