If you think back to elementary school, you probably remember learning about the states of matter—solids, liquids, and gases. To get from one state to the next, you need to add or remove heat. Cool down water to make ice. Heat it up to make steam. But nature has a funny way of taking the apparently simple—in this case, the states of matter—and doing profoundly weird stuff. Full Article »
Michael GreshkoScope Correspondent
posted March 12, 2015 at 9:56 am
posted January 5, 2015 at 4:01 pm
At 4:20 AM on September 3, 1925, a colossal airship of aluminum, silk and helium—over two football fields long—floated over the quiet town of Caldwell, Ohio. Yet from his perch a third of a mile up, Lieutenant Commander Zachary Lansdowne was on edge. He’d been roused from sleep by his crew; the weather had gotten worse, sandwiching the dirigible between a nasty headwind from the south and brewing storms to the north. But he decided to stick to the plan, keeping her on a west-southwest line. There wasn’t any immediate threat, and besides, people all over the Midwest had anticipated the USS Shenandoah’s arrival for months. Changing course would disappoint the admiring crowds awaiting them. Full Article »
posted December 7, 2014 at 8:53 pm
Mussels, pounded by the oceans’ waves, fasten themselves to rocks as a matter of survival. Bacteria cast protein nets to hold onto surfaces for dear life. Now MIT researchers have combined the two in a clever new way, producing the best-ever underwater glue inspired by Mother Nature—and a potential replacement for today’s surgical stitches.
The new study, published in Nature Nanotechnology on September 21, describes glue made of super-sticky, self-assembling networks of protein fiber. Led by Chao Zhong—a physical science professor at ShanghaiTech University and former MIT post-doc—the study addresses an enormous need: man’s lack of effective underwater adhesives.
posted November 24, 2014 at 9:48 am
Just how old is the Old Dominion?
The Clovis people, who arrived in the Americas about 11,500 years ago, shared a distinctive tool-making method, scattering troves of similarly shaped spear points across the Americas. After years of finding Clovis point after Clovis point—and not much else from earlier—a consensus emerged among anthropologists: that these Clovis tips marked the first arrival of humans in the Americas. “The whole pattern paradigmatically was to verify Clovis,” says Tom Dillehay, a Vanderbilt University anthropologist, up until the 1970s, when a spate of new sites—led by Monte Verde, a 14,800-year-old site in Chile excavated by Dillehay—upsetting the anthropological apple cart. The Clovis points represented a massive wave of human migration into the Americas, to be sure, but others, a diffuse set of groups dubbed the “pre-Clovis” peoples, had beaten them to the punch. Full Article »
posted October 18, 2014 at 4:12 pm
You may have heard of New York City’s MoMA, an icon of modernity synonymous with art and culture’s bleeding edge. But there’s another MoMA you should know about: a small-town, redbrick museum in southwestern Virginia that lays claim to 15,000 years of North American history by virtue of that classic of tableside condiments: salt.
Located in Saltville, Virginia, a town of 2,000 tucked away in southwestern Virginia’s Appalachians, the Museum of the Middle Appalachians (MoMA) is a many-layered paean to good ol’ sodium chloride, which exists in mind-boggling concentrations underneath the local valley. The story of that salt—and the tiny town that mined it—provides the museum with “a staggering story from the Ice Age to the Space Age,” says Harry Haynes, the museum’s longtime manager, a story that’s forced several expansions over the last 15 years and a recent overhaul of the exhibit spaces.
posted October 17, 2014 at 9:51 am
By tracking galaxies like water drops in a river system, an international team of astronomers has mapped and named the enormous network of galaxies, in which the Milky Way resides. The structure—100 times more massive than previously believed—has been christened Laniakea, Hawaiian for “immeasurable heaven.” Full Article »
posted September 27, 2014 at 12:20 pm
Once you go down 3,000 feet, the ocean becomes pitch black, a harsh environment for only the toughest marine creatures. At the end of the Cretaceous period, though, the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs tried to wreak havoc at this depth near modern-day Haiti with unconventional weapons: land grasses and trees.
According to a new article in the journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, evidence of land plants decaying on the ocean floor is present in sediments formed just after the asteroid impact that killed the dinosaurs some 65.5 million years ago. As blooming bacterial populations feasted on the woody material, oxygen levels plummeted in the nearby waters, partially contributing to the extinction of 95 percent of marine plankton, one of the oceans’ crucial food sources.