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Rocks, cliffs, muddy sediment. These natural features may not be exciting to look at for some of us, but for geologists they are bursting with meaning.
The story they tell is the history of our planet, describing how continents, mountain ranges and oceans formed and how glaciers spread and retreated. Fossils embedded in rock reveal intriguing details about animals, plants and other life forms that once called Earth home.
If humans became extinct, what trace would we leave in the geological record? An announcement this week suggests that humanity has already made an indelible impact and one that warrants a new chapter in Earth’s history.
Scientists say they’ve identified a site that marks the birthplace of the Anthropocene — a new geological epoch that records how profoundly humans have changed the world.
The Anthropocene Working Group determined in 2016 that the era began around 1950 – the beginning of the nuclear test era.
The international research group says that Crawford Lake in Ontario best maps humanity’s impact on the earth. Sediment drilled from the bottom of the lake showed geochemical traces from atomic bomb tests, particularly radioactive plutonium.
However, not everyone agrees that the Anthropocene is a geological reality — or that researchers have enough evidence to formally declare it a new epoch.
Over the course of an 11-year solar cycle, the sun transitions from a calm period to a very intense and active period. Cool, dark sunspots on the sun’s surface are increasing in number, causing solar flares and mass ejection of plasma.
The peak of the current solar cycle would occur in July 2025. However, our star is becoming more and more active. Scientists now think that solar maximum, or the peak of solar activity, is more likely to be mid to late 2024.
What does that mean for us on Earth? On the plus side, this means the auroras dancing around Earth’s poles will be visible in more places.
However, more intense solar storms can affect power grids, GPS and aviation, and satellites in low Earth orbit. These events also cause radio blackouts and may even pose risks to manned space missions.
A long time ago
Ancient Egyptians used highly formalized workflows to execute their paintings. But these demanding performers didn’t always get everything right the first time.
An advanced technique reveals hidden details about paintings in two tombs that are more than 3,000 years old. Egyptologist Philippe Martinez of Sorbonne University said one of the tombs “looked a bit like Egypt’s Mona Lisa.”
The discoveries were made using wearable chemical imaging technology, which allows researchers to analyze the artwork in the tomb rather than waiting to view it in a museum or laboratory.
The NASA Mariner 4 mission captured the first images of another planet taken from space in 1965. The spacecraft flew 6,118 miles (9,846 kilometers) above the surface of Mars, but the first image released publicly wasn’t quite what the space agency intended.
At the time, it took 10 hours to tra
nsmit a single image to Earth – incredibly slow by today’s standards. As anxiety grew during the wait, some members of the Mariner 4 team took matters into their own hands and put together a “color by number” image based on representations of data to make sure the equipment was working properly .
Despite the efforts of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory communications team, the press caught a glimpse of the hand-colored image and the artwork became the first close-up of Mars from space to be seen on TV.
The actual photo was released the following day. In all, Mariner 4 took 22 groundbreaking images and they revealed craters on the Martian surface, surprising scientists.
Not only did humans live in South America at the same time as giant sloths — they also made handmade pendants from bony material in the skin of the Ice Age creature, according to a new study.
The creator or creators of the recently discovered three artifacts punched and polished a hole in the sloth bone, according to an analysis of microscopic marks. The species of giant sloth the bones belonged to would have weighed more than 1,300 pounds (about 600 kilograms), larger than most current brown bears.
The discovery is exciting on two fronts: It places humans in the Americas thousands of years earlier than many archaeologists thought, and the three pendants are the oldest known personal adornments unearthed on the landmass.
Check out these three captivating stories.
– The Webb Space Telescope has been observing the universe for a year and a stunning new image marks the milestone.
— The climate crisis is changing the color of the world’s oceans, although the change is not yet visible to the naked eye.
— A blazing hot planet orbiting its parent star every 19 hours is the most shiny exoplanet ever discovered.
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