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Tricks to Preserve Deep Time

It’s not always easy to prove that things are very, very old.  After all, no one has ever experienced deep time (millions and billions of years).  The key is to maintain a public “feeling” in the oldness of things.  Once that feeling is in place, some pretty major tweaks can be made by the experts […]

Revising Dinosaurs

Reconstructing a lost world from fossils is an inexact science.  The realization that two species of dinosaur were different growth stages of the same species is just one example of the difficulty of drawing conclusions about past ecological conditions.  It raises additional questions about the mental visions we have of the world of dinosaurs.   […]

Breaking Up an Ice Age Is Hard to Do

“Ice Age 3” the movie is out, and the subject of ice ages deserves some attention.  Atmospheric scientists and geologists seem very confident sometimes about things they know about only indirectly, like ice ages.  At other times, though, the rhetoric turns diffident (opposite of confident).  Take this opening paragraph from PhysOrg: Scientists still puzzle over […]

Colorado Plateau Stumps Geologists

Many of the West’s greatest parks and scenic areas lie on the Colorado Plateau, a large basin covering parts of Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado.  Within its rugged acres are the Grand Canyon, Grand Staircase, Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Natural Bridges, Monument Valley, Mesa Verde, Glen Canyon and Lake Powell, […]

Secular Geology Admits to Rapid Canyon Formation by Megafloods

It’s hard to deny catastrophic canyon formation when you have the evidence right in front of you.  Look what happened in Texas a few years ago, as reported by PhysOrg: In the summer of 2002, a week of heavy rains in Central Texas caused Canyon Lake – the reservoir of the Canyon Dam – to […]

Making Model Earths

Modeling how the earth got here can be fun.  One doesn’t have to be right, just creative.  There are certain accepted paradigms to work within, and certain accepted constraints that are taken as a given.  Beyond that, there is a lot of leeway.  This is illustrated by two teams who published in two different journals […]

Mt. St. Helens Recalls Overturned Paradigms

Thirty years ago this day, May 18, 1980, Mt. St. Helens blew up.  The catastrophic eruption not only shocked the area around the mountain, it shocked scientists into a new realization of the power of catastrophist geology.  The excitement of that eruption prompted a surge of young new geologists to enter the profession.  One thing […]

Titan Continues to Surprise Saturn Scientists

Since reaching Saturn in 2004, the Cassini spacecraft has now made 68 flybys of Titan, the large smog-shrouded moon.  Space.com highlighted a recent picture showing the rings appearing to bisect the moon.  What are some of the latest findings of this alien world – the only moon in the solar system with a substantial atmosphere? […]

Venus May Be Hot with Active Volcanoes

We already know Venus is hot from its suffocatingly dense atmosphere, but additional heat could be coming from underground.  Results from the European Space Agency’s Venus Express orbiter suggest that volcanoes have erupted any time between now and 2.5 million years ago, a “geologically recent” time compared to the assumed age of the planet (4.5 […]

The Earth Should Have Frozen

According to stellar evolution theory, the earth should have frozen solid four billion years ago, because the young sun could not have put out the heat it does in its middle age.  Called the “faint young sun paradox,” this problem has puzzled scientists for decades.  A new study has failed to solved the puzzle.   […]

Snakes Alive!  An Evolutionary Tale

Blind snakes that look like worms: they rule the world.  They’re everywhere.  Where did they come from?  “Blindsnakes are not very pretty, are rarely noticed, and are often mistaken for earthworms,” admits Blair Hedges, professor of biology at Penn State University.  “Nonetheless, they tell a very interesting evolutionary story.”  So reported Science Daily.  National Geographic […]

The Copernican Geological Revolution

The Copernican Revolution did not just affect astronomy and physics: it revolutionized geology.  So argued Walter Alvarez in Geology this month.1  Geologists usually talk rocks in their rags, but Alvarez (the one who brought impacts into extinction theories) decided to play historian.  With Henrique Leitao, he announced, “we argue that the Copernican Revolution represented not […]

Search for Intraterrestrial Life Scores Big

Single-celled organisms may be tiny, but what they lack in bulk they make up for in volume and importance.  Scientists have been appreciating more than ever the ubiquitous presence of microbes on our planet and the roles they play to sustain the biosphere.     PhysOrg reported that half of the world’s life may lie […]

Mars Discoveries Change Paradigms

Mars is under assault by an armada of orbiters gathering intell from the planet with photons and radar beams.  What kind of information has been seized recently? Dry rivers:  Remember the networks of river channels that were telltale signs of water?  Remember the hope for life those images generated?  Some of those riverbeds could have […]

Swinging at Saturn’s Moons: Keep Your Eye on the Ball

Cassini flew by Saturn’s moon Rhea March 2 at just 100 km.  Dr. Paul Schenk, one of the planetary scientists, said on his blog Stereo Moons, “it should be axiomatic by now that the closer you look at a planetary object the more surprises you see.”  Keep your eye on the ball.     One […]
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