An escape route for carbon

Study shows minerals sequester carbon for thousands of years, which may explain oxygen's abundance in the atmosphere.

As many of us may recall from grade school science class, the Earth's carbon cycle goes something like this: As plants take up carbon dioxide and convert it into organic carbon, they release oxygen back into the air.

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Surprising Science

New study shows GPS data can predict large earthquakes earlier

Scientists discover how to predict megaquakes earlier to improve warning systems.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images
  • Earthquakes of 7+ magnitude share a particular pattern, find seismologists.
  • The pored over data of over 3,000 earthquakes to spot a "slip pulse".
  • The scientists advocate using real-time GPS sensor data in early warning systems.
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Surprising Science

How to detect life on Mars

If life exists on Mars, there's a good chance it's related to us, say researchers.

NASA/JPL/USGS

When MIT research scientist Christopher Carr visited a green sand beach in Hawaii at the age of 9, he probably didn't think that he'd use the little olivine crystals beneath his feet to one day search for extraterrestrial life.

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Greenland’s ice: A trip back in time to see the future of climate change

There are clues to the future and past trapped in Greenland's ice.

  • The Greenland ice sheet covers 80% of the island of Greenland. The sheet is 1,500 miles long, 700 miles across, and two miles thick. Scientists call it the largest laboratory in the world.
  • By studying the minerals and gasses trapped in layers of ice, glaciologists can unravel mysteries of the past, such as what the temperature was 1,000 years ago, or search for clues as to why the Greenland Norse people vanished.
  • Ice cores are a key to the past that also unlocks the future. Studying Greenland's ice sheet is yielding valuable information about the future of climate change.
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No more squeaky voices: We're running out of helium

Its scarcity could impact scientific research as well as the high-tech industry.

Photo by Luca Upper on Unsplash
  • Although it's commonly used to make balloons float, helium is actually a precious, non-renewable resource.
  • Without helium, a great deal of scientific research can not be conducted, and technology like MRI machines won't work.
  • The demand for helium is enormous and growing; there is no way to create artificial helium economically and no way for the Earth's helium stores to sustain the demand.
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Surprising Science