April 6, 2014 |
If you've ever felt the earth shudder beneath your feet during an earthquake, you're no stranger to the effects of Earth's ever-roaming tectonic plates. While scientists have linked the movements of these rigid, puzzle-piece slabs to our planet's most violent events -- quakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions -- they have struggled to explain exactly how they came to exist in the first place. Now, in the journal Nature , two geophysicists have proposed that Earth's outermost layer, or lithosphere, was microscopically weakened and brittled by movement in viscous layers below it billions of years ago. Study authors David Bercovici of Yale University and Yanick Ricard of the Univeristy of Lyon note that Earth is the only planet in the solar system that appears to have tectonic plates that move freely on its surface, propelled by the motion of layers below.
March 21, 2014
Re "Experts warn climate shift threats rising," March 19 I for one am outraged. Scientific consensus is approaching 100% that human civilization is in danger. But our politicians choose to be fooled and intimidated by corporate lobbyists. The fossil fuel industry has spread lies to counter the urgent facts about climate change. It is particularly frustrating when the costs and benefits of transitioning to a renewable future are calculated. According to a recent study, a carbon tax in California, with the revenue returned to the public, would actually grow the state's economy.
July 22, 2011 |
"Another Earth" is quietly and movingly out of this world. Director Mike Cahill has woven sci-fi imaginings and quantum physics theories of parallel universes into a provocative meditation on the prospect of rewriting your life history. It is no simple task to spin such abstract notions into smart (versus cheesy) entertainment, but there is such a strong creative voice stirring in Cahill's first feature that it's easy to forgive the shortcomings. The film stars the ethereal young actress Brit Marling, who co-wrote and co-produced with Cahill, and the rock-solid William Mapother (Ethan on "Lost")
April 1, 2014 |
Tiny microbes on the bottom of the ocean floor may have been responsible for the largest extinction event our planet has ever seen, according to a new study. These microbes of death were so small, that 1 billion of them could fit in a thimble-full of ocean sediment, and yet, they were almost responsible for killing off all the life on our planet, the scientists suggest. The end-Permian extinction was the most catastrophic mass extinction the Earth has ever seen. It started roughly 252 million years ago --long before the dinosaurs-- and it continued for 20,000 years.
September 20, 2013 |
In "The World Without Us," Alan Weisman took readers for a romp through the misty primeval forest in Poland and splashed into gin-clear waters to gaze upon one the most remote and intact coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean. Besides highlighting a few of the world's last remaining pristine places, the bestseller engaged in a thought experiment: If human beings were suddenly wiped off the face of Earth, how fast would nature overgrow cities with vegetation, reclaim the land, and demonstrate its remarkable resilience?
April 12, 2013 |
A geomagnetic storm may be on its way this weekend, and it could be dazzling. Forecasters at NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center say there is a good chance that there will be a geomagnetic storm, or a disturbance in the Earth's magnetic field, this weekend after the solar flare that erupted on the sun Thursday morning. Although Thursday's solar flare was the biggest yet in 2013, it was classified as a mid-level flare. It was still strong enough to cause a brief radio blackout NASA said.
September 24, 2011 |
A defunct NASA satellite, whose doomed descent gained worldwide notoriety, fell back to Earth early Saturday — but exactly when or where the fiery plunge took place could forever be a mystery. "We may never know," said Nicholas Johnson, NASA's chief orbital debris scientist. It probably plunged into the Pacific Ocean, perhaps somewhere between Hawaii and the western coast of North America. There have been no reports of discovered pieces or injuries, further suggesting the debris didn't make it to land, he said.
July 4, 2013 |
The meek shall inherit the Earth, and that may not be a good thing, if the meek are cyanobacteria. It turns out that the ancient microbes lowest on Earth's food chain are sensitive sorts. Familiar strains of these organisms that provide "biological services" essential to complex life are about to lose the competition for a viable niche in a world turned warmer and more carbon-rich, according to two new studies. And the strains poised to dominate in the desert and ocean remain mysterious and largely unstudied.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 31, 1990
In response to Lee Dye's article "Galileo Views Earth With an Alien's Eye" (front page, Dec. 20): In light of all the endless conflicts between men across our planet, Galileo, the spacecraft, seems to have discerned the root of the problem--"it detected no clear sign of intelligent life" on planet Earth! MARILYN E. WHITAKER, Glendale
December 22, 2009
When Giants Walked the Earth A Biography of Led Zeppelin Mick Wall St. Martin's Press: 504 pp., $27.99