This Week: Ancient water = ancient habitat?
In the News: Accidents: Why Do They Happen?
Synopsis: To view neutrinos from distant explosions, astrophysicists have set up thousands of detectors in pure ice at the South Pole. What are neutrinos, and what do these scientists hope to learning from them? Find the article: Chasing Neutrinos at the South Pole Illustration: The Why Files IceCube sees both cosmic rays and neutrinos from [...]
Synopsis: Native American agriculture was often a sophisticated response to a challenging environment. What were the secrets of permaculture, companion cropping and corn farming? Could these techniques contribute to modern farming? Find the article: Farming: Native American style Courtesy Eve Emshwiller, University of Wisconsin-Madison A woman in Peru’s highlands harvests oca, the white tubers in [...]
Synopsis: Hurricanes, the most powerful and dangerous storms of all, get their energy from the difference in temperature between a warm ocean and a cooler atmosphere. A century ago, hurricanes blew in with almost no warning; now they are tracked from the sky and space, and every year, warnings get a bit more useful. How [...]
Classroom Activity Page: In 1919, 14 years after Einstein published his theory of special relativity, scientists found the first proof for his theory. Then, in 2011, scientists found that Earth’s rotation “drags” spacetime, further proof that Einstein had it right! Applying his penetrating intellect to data gathered by simple instruments, Einstein devised deep physical theories that changed our view of the world. Over the last century, scientists have found that gravity bends light, neutron stars make gravitational waves, and a new state of matter exists near absolute zero: all predicted by Einstein. Although Einstein had neither satellites nor modern equipment, his theories are still on the money. What was his secret?
Classroom Activity Page: Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a high-pressure technique for cracking rocks and allowing natural gas to reach wells. Amid a boom in U.S. natural gas production, industry promises that fracking will bring Americans jobs and low-cost energy for decades. Opponents warn that the drilling-and-fracking process threatens to pollute air, surface water, and most importantly, groundwater. Will these concerns stymie an ongoing boom in natural gas production? Should they?
Classroom Activity Page: Tsunamis are caused by violent disturbances of the sea floor; usually due to an earthquake. The 2004 “Christmas tsunami” offshore of Sumatra was one of the worst natural disasters on record. Fewer people died in Japan in 2011, but the giant waves caused explosions, havoc and public radiation exposures at a six-reactor nuclear complex. What are tsunamis? Are they predictable? What are people doing to reduce the harm?
Classroom Activity Page: Four genomes for ants have just been decoded. The genetic information gives us a better picture of why ants are so successful, and helps us understand why leaf-cutter ants live in a close, mutually beneficial relationship (symbiosis) with fungus. Some argue that leaf-cutters are the most industrious farmers on Earth.
Classroom Activity Page: One species of amoeba can transport and plant bacteria when it runs short of its normal food, bacteria in the soil. A recent study is the first proof that anything smaller than an ant can “farm,” and shows how evolution can produce alternative strategies to meet the challenges of survival.
Classroom Activity Page: The fossil of a plesiosaur, which was a large, dangerous predator of the seas between 200 and 85 million years ago, showed strong evidence of being pregnant. Evidence for pregnancy included the location of the unborn plesiosaur, its size, and the fact that its bones were not fully hardened, or ossified. The find helps flesh out the evolutionary transition between laying eggs and live birth.
Classroom Activity Page: Don’t leave any goodies behind at the crime scene. Collect the bugs. Collect the maggots, and don’t EVER leave a ransom note! Forensic science — it’s better than ever!
Classroom Activity Page: Higher temperatures are only part of the climate change forecast. Are current extreme weather events a sign that warming is already here? What do climate models forecast for weather around the globe? Why is it so hard to predict the climate?
Classroom Activity Page: Volcanoes are big movers and shakers in the business of continually redesigning the Earth’s landscape. With no concern for nearby people or ecosystems, volcanoes release toxic gases, climate-altering ash, lava and rock. How does this work? Are scientists getting better at predicting volcanic eruptions? How do areas recover after destruction?
Classroom Activity Page: Embryonic stem cells can transform themselves into every cell in your body. As the field of stem cell research continues to evolve, the debate between the medical promises and the ethical implications persists. What are patients and researchers to do?
Classroom Activity Page: Tornadoes are capable of serious destruction. What gets them twisting? Where do they get their energy? How can we protect ourselves when a tornado is approaching?
Classroom Activity Page: As disease-infected mosquitoes expand their range, these bugs rise higher on the “menace to human health” list. What makes mosquitoes such perfect agents for disease transfer? Is global warming a factor? How is modern technology being harnessed in the war against skeeters?