Jack Hills Zircon: Evidence of a Very Old Earth

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In a report published in Nature Geoscience, a scientific team studying rocks in Australia, used Australian zircons in the Jack Hills that are embedded in the rocks to decide the age and history of these rocks.

They found evidence that the Earth’s crust first formed at least 4.4 billion years ago.  They analyzed the atoms in zircons and used them like a clock to decide when they were formed.  The clock inside the zircon is the radioactive element uranium, and over time it becomes lead. … Read more

Governor Deal’s Weather Task Force is More of a Mob Than a Problem Solving Team

To improve the state of Georgia’s response to severe weather, Governor Nathan Deal appointed a 28 member task force.  A few years ago, when Atlanta educators were accused of changing answers on student tests sheets, the Governor (Sonny Perdue) appointed a panel of three to investigate and prepare a report.  Why do we need 28 people, many of whom simply do not have the time to investigate the state’s natural disaster alert system.

Governor Deal has appointed 28 people to meet and has charged them with coming up with plans to improve the state’s ability to respond to severe weather.  … Read more

NAT GEO The Wild Mississippi

NAT GEO presents The Wild Mississippi, a three-part TV program on Sunday, February 12.  I viewed the three episodes today, and recommend that you tune in Sunday night at 8:00 P.M (Eastern) to view the first of the three episodes.  The second and third episodes follow at 9:00 P.M. and 10:00 P.M.  Check the schedule and details here.

Join the Wild Mississippi Blog Carnival here.

If you are teaching life science, high school biology, earth science, or an ecology or environmental science course, you will find these programs great resources for your students.  … Read more

The Dinosaur Footprints Puzzle: Is it pedagogy or paleontology?

In the last post I reviewed the article “Tracking the Footprints Puzzle: The Problematic persistence of science-as-process in teaching the nature and culture of science by Charles Ault and Jeff Dodick which was published in the recent issue of the journal Science Education. I also reflected on my own experience in teaching and writing with the Footprints Puzzle.  In this post, I am going to explore this idea: The Dinosaur Footprints Puzzle: Is it pedagogy or paleontology?… Read more

Water on the Moon

NASA has reported that if astronauts heated lunar soil, it would yield water that could be purified and used for drinking, or separated into Oxygen and Hydrogen and used for rocket fuel.

NASA scientists, of  Project LCROSS, have reported that there is water in one of the moon’s craters, and that there is more water in this crater than there is in the Sahara Desert.  The water, in the form of ice crystals, makes up about 5 – 8% of the crater’s mixture.  … Read more

The Legacy of Katrina

This weekend is the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans, and much of the Gulf Coast region.  Perhaps the best way to start this post is to watch this video which I embeded from the nola.com Hurricane Katrina page.  The video is a sunrise service (February 9, 2007) amongst residents of New Orleans, and was uploaded to the nola site by Michael DeMocker, The Times-Picayune.

Sunrise Service at Katrina Memorial

Hurricane Katrina was the worst natural disaster to hit the United States, and now after five years, the city of New Orleans has organized the fifth anniversary to reflect on the disaster, and to assess the progress on newly constructed infrastructure, on the repair and construction on the thousands of homes that were damaged or destroyed, and on ways to prevent the kind of flooding that devastated the city.… Read more

BP Gulf Oil Spill Images

The latest word on effort to plug the BP offshore oil well using the “Top Kill” procedure is that the effort is continuing, but the company has not determined whether it is working, or that it won’t work. According to a report in the New York Times, BP will continue with the procedure. The report suggested that BP used a “Junk Shot” last night which “involves pumping odds and ends like plastic cubes, knotted rope, and golf balls into the blowout preventer, the five-story safety device atop the well.” The “Top Kill” procedure continues at this time, and will continue until the spill is plugged following which cement will be used to seal it, or the procedure will be stopped, and BP will move on to its next procedure, which is in place.… Read more

The BP Oil Spill Compared to Previous Spills

As I write this post, BP has begun their “top kill” maneuver to stop the flow of oil by plugging the well with mud. This technique has not been used at such great depths, and we’ll have to wait perhaps for a couple of days to find out the result of this approach to stopping this debacle.

As I’ve read the wrenching stories, and seen the awful scenes of oil in the water, and oil reaching the beaches and marshes, I’ve also wondered about previous oil spills, and what precedence there is for this calamity.… Read more

How Much Oil is Spilling into the Gulf?

There is enormous frustration setting in as the BP Gulf oil spill continues into its second month devastating vast areas of the American gulf coast. To this date, we do not know how much oil is spilling into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The original estimate (established by BP) was 5,000 barrels per day. Keep in mind that there are 42 gallons in a barrel, so this initial estimate means that 210,000 gallons of oil were spilling into the ocean.… Read more

The Importance of Geology in Science Teaching

Since January, we have experienced a number of geological events that have caused havoc and misery to many people around the Earth.  On January 12, Haiti was rocked with a magnitude 7 earthquake causing the destruction of the many cities and towns including the capital, Port-au-Prince.  Then, on February 27, a magnitude 8.8 earthquake occurred off the coast of the Maule region of Chile, causing enormous damage to property and life.  In late March, Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted for the first time in 200 years, and volcanologists predict that the activity could last for months.  … Read more