Taxonomy term

mary caperton morton

Does the sun trigger autoimmune disease?

For hundreds of years, humans have charted the appearance of sunspots, the changing frequency of which marks highs and lows in the sun’s 11-year solar cycle. Peaks in the solar cycle cause surges in the amount of solar radiation reaching Earth, which can lead to changes in weather and climate, and can disrupt radio signals and electrical grids. Now, researchers have found that the solar cycle may also affect human health, with cases of rheumatoid arthritis and giant cell arteritis seeming to spike in concert with solar fluctuations.
 
01 Nov 2015

Triceratops relative 'Wendi' sported a fantastic frill

The discovery of a 79-million-year-old frilled and horned relative of Triceratops is shedding light on the early evolution of the ceratopsid’s distinctive look. The new specimen, discovered in a quarry in southern Alberta, Canada, and described recently in PLOS ONE, was named Wendiceratops pinhornensis after the famed fossil hunter Wendy Sloboda of the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, who discovered the site in 2010.
 
24 Oct 2015

Santa Ana winds get a fiery boost from the stratosphere

Southern California’s Santa Ana winds have long been implicated in the region’s dangerous and destructive wildfires. Now, a new study in Geophysical Research Letters points the finger at an accomplice: a phenomenon called stratospheric intrusions, which are natural atmospheric events that bring warm, dry air from the upper atmosphere down to the surface. These intrusions may exacerbate fires, as well as the region’s infamously bad air pollution.
 
23 Oct 2015

A Cambrian-like explosion of mammals in the Mid-Jurassic

Dinosaurs dominated the continents during the Mesozoic, and for a long time, paleontologists assumed our mammalian ancestors kept a low-profile in that era, existing only as small, ground-dwelling, nocturnal insect-eaters. But in the last decade, discoveries of an ever-increasing diversity of mammal fossils have forced a rethink: Mesozoic mammals were also gliders, climbers, diggers and swimmers. Now, scientists looking at mammalian rates of evolution during the time of the dinosaurs have found that this diversity peaked in the Mid-Jurassic, leading to new physical characteristics that would remain for millions of years.
 
20 Oct 2015

First fossilized bird of another feather found in Brazil

Delicate bird bones and feathers aren’t easily preserved as fossils, and most known examples of Cretaceous birds and feathers come from a few sites in northeastern China. An exquisitely feathered bird fossil found recently in the Araripe Basin of Brazil is the first to be discovered in South America, putting the ancient southern supercontinent Gondwana on the map of early avian evolutionary history.
 
12 Oct 2015

Toxic Gardens: The long legacy of urban lead

Many urban soils, including those in parks, playgrounds and community gardens, remain contaminated with lead from its historic use in gasoline and house paint. But there are ways to mitigate the risks of this legacy lead.
 
11 Oct 2015

Step one: Soil testing

The first step in planning a community or backyard garden should always be to get the soil tested, getting a read on not only pH and nutrient levels, but possible contaminants like lead and arsenic. “Some cities have public health programs to help residents get their gardens tested for low or no cost, but it’s kind of hit or miss,” says Gabriel Filippelli, a biogeochemist at Indiana University in Indianapolis. Some cities such as Philadelphia have also held one-day “soil kitchen” workshops where people can bring in samples of soil for immediate testing with an X-ray fluorescence instrument. 
 
11 Oct 2015

Source of Red Sea's mysterious cannon earthquakes revealed

For decades, people living along Egypt’s Red Sea coast have reported hearing loud blasts accompanying the small earthquakes that regularly jolt the Abu Dabbab region. And there is evidence the sounds have been occurring for much longer: Abu Dabbab means “the Father of Knock” in Arabic, hinting at a tectonic mystery at least as ancient as the name of the long-inhabited coastal region. Now, scientists are offering a novel explanation for the uniquely noisy seismic events, and their discovery is revealing new information about the underlying structure of the Red Sea region. 
 
08 Oct 2015

Jelly volcano reveals eruption trigger

What makes a volcano erupt? Over the years, scientists have proposed a litany of potential triggers, but there’s always room for one more. With help from dyed water, a laser and a tank of clear jelly, researchers have proposed a new mechanism that might push loaded volcanoes toward eruption.
 
03 Oct 2015

Travels in Geology: Rafting the Pacific Northwest's heavenly Hells Canyon

Few roads and only steep, difficult trails run down into Hells Canyon — the deepest canyon in North America — which forms part of the border between Oregon and Idaho. But the location is popular among boaters, whitewater rafters and fishermen, and a trip down the river reveals some spectacular rocks.

18 Sep 2015

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