Taxonomy term

may 2010

Paleo Patrol: Was mankind's first leap in a forest or savanna?

Last October, scientists formally introduced the world to Ardi the Ardipithecus, the well-preserved skeleton of a 4.4-million-year-old hominin found in Ethiopia. Eight months later, scientists have had time to digest the data from all 11 papers that were published in Science last fall regarding Ardi’s biology and ecology, and there is some dissent.

28 May 2010

Where on Earth? - May 2010

Clues for May 2010:
1. This sand is made of the mineral gypsum. The gypsum was first deposited here about 250 million years ago. Ten million years ago, part of a dome containing the gypsum deposit started to collapse, forming a basin. The basin was then filled in with gypsum eroded from the  surrounding edges of the deposit.

Voices: Must we capture and store carbon from coal to meet emission-reduction targets?

Last Wednesday, Sens. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman unveiled a comprehensive energy bill (PDF) called the American Power Act. The central purpose of the proposed legislation (along with a similar bill passed by the House of Representatives in June 2009) is to significantly curb the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions.

18 May 2010

Benchmarks: May 18, 1952: Stonehenge's age solved with Carbon-14

Like sentinels standing guard over a millennia-old secret, the 8-meter-tall stones of Stonehenge rise above the rolling green hills of England’s Salisbury Plain. The origin, date and purpose of the arrangement of the giant standing stones, located about 145 kilometers west of London, have puzzled people for thousands of years. But in 1952, physical chemist Willard Libby, a professor at the University of Chicago in Illinois, finally provided a concrete answer to one of the site’s most enduring questions: when it was built. To do this, Libby used a brand-new geochemical technique that he had been developing based on the radioactive isotope carbon-14. Only a few years later, his work on this groundbreaking technique earned him a Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

18 May 2010

Nuclear Fallout

Willard Libby, who won a Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1960, was a prominent advocate of nuclear weapons testing, and worked on the Manhattan Project to help develop an atomic bomb during World War II. During the late 1950s, chemist Linus Pauling, a peace activist who won Nobel Prizes for both Chemistry and Peace, presented the United Nations with a petition signed by more than 11,000 scientists that called for an end to nuclear weapons testing. In particular, Pauling cited a 1958 speech on carbon-14 by Libby that suggested nuclear tests would produce large amounts of the radioactive isotope. 
 
18 May 2010

Science and soccer: They're both child's play

It’s late in the afternoon, and by now, 9-year-old Claire Dworsky has already answered questions like mine many times over. But, when I approach the crowd of people standing by her poster at the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) annual meeting in San Francisco, Calif., she jumps up from her chair and politely gives me her full attention. I ask her to explain her project, and she launches into her explanation, never turning to look at the poster behind her for backup, or at the adults nearby who are watching her with pride.

13 May 2010

Natural gas production linked to earthquakes in Texas

A saltwater disposal well, a part of the natural gas production process, may have been responsible for triggering a series of minor earthquakes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas in 2008, according to a recent study.

11 May 2010

Paleo Patrol: Neanderthal genome offers clues on what makes us human

Did “Clan of the Cave Bear” get it right after all?

Probably not, but at least one aspect of the ice age saga is true: Modern humans interbred with Neanderthals. In fact, for many of us, as much as 4 percent of our DNA may be Neanderthal DNA. That’s the conclusion of a group of 56 scientists who have just announced today in Science that they’ve completed a draft sequence of the Neanderthal genome.

06 May 2010

Travels in Geology: Patagonia: The ends of the earth

Patagonia, a region encompassing much of the southern halves of Argentina and Chile, may seem more mythical than real. As the author found, the glacial landscape is full of grandiose mountains, crystal blue lakes, wildflowers, fossils and stunning glaciers. The adventure is well worth the trip.
03 May 2010

Venturing into Argentina

We chose to spend most of our time on the Chilean side of Patagonia, although you could just as easily decide to spend your entire trip on the Argentine side. But if you follow an itinerary similar to ours (see main story), it’s still worth a jaunt into Argentina. The town of El Calafate, an inexpensive five-hour bus ride from Puerto Natales, Chile, is a great place to sample wines from the Mendoza region and try the local delicacy, crucified lamb. The sheep is affixed to a steel cross and roasted slowly over a campfire. The resulting image is graphic, but the meat is tender and savory. El Calafate is also the gateway to Glaciers National Park. This park is home to many wondrous sights, but prime among them is the Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina’s top tourist attraction. 
 
03 May 2010

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