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Earth Happenings Archive
September, 1998
A Key Step In The Search For Life's Origins (Science Daily 9/24)
"New high-pressure research by scientists at the Carnegie Institution's Geophysical Laboratory, announced in this week's Nature magazine, reveals that unexpected chemical reactions occur in deep hydrothermal vents of the sea reactions that may have played a key role in the origin of life."
What Should We Do With the Moon? (Discover Magazine Spetember 1998)
"Twenty-six years after man last set foot on the moon, a grassroots movement is now under way to go back. But that raises a tricky question: Do we study it, strip-mine it, or turn it into a theme park?"
Deforestation blamed in part for Mexico flooding (CNN/AP 9/21)
"A government minister says that deforestation and the spread of illegal housing worsened the devastation wrought by recent flooding in Mexico's Chiapas state."
Sea floor observatory set up at volcano (CNN/ENN 9/21)
"The NeMO 1998 expedition left aboard the NOAA research ship Ronald H. Brown Aug. 24 and returned Sept. 20. The ship was loaded with a multitude of sampling, sensing and photographic instruments, some of which are being left behind at the summit of the Axial Volcano, 240 miles off the coast of Oregon, to continue their work for the next year."
Computer Simulation Of Matches And Trees Can Be Used To Predict And Prevent Large Forest Fires (Science Daily 9/18)
"As small earthquakes can be omens of larger ones and landslides can be precursors to avalanches, Cornell University geologists have shown in a computer simulation that forest fires display the same natural behavior. Their findings, they believe, could be used to predict where large forest fires can occur -- and how to prevent them."
Pulse Of The Planet -- SeaWiFS Completes A Year Of Remarkable Earth Observations (Science Daily 9/18)
"For the first time in history, NASA is releasing dramatic images documenting the Earth's changing biology, both on land and in the oceans, as observed from space for one continuous year."
Conference on climate change ends with no progress (CNN/Reuters 9/18)
"Delegates from more than 20 major developed and developing countries ended a two-day meeting on Friday with no fresh agreements on ways to combat global warming."
Fossilized shooting stars (Nature Science Updates 9/17)
"By diligent searching, researchers have found micrometeorites in deep-sea sediments, in the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica, and in sedimentary rocks."
Why Is Africa So High? (Science Daily 9/17)
"Hot upwelling orginating from the core-mantle boundary causes the mantle above it to flow. This flow, they maintain, extends all the way to the base of the African plate, where it elevates the southern part of the continent. 'Imagine a bubble in a vat of maple syrup,' says Silver. 'It causes the syrup to flow as it rises, and also raises the surface.'"
Cosmic Debris Formed Jupiter Rings (Washington Post/AP 9/16)
Galileo finds Jupiter's rings formed by dust blasted off small moons (JPL Press Release 9/15)
"The faint rings around Jupiter come from clouds of dust that are the result of cosmic debris battering Jupiter's small moons, according to data from the Galileo spacecraft."
Survivors from Mars (New Scientist 9/12)
"Battered by meteorites, the early Earth was no place for life to take hold. But our most primitive ancestors could have found refuge on the planet next door, argues Paul Davies"
Stuff of life (New Scientist 9/12)
"When astronomers re-created outer space here on Earth they were amazed to find some of the key ingredients of life, and even cell-like bubbles."
Mars' Moon Has Hip-Deep Dust (Washington Post/AP 9/12)
"Phobos, the larger of Mars' two small moons, is covered in hip-deep dust formed by meteoroid impacts over millions of years, according to images captured by the orbiting Mars Global Surveyor."
New Evidence From Dinosaur Footsteps Show Massive Herds Once Roamed Northern Alaska (Science Daily 9/12)
"The presence of the newly discovered tracks, trackways and trampled surfaces are at least 25-million years older than the well-known dinosaur bone beds farther to the north. This discovery provides the first direct evidence that dinosaurs were numerous and diverse in the Arctic 90-110 million years ago."
14,000 Years Of Atmospheric Lead Emissions Recorded In Swiss Peat Bog (Science Daily 9/12)
"Researchers reconstructed a record of the past showing that human activity has caused lead levels to soar above what they once were naturally, and that this activity began as far back as 6,000 years ago."
Engineers Designing Smart Buildings To React To Shakes And Quakes (Science Daily 9/11)
"Earthquakes, windstorms, traffic and explosives cause motion that can be catastrophic to buildings or bridges. National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded engineers Billie Spencer Jr. and Michael Sain at the University of Notre Dame are designing systems that counteract damaging structural responses to such events. These "smart buildings" adjust to changing conditions without requiring massive amounts of energy to do so."
Clues About Volcanic Hazards And Energy Potential Of Deep Magma (Science Daily 9/10)
"Resumed drilling at the Long Valley Exploratory Well near Mammoth Lakes, Calif., may provide new clues about local volcanic hazards and the role of underground magma in the energy future of California."
Researchers Find New Microbes At Work On Mine Tailings In Lake Coeur D'alene (Science Daily 9/9)
"Certain naturally-occurring bacteria living in the floor of Lake Coeur d'Alene may be helping to prevent the release of contaminants such as lead and zinc into lake waters, according to a University of Idaho scientist."
Ancient 'Volcanic Winter' Tied To Rapid Genetic Divergence In Humans (Science Daily 9/8)
"A new hypothesis about recent human evolution suggests that a horrific "volcanic winter" 71,000 years ago, followed by the coldest 1,000 years of the last Ice Age, brought widespread famine and death to modern human populations around the world. The abrupt "bottleneck," or decrease, in our ancestors' populations, in turn, brought about the rapid "differentiation" - or genetic divergence - of the surviving populations."
How many Martians? (Nature Science Updates 9/10)
"Researchers calculate that amount of biomass that Mars could have produced over the past four billion years would have been produced on the early Earth in 100 million years or less. "
Welcome DNA, a new sediment tracer (Nature Science Updates 9/10)
"DNA, the genetic material, has an unusual fondness for binding stably to particles of the clay mineral, montmorillonite. Some have speculated that this link might have helped get life started, by giving the first genes something to hang onto in the primordial soup, so helping the first biochemical reactions to get going."
Planetary companion to red dwarf (Nature Science Updates 9/10)
"The hunt for planetary companions around stars other than our own Sun enters a new phase with a report of a planet around a small, dim red dwarf star just 15 light years from the Sun."
Hurricanes and global warming (Nature Science Updates 9/10)
"If, as some experts predict, hurricanes become more frequent as a result of global warming, they will themselves contribute to transferring more CO2 into the atmosphere from the oceans."
Scientists Hope To Learn How Long Trees Can Absorb High Levels Of CO2 (Science Daily 9/7)
"The growth rate of Loblolly pine trees in a North Carolina forest increased by 12 percent when the trees were exposed for one growing season to carbon dioxide levels projected for 50 years in the future, according to initial data gathered by scientists from four institutions."
Lunar prospector provides wealth of data on moon (CNN/Reuters 9/3)
New Evidence of Water on the Moon (Washington Post/AP)
"Prospector reported back the presence of hydrogen, which is often bundled into water molecules, on both the north and south poles of the moon, according to William Feldman, a laboratory fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory."
Small is beautiful on Mars (BBC Online 9/1)
"Recently the orbiting Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft has shunned these wonders [large volcanoes] in favour of a small volcano that you could walk across in 20 minutes. It is a small 'shield' volcano and MGS has obtained the first close-up images of this type of structure. Planetary geologists believe that it may hold important clues about Mars's more active geological past."
Hurricanes May Warm the Earth (ABC News 9/1)
"Scientists tracking the global warming gas carbon dioxide (CO2) should look at what hurricanes do to the surface of the sea. The ocean soaks up about a third of the CO2 coming from fossil fuel burning and forest clearance. But new research shows that hurricanes pump some of that CO2 back into the air„and could hold important implications for global warming."
A Billion Years of Stability (Discover Magazine 9/98)
" In the evolution of life, cooperation among organisms is probably at least as important as competition. The first complex single-celled creatures-eukaryotes-probably appeared when a host bacterium engulfed a smaller bacterium, perhaps one that could use photosynthesis to turn sunlight into energy. But to make such a symbiotic relationship permanent-to make one new organism out of two-is no easy task."

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