Earth news stories
Formally pale, flat, unlit rocks and minerals turn vibrant orange, pink, and green under blacklight. These are the glowing, fluorescent rocks of the Sterling Hill Mining Museum, a historic zinc mine in Ogdensburg, New Jersey, home to the largest publicly displayed collection of fluorescent rocks in the world
Three months after Apollo 17 returned home in December 1972, then-US President Richard Nixon ordered the distribution of fragments from the rock that astronauts Cernan and Schmitt collected to 135 foreign heads of state, and to all 50 US states and its provinces. Each rock, encased in an acrylic button, was mounted to a plaque with intended recipient’s flag, also flown to the Moon. This article is a painstaking inventory of where all those fragments are located today, complete with photographs in situ.
The Smithsonian has revealed plans to revitalize the National Air and Space Museum over the next seven years. The $900 million USD project will be achieved on a phased schedule so that many of the artifacts remain on view as the construction continues. In addition, the National Air and Space Museum plans to privately raise the $250 million USD it needs for new exhibitions.
Ayahuasca, a plant-based beverage consumed in spiritual ceremonies, is associated with the relief of depressive symptoms in patients who do not respond well to conventional treatments according to a small trial. The results, however, should be taken with caution until more work is done, experts say.
Research has revealed how glaciers disappeared from Scotland at the end of the last Ice Age by collecting dozens of sediment cores from the seabed, before conducting high-resolution X-ray scans to reveal previously unseen clues about the ice sheet which covered the region between 20,000 and 14,000 years ago. The study could also offer a glimpse into the future by providing clues about the effect of melting ice sheets in Antarctica.
A team of researchers has discovered a flaw in the way past ocean temperatures have been estimated up to now. Their findings could mean that the current period of Earth’s climate change is unparalleled over the last 100 million years.
A new geological record of the Yellowstone supervolcano’s last catastrophic eruption is rewriting the story of what happened 630,000 years ago and how it affected Earth’s climate. This eruption formed the vast Yellowstone caldera observed today, the second largest on Earth.
Conifers that were living at the South Pole show an extreme adaptation to forest fires. Until now, the origin of this ability has been unknown from the fossil record. But scientists have now found fossil evidence showing that many tree species from 100 million years ago were not only protected from fire, but they may have required fire to reproduce during one of Earth’s most intense greenhouse periods. This was also a time of extreme fire risk around the globe. Fossil layers from this time show sediments with a large amount of burnt, or charcoalified, plants which testifies to an intensely fiery time. The extreme environment during this period was a major driver of evolutionary change, and this was a key time for the evolution of modern fire-adapted ecosystems.
Design studio Nervous System has released two new varieties of fiendishly difficult jigsaw puzzles focusing on the organic beauty of Earth’s banded agates. In this case, Art copies Nature, and no two puzzles are alike.
Peru’s rainforests are being cut down at a rate of 400,000 acres per year. Mahogany, chestnut, cedar, and rosewood are all logged in Peru. The remoteness of the place makes cutting timber about a practical as harvesting trees on the moon. Officials set out looking for one illegal shipment and found 100.
Along Utah State Route 211, near Canyonlands National Park, a monumental rock peppered with Native American artwork juts out. Now a state historic monument, the 200 square foot Newspaper Rock is one of the largest collections of primitive petroglyphs dating back about 2,000 years. Hundreds of images were created by a variety of indigenous cultures, including Archaic, Anasazi, Fremont, Navajo, and Pueblo were scratched into the rock’s Desert varnish. In the Navajo tongue, this decorated rock is called Tse’ Hone or “rock that tells a story.”
A 6,000 year old partial skull found in what is now Papua, New Guinea, represents one of the earliest examples of human remains from the Pacific Islands region, and now it has additional significance. New research shows the skull may represent the first known evidence of a tsunami victim.
Archaeologists in Bern, Switzerland, have uncovered a large uncut stone near several houses at a Bronze Age archaeological site. Based upon marks in the ground, they think the stone may have been a menhir, or single standing stone, possibly Neolithic, used to signify a meeting place or religious area.
When a wildfire swept through Arizona, all but 35 rare red squirrels disappeared. After California’s wildfires raged, and three coastal hurricanes destroyed habitats in the Southeast US, so did other near-extinct animals whose populations are teetering.
With natural coral reefs dying due to climate change, people are increasingly turning to artificial reefs to help provide safe ecosystems for aquatic life. Structured to promote the growth of transplanted coral, the artificial reef is composed of a sunken WWII fuel barge topped by an elaborate 80-foot metal mesh kraken. Named the Kodiak Queen, the BVI Art Reef is also open to divers, as well as marine scientists and local students. The ship, which is one of five that survived Pearl Harbor, was set to be scrapped before a photographer discovered its historic significance and brought this unique idea to Sir Richard Branson, who lives in the British Virgin Islands. Article contains a video documentary clip.
If you thought drones were just for taking pictures, think again. One UK-based startup company is hoping to kickstart efforts against deforestation by leveraging drone technology. BioCarbon Engineering, whose CEO Lauren Fletcher spent 20 years as a NASA engineer, is pledging to plant one billion trees using industrial technology. Article also contains a short YouTube video.