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science and society

Late Antique Little Ice Age underpinned unrest and upheaval in Europe and Asia

Effects of climate change on society aren’t just a contemporary concern. A new study has found that a cold snap in the sixth and seventh centuries may have been the catalyst for a period of societal turmoil, marked by famine, plague and political tumult.

06 Jul 2016

Crowdfunding science: A new piece of the research grant puzzle

Scientific research has traditionally been funded by grants from various governmental agencies, along with funding from universities, corporations and private foundations. But money is often given out in large chunks to big research labs, leaving smaller, shorter-term projects in need of funding. Now, crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter — through which a large number of people donate small amounts of cash — are changing the landscape of research grant funding.

27 Jul 2014

Crowdfunding spotlight

A spotlight on some geosciences-related projects that have been funded on Kickstarter.

26 Jul 2014

Moving cars could help gauge rainfall

Accurate and timely rainfall measurements are crucial for the design of drainage systems, dams and other modern infrastructure. But rain gauges are often spread too sparsely to provide the necessary coverage in densely populated regions. In parts of Germany, for example, gauges equipped to make hourly readings are especially scarce — just one per 1,800 square kilometers. To help fill in the gaps, researchers at the Leibniz University of Hannover are developing an idea they call “RainCars” — using moving cars to measure rainfall.

23 Jul 2014

Travels in Geology: Peru's petrified forest: The struggle to study and preserve one of the world's most remarkable fossil sites

Tucked high in the Andes Mountains of northern Peru is a remarkable fossil find: a 39-million-year-old petrified forest preserved in volcanic deposits in nearly pristine condition. Researchers are working to preserve the site.
 

07 Jul 2014

Creationism comes to the county fair

Although better known for “best cow” awards, silly games and deep-fried foods on sticks, county fairs have proved good places for creationists to reach captive audiences. How can scientists counter this county fair push with messages of their own?

30 Jun 2014

Geomedia: Books: Science in fiction

As a science magazine, EARTH usually reviews nonfiction. This month, however, we are bringing you reviews of three recent novels with scientific themes that might make nice additions to your summer reading list. The three novels fall neatly into classic genres — the murder mystery, the high-stakes thriller and the science-infused fantasy — so hopefully there is a little something for everyone. Warning: spoilers follow.
 

17 Jun 2014

Benchmarks: June 16, 1963 & June 18, 1983: Valentina Tereshkova and Sally Ride become first and third women in space

On June 16, 1963, during the height of the Cold War, Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to fly in space. It would be 19 years before another woman would fly in space — Soviet Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982 — and 20 years before the first American woman, Sally Ride, made it into space on June 18, 1983. These pioneers inspired the generations of women astronauts who followed. In the three decades since Ride’s foray into outer space, 57 other women have also taken flight (see sidebar) and, last year, half of NASA’s new class of astronauts were women.

16 Jun 2014

Dueling dinosaurs hit the auction block

In 2006, fossil collector Clayton Phipps (a Montana rancher known as the “Dinosaur Cowboy”) and his crew discovered a rare fossil on private land in Montana’s Hell Creek Formation: the bones of two fully articulated dinosaurs that appeared to have died together, locked in battle. The fossil duo — a small, pony-sized carnivorous tyrannosaurid and a slightly larger herbivorous ceratopsian, both now preserved in plaster — became known as the “Montana Dueling Dinosaurs.” Last November, the fossils were put on the block at Bonhams auction house in New York City — but they did not sell. Had the set fetched the nearly $9 million it was expected to, it would have set a record for a fossil sale. For now, the Dueling Dinosaurs remain locked in an unidentified warehouse somewhere in the United States — along with any scientific information the unique specimens may reveal.

09 Jun 2014

The history, science and poetry of New England's stone walls

The story of New England’s iconic landform — romanticized by Robert Frost and Henry David Thoreau — highlights the intersections of geologic and human history.
 

19 May 2014

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