YELLOWSTONE USED TO be the favored target of media volcano panic, but now it looks like Italy’s Campi Flegrei has taken that crown for itself. A recent study published in Nature Communications is the latest impetus for headlines like “Italian Supervolcano Might Be on the Verge of Exploding” or “European supervolcano...
  • Beautiful X-Ray Movies Reveal Skeletons Like Never Before

    IN THE OLD days, if you wanted to look inside someone’s body, you had to cut them open. Less than ideal. Then came the miraculous X-ray machine, which peered inside the human form, no scalpels required. Nowadays, X-rays can even show your insides moving in unprecedented detail, allowing doctors...
  • NASA Has A Whole Lot Of Science Planned For 2017

    NASA has a whole lot of research planned for 2017, including continued work to transport humans to Mars and efforts to track our home planet’s changing climate, despite an incoming administration that’s proved to be highly antagonistic to science in general. The U.S. space agency released a video Wednesday of next...
  • Fossil footprints tell story of human origins

    Footprints made by early humans millions of years ago have been uncovered in Tanzania close to where similar tracks were found in the 1970s. The impressions were made when some of our distant relatives walked together across wet volcanic ash. Their makers, most likely Australopithecus afarensis, appear to have...
  • No, Gotham, That’s Not How Tightropes Work

    I’LL BE HONEST. I don’t really watch Gotham, but it looks interesting. It chronicles the events in Batman’s city before he became Batman. That’s about all I know. However, when I saw a recent commercial for an upcoming episode, I had to do something. I’m not sure what’s going on here,...
  • Here’s the Real Reason Thanksgiving Makes You Sleepy

    EVERY YEAR, MANY of us gather around a Thanksgiving table and stuff our faces with food before ducking out of awkward conversations with distant relatives by blaming our post-feast food coma on “too much turkey.” It’s true that there is no slumber quite like that of a Thanksgiving nap,...
  • Why Can’t We Predict Earthquakes?

    In late October, Italian courts convicted six scientists and a government official—all members of the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks—of manslaughter for giving “incomplete, imprecise and contradictory” information in the days leading up to an earthquake that struck L’Aquila on April 6, 2009. Tens...
  • Richter magnitude scale and energy equivalents in terms of TNT explosive force

    The following table lists the approximate energy equivalents in terms of TNT explosive force – though note that the earthquake energy is released underground rather than overground. Most energy from an earthquake is not transmitted to and through the surface; instead, it dissipates into the crust and other subsurface...
  • Two-Way Radios Reveal the Mysterious Social Lives of Sharks

    WHEN MOST PEOPLE think about sharks, they worry about the biting or chomping that might occur should they meet one. Marine biologists aren’t so self-centered. They consider deeper mysteries, like: Are sharks social? University of Delaware scientists recently used a radio tracking technology called acoustic tagging to reveal how sharks...
  • Planetary alignments do not cause earthquakes

    Planetary alignments (in astronomy called ‘conjunctions‘) excite the public, and raise inevitable questions in their minds. Astronomers, especially those involved in public outreach programs, are used to answering these questions. However, when believers in various mystical systems use alignments as evidence for their own beliefs, many astronomers are at...
  • Schiaparelli landing on Mars: How and When

    On October 16, Schiaparelli  separated from the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter spacecraft, and headed towards its final destination, the surface of Mars. Schiaparelli is an Entry, Descent, and landing demonstrator Module (EDM). As such, its lifetime on the red planet will be short—just several days. Scientific instruments will contribute...

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