EARTH: Down to Earth with Nobel Prize winner Adam Riess

The universe is repulsive, but in a good way. In 2008, while studying bursts of light emitted from exploding stars, newly named Nobel Laureates Adam Riess, Saul Perlmutter and Brian P. Schmidt discovered one of the most mysterious, yet prevalent, components of our universe: dark energy. The three were using the brightness and color from supernovae to determine the speed with which the universe expanded in the past, versus how fast it is expanding now. What they discovered completely transformed how astronomers view the evolution of space. The growth of our universe through time is accelerating. The culprit? Dark energy.

EARTH: Cold Case Files; Forging Forensic Isoscapes

As EARTH explores in Cold Case Files: Forging Forensic Isoscapes," the potential usefulness of isoscapes is wide-ranging and thrilling: By measuring the isotopic ratios in anything from bones to hair to plants to gems, and then comparing those values (perhaps even changing over time, as bones, plants and teeth grow) with an isoscape, it might be possible to track human geographic origins, identify the source of illicit drugs, detect counterfeit food products and follow the migration of wildlife."

EARTH: South Africa's Toxic Legacy: Acid mine drainage threatens water supplies

In the Witwatersrand goldfields, not far from bustling Johannesburg, South Africa, more than a century of mining has left the region littered with mounds of waste and underlain by a deep underground network of abandoned mine shafts, which are gradually filling with water. Today, the mines are producing less and less gold and more and more sulfuric acid.

EARTH: Thinking Outside the Rocks in the Search for Ancient Earthquakes

As EARTH details in its September feature, Thinking Outside the Rocks in the Search for Ancient Earthquakes," modern-day scientists are getting creative in the search for information about past quakes. Read more about how researchers are turning to old newspaper articles and photographs, folklore, petroglyphs, crumpled buildings and toppled monuments - and how learning about past quakes can help seismologists to assess future seismic risk."

EARTH: A day without glory

On a clear night in March, engineers and researchers gathered in Southern California and tuned into NASA TV to watch the launch of Glory, a potential game-changer in the climate change debate. Glory, a satellite a decade in the making, was designed to deliver critical information about small airborne particles called aerosols. The elusive particles account for much of the uncertainty in climate models, and data from the satellite would have helped scientists determine more of the aerosols' key properties than ever before. Instead, just minutes after launch, the rocket carrying Glory into space failed catastrophically and Glory's remains crashed into the southern Pacific Ocean near Antarctica. What happened? In A Day Without Glory" in the September issue, EARTH explores how Glory came to be, what scientists hoped it would show us, and ultimately, how it failed. The loss was heartbreaking."

EARTH: Travels in Geology: Twin Coral Reefs in Western Australia

In Western Australia, visitors can tour two unusually accessible coral reefs. The reefs look similar enough to be fraternal twins, but they are separated in time by 400 million years. Ningaloo is a modern reef where visitors can snorkel amid spectacular reef-building organisms just a few meters from shore. It boasts one of the planet's healthiest reef environments, where 500 species of fish, 600 species of shellfish and more than 250 species of coral thrive. Ningaloo's twin," the now-dry Devonian-aged "Great Barrier Reef," is widely recognized as the world's best example of an ancient barrier reef, with creamy limestone layers providing an unparalleled window into the past."

EARTH: Is There Really a Minerals Crisis?

China sent the high-tech industry and markets reeling last fall when it blocked exports of raw rare earth minerals to Japan, Europe and the U.S. The sudden severing of rare earths supply was a frightening prospect as the minerals are key ingredients in a broad range of high-tech products, from smartphones to wind turbines and hybrid cars. Although the bans have since been lifted, governments around the world saw the ban as a kind of wake-up call and started looking at ways to develop their own mineral resources - for rare earths as well as basic industry metals like copper and zinc.

EARTH: Travels in Geology: Lassen Volcanic National Park

For breathtaking volcanic scenery, few places have the variety found in Lassen Volcanic National Park in the Cascade Range of Northern California. The park boasts five varieties of volcanoes plus a vast volcanic landscape, with devastated areas, bubbling hot springs, boiling mud pots and fumaroles. The park also hosts multiple hiking trails.

EARTH: Endangered Snow: How Climate Change Threatens West Coast Water Supplies

From Seattle to Los Angeles, anywhere from 50 to 80 percent of the water people use comes from mountain snow. Snow falls in the mountains in the winter, where it's stored as snowpack until spring and summer when it flows down the mountains into reservoirs. It's a clean, reliable source of water. But soon, it may become less dependable, thanks to climate change.


Subscribe to RSS - earth