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The Meek Control the Earth

How can such a small thing affect the geology and climate of the whole planet? Don't underestimate the power of small creatures.

Eye on Io

Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io continues to erupt, its heat flowing into science journals.  Planetary scientists are mapping its surface and devising new ideas about what drives its activity.     A paper in Icarus presented a new global geologic map of Io’s surface.1  The most common feature is plains (65.8%), followed by lava flow fields […]

Saturn’s Titan Is Changing

The giant smog-shrouded moon of Saturn, Titan, is changing – both in situ and in the minds of planetary scientists.  Several news stories show not only dynamic processes in play, but revolutions in what scientists think about the moon and its history.  Readers will need to determine which ideas are solidly based on observational evidence. […]

Colorado Plateau Uplift: Solved?

In Nature, a team of geologists from four universities has proposed a new model for how the Colorado Plateau rose up over a mile from its surroundings.1  Based on seismic data, they propose a “mantle drip” mechanism by which parts of the lower crust dropped into the mantle, replaced by upwelling magma that condensed and […]

Are Earthquakes Increasing?

The recent rash of deadly earthquakes has many people asking: is this unusual?  Have the frequency and intensity of earthquakes been increasing in recent years?  Geologists secular and theistic have weighed in on the question.     Two reporters at Live Science (Live Science #1 and Live Science #2) took up the issue and quoted […]

Complexity Appears “Earlier than Thought”

Widely-separate branches of science seem to converge on a common puzzle: complexity goes farther back than scientists expected – evolutionary scientists, that is. Cosmology:  More evidence has come that galaxies formed very early.  A mature galaxy detected through gravitational lensing was announced by the Hubble Telescope team, with an estimated redshift of 6.027.  In the […]

More Youth on Titan

Hopes that Saturn’s giant moon Titan might have volcanoes just dropped.  A new paper in Icarus1 concludes Titan gets its geology from the outside, not the inside.  If confirmed, it implies all the surface features were created by wind, impacts and weather – not by active geology.  The hopeful cryovolcano announced last year (Sotra Facula, […]

Science Discovers the Unexpected and the Obvious

Young’s Law jokes, “All great discoveries are made by mistake.”  Here are some recent examples. Arch-istan:  Think the world’s natural features are all well known?  “Researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society have stumbled upon a geological colossus in a remote corner of Afghanistan: a natural stone arch spanning more than 200 feet across its base,” […]

Scientists: Who Can You Believe?

Scientists form a kind of knowledge priesthood in our modern world, but when long-taught principles get overturned, it raises questions on what scientists really know. Windy geology:  Wind is a more powerful force for eroding mountains than previously thought.  University of Arizona quoted Paul Kapp, an associate professor of geosciences at U of A saying, […]

It’s Raining Methane on Titan’s Dunes

Imagine a world where it rains liquid natural gas.  That world is Titan, the Mercury-sized moon of Saturn.  In Science this week,1 Cassini scientists reported large equatorial clouds over Titan’s vast dune fields, and a darkening of the surface after an apparent cloudburst.  Since only hydrocarbons can be liquid at the temperatures there, and methane […]

Titan’s Methane Lakes Shallow, Dynamic

Strange things are happening on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon: lakes are appearing and disappearing.  This can only mean that the lakes are shallow and the liquid hydrocarbons in them are moving around.     Lakes were discovered a few years ago in the northern regions of the Mercury-size moon.  They consist predominantly of methane (CH4) […]

Bubble Life Could Have Had Armor

A headline posted by Science Daily is self-explanatory: “Clay-Armored Bubbles May Have Formed First Protocells: Minerals Could Have Played a Key Role in the Origins of Life.”  The operative words are may have and could have, which, being mere suggestions, are unfalsifiable.  If it didn’t happen here, it may have or could have happened on […]

Martian Chronicles

Recent news stories about Mars can be categorized into past, present, and future. Mars past:  How Mars formed is a convoluted story.  That is evident from a report on PhysOrg that might suggest Mars modelers are drinking too much to relieve stress: “‘Marstinis’ could help explain why the red planet is so small.”  Mars seems […]

Dinosaur Bones Crack Open Surprises: Original Tissue

Nature is kind.  That’s nice to know; but what was the context of the statement in New Scientist?  “Occasionally, though, nature is kind and fossilisation preserves details of an animal’s soft tissue.”  But has nature been kind for tens of millions of years?  In an article called “Soft-centred fossils reveal dinosaurs’ true colours,” Jeff Hecht […]

Long Life in Death Valley Claimed

“34,000-Year-Old Organisms Found Buried Alive!” blares a headline at Live Science.  Reporter Andrea Mustain admitted “It’s a tale that has all the trappings of a cult 1960s sci-if movie,” but assures us this one is scientific.     Brian Schubert (U of Hawaii) dug up salt crystals in the floor of Death Valley and found […]
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