Archive for January, 2006

Robots, Virtual Reality Touted as Mine-Safety Solutions

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: January 27, 2006   View Article

Robots and virtual reality are being touted as 21st-century coal-mine canaries in the wake of this month’s U.S. mining deaths.

In the 19th century, underground coal miners carried canaries down into the shafts as their first line of defense against poisonous gases. If the birds keeled over, the miners evacuated.

Earthlike Planet Spied in Distant Solar System

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: January 26, 2006   View Article

Yesterday astronomers announced the discovery of the most Earthlike planet ever detected outside of our solar system.

The discovery raises the prospect that the Milky Way galaxy is full of planets that could harbor life, the scientists say.

18 Most Dangerous U.S. Volcanoes Include Erupting Alaska Peak

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: January 20, 2006   View Article

Spewing ash and steam miles into the sky, Alaska’s Augustine Island volcano has been erupting this week and posing a threat to air traffic.

The newly vigorous mountain is just one of the 18 most dangerous U.S. volcanoes, according to a report presented by John Ewert at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco last month. Ewert is a Vancouver, Washington-based volcanologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Stardust’s Space Cargo Thrills Scientists

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: January 19, 2006   View Article

Scientists say they’re thrilled and awed by their first glimpse at the comet particles and samples of interstellar dust returned by the Stardust spacecraft.

Stardust’s canister of samples dropped safely to Utah’s desert floor Sunday.

Cities Make Own Weather Duet to Trapped Heat, Expert Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: January 17, 2006   View Article

During winter storms many city folk may praise warmer downtown temperatures for keeping the streets snow and ice free.

But urbanites ought to take steps to curb this phenomenon before localized temperature differences become a global weather problem, a meteorology expert says.

Lobsters Use Smell Test to ID Buddies, Bullies

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: January 13, 2006   View Article

Jelle Atema says when he first encountered lobsters as a young marine biologist in the 1970s, he was surprised at how peaceful the giant-clawed crustaceans behaved toward each other.

“I’d swim around and see lobsters meet each other, give a display, raise their claws. But there was not much fighting,” the professor at Boston University’s Marine Program in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, said.

Now he understands that those lobsters already knew each other. A few swishes of their small antennae were all they needed to pick up the other’s scent and recall their earlier battle that established who was dominant.

Stardust Space Capsule to Touch Down Sunday in Utah

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: January 13, 2006   View Article

If all goes according to plan, Stardust—a space capsule carrying a cargo of comet and interstellar dust particles—will scream into Earth’s atmosphere Sunday, deploy a series of parachutes, and drift down to the Utah desert.

Expected to land at 3:12 a.m. local time, the cargo may reveal answers to fundamental questions about comets, the origins of the solar system, and the building blocks of life.

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