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Rescuing data from the dark

Along with the proliferation of techniques and technologies to deal with Big Data — the large volumes of data coming in from global sensors and satellites that can require supercomputers to crunch — geoscientists are also addressing the collection and integration of what could be termed small (or mainstream) data.

14 Aug 2013

Spotlight on UCORE projects

The National Science Foundation-funded Undergraduate Catalytic Outreach and Research Experience (UCORE) program ran from 2007 to 2012 and involved 132 students from six different community colleges in Oregon. During the five years of the UCORE program, groups of three to six community college students from each campus spent 10 weeks in the summer on the University of Oregon campus, working on projects alongside graduate students and faculty in chemistry, geological sciences and physics research groups. Listed below are some of the projects in which the students were involved.

31 Mar 2013

Disaster debris hotlines and fast grants

Two years after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan, debris set adrift by the destructive waves continues to wash up on beaches along the west coast of the United States and Canada.

Beachcombers can report tsunami-related or hazardous debris by emailing DisasterDebris@noaa.gov or calling 1-855-WACOAST in Washington or 211 in Oregon. As of Dec. 13, NOAA had received 1,432 reports of debris, 17 of which were confirmed as tsunami-related.

01 Jan 2013

Florida swamps - ancient sinkholes

In Florida, the limestone bedrock is protected by a surface layer of sand and clay. Thus, when a sinkhole forms naturally, over centuries, sand and clay fill the void, creating a muddy depression. These depressions tend to evolve into swamps.

01 Mar 2012

Deadly tornadoes

Even with improved warning technology, tornadoes remain a deadly threat. Below is a list of some of the deadliest storms throughout the 20th century.
 
02 Mar 2011

The first dinner in a beast

Surprisingly, there is precedence for eating dinner in the body of a massive beast. In February 1802, Rembrandt Peale, an early American painter best known for his portraits of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, invited 12 friends and family to dine under the rib cage of a mammoth, which had recently been erected in his father’s museum in Philadelphia.
 
03 Dec 2010

Gain some, lose some

Scientists now know that Earth’s rotation is very slowly decelerating, such that the length of the rotational day is about two milliseconds longer than the 86,400 seconds it was nearly two centuries ago. But that doesn’t mean Earth’s rotation is always slowing down. The tidal force of the moon acts to slow Earth’s rotation by taking away some of the planet’s energy. But other factors, such as the expansion and contraction of the atmosphere with the seasons, the churning of material within Earth’s core, and the rebounding of Earth’s surface as the weight of glaciers is removed, can sometimes act to speed up Earth’s rotation by redistributing its mass, thereby altering Earth’s moment of inertia and thus its speed of rotation.

30 Jun 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

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

Getting there and getting around Patagonia

There are many ways to get to Patagonia. I would have preferred to get there by following Charles Darwin’s route, aboard a replica of H.M.S. Beagle (especially considering that last year was the 200th anniversary of his birth). Sadly, the modern school calendar dictated that I move more quickly: Two weeks was all I had to work with.
 
03 May 2010

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