Taxonomy term

videocast

Designing Snowflakes

It's easy to forget that powerful snowstorms are made of tiny, delicate ice crystals we call snowflakes. Some snowflakes take a familiar six-sided form. Others are more fantastic. Either way, snowflakes can astound with their intricate beauty.

05 Mar 2010

Musical magnetic reversals

Although Earth’s magnetic field currently points toward the North Pole, the planet’s magnetic dipole flips direction every few hundred thousand years or so. Engebretson tracked the last 85 million years of these magnetic reversals, with higher pitches representing shorter polarities (a period of time when the direction of the magnetic field stays the same), and lower pitches longer ones.

22 Sep 2009

Putting Earth's history to sound

Geophysicist Dave Engebretson of Western Washington University in Bellingham has struggled with his eyesight since birth. But when his vision took a serious downturn in 1996 — today he has difficulty recognizing faces up close — Engebretson grasped for the world of sound. He has made a considerable hobby out of audifying scientific data — taking numbers from datasets and setting them to sound frequencies to create seconds-long clips at his home studio.

21 Sep 2009

Rebuilding Afghanistan

Ravaged by war, drought and natural hazards such as earthquakes and landslides, Afghanistan’s people face many challenges. But the country also has untapped resources — great natural beauty , deep supplies of groundwater and a vast mineral wealth, including coal, gems like emeralds and metals like copper and iron.

02 Jul 2009

Wal-Mart to use wind energy

Wal-Mart’s reputation for cheap prices precedes it, but recently the retailer showed its greener side when it announced plans to supply 15 percent of its total energy load with wind power.

The energy will come from Texas wind farms constructed by Duke Energy, which will go online this spring, a Wal-Mart press release said.

That avoids releasing more than 139,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year — the equivalent of taking about 25,000 cars off the road, Wal-Mart said.

25 Nov 2008

Granite countertops: NOT silent killers

Nothing says class like a thick slab of polished granite. The stone is so durable. So chic. So modern. So...radioactive?

On Sept. 2, NBC's Today Show cautioned homeowners - especially pregnant women or families with small children - to think twice before installing granite countertops. Granite emits not only radiation, but also radioactive radon gas, explained Today Show correspondent Natalie Morales.

02 Oct 2008

Trial by Fire

What makes a fire burn? In addition to fuel (such as wood or paper) and heat, fires need oxygen. If there isn’t enough oxygen in the atmosphere, combustion simply won’t happen.

That was as true hundreds of millions of years ago as it is today. So wildfires, scientists say, can provide a unique way to estimate how much oxygen was in Earth’s atmosphere throughout its history.

04 Sep 2008