Originally published on Wed September 4, 2013 1:49 pm
By Marcelo Gleiser
The Milky Way fills the night sky over Chile's Cerro Paranal, home to the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT).
Credit Y.Beletsky / ESO
Would you like to see yourself in the future? If you found a magic mirror capable of showing your image one, two or three decades away, would you look? I imagine opinions would be split on the wisdom of gazing into this special reflector.
"It's a jungle if you're an eagle right now on the Chesapeake Bay," says Bryan Watts, a conservation biologist at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. "You have to watch your back."
Americans have long imagined their national symbol as a solitary, noble bird soaring on majestic wings. The birds are indeed gorgeous and still soar, but the notion that they are loners is outdated, Watts and other conservationists are finding.
Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 1:25 pm
A civet cat eats red coffee cherries at a farm in Bondowoso, Indonesia. Civets are actually more closely related to meerkats and mongooses than to cats.
Credit Ulet Ifansasti / Getty Images
From gross to gourmet. That pretty much sums up civet poop coffee.
The beans are literally harvested from the feces of the tree-dwelling civet cat in Indonesia. The idea is that a trip through the animal's digestive tract partially ferments the beans and imparts a much-sought-after flavor to the coffee.
A computer image generated by NASA shows objects orbiting Earth, including those in geosynchronous orbit at a high altitude. The objects are not to scale.
The Space Fence is down. That's the message we get from the SatWatch site, following up on our report last month that the U.S. Air Force was poised to shut down the radar system that tracks thousands of objects orbiting Earth. It had been in operation since 1961.
Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 4:03 pm
By Adam Frank
There's a symphony going on in there. Pay close enough attention in Adam Frank's class and you'll be able to read the notes yourself.
Credit SOHO/ESA / NASA
Today I'll walk into a classroom of advanced undergraduate physics students and begin teaching them about the stars. It will take 13 weeks, beginning with the basic principles of astrophysics and ending with the structure of the Milky Way. I will chart that path, as I do every year, by kickin' it old school with chalk on a blackboard. And today, as I do every year, I'll wonder if I'm doing the right thing.
In a world of PowerPoint, YouTube, automated homework and massive open online courses, what the hell am I doing with a stick of chalk in my hand?
Glaciers in the Alps of Europe pose a scientific mystery. They started melting rapidly back in the 1860s. In a span of about 50 years, some of the biggest glaciers had retreated more than half a mile.
But nobody could explain the glacier's rapid decline. Now, a new study from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory uncovers a possible clue to why the glaciers melted before temperatures started rising: Soot from the Industrial Revolution could have heated up the ice.
Dave Vesely is busy training his dog, Sharpy. She isn't learning to sit or fetch or even herd sheep; Sharpy is learning to find the nests of western pond turtles.
These turtles are sneaky. After laying their eggs in a small hole, they knead together dirt, leaves and their own urine to plug the opening. Once this mud dries, the nest looks like an unremarkable patch of ground.
This photo taken Aug. 6 shows local government officials and nuclear experts at Fukushima after contaminated water was discovered.
Credit AFP/Getty Images
Radiation surrounding Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant has increased 18-fold following a report last month that radioactive water had leaked into the ground around the plant, which was badly damaged in a 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Tokyo Electric Power Co., which owns the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, reports that radiation around the site is at 1,800 millisieverts per hour, a level that Reuters says is "enough to kill an exposed person in four hours."
Previously, the utility, also known as Tepco, said the leaking water was at around 100 millisieverts per hour.