In the Great Rift Valley in northern Kenya, researchers have discovered a cluster of footprints that look almost exactly like those you or I might leave on a sandy beach. These prints, however, were left by early hominins more than 1.5 million years ago, making them the oldest known evidence of fully modern bipedalism.
Stars, just like people, have finite life spans. Some die quietly. Others go out in a blaze of glory, as supernovae. These brilliant explosions are sometimes visible from Earth, but most appear as only a faint twinkle.
A two-year-old debate is back in the flesh — literally.
Molecular paleontologist Mary Schweitzer of North Carolina State University in Raleigh and colleagues presented evidence this week in Science that they had successfully recovered and identified collagen, a type of protein, from the femur of an 80-million-year-old hadrosaur, a duck-billed dinosaur.
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.
Last December, in the enormous, fluorescent-lit hall of San Francisco’s Moscone Center South, thousands of geophysicists and geologists milled through dozens of aisles of poster displays, chatting enthusiastically about the latest in geophysical research at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Within each aisle, people clustered around the more intriguing displays, trying to hear more about a given researcher’s work. At the center of one such group, commanding his own audience, was the youngest scientist ever to present research at an AGU conference.
Last year’s hurricane season was not kind to Haiti. First, tropical storms Fay, Gustav and Hanna hit the Caribbean nation; then Hurricane Ike pummeled the island, flooding much of the country, wrecking roads and bridges and leaving Haitians desperate for food, water and other basics. To help the battered country, the United States sent hundreds of metric tons of supplies and hygiene kits aboard the aircraft carrier USS Kearsarge. The Navy deployed helicopters, landing craft and personnel to help local residents. And they brought in thousands of gallons of freshwater.
Americans throw away a couple million tons of unwanted computers, cell phones, TVs and other electronics every year. Researchers in China, a major destination of the waste, say they know how to get rid of this mounting e-waste: Recycle the nonmetal components of the printed circuit boards found in many electronics for use as an additive to make asphalt more durable. Pavement engineers say it’s not such a bad idea — but unless several potential roadblocks are cleared, don’t expect to drive down a highway paved with old computer parts anytime soon.