Tensions escalated between the United States and Soviet Union in the wake of World War II as the two countries stockpiled nuclear weapons and detonated hundreds of test bombs in the atmosphere. But this arms race had an unexpected side effect: scientists learned for the first time how air behaves in Earth’s upper atmosphere and how pollution, volcanic ash, and radioactive fallout travel around the globe.
Thousands of feet below the surface of the Earth is salty water that hasn’t seen the light of day in millions or even billions of years. Miners working deep underground had encountered and wondered about the origin of this water for decades, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that scientists started to investigate where this water was coming from and what it might contain – giving researchers clues into how life survives in the deepest parts of our planet.
The ocean floor stores a vast amount of information about Earth and its history. Volcanic rocks that make up most of the seafloor tell scientists about the composition of Earth’s interior, and the sediments lying on top of those rocks document what conditions were like when they were laid down millions of years ago.
Northern fur seals spend more than half their lives at sea. But every summer, they congregate on the rocky, charcoal-colored beaches of Alaska’s Pribilof Islands to mate and give birth to tiny, black-furred pups. Researchers take advantage of the seals’ short time on land to learn more about them by placing GPS trackers on the seals’ bodies. But it’s not easy walking into a fur seal breeding colony full of aggressive, 500-pound males – not to mention getting close enough to attach a satellite tag.
Check out this clip that didn’t make it into our recent episode, Inside the Boiling Center of the Solar System, with Dan Seaton, about what the sun actually sounds like! Transcript Shane Hanlon: Hi, Nanci. Nanci Bompey: Hey, Shane. Shane Hanlon: So, we’re back for a bonus clip, and it’s all about the…
At the heart of our solar system is an enormous, churning ball of hot plasma. The Sun blows a stream of charged particles over our planet, creating the solar wind. Sometimes the Sun flares bursts of x-rays, or burps bursts of charged particles, which can sweep over Earth and potentially create havoc for power grids, satellites, and GPS networks. There is weather in space, and it has more consequences for civilization than you might think.
Check out this clip that didn’t make it into our recent episode, The Dark Sound of the Moon, with Trae Winter about balloons, astronauts. and aliens! Transcript Shane Hanlon: Nanci? Nanci Bompey: Hello? Shane Hanlon: I’m back. Nanci Bompey: Yay! We missed you. Shane Hanlon: Did you? Nanci Bompey:…
On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse swept across the continental United States from Oregon to South Carolina. Millions of people stood looking up at the sky, their mouths agape, as the Sun’s disk was completely covered by the Moon. For many people, the experience of day turning into night and back into day, and the sight of the Sun’s corona streaming out behind the dark circle of the Moon, is a picture they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.
Building instruments to search for the building blocks of life in the rocks of Mars is no small feat. These gadgets must endure spaceflight, landing on the Martian surface, intense radiation, wild swings in temperature, uneven surfaces and then beam data collected millions of kilometers away back to expectant researchers on Earth.