Earth

The search for the best observatory site in the world has lead to the discovery of what is thought to be the coldest, driest, calmest place on Earth. No human is thought to have ever been there but it is expected to yield images of the heavens three times sharper than any ever taken from the ground.

The joint US-Australian research team combined data from satellites, ground stations and climate models in a study to assess the many factors that affect astronomy – cloud cover, temperature, sky-brightness, water vapour, wind speeds and atmospheric turbulence.

University Park, Pa. -- Manipulating tiny objects like single cells or nanosized beads often requires relatively large, unwieldy equipment, but now a system that uses sound as a tiny tweezers can be small enough to place on a chip, according to Penn State engineers.

Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and their colleagues at Creighton University have deciphered the highly unusual molecular structure of a naturally produced, ocean-based compound that is giving new understanding of the function of mammalian nerve cells.

Some slow-moving faults may help protect some regions of Italy and other parts of the world against destructive earthquakes, suggests new research from The University of Arizona in Tucson.

Until now, geologists thought when the crack between two pieces of the Earth's crust was at a very gentle slope, there was no movement along that particular fault line.

"This study is the first to show that low-angle normal faults are definitely active," said Sigrún Hreinsdóttir, UA geosciences research associate.

The parasitic flowering plant Striga, or "witchweed," attacks the roots of host plants, draining needed water and nutrients and leaving them unable to grow and produce any grains. Witchweed is endemic throughout sub-Saharan Africa, causing crop losses that surpass hundreds of millions of dollars annually and exacerbating food shortages in the region.

Among the crops heavily parasitized by witchweed is black-eyed pea, known in Africa as "cowpea" or "niebe" in Francophone countries.

Ice, when heated, is supposed to melt.

That's why a collection of glaciers in the Southeast Himalayas stymies those who know what they did 9,000 years ago. While most other Central Asian glaciers retreated under hotter summer temperatures, this group of glaciers advanced from one to six kilometers.

A new study by BYU geologist Summer Rupper pieces together the chain of events surrounding the unexpected glacial growth.

Tropical Storm Ignacio may not be alone in the Eastern Pacific Ocean for long. Two areas of showers and thunderstorms that forecasters and the GOES-11 satellite are watching for development, have sprung up.

NASA's infrared satellite imagery indicates that Tropical Storm Ignacio still had some punch left in him, but that won't be the case for long.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has issued three new certified reference materials for soil. Intended for use as controls in testing laboratories, the new Standard Reference Materials (SRMs)—gathered from the San Joaquin Valley in California and from sites near Butte and Helena in Montana—will aid in determining soil quality, detecting soil contamination, and monitoring cleanup efforts from accidental spills or atmospheric deposition.

An international research effort on the Greenland ice sheet with the University of Colorado at Boulder as the lead U.S. institution set a record for single-season deep ice-core drilling this summer, recovering more than a mile of ice core that is expected to help scientists better assess the risks of abrupt climate change in the future.

An area of low pressure east of the Bahamas has now powered up into Tropical Storm Danny, his strengthening thunderstorms are captured in infrared imagery. Danny came together this morning, August 26, and was classified as a tropical storm at 11 a.m. EDT.

The National Hurricane Center said this morning that "interests in the Bahamas and the southeastern United States should monitor the progress of Danny."

The remnants from Typhoon Vamco are sweeping over Alaska's Aleutian Island chain today and tomorrow, and high wind warnings have been posted by the National Weather Service.

South of Hawaii, Hilda is holding on to tropical storm force winds, and continues to head south of the Islands. NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite noticed some moderate rainfall in Hilda's center earlier today, but the storm is staying far enough away from Hawaii to not cause trouble for travelers and vacationers.

More than 30 years of monsoon data from India showed that ground moisture where the storms make landfall is a major indicator of what the storm will do from there. If the ground is wet, the storm is likely to sustain, while dry conditions should calm the storm.

New research announced at the International Water in a Changing Climate Science Conference in Melbourne 24-28 August, implicates pollution from Asia, Europe and North America as a contributor to recent Australian rainfall changes. Australian scientists using a climate model that includes a treatment of tiny particles – or aerosols – report that the build up of these particles in the northern hemisphere affects their simulation of recent climate change in the southern hemisphere, including rainfall in Australia.

New Haven, Conn.—Known for their wide variety of vibrant plumage, birds have evolved various chemical and physical mechanisms to produce these beautiful colors over millions of years. A team of paleontologists and ornithologists led by Yale University has now discovered evidence of vivid iridescent colors in feather fossils more than 40 million years old.

The finding, published online August 26 in Biology Letters, signifies the first evidence of a preserved color-producing nanostructure in a fossilized feather.