What drives leaps in technological innovation? Just posted on my secondary blog: I discuss how government-funded science plays a role in stimulating innovation. An ultimate refutation to the hypnotic incantation that all-government-is-useless-all-the-time.
And as a terrific example... The universe at your fingertips! This zoomable image from the James Webb Space Telescope lets you explore galaxies - and travel backward in time to see how these galaxies were long ago.
== Marvels of our planet ==
In the secret world below Antarctic sea ice, salty frozen fingers descend. Called brinicles, they may be like hydrothermal vents. But creatures of the deep, beware: anything caught in the path of a brinicle will be frozen alive. So beware the Brinicles!
This drone video of whales is terrific! As are the drone innovations by my friend Iain Kerr and Ocean Alliance, finding innovative ways to do non-invasive science on whales who might be key to reviving our oceans-in-peril.
With only one-quarter of the sea floor mapped with sonar, it is impossible to know how many seamounts exist. But radar satellites that measure ocean height can also find them, by looking for subtle signs of seawater mounding above a hidden seamount, tugged by its gravity. A 2011 census using the method found more than 24,000. High-resolution radar data have now added more than 19,000 new ones.
== Environmental news ==
Only now this: Massive phosphate rock deposits discovered in Norway. Wow, lucky Norway: First beautiful fjords, then vast oil reserves, and gorgeous people... and now - it seems - large amounts of the phosphate rock that I fretted about, in Existence. If true, then maybe (male) men won't have to all pee into phos-recovery urinals by 2035. And the King of Morocco won't own the world, after all. A case of I'd rather be wrong.
Seeking new strategies... testing is underway to determine if sprinkling volcanic rock dust on farmland can help remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
== Earth History ==
Researchers have discovered that Earth’s tectonic plate movements cause sea levels to rise and fall in 36-million-year cycles, indirectly triggering biodiversity bursts, at least re: ocean life. These cycles, altering shallow sea and shelf habitats, are found to significantly shape marine life diversity over millions of years, challenging previous notions of species evolution. “The cycles are 36 million years long because of regular patterns in how tectonic plates are recycled into the convecting mantle, the mobile part of the deep Earth, similar to hot, thick soup in a pot, that moves slowly.”
A fossil discovery shakes our traditional view of the Cretaceous Era as being all dinosaur domination and cowering mammal submission. It suggests a more complex ancient food web in which certain dinosaurs were prey and some mammals were predators.
Finally, while we fret over the Anthropocene and humanity making this planet much less habitable… possibly leading to our own extinction… a recurring side topic is “are we leaving any lasting traces, that might be noticed by later – presumably wiser – archaeologists or paleontologists – either successors or visitors?"
It’s a topic I weighed-into, when I was lead pundit for a popular History Channel show called “Life After People,” contemplating what might remain of our vaunted civilization, one minute, or a day, a year, century, millennium and eon after we – for some reason – vanished from the scene.
This article from Nautilus - Could an industrial civilization have predated humans on Earth? - just the latest in a long series of such speculations… rightly concludes that our isotopic residue, if nothing else, would certainly blare that humans were here on Earth. And thin but pronounced sedimentary layers of plastics. Our cities (covering just 1% of surface area) might be missed, but likely not the extensive network of roadways. But have fun speculating!