• Lunar crust found to be highly fractured

    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.

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  • Oceanic Phytoplankton contribute to ice formation in clouds

    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.

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  • Fighting explosives pollution with plants

    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.

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  • Satellite Study Calculates Earth's Tree Count

    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. 

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  • Fossil of prehistoric sea scorpion discovered in Iowa!

    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.

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  • Looking into a Chameleon's Eye

    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.

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  • Can rain clean the atmosphere?

    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. 

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  • NASA's latest satellite data reveals global sea level rise

    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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  • Cellphone location data shown to help track infectious disease

    Tracking mobile phone data is often associated with privacy issues, but these vast datasets could be the key to understanding how infectious diseases are spread seasonally, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 

    Princeton University and Harvard University researchers used anonymous mobile phone records for more than 15 million people to track the spread of rubella in Kenya and were able to quantitatively show for the first time that mobile phone data can predict seasonal disease patterns. 

    Harnessing mobile phone data in this way could help policymakers guide and evaluate health interventions like the timing of vaccinations and school closings, the researchers said. The researchers' methodology also could apply to a number of seasonally transmitted diseases such as the flu and measles.

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  • Is the California Drought Causing Land to Sink?

    As Californians continue pumping groundwater in response to the historic drought, the California Department of Water Resources today released a new NASA report showing land in the San Joaquin Valley is sinking faster than ever before, nearly 2 inches (5 centimeters) per month in some locations.

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