Taxonomy term

november 2010

A Dirty Secret - China's greatest import: Carbon emissions

The U.S. and much of the Western world have a dirty secret.

While we claim to be working diligently to decrease our emissions and switch to cleaner, non-fossil fuel energies, we are actually just exporting emissions to other countries, most notably China. We don’t talk about it. We get on our soapboxes at international meetings and claim to be making great progress to halt ever-increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. And we complain vociferously about developing countries — again, most notably China — not doing the same.

22 Nov 2010

Energy Notes: July 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 Nov 2010

Questions arise over earliest evidence of human tool use

The debate over when our ancestors first used stone tools is not over just yet. In August, researchers had reported finding scratch marks on two 3.4-million-year-old animal bones that they said were made by Australopithecus afarensis — the ancestor made famous by Lucy — scraping meat off the bones with sharp-edged stones. If true, that would push tool use back to 800,000 years earlier than previously thought.

18 Nov 2010

Getting There And Getting Around Switzerland

Jungfrau and other peaks in the Bernese Alps are easily accessible by train or bus from Geneva or Zürich. The Swiss train system is excellent, and generally on time. Buses are reliable as well, run by Swiss Post (post office, bank and bus system, all in one, and all three are available from mountaintops to lakeshores, in all kinds of weather). 

12 Nov 2010

Making Jurassic Tracks in the Jura

Just to the north of the Swiss Alps, the gently sloping, lower-elevation Jura Mountains — namesake of the Jurassic — sprawl across the French-Swiss border and into Germany to the east. Composed of limestone and karst deposits, the low-lying mountains harbor caves and eroded cliffs, mountain chalets, Swiss watch factories — and dinosaur tracks. 

12 Nov 2010

Walking with Dinosaur Bones

Although some of the Aathal Dinosaur Museum’s displays feel as though they were built in someone’s garage, the museum covers a wide array of dino-related topics fairly well. The main lure is actually imported: a collection of Jurassic fossils from the Howe Ranch site in Montana, with huge skeletons of sauropods that loom over visitors. Special exhibits include gorgeous fossil assemblages of several-centimeter-long fish and tiny vertebrates, as well as huge half-meter ammonites that are often found in the Jura Mountains, once home to an ocean during the Mesozoic. Across the street, you can buy your own fossils at the museum’s affiliated mineral shop.  

12 Nov 2010

Travels in Geology: To the top of Europe: Jungfrau, Switzerland

Intrepid visitors can take at least two paths to the top of Europe: an excruciating and dangerous ascent up the north face of the Eiger to the top of the nearly 4-kilometer-tall peak, or a comfortable (if steep) train ride through that mountain that allows less-athletic visitors to reach the neighboring Jungfrau. 

12 Nov 2010

Hazardous Living: Bringing down the house at Pompeii

Heavy rains last week caused the roof of a 2,000-year-old frescoed house at Pompeii to crash in, much to the dismay of the Italian government. The house, thought to have been erected just before Vesuvius buried Pompeii under six meters of ash in A.D. 79, was outside an amphitheatre and had been used by gladiators before going into battle. According to an Associated Press story, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano called the cave-in a "disgrace for Italy," and he demanded an explanation.

11 Nov 2010

Elemental Traces in the Atlantic: The final chapter

Jeremy Jacquot's blog for EARTH, "Elemental Traces in the Atlantic," detailed the scientific journey of the first U.S. GEOTRACES expedition. Read his other blogs here and here, and the original story on GEOTRACES as it appeared in EARTH here. Stay tuned for a wrap-up of the cruise in EARTH early next year.
11 Nov 2010

Earth science rocks at the USA Science & Engineering Festival

A jazz-improvising robot; an Einstein impersonator; Van de Graaff generators that make your hair stand on end: These were just some of the attractions at the inaugural USA Science & Engineering Festival, which included an expo held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 23 and 24, 2010.This celebration of science, where NASA astronauts mingled with awestruck kids and families competed in robotic soccer tournaments, featured 1,500 hands-on activities and attracted 500,000 visitors.

09 Nov 2010