Earth Sciences

Life's Struggle to Survive

john baezWhen pondering the number of extraterrestrial civilizations, it is worth noting that even after it got started, the success of life on Earth was not a foregone conclusion.  We recount some thrilling episodes from the history of our planet, some well-documented but others merely theorized: our collision with the planet Theia, the oxygen catastrophe, the snowball Earth events, the Permian-Triassic mass ex

Do cyanobacteria use iron for photosynthesis?

yellow stone chocolate potsDr. Parenteau will speak about her research into the early evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis in the context of Archean ferruginous oceans, and how this might relate to ancient banded iron formations. Banded Iron Formations (BIFs) are widespread Precambrian sedimentary deposits that accumulated in deep ocean basins with inputs of reduced iron (Fe(II)) and silica from deep ocean hydrothermal vents.

Why the World Will Still Be Here After December 21st.

David Morrison, Ed Krupp and Andrew Fraknoi will discuss the topic of the end of the Mayan Calender in 2012 and how this has been treated by the media. The negative effect on the public of this millennial meme will also be explored, as well as ways of promoting a successful scientific message on the topic in the YouTube era.

The Geology of the Terrestrial Planets: Perspectives on the Earth

The dynamic nature of the Earth (erosion and plate tectonics) has largely destroyed the record of the formative years of our own Home Planet.  Revealed on the other Earth-like planetary bodies (Moon, Mercury, Mars, and Venus) are startling and diverse landscapes recording the geological record of this early history, the very chapters that are missing from Earth. Results from the first half-century of solar system exploration have unveiled a vision of our formative years, where we have been, and indeed, where we may be going in the future.

Climate Change: What's Going On With the Sun?

Throughout the past century, while greenhouse gas (GHG) abundances have been steadily increasing and influencing Earth’s climate, the Sun has remained relatively bright and quiescent. Solar cycles have been steadily active, with instantaneous sunspot numbers at solar maximum exceeding 100 in every cycle since 1893 (Cycle 13). The climate warming we have experienced since the beginning of the modern industrial era cannot be attributed to the Sun.

Neutrinos from Hell: the Dawn of Neutrino Geophysics

Seismic waves have been for long time the only messenger reporting on the conditions deep inside the Earth. While global seismology provides amazing details about the structure of our planet, it is only sensitive to the mechanical properties of rocks and not to their chemical composition. In the last few years KamLAND and Borexino have started measuring anti-neutrinos produced by Uranium and Thorium inside the Earth.

How evolution shapes virus diversity: lessons learned from mosquitoes and shrews

In today's age of rapid environmental and human-wrought change, questions arise with respect to how biodiversity loss will affect the emergence of pathogens. SARS, avian influenza, and swine flu are high-profile examples of viruses whose distribution and diversity has changed in recent years to impact human health.

Dr. Bennett will demonstrate how the evolutionary ecology of mosquito-borne and zoonotic viruses drives their ongoing diversification in humans and other animals, with specific reference to dengue and hantaviruses.

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