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april 2009

Running into the brick wall of Creationism again

I had recently moved to a new community and begun a new job. One night I was dining with some potential new friends. Upon learning that I am both a Christian and a passionate student of geology, one of my dinner mates proclaimed, “So, I suppose you believe in evolution, right? Well, I need to let you know that I HATE evolution.” I somehow managed to keep my cool. “And exactly why do you hate evolution?” I queried. “My minister has taught us that it is false Christian teaching,” she retorted. By that time, I could not hold myself back.

31 Mar 2009

Oil barrel politics

As a new president and Congress entered office in January, current events continue to keep energy in the forefront of national concern. Volatile prices, resource depletion, climate change and national security impacts of energy trade have become a part of daily news and policy discussion. Americans will be watching the new policymakers to see how they respond to energy concerns. How they treat energy research and development — particularly the amount of funds dedicated to R&D, and the portion of that R&D that is allocated through earmarks — will be telling.

08 Apr 2009

Mining for iron oxides in coal mine sludge

The billions of tons of coal that miners extracted from Pennsylvania’s ground over the past two centuries have long gone up in smoke, but their legacy lives on in the state’s rivers and waterways. Nasty discharge — often with sky-high metal concentrations — from thousands of abandoned coal mines has been polluting Pennsylvania’s streams and groundwater.

30 Apr 2009

Geoscientists Without Borders: Geologists Lend a Hand

Craig Beasley’s one-year term as president of the Society for Exploration Geophysicists had a challenging start. After about two months in office, a magnitude-9-plus earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra on Dec. 26, 2004, triggering a powerful tsunami that killed more than 225,000 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

SEG members wanted to help, but did not know how to contribute their expertise. “I could encourage members to donate money and time, but how does that distinguish a contribution from SEG from what people would normally do?” Beasley says.

08 May 2009

Iron fertilization foiled by "shrimp"

The argument over whether ocean iron fertilization is a good way to sequester carbon dioxide may be coming to an end. Last month, a group of researchers seeded 300 square kilometers of the southwestern Atlantic Ocean with six metric tons of dissolved iron. Just as researchers hoped, algae bloomed, doubling in biomass within the first two weeks of the fertilization. But then, an unexpected guest showed up: tiny shrimp-like crustaceans that dined on the algae.

01 Apr 2009

Jupiter breaks out in spots

Like any aging planet, Jupiter’s face has undergone a few changes over time. And even as the gas giant’s most famous feature — the colossal storm known as the Great Red Spot — appears to be shrinking, other spots have appeared.

02 Apr 2009

Earthquake rocks central Italy

Updated on April 7:

As of April 7, the death toll from the magnitude-6.3 earthquake that struck central Italy on April 6 has risen to more than 200 people. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi declared a state of emergency on Monday. On Tuesday, he told reporters that rescue efforts would continue for two more days.

06 Apr 2009

Earthquake prediction: Gone and back again

The 1990s and early 2000s were hard times for earthquake prediction research. “For 10 years, there was limited funding in the U.S.,” says Dimitar Ouzounov, a research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and professor at Chapman University in Orange, Calif. That changed in 2004, Ouzounov says, after a magnitude-9-plus quake struck off the coast of Sumatra and set off a tsunami, killing more than 225,000 people in 11 countries.

07 Apr 2009

Coal-to-liquids: Can fuel made from coal replace gasoline?

Amid all the attention to the converging of three energy-related crises — climate change, resource depletion and international extremism funded by the energy trade — a surprising energy choice keeps rearing its head: coal. That especially includes liquid fuels made from coal, which can be a substitute for gasoline, jet fuel and just about any other transportation fuel on which we currently rely.

08 Apr 2009

Storms brewing over volcanoes

Two hundred years ago, a sea captain was sailing in the Azores, a Portuguese archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, when he observed “an immense body of smoke rising from the sea.” As he watched, the smoke, from a volcanic vent offshore of the island of St. Michael’s, began to rotate on the water “like a horizontal wheel,” the captain wrote in his 1811 account of the event. The rotating smoke and ash grew into a dark column and ascended high into the sky, spawning waterspouts and flashes of lightning.

09 Apr 2009

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