tagged w/ earth science
A 650 million-year-old reef that predates and dwarfs the Great Barrier Reef has been discovered by scientists who believe it may hold ancient fossils that give an insight into the earliest and most primitive forms of life.
The reef was once under water and could be up to 10 million years old. Discovered in the wilds of the Australian Outback, the reef was once under water and existed for five to 10 million years in a tropical period between two ice ages.
Found in the mountains of the northern Flinders Ranges in South Australia by scientists from the University of Melbourne, the reef could also shed light on the history of climate change. Although now many miles from the sea, at the time that the reef was formed the eastern part of Australia from the Flinders to the eastern seaboard was under the ocean.
The scientists from the university's School of Earth Sciences are hopeful that fossils found in within the structure will be some of the oldest ever found. One of the researchers Jonathan Giddings said: "It provides a significant step forward in showing the extent of climate change in Earth's past and the evolution of ancient reef complexes - and it also contains fossils which may be of the earliest known primitive animals," he said.
The researchers said the find was the only known reef complex of this age anywhere in the world, with the closest being reefs around 800 million years old located in Arctic Canada.A 650 million-year-old reef that predates and dwarfs the Great Barrier Reef has been... more
The grassroots initiative Science Debate 2008 has compiled a list of 14 science-related issues they would like our presidential candidates to answer. Science Debate 2008 is comprised of concerned citizens, scientists, engineers, Nobel laureates, and major science organizations. See this link for list of signers: http://www.sciencedebate2008.com/www/index.php?id=7. The grassroots initiative Science Debate 2008 has compiled a list of 14... more
From the report: Scientists at Penn State have developed a new computational method that they say will help them to understand how life began on Earth. The team's method has the potential to trace the evolutionary histories of proteins all the way back to either cells or viruses, thus settling the debate once and for all over which of these life forms came first.
We have just begun to tap the potential power of this method," said Randen Patterson, a Penn State assistant professor of biology and one of the project's leaders. "We believe, if it is possible at all, that it is within our grasp to determine whether viruses evolved from cells or vice-versa."
The new computational method will be described in a paper to be published in a future issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The journal also will post the paper on the early on-line section of its Web site sometime during the week ending 6 September 2008.
Follow link for full article.From the report: Scientists at Penn State have developed a new computational method... more
From the report: Far from Earth, a robot spacecraft has been prodded from deep slumber to make a rare encounter with an asteroid, the intriguing orbital debris that could offer clues into the making of the Solar System.
he pride of the European Space Agency (ESA), the probe Rosetta has been ordered out of hibernation four and a half years into a 10-year trek that will take it into the dark chill of deep space.
Rosetta is due to rendezvous in 2014 with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, sending down a refrigerator-sized lab to examine its crusty surface.
But its 6.5-billion-kilometre (4.06-billion-mile) odyssey will be interrupted on Friday, when the craft will get down to some serious science as it zooms through the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
Some 360 million kilometres (225 million miles) from home, Rosetta will carry out a flip to let its array of cameras and scanners snatch what could be a stunning view of a 10-kilometer (six-mile) -long space rock called (2867) Steins.
It will aim to get unprecedented high-resolution data of Steins' shape, size and spin, and maybe also tease out clues about its density and composition.
These could add useful knowledge about how asteroids -- hypothesised as primordial rubble left from the building of the Solar System -- weather during their aeons in orbit, said Rosetta's mission manager, Gerhard Schwehm.
"It's an E-type [asteroid], which is a silicate asteroid with a dark surface, and has not been looked at before from a spacecraft," he told AFP.
And experts in monitoring space rocks that are a potential threat to Earth will also be looking closely, said Schwehm.
"There's a lot of scientific interest in asteroids as primitive objects, but there's also interest in them as hazards, as Near-Earth Objects," he said.
"It's always useful to see their different composition, shape and size. By looking at them close-up and then comparing them with ground-based data, you can see how your classification and measurement systems perform."
At the closest point, expected at 1858 GMT on Friday, the craft will flash past Steins at a distance of 800 kms (500 miles) and with a speed of 8.6 kms (5.2 miles) per second, or 30,720 kph (19,200 mph).
Rosetta is due to carry out a second asteroid flyby, skimming past a 100-km (62-mile) behemoth called 21 Lutetia in July 2010.
Costing a billion euros (1.45 billion dollars), Rosetta is the most ambitious mission ever undertaken by ESA.
The project was approved in 1993 and launched in 2004 from ESA's base at Kourou, French Guiana.
Since then, the spacecraft has looped twice around the Earth and once around Mars, using planetary gravity as a slingshot to help it build up speed.
A third gravitational "assist" by Earth is due in November 2009.
If all goes well, Rosetta will meet up with Churyumov-Gerasimenko in May 2014 and then send down a lander, known as Philae, that will anchor to the comet's surface and analyse samples in a tiny onboard lab.
Friday's flyby of asteroid Steins coincides by accident with another big date for ESA, when its truck-sized robot freighter, Jules Verne, is scheduled to detach from the orbital International Space Station (ISS) after a five-month maiden mission. From the report: Far from Earth, a robot spacecraft has been prodded from deep slumber... more
From the report: NASA announced Wednesday the new Carl Sagan Postdoctoral Fellowships in Exoplanet Exploration, created to inspire the next generation of explorers seeking to learn more about planets, and possibly life, around other stars.
Planets beyond our solar system, called exoplanets, are being discovered at a staggering pace, with more than 300 currently known. Decades ago, long before any exoplanets had been found, the late Carl Sagan imagined such worlds, and pioneered the scientific pursuit of life that might exist on them. Sagan was an astronomer and a highly successful science communicator.
Follow link for full article.From the report: NASA announced Wednesday the new Carl Sagan Postdoctoral Fellowships... more
From the report: The planet is hotter now than it has been for nearly the past 2,000 years, researchers report.
The new study is led by Michael Mann, a climatologist who helped develop the famous 1998 "hockey stick" graph—a reconstruction of Northern Hemisphere temperatures over the past thousand years showing a sharp uptick beginning around 1900.
In their new work, Mann and colleagues back up the hockey stick graph by citing other temperature indicators in the natural record.
The researchers analyzed coral reef skeletons, cores from glaciers and ice sheets and sea floor sediments, and stalagmites and stalagtites formed in caves—all of which trap chemicals that reveal what the temperatures were across past centuries.
"Ten years ago the estimates for earlier centuries were really primarily reliant on just one sort of information: tree ring measurements," said Mann of Pennsylvania State University.
"To satisfy the critics, we now have enough other sources that we can achieve meaningful reconstructions back a thousand years without tree ring data, and we get more or less the same answer"—that global warming is not mainly due to natural variability.
Measurements of the planet's temperature from reliable thermometers stretches back only about 150 years, and measuring temperatures of earlier centuries is quite a bit harder.
Taking the planet's temperature in, say, A.D. 1000, requires measuring tree rings, cores from ice sheets and glaciers, and other natural records that reveal, indirectly, how warm it was in a given year.
But in these reconstructions, "there was quite a bit of uncertainty," Mann said.
The climate has varied over the centuries, with warmer and cooler stretches, the study affirmed.
And yet, Mann said, "you can go back nearly 2,000 years and the conclusion still holds—the current warmth is anomalous."
"The burst of warming over the past one to two decades takes us out of the envelope of natural variability."
The study will appears today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
Hockey Stick Graph.
The hockey stick graph has become a lightning rod for criticism of the idea that the planet is warming mainly due to human-made greenhouse gases.
Many critics contend that tree rings are unreliable temperature gauges, because temperature is not the only factor that affects the rings.
The controversy led to hearings in the U.S. Congress over the methods Mann and colleagues used in the 1998 study.
However, a 2006 report from the National Research Council—a private, nonprofit scientific institution that advises the U.S. government—supported the hockey stick study while detailing the major uncertainties.
In centuries past, isolated regions have warmed up from time to time, such as during the so-called Medieval Warm Period, when Europe experienced warmer temperatures from about A.D. 900 to 1400.
"But what's unique about modern warming is that essentially the whole globe is warming up in tandem," Mann said.
"The so-called hockey stick … it's alive and well."
Climatologist Gabriele Hegerl of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland is "pleasantly surprised" by the new study.
"Being able to get essentially [the] same result without tree ring data shows that what we are seeing is not something specific to tree rings," Hegerl said, "but a real temperature response." From the report: The planet is hotter now than it has been for nearly the past 2,000... more
Earthquakes are caused by the shifting of tectonic plates on the earth's surface. When these plates shift, the ground can move violently. Earthquakes have changed the terrain of our planet since the beginning of time. Unfortunately, there has been a high human cost to this major force of nature.Earthquakes are caused by the shifting of tectonic plates on the earth's surface.... more
From the report: The explosion near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River on June 30, 1908, flattened some 500,000 acres (2,000 square kilometers) of Siberian forest. Scientists calculated the Tunguska explosion could have been roughly as strong as 10 megatons to 20 megatons of TNT - 1,000 times more powerful than the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima.From the report: The explosion near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River on June 30, 1908,... more
From the report: The evidence comes from a 40,000-year-old human fossil with delicate toe bones indicative of habitual shoe-wearing, experts say.From the report: The evidence comes from a 40,000-year-old human fossil with delicate... more
From the report: Rapid changes in the churning movement of Earth's liquid outer core are weakening the magnetic field in some regions of the planet's surface, a new study says.From the report: Rapid changes in the churning movement of Earth's liquid outer... more
From the report: Scientists have found evidence that plants have been slowly moving into higher elevations to stay within ideal temperature zones.
Each year this "escalator effect" is pushing plants upward by about ten feet (three meters).From the report: Scientists have found evidence that plants have been slowly moving... more
From the report: Eleven species of African frogs sport a Wolverine-like defense mechanism, scientists have announced. When threatened, the amphibians pierce their skin with toe bones, sprouting makeshift claws with which to attack predators.From the report: Eleven species of African frogs sport a Wolverine-like defense... more
The dream of tackling climate change with biofuels has been tarnished by the rush to produce them on land. Not only are there serious environmental costs, including deforestation, water use, production of greenhouse gases, and energy-efficiency limitations, but there are rising concerns about the effects on the world's poor. Already the price of food is being driven up as land is taken away from food production, increasing the cost of food and nutrition for those who can least afford it.
It is curious then that, bar a brief mention in a recent paper on sustainable biofuels by the UK-based Royal Society, the potential for biomass production at sea is largely ignored.
A vast resource
The oceans are the largest active carbon sink on the planet, covering more than 70 per cent of its surface area, and are predicted to grow as sea levels rise. Our seas also receive a larger proportion of the world's sunshine than land does, particularly in the tropical and subtropical belt where land is more scarce. To agriculturalists, the oceans are vast and grossly underused fields well-provided with sunlight and water.
The full potential for sea cultivation (mariculture) has only recently been recognised. The 'blue revolution' of freshwater aquaculture and mariculture is growing exponentially.
Statistics from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization show mariculture is strongest in Asia and the Pacific. While aquaculture production has risen sixty-fold since the early 1950s (to 59.4 million tonnes in 2004) and is worth around US$70 billion, 91.5 per cent of this was produced in Asia and the Pacific.
Similarly, 99.8 per cent of the eight million or so tonnes of seaweed produced each year, with a market of nearly US$6 billion, come from Asia and the Pacific, primarily China, Japan and Korea.
Seaweeds as fuel
Until now, seaweed has been valued mainly as food, but also as fertiliser, animal feed, and recently for a growing phycocolloid industry producing algin, agar and carrageenan. But it could also be a major fuel.
After reading this it looks like a partial solution that could be viable. It frees up land for use to grow food, will not use up scarce water resources, and does not use up carbon resources as other energy sources do.
The dream of tackling climate change with biofuels has been tarnished by the rush to... more
Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the Earth is our Mother? What befalls the Earth befalls all of the Sons of Earth.
This we know: the Earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the Earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. What ever he does to the web he does to himself.
Chief Seattle in a letter to
President Franklin Pierce
Follow link to more Sacred Geometry courtesy of Bennie LeBeau.
from TouchArt.net and OneEarthBlog.blogspot.com
Sacred Geometry Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That... more