“Hot Ice” Planet Discovered, Covered in “Solid Water,” Experts Say

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 17, 2007   View Article

A Neptune-size planet likely covered in hot—but solid—water has been discovered in a snug orbit around a nearby star, a team of astronomers announced today.

While this planet is not fit for life, the finding suggests astronomers may soon detect habitable planets in similar alien solar systems, said Michaël Gillon of the University of Liège in Belgium.

Insects Key Indicators of Water Health, Experts Say

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: February 1, 2007   View Article

Sometimes it’s good to have bugs in your water.

An increase in the diversity and size of water insects is heralding an improvement in the environmental quality of streams that flow into the Carson River in northern California and Nevada.

Watch Your Step: Study Shows Life in Tidal Areas at Risk

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 25, 2005   View Article

A clamber along a rocky tidepool may seem like a harmless way to while away the hours during these dog days of summer. But some marine scientists urge caution on behalf of the organisms that live there.

The organisms that live in the intertidal region—the zone where the ocean meets the land—appear a hardy lot at first glance: They’re pounded by the surf, live in and out of water, endure extreme temperature changes, and are blasted by sunlight.

Beaver Dams Inspire Fish-Friendly Hydropower Design

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 15, 2005   View Article

Hydropower—electricity produced by flowing water—is an efficient form of renewable energy, but it often comes at a high cost to the environment and society. Now a technology inspired by beaver dams and airplanes may help eliminate these drawbacks.

Engineers with NatEl America, a Grapevine, Texas-based renewable energy company, have developed a new way to generate electricity using the dimensions of a beaver dam and the physics of fixed-wing aircraft.

Mars Colonies Coming Soon?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 15, 2005   View Article

As rovers and orbiters continue to scour Mars for more signs of water and the potential for extraterrestrial life, space scientists and enthusiasts are champing at the bit to put humans on the red planet.

In recent months, spacecraft roaming and orbiting Earth’s closest neighbor have identified regions where large supplies of water may be accessible from the surface. They have also located areas where gases such as methane could support oxygen-producing bacterial life.

How “Jesus Lizards” Walk on Water

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 16, 2004   View Article

Interpretation of Jesus Christ’s reported ability to walk on water is left to biblical scholars. But scientists have figured out how so-called Jesus lizards are able to scurry across the surfaces of ponds and streams.

The findings improve understanding of the physics involved in walking in general and may have practical use in the development of walking robots.

Support for Saving Peatlands Is Squishy but Solidifying

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 5, 2004   View Article

Piles of un-decomposed, waterlogged plant material known as peatlands cover about 3 percent of Earth’s land and freshwater surface area. But scientists and conservationists are just beginning to fully understand the role of peatlands in the environment.

“Peatlands are relatively little studied compared to other ecosystems, partly because of the difficulty of access due to their high water table and often soft surface,” said Faizal Parish, director of the Malaysia-based Global Environment Centre.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach