Earth

Approximately 120-130 million years ago, one of the most significant events in the history of the Earth occurred: the first flowering plants, or angiosperms, arose. In the late 1800s, Darwin referred to their development as an "abominable mystery." To this day, scientists are still challenged by this "mystery" of how angiosperms originated, rapidly diversified, and rose to dominance.

The link between declining CO2 levels in the earth's atmosphere and the formation of the Antarctic ice caps some 34 million years ago has been confirmed for the first time in a major research study.

A team of scientists from Cardiff, Bristol and Texas A&M universities braved the lions and hyenas of a small East African village to extract microfossils in samples of rocks which show the level of CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere at the time of the formation of the ice-cap.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – An international team of researchers has created the most complete seismic image of the Earth's crust and upper mantle beneath the rugged Himalaya Mountains, in the process discovering some unusual geologic features that may explain how the region has evolved.

Their findings, published this week in the journal Science, help explain the formation of the world's largest mountain range, which is still growing.

In a perfect world, for every boy there would of course be a girl, but a new study shows that actual sex ratios can sometimes sway very far from that ideal. In fact, the male-to-female ratio of one tropical butterfly has shifted rapidly over time and space, driven by a parasite that specifically kills males of the species, reveals a report published online on September 10th in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication.

Unlike steel, which has a well-documented crystalline structure at the atomic scale, the three-dimensional crystalline structure of cement hydrate - the paste that forms and quickly hardens when cement powder is mixed with water - has eluded scientific attempts at decoding. This is despite the fact that concrete is the most prevalent man-made material on earth and the focus of a multibillion-dollar industry that is under pressure to clean up its act.

A large international research team has decoded the genome of the notorious organism that triggered the Irish potato famine in the mid-19th century and now threatens this season's tomato and potato crops across much of the US.

Analysis of a rock type found only in the world's oldest oceans has shed new light on how large animals first got a foothold on the Earth.

A scientific team led by Professor Robert Frei at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and including scientists from Newcastle University, UK, and universities in Uruguay and Southern Denmark, have for the first time managed to plot the rise and fall of oxygen levels in the Earth's atmosphere over the last 3.8 billion years.

Everybody talks about CO2 and other greenhouse gases as causes of global warming and the large climate changes we are currently experiencing. But what about the atmospheric and oceanic oxygen content? Which role does oxygen content play in global warming?

Scientists in China are reporting the "intriguing" discovery that a natural plant hormone, applied to crops, can help plants eliminate residues of certain pesticides. The study will be in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

The speed of light, 300 million meters per second, was long thought an immutable constant that has defined our understanding of matter and energy. Recent research in the area of optics and photonics, however, is proving that we can manipulate light to some ingenious and hugely lucrative ends.

Geckos and other lizards have long been known for their incredible ability to shed their tails as a decoy for predators, but little is known about the movements and what controls the tail once it separates from the lizard's body.

Anthony Russell of the University of Calgary and Tim Higham of Clemson University in South Carolina are closer to solving this mystery as outlined in a paper they co-authored published in the journal Biology Letters.

The Lost Orphan Mine below the Grand Canyon hasn't produced uranium since the 1960s, but radioactive residue still contaminates the area. Cleaning the region takes an expensive process that is only done in extreme cases, but Judy Wall, a biochemistry professor at the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, is researching the use of sulfate-reducing bacteria to convert toxic radioactive metal to inert substances, a much more economical solution.

To measure turfgrass performance, professionals have traditionally relied on trained human evaluators who provide visual assessments of turf quality. But human evaluators require training and may be distracted by many factors that can affect accuracy and consistency of the assessments. New optical sensing technology has recently been introduced to measure the reflectance from turf canopies to determine turfgrass growth, wear tolerance, herbicide tolerance, and fertility.

EAST LANSING, MI—Spring and summer often find homeowners out in their yards, busily attempting to control the onslaught of dandelions in a quest for green, weed-free lawns. Dandelions, broadleaf perennial plants that have a questionable reputation as lawn wreckers, can make even the most patient gardener reach for chemical weed killers to control the onslaught of the ubiquitous weeds. Now, the answer to an environmentally responsible way to control dandelions could be right on the front lawn.

"The size of a tropical cyclone basically sets the domain over which tornadoes can form. So a larger storm that has more exposure over land has a higher propensity for producing tornadoes than a smaller one, on average," said Belanger.