March 21, 2012 |
The smallest planet in the solar system keeps serving up big surprises. Scientists working on the Messenger mission to Mercury have found that the planet has unexpected inner layers and craters with tilted bottoms, and it may have been geologically active far later into its life than previously imagined. In the first of two studies released Wednesday by the journal Science, a team led by MIT geophysicist Maria Zuber scanned the surface of Mercury's northern hemisphere and found the planet's surface to be unusually flat when compared with the terrain of the moon or Mars.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 26, 2012 |
After being brought back from the brink of extinction, sea otters are again in peril, with an unprecedented number of deaths along the California coast in the last year. The U.S. Geological Survey reported that 335 dead, sick or injured otters were found in 2011, a record high. "We're starting to see a perplexing trend suggesting increased shark attacks on sea otters," said Tim Tinker of the USGS' Western Ecological Research Center. Shark bites accounted for 15% of otter deaths in the late 1990s, but that percentage nearly doubled in 2010 and 2011, Tinker said.
January 29, 2012 |
Rough-Hewn Land A Geologic Journey From California to the Rocky Mountains Keith Heyer Meldahl University of California Press: 297 pp., $34.95 Think of the West and what comes to mind are vertiginous peaks, sculpted tablelands and the infinite vistas of basin and range country. In other words, geology. Westerners live in the shadow of mountains that are still rising, on the edge of a continent on the move, over fault systems that can unleash the power of nuclear bombs.
January 6, 2012
More proof that Indonesia is one of the most volcanically active places on the great Pacific Ring of Fire came in October 2010, when 9,560-foot Mt. Merapi, visible from the temple of Borobudur, erupted, killing 343 people and displacing an estimated 90,000. The road leading to the mountain was closed, but visitors can still see evidence of continuing volcanism on the island of Java by making a trip the Dieng Plateau. The area, about 75 miles northwest of the city of Yogyakarta, is the wide caldera of an extinct volcano, now covered by potato fields, villages - each with its own candy-colored mosque - and the island's oldest Hindu temples.
October 9, 2011
I enjoyed the "LAX" story by Chris Erskine (Oct. 2). As a transplant to L.A. (26 years ago) and as someone who travels through that airport, on average, four times a year, I feel it's one of the best in the country. The horseshoe-shaped Los Angeles International Airport is far easier to navigate than, say, Boston's Logan or whatever they call it in Minneapolis. The story was colorful and did a nice job highlighting the people who keep it running. Jay Wilson Lawndale The LAX article says that the airport makes more the $100 million in profit annually.
September 30, 2011 |
A spacecraft sent to the least explored rocky planet in the solar system is providing surprising new information that may rewrite what scientists believe about the growth of planets. Mercury, the tiny planet closest to the sun, has a lopsided magnetic field, much more sulfur than expected and strange "hollows" across its surface that may hint at present-day geologic activity, according to data gleaned by the Messenger spacecraft. The results, published in a package of seven papers in Friday's edition of the journal Science, may force scientists to throw out many ideas about how Mercury formed.