New study finds massive eruptions likely triggered mass extinction
September 16, 2015 09:14 AM - Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office

Around 252 million years ago, life on Earth collapsed in spectacular and unprecedented fashion, as more than 96 percent of marine species and 70 percent of land species disappeared in a geological instant. The so-called end-Permian mass extinction ­— or more commonly, the “Great Dying” — remains the most severe extinction event in Earth’s history.

Why we're wired for laziness
September 10, 2015 02:28 PM - Cell Press via EurekAlert!

Those of you who spend hours at the gym with the aim of burning as many calories as possible may be disappointed to learn that all the while your nervous system is subconsciously working against you. Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on September 10 have found that our nervous systems are remarkably adept in changing the way we move so as to expend the least amount of energy possible. In other words, humans are wired for laziness.

Lunar crust found to be highly fractured
September 10, 2015 01:28 PM - Jennifer Chu | MIT News Office

Scientists believe that about 4 billion years ago, during a period called the Late Heavy Bombardment, the moon took a severe beating, as an army of asteroids pelted its surface, carving out craters and opening deep fissures in its crust. Such sustained impacts increased the moon’s porosity, opening up a network of large seams beneath the lunar surface.

Now scientists at MIT and elsewhere have identified regions on the far side of the moon, called the lunar highlands, that may have been so heavily bombarded — particularly by small asteroids — that the impacts completely shattered the upper crust, leaving these regions essentially as fractured and porous as they could be. The scientists found that further impacts to these highly porous regions may have then had the opposite effect, sealing up cracks and decreasing porosity.

Oceanic Phytoplankton contribute to ice formation in clouds
September 10, 2015 08:49 AM - British Antarctic Survey.

Researchers from the Arctic Research Programme, managed at British Antarctic Survey, have shown for the first time that phytoplankton (plant life) in remote ocean regions can contribute to rare airborne particles that trigger ice formation in clouds.

Results published today in the journal Nature show that the organic waste from life in the oceans, which is ejected into the atmosphere along with sea spray from breaking waves, stimulates cloud droplets to freeze into ice particles. This affects how clouds behave and influence global climate, which is important for improved projections of future climate change.

Fighting explosives pollution with plants
September 3, 2015 03:02 PM - University of York

Biologists at the University of York have taken an important step in making it possible to clean millions of hectares of land contaminated by explosives.

Satellite Study Calculates Earth's Tree Count
September 2, 2015 01:47 PM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

A new satellite study has calculated that there are more than 3 trillion trees on Earth, around 422 trees for every person, although the number is believed to have dropped by 46 percent since the start of human civilisation. The Yale-led international research found the result of the tree count is around seven and a half times more than some previous estimates. 

Fossil of prehistoric sea scorpion discovered in Iowa!
August 31, 2015 10:16 PM - BIOMED CENTRAL via EurekAlert

The fossil of a previously unknown species of 'sea scorpion', measuring over 1.5 meters long, has been discovered in Iowa, USA, and described in the open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology

Dating back 460 million years, it is the oldest known species of eurypterid (sea scorpion) - extinct monster-like predators that swam the seas in ancient times and are related to modern arachnids.

Looking into a Chameleon's Eye
August 31, 2015 08:49 AM - NoCamels Team, NoCamels

Well known among nature’s best tricksters for their ability to change color to fit their background, chameleons have yet another talent up their lizardly sleeves – eyes that swivel around and appear to be looking in two directions at once.

Can rain clean the atmosphere?
August 28, 2015 02:31 PM - MIT News

As a raindrop falls through the atmosphere, it can attract tens to hundreds of tiny aerosol particles to its surface before hitting the ground. The process by which droplets and aerosols attract is coagulation, a natural phenomenon that can act to clear the air of pollutants like soot, sulfates, and organic particles. Atmospheric chemists at MIT have now determined just how effective rain is in cleaning the atmosphere. 

NASA's latest satellite data reveals global sea level rise
August 27, 2015 08:49 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

Global sea levels have risen nearly 3 inches in less than 25 years, with some locations around the world rising more than 9 inches, according to NASA’s latest satellite data. An intensive research effort now underway, aided by NASA observations and analysis, points to an unavoidable rise of several feet in the future.

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