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Geology Can Be Explosively Rapid

When people hear of "geologic time," they are trained to think of millions of years. Big things can happen in far less time.

How to Liven Up Dead Geology

A new study shows some carbon compounds from Mars formed, not by living organisms, but from geological and chemical processes. What does life have to do with it? Ask some science reporters.

Crater Count Dating Still Unreliable

Worries about the crater count dating method, widely relied upon to infer ages of planetary surfaces, began emerging in 2005. Those worries have not subsided; they have only grown worse. Crater numbers may have nothing to do with age.

Earth's Magnetic Field Less Sustainable than Thought

Geophysicists have found that their favored dynamo theory for Earth's magnetic field is less stable than thought, leaving them wondering how our planet sustained its magnetic field for "geologic time."

Rapid Undersea Geology Observed

An undersea volcano near the Cook Islands was observed to grow and shrink rapidly in a fortnight, rivaling the rapid changes in Vesuvius and Mt. St. Helens.

Earth Myths with a Sprinkling of Data

Some recent articles on dating methods show that tiny bits of data can be used to generate whoppers.

Planetary Radiometric Dates 1/3 Younger

The half-lives of radioactive isotopes may not be as well-known as thought. One decay rate frequently used to date solar system objects had to be adjusted down to 66% of its former assumed value, impacting theories of planet formation.

Planet Theories vs. the Evidence

Planet theorists are putting up a valiant fight against new findings, but in some cases, the evidence seems to be winning.

Paradigm Shift: Impact Didn't Kill Dinosaurs

A new study casts doubt on whether asteroid impacts led to extinctions. It's based on re-interpreting geological evidence used to identify impacts. This finding, if sustained, would undermine the theory that an impact killed off the dinosaurs and a later impact led to the extinction of many large mammals. Even more significant, an overturn of the impact hypothesis would illustrate that scientists are capable of going off on wrong tangents for decades.

Saturn Moons Continue to Shine

Saturn just passed opposition on April 15, making it a good viewing object from Earth this season. Amateur observers with telescopes may be able to make out the moons Titan, Rhea, Dione, Iapetus, Tethys, and Enceladus. They may look like beautiful little gems from Earth, but from the Cassini spacecraft in orbit at Saturn, they are no less than astonishing. Recent observations of these moons add to the astonishment.

Cambrian Explosion: Sedimentary, My Dear Flotsam

"Then something happened." Question: are you reading a science article, or a fictional screenplay? Are you in the Science Department or the Humanities Department? Are you in the lab or the theater? Find out in today's episode of "Explain the Cambrian Explosion."

Dinosaurs Display Death in Watery Grave

Many dinosaur fossils show the animals with neck arched backward. This appearance is so common, it has been dubbed the "dinosaur death pose." Various theories have been invoked to explain it: dessication and final death throes among the most common. A study with chickens shows the arching neck is the automatic response of immersion in water.

OOL for Landlubbers

No part of the universal evolutionary scenario gets more overhauls than the origin of life. Some say it began in the sea, some on the land. Some say it began at the bottom of the sea; others say that is the worst place for life to get going. The latest idea favors freshwater hot springs on land.

More Reasons to Doubt Scientific Pronouncements

It’s unsettling to hear scientists say that long-held beliefs might be wrong, but that’s the nature of science. Scientific “findings” are tentative, not absolute. Some see this as a strength of science, but unless actual progress is demonstrated, that strength is called into question. Recent news casts doubt on various scientific methods and beliefs that had been trusted for a long time.

Lunar Upsets Challenge Paradigms

Forty years after the last moonwalkers came home, new discoveries about the moon are calling into question what scientists know about our celestial partner. But is it legitimate for scientists to invoke mystery forces when a favored theory faces falsifying evidence?
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