history
Did a Poem About a Horrific Volcanic Eruption Destroy the Norse Gods of Iceland?

New research connects a powerful volcanic eruption—and a medieval poem that conjured memories of the dreaded event—to Iceland’s conversion to Christianity. Read More >>

science
Citizen Scientists Discover New Feature of the Aurora Borealis

It wasn’t scientists who discovered the thin, purple, east-to-west travelling glow in the northern night sky. It was people with cameras and a nerdy passion for auroras. Read More >>

science
Ice Crystals in Diamonds Reveal Pockets of Water Deep in Earth’s Mantle

Diamonds, the super-strong and brilliant crystals of carbon atoms produced under the Earth’s crushing pressures, are typically valued for their beauty and durability. But scientists also value them for another reason: They contain all kinds of hidden messages about the Earth’s mantle. You just need the right tools to read them. Read More >>

space
Strange Pole-Shifting Physics Conjures a Truly Alien World

Perhaps there’s a life-supporting, Earth-like planet orbiting close to a red dwarf star many light years away. Perhaps this planet orbits so close to the star that only one half of it ever faces the light. Maybe some sentient species evolved during that infinite day, on some massive supercontinent. And maybe one day, the sun set on part of that continent, stranding half of the species in the dark, where they evolved under a changing atmosphere. The light and dark species, unable to survive in the other’s environs, separated forever. Read More >>

science
Cyclone Remnant Spawns Horrifying River of Rock in New Zealand

Earlier this week, a storm spawned by the former Cyclone Gita swept across New Zealand, damaging buildings, knocking out electricity, and creating floods. But along the Rakaia River, the storm triggered a bizarre natural phenomenon known as granular flow—essentially a raging river of rocks. Read More >>

science
Earth’s First Land Plants May Have Sprouted 80 Million Years Earlier Than Previously Thought

For hundreds of millions of years, life on Earth was a purely aquatic phenomenon. The jump from the oceans to the continents was a monumental event, one that would irrevocably change the face of our plants. A new study suggests the first plants to make this evolutionary leap appeared much earlier than we thought. Read More >>

news
Powerful Earthquake Hits Taiwan, Partially Collapses Hotel

A powerful earthquake struck Taiwan yesterday, causing damage and a partially collapsed hotel building, sources report. Read More >>

science
Study With One-Word Abstract Finds Moon Phases Don’t Predict Earthquakes

Rather than a simple "yes/no" answer, science usually gives us a more “evidence suggests” or “this correlation proposes” sort of situation, even if the public’s understanding is generally a little less nuanced. So USGS Seismologist Susan Hough found the right question: Read More >>

science
Visit to Biggest Underwater Volcano in Last 100 Years Reveals Deep Sea Mystery

Scientists knew something strange happened when they heard reports of a raft of floating rock near New Zealand back in 2012. That raft eventually grew to around 150 square miles—remains of the largest underwater volcanic eruption in the 20th or 21st century to date, bigger even than Mount St. Helens. Read More >>

science
Scientists Observe Strange Double Whirlpool Effect in Ocean for First Time

Slow waves meander westward out in the deep ocean south of Australia. Sometimes they carry with them carry large eddies, whirlpools over 100 miles across. But every so often, these whirlpools combine into double whirlpools and travel across the ocean 10 times faster than the rest of the whirlpools, moving in sync for months and potentially transporting minerals and nutrients with them. Read More >>

science
Quantum Mechanics Could Shake Up Our Understanding of Earth’s Magnetic Field

Earth’s magnetic field does way more than guide our compasses and cause occasional worry. It’s part of the reason there’s life at all on this planet—it protects us from harmful solar radiation that might otherwise blow our ozone layer away. Read More >>

science
Why Did Montana Experience a Powerful Earthquake Last Night?

Last night, planet Earth rumbled in a place where it usually doesn’t rumble: Montana, USA. But it also rumbled in the Philippines. Come to think of it, it rumbled in Vanuatu and Japan too. The Earth rumbles a lot. Read More >>

science
Scientists Think They’ve Solved the Mystery of Our Atmosphere’s Missing Xenon

Xenon is a peculiar element. It certainly has one of the most mysterious names (from the Greek xenos, or “stranger”). As a noble gas, it refuses to bond with other elements except under exotic conditions. And its uses are all about as creepy as its name: Folks use it for its eerie glow, to detect radiation, or in its liquid form to hunt for the universe’s dark matter. Read More >>

science
Scientists Found a New Window Into the Hellish Ancient Earth

Four and a half billion years ago, some dust from a cloud orbiting around a star coalesced into a rocky planet. But unlike most of the dusty balls in our solar system, this one was special—it was just the right distance away from the star that one day after the surface had cooled, water could exist as a liquid, rather than a solid or gas. The planet’s surface eventually fractured into plates that shifted around, becoming continents. All that shifting has rubbed away the details of that ancient Earth. Was the era as hellish as its name, “Hadean” implies, or was Earth always a water-rich orb with moving plates? Read More >>

science
Complex Life May Have Emerged on Earth Much Earlier Than We Thought

Swedish researchers say they’ve discovered traces of ancient red algae preserved in sedimentary rock dating back 1.6 billion years, making them the oldest plant-like fossils ever found. The discovery shows that complex multicellular life appeared in Earth’s history much earlier than previously thought. Read More >>