Top Stories

Study reshapes understanding of climate change's impact on early societies
October 17, 2017 02:33 PM - Bess Connolly Martell

A new study linking paleoclimatology — the reconstruction of past global climates — with historical analysis by researchers at Yale and other institutions shows a link between environmental stress and its impact on the economy, political stability, and war-fighting capacity of ancient Egypt.

The team of researchers examined the hydroclimatic and societal impacts in Egypt of a sequence of tropical and high-latitude volcanic eruptions spanning the past 2,500 years, as known from modern ice-core records. The team focused on the Ptolemaic dynasty of ancient Egypt (305-30 B.C.E.) — a state formed in the aftermath of the campaigns of Alexander the Great, and famed for rulers such as Cleopatra — as well as material and cultural achievements including the great Library and Lighthouse of Alexandria.

A New Way to Harness Wasted Methane
October 17, 2017 11:54 AM - Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Methane gas, a vast natural resource, is often disposed of through burning, but new research by scientists at MIT could make it easier to capture this gas for use as fuel or a chemical feedstock.

Crashing Neutron Stars Observed for the First Time
October 17, 2017 11:45 AM - Weizmann Institute of Science

An international research team, including physicists from the Weizmann Institute of Science, has for the first time succeeded in observing a merger of two colliding neutron stars. The merger was simultaneously picked up by three detectors built for this purpose: the two belonging to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or LIGO, in the United States, and the Virgo detector in Italy. The observation may help determine how such heavy elements as uranium, iodine and gold were formed and enhance our understanding of some of the most violent events in the history of the universe.

Volcanic Eruptions Linked to Social Unrest in Ancient Egypt
October 17, 2017 11:39 AM - Future Earth

Around 245 BCE Ptolemy III, ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom in Egypt, made a decision that still puzzles many historians: After pursuing a successful military campaign against the kingdom’s nemesis, the Seleucid Empire, centred mainly in present-day Syria and Iraq, the king suddenly decided to return home. This about-face “changed everything about Near-East history,” says Joseph Manning, a historian at Yale University.

Study Shows How Water Could Have Flowed on 'Cold and Icy' Ancient Mars
October 17, 2017 11:36 AM - Brown University

For scientists trying to understand what ancient Mars might have been like, the red planet sends some mixed signals. Water-carved valleys and lakebeds leave little doubt that water once flowed on the surface. But climate models for early Mars suggest average temperatures around the globe stayed well below freezing.

How Bees Find Their Way Home
October 17, 2017 11:19 AM - Lund University

How can a bee fly straight home in the middle of the night after a complicated route through thick vegetation in search of food? For the first time, researchers have been able to show what happens in the brain of the bee.

Scientists Determine Source of World's Largest Mud Eruption
October 17, 2017 11:15 AM - American Geophysical Union

On May 29, 2006, mud started erupting from several sites on the Indonesian island of Java. Boiling mud, water, rocks and gas poured from newly-created vents in the ground, burying entire towns and compelling many Indonesians to flee. By September 2006, the largest eruption site reached a peak, and enough mud gushed on the surface to fill 72 Olympic-sized swimming pools daily.

New Imaging Approach Maps Whole-Brain Changes from Alzheimer's Disease in Mice
October 17, 2017 11:13 AM - The Optical Society

An estimated 5.5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Although treatments can slow the worsening of symptoms, scientists are still working to better understand the neurodegenerative disease so that curative and preventative medicines can be developed. A new imaging system could help speed new drug development by offering a better way to monitor the brain changes indicative of Alzheimer’s in mouse models of the disease. 

Rivers Carry Plastic Debris Into The Sea
October 17, 2017 11:10 AM - Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ

Every year, millions of tonnes of plastic debris ends up in the sea - a global environmental problem with unforeseeable ecological consequences. The path taken by plastic to reach the sea must be elucidated before it will be possible to reduce the volume of plastic input. To date, there was only little information available on this. It has now been followed up by an interdisciplinary research team who were able to show that plastic debris is primarily carried into the sea by large rivers.

Is It Gonna Blow? Measuring Volcanic Emissions from Space
October 17, 2017 09:44 AM - Michigan Technological University

Carbon dioxide measured by a NASA satellite pinpoints sources of the gas from human and volcanic activities, which may help monitor greenhouse gases responsible for climate change.

Late last month, a stratovolcano in Bali named Mount Agung began to smoke. Little earthquakes trembled beneath the mountain. Officials have since evacuated thousands of people to prevent what happened when Agung erupted in 1963, killing more than 1,000 people.

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