How One Woman's Discovery Shook the Foundations of Geology This story originally appeared in print in the December 2014 issue of mental_floss magazine. Subscribe to our print edition here, and our iPad edition here. By Brooke Jarvis Marie Tharp spent the fall of 1952 hunched over a drafting table, surrounded by charts, graphs, and jars of India ink. Nearby, spread across several additional tables, lay her project—the largest and most detailed map ever produced of a part of the world no one had ever seen. For centuries, scientists had believed that the ocean floor was basically flat and featureless—it was too far beyond reach to know otherwise.
Extinctions More than 90 percent of all organisms that have ever lived on Earth are extinct. As new species evolve to fit ever changing ecological niches, older species fade away. But the rate of extinction is far from constant. At least a handful of times in the last 500 million years, 50 to more than 90 percent of all species on Earth have disappeared in a geological blink of the eye. Though these mass extinctions are deadly events, they open up the planet for new life-forms to emerge.
Jeff Bridges Speaks Truth to Plastic — Plastic Pollution Coalition Jeff knows: plastic is a substance the Earth cannot digest. Worldwide reliance on disposable plastic packaging and utensils is poisoning our bodies, killing wildlife, and overwhelming our planet. Single-use plastic deepens our dependence on fossil fuels, contributing to climate change and further harming our most at-risk communities. The global problem of unnecessary plastics was demonstrated perfectly when a Whole Foods grocer in California was called out for selling pre-peeled oranges in plastic deli containers — and at $6 a pound. “Orangegate” quickly spread on social media when PPC re-posted a photo of the oranges, which reached more than 1 million people on Facebook.
Peak Everything: Eight Things We Are Running Out Of And Why Getty ImagesWhy is everything running out at the same time? We did a series on Planet Green where we looked at why those basic things that we take for granted, like water, food and fuel are getting expensive and scarce, all at once.Peak Corn: Blame Earl Butz. Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford's Secretary of Agriculture brought in the Farm Bill that dramatically increased the amount of corn produced in America. He encouraged farmers to "get big or get out," and to plant crops like corn "from fence row to fence row." Further billions in subsidies to farmers encouraged production, and soon America was awash in cheap grain, and with it cheap meat.
Biologists say half of all species could be extinct by end of century One in five species on Earth now faces extinction, and that will rise to 50% by the end of the century unless urgent action is taken. That is the stark view of the world’s leading biologists, ecologists and economists who will gather on Monday to determine the social and economic changes needed to save the planet’s biosphere. “The living fabric of the world is slipping through our fingers without our showing much sign of caring,” say the organisers of the Biological Extinction conference held at the Vatican this week. Threatened creatures such as the tiger or rhino may make occasional headlines, but little attention is paid to the eradication of most other life forms, they argue. But as the conference will hear, these animals and plants provide us with our food and medicine.
Magnetic stripes and isotopic clocks [This Dynamic Earth, USGS] Oceanographic exploration in the 1950s led to a much better understanding of the ocean floor. Among the new findings was the discovery of zebra stripe-like magnetic patterns for the rocks of the ocean floor. These patterns were unlike any seen for continental rocks. Species rule change considered A government consultation on whether to change the rules governing how contractors deal with protected species when developing sites ends this week. The focus is on the great crested newt, a species classified as endangered under European law. Natural England, a government body in charge of protecting wildlife, is in the process of putting forward new proposals. These would make the current licensing system "more flexible and strategic". It would mean that councils and developers no longer have to move individual great crested newts as long as they protect the biggest colonies and most important habitats.
How big is the “carbon fertilization effect”? Posted on 26 February 2013 by gws A new paper by Hemming et al. presents physical, best case limits on the (opposing) effects of warming and CO2 on the “greening” of the biosphere. Using the Hadley Center’s general circulation model in connection with an interactive plant response, they show that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 in the model under no other limitations increases global terrestrial net primary productivity (NPP - overall plant growth) on average by 57%, spatially dominant in the tropics.
Cloning Siberian lions from Ice Age possible says South Korean scientist - Market Business News Cloning Siberian Lions, also known as Cave Lions, which roamed during the Ice Age, is possible, says South Korean scientist Prof. Hwang Woo-suk, a cloning expert who plans to use DNA from two well-preserved 12,000-year-old cubs which were discovered on the bank of the Uyandina River in the Abyisky district, Siberia. The two cubs, called Dina and Uyan, are the best-preserved specimens of this long-gone species. Oligocene The Oligocene is often considered an important time of transition, a link between the archaic world of the tropical Eocene and the more modern ecosystems of the Miocene. Major changes during the Oligocene included a global expansion of grasslands, and a regression of tropical broad leaf forests to the equatorial belt. The start of the Oligocene is marked by a notable extinction event called the Grande Coupure; it featured the replacement of European fauna with Asian fauna, except for the endemic rodent and marsupial families. By contrast, the Oligocene–Miocene boundary is not set at an easily identified worldwide event but rather at regional boundaries between the warmer late Oligocene and the relatively cooler Miocene. Subdivisions Oligocene faunal stages from youngest to oldest are:
Bat-sound library tracks biodiversity Image copyright UCL/ZSL Scientists have compiled the biggest known library of bat sounds in an effort to identify and conserve rare species. Mexico is home to many of the world's bats, but it also has one of the highest rates of extinction. International researchers recorded more than 4,500 calls from about half of Mexico's 130 bat species. The audio library allows bat calls to be identified automatically, helping to monitor any changes in biodiversity.
What is Science On a Sphere Science On a Sphere® (SOS) is a room sized, global display system that uses computers and video projectors to display planetary data onto a six foot diameter sphere, analogous to a giant animated globe. Researchers at NOAA developed Science On a Sphere® as an educational tool to help illustrate Earth System science to people of all ages. Animated images of atmospheric storms, climate change, and ocean temperature can be shown on the sphere, which is used to explain what are sometimes complex environmental processes, in a way that is simultaneously intuitive and captivating. Science On a Sphere® extends NOAA's educational program goals, which are designed to increase public understanding of the environment. Using NOAA's collective experience and knowledge of the Earth's land, oceans, and atmosphere, NOAA uses Science On a Sphere® as an instrument to enhance informal educational programs in science centers, universities, and museums across the country.