Archive for December, 2004

2004: The Year Global Warming Got Respect

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 29, 2004   View Article

In 2004 global warming made the covers of National Geographic and Business Week magazines, was the subject of a blockbuster movie, and was a theme in a Michael Crichton’s best-selling novel State of Fear—all signs that the issue has captured widespread media attention.

“It is hard to imagine that any person who is aware of environmental issues today would not have some appreciation of the global warming issue,” said Jorge Sarmiento, a professor of atmospheric and ocean sciences at Princeton University.

Owl’s Silent Flight May Inspire Quiet Aircraft Tech

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 17, 2004   View Article

A few years ago, the silent brush of a barn owl’s wing sent Trish Nixon reeling from her porch in the still of the night. She never heard the owl, just saw its “ghostly white form float past.”

Nixon is a raptor specialist with The Peregrine Fund in Boise, Idaho. She often speaks about the silent flight of owls, but the porch incident spoke to her louder than words. “The owl lifted from the ground, and I didn’t hear a sound, which is why I totally lost my cool when a wing brushed against me,” she said.

Ants Follow Forks in Their Roads to Find Home

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 15, 2004   View Article

Forget GPS, forget road signs. Foraging Pharaoh’s ants employ a simpler means to find their way home: geometry.

Researchers in England report that a simple rule the ants employ when building their trail networks helps to guide the ants home: Outbound trails always fork at a 60-degree angle, or thereabouts.

Does Extinction Loom for Australia’s Wild Dingoes?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 10, 2004   View Article

Wild populations of Australian dingoes may go extinct within 50 years unless steps are taken to prevent crossbreeding with domestic dogs, scientists and conservationists say.

Like North American gray wolves, dingoes maintain strong social structures. Genetic evidence suggests Australian dingoes descended from a small group of ancient dogs—perhaps a single pregnant female—brought to Australia from Indonesia about 5,000 years ago.

Earth’s Hottest “Bods” May Belong to Worms

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 8, 2004   View Article

Perhaps the most heat-tolerant complex organisms on Earth, Pompeii worms (Alvinella pompejana) thrive along hydrothermal vents found deep in the Pacific Ocean.

Wrapped in fleecelike mantles of bacteria, the worms live in papery tubes, which they burrow into the sides of deep-sea geysers. The hydrothermal vents spew a toxic brew of boiling water, sulfur, and metal compounds.

Sea-Level Rise Gives Clue to Big Chill

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 6, 2004   View Article

Many scientists believe that about 8,200 years ago a glacial lake more than twice the size of the Caspian Sea poured into the North Atlantic and triggered a precipitous drop in temperature just as Earth was exiting the last ice age.

Climate modelers are keenly interested in accurately re-creating the conditions that drove this big chill, known as the 8.2 ka event, so they can predict if and when a similar scenario might occur in the future.

Students Log On as Scientists Explore Deep Ocean

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 6, 2004   View Article

Deep in the ocean where the sun never shines, stinky clams, slippery tubeworms, ghost-white crabs, eel-like fish, and a gaggle of funky microscopic bacteria huddle around cracks in the Earth that spew scalding hot, toxic brews.

The spewing cracks are known as hydrothermal vents and the life that thrives around them fascinates the scientific community.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach