The Earth is largely solid or molten rock that’s hot enough to melt iron. So you could never build a tunnel through its diameter. But let’s play a mind game and imagine that you could burrow from one side of the planet through to the other. Physicists play this game all of the time. And falling down a hole through the center of the Earth would be rough, they note. Indeed, some now conclude, it...Readability Score: 6.4
Earth has a newly discovered companion. It’s not another moon, though. Asteroid 2016 HO3 is a quasisatellite (KWAH-zee-SAT-uh-lyte). This space rock appears to orbit Earth. But that’s an illusion. It’s just looping around the sun and playing leapfrog with our planet.
This temporary tagalong was discovered on April 27 in images from the Pan-STARRS observatory in Hawaii. The asteroid’s...Readability Score: 6.4
The world’s known stores of helium have just ballooned. Scientists have uncovered a vast reservoir of more than a trillion liters (260 million gallons) of the gas. It sits beneath Tanzania in East Africa. That’s enough helium to satisfy the world’s needs for about seven years.
Researchers announced the find June 28 at the Goldschmidt Conference in Yokohama, Japan.
Helium is used...Readability Score: 7.7
The ocean bottom is deep and dark, but far from lifeless. New research shows that it teems with far more oases of life than anyone had imagined.
Earth’s surface rock (and the soil or sand above it) moves slowly atop shifting rocky slabs known as tectonic plates. Deep along the sunless seafloor, some of those tectonic plates pull apart. Near these plate boundaries, seawater seeps down and...Readability Score: 7.3
Slowly, slowly, Earth’s crust — what we think of as its surface — reshapes itself. This has been going on month after month, year after year. It started several billion years ago. It won’t continue forever, however. That’s the conclusion of a new study.Explainer: Understanding plate tectonics
Earth’s surface rock (and the soil or sand above it) moves slowly atop shifting rocky slabs...Readability Score: 8.3
Every few years, the world’s weather is thrown off balance. It happens when surface waters near the equator in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean warm up just a fraction of a degree. Afterward, some regions experience heavier rainfall than normal — and flooding. Others will battle drought and wildfires. Still others might have to contend with ice storms and other extreme weather. This...Readability Score: 6.6
Greenhouse gases are a major contributor to climate change. But a new technique can turn one of these gases into solid rock before it floats up into the atmosphere. If widely adopted, such a move might just help slow global warming.
As part of a test program, researchers in Iceland injected gaseous carbon dioxide (CO2) into basalt (Bah-SALT). It’s the type of rock that lava turns into...Readability Score: 7.3
The second of two parts on the impacts of intercontinental plumes of dust. Find part 1 here.
It begins with a darkening sky, then a distant roar. Leaves rustle as monkeys scamper through the trees above. Drops of their pee sprinkle down through the leaves. Then they start to howl. It is more like a deafening yowl. Unseen in the trees overhead, a chorus of howler monkeys scream at the...Readability Score: 6.0
The first of two parts on the impacts of intercontinental plumes of dust.
A line of four trucks meandered left and right as they steered around sand dunes in a remote part of North Africa. Their engines whined as they lumbered forward in low gear. Their wheels juddered over rocks, bouncing the passengers in their seats.
Richard Washington and several companions had traveled from...Readability Score: 6.5
Something was wrong with Ben Kennedy’s pumice. He had placed the porous, volcanic rock into an autoclave. The high temperature and pressure inside this device would imitate the interior of a volcano. But when the scientist opened the door to take out the rock, it had shrunk. It was now only about half its original size.
Kennedy didn’t think it had simply melted. “The weird thing was, it...Readability Score: 7.3