Science Channel - InSCIder

Nature

8 May

When Earth Makes Its Moves

A 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit the Pacific just between Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands on Thursday. This follows on the heels of the 7.8 quake in Nepal. A look at daily activity shows smaller quakes happening all over the world, especially in the infamous “Ring of Fire” region around the edges of the Pacific Ocean where tectonic activity is especially high.

What is happening when these earthquakes hit? Though it might not feel like it to us, the crust and mantle –essentially the “skin’ around the earth’s inner cores are always slowly moving. The pieces that make up these layers are bumping up against each other as they travel; the areas where they make contact are called fault lines.

 

When two plates of crust get stuck against each other, the energy of the movement builds up. Eventually that stored up energy is released with force when the two pieces finally come unstuck. The location where the energy is released is called the hypocenter under the surface of the crust, and the epicenter on the surface. The energy released heads outwards from the center, shaking the earth in waves.

One plate may slip up while the other slips down under the other in what’s called a subduction zone. In fact, in the case of the recent Nepal quake, the way the two plates came to rest caused Mt. Everest to lose height! Subduction zones often become areas of heightened activity.

One of the most challenging things about earthquakes is the drama isn’t over after the “main” shock. After the initial devastation at the epicenter, the earth is still settling and reshuffling itself into place causing further shakes called aftershocks. Some can be quite severe, frequent, and go on for extended periods of time – even years. It’s what makes recovery in remote areas quite hard to manage. Buildings and infrastructure have become unstable and more susceptible to the rattling – even if it is of lesser magnitude.

So can we predict earthquakes? The most reliable answer is to say not definitively. There have been cases in China where monitoring set up in high-risk regions have recorded questionable activity and given officials time to evacuate. However, just as often a quake will come with no warning at all.

The earth is unpredictable. While we have become extremely knowledgeable over the years about where trouble zones are for earthquakes and volcanoes around the world, we still don’t have a full understanding of when devastating events may occur. Fortunately, there are scientists and researchers all over the globe studying the earth’s hotspots with a keen eye, and those who head into the devastation afterwards to gain clues that might help us create informed, reliable warnings in the future.

We hope you’ll find deeper answers in our playlist above, all about when the earth makes its moves.

 

Resources:

US Geological Service

NPR

The Telegraph

 

20 Nov

Watch Snowstorm Blow Into Buffalo Over Lake Erie

Buffalo is buried under more than five feet of snow today.

As the storm rolled in over Lake Erie, Alfonzo Cutaia shot this stunning 30-second time-lapse video from the window of his office building:

A second video, by Jason Holler and Joseph DeBenedictis, is possibly even more dramatic, as a wall of snow sweeps over downtown Buffalo:

Stay connected with Science Channel on Twitter and Facebook

23 Oct

It's Thursday, So Here's a Thorny Devil

Earlier this week, we met a spider the size of a puppy. Today, here's another weird creature: the thorny devil.

One of the strangest-looking animals out there, the thorny devil lives in Australia and is able to absorb water through its skin to cover its entire body. Take a look:

If you want to meet more strange creatures, head over to ScienceChannel.com.

Stay connected with Science Channel on Twitter and Facebook

20 Oct

There's A Puppy-Sized Spider In The Rainforest

Next time you're trekking through the rainforest in Guyana, look out for a spider the size of a small dog.

Entomologist Piotr Naskrecki spotted the massive South American Goliath birdeater (Theraphosa blondi) on a nighttime walk through the rainforest. As he writes on his blog,

"Although far from being the largest member of the subphylum Chelicerata – this honor belongs to horseshoe crabs – Goliath birdeaters are ridiculously huge for a land arthropod. Their leg span approaches 30 cm (nearly a foot) and they weigh up to 170 g – about as much as a young puppy."

When Naskrecki approached the creature, as detailed in his blog post titled 'The sound of little hooves in the night,' the spider "would start rubbing its hind legs against the hairy abdomen" and made a hissing noise.

See photos of the puppy-sized spider on The Smaller Majority.

Learn about more alarming arachnids on Science Channel:

Trapdoor Spider

Ogre-Faced Spider

Tent Spider Colony

Stay connected with Science Channel on Twitter and Facebook

16 Oct

Earth Just Had the Hottest September On Record

This was the warmest September since record-keeping began 134 years ago, new NASA data reveals, marking "September [2014] as the 355th month in a row that was hotter than the 20th-century average," according to DNews.

Furthermore, Slate notes, "the last six months were collectively the warmest middle half of the year in NASA’s records -- dating back to 1880."

El Niño, a period of unusually warm sea surface temperatures, is still to come this year.

What Are El Niño and La Niña?

Global Warming, Shrinking Glaciers and CO2 Emissions

Stay connected with Science Channel on Twitter and Facebook

8 Sep

Newly-Discovered Dinosaur Weighed As Much As 7 T. Rex

Just how big was Dreadnoughtus, a newly-discovered dinosaur that roamed Earth around 77 million years ago?

Absolutely massive.

"It weighed as much as a dozen African elephants or more than seven T. rex," Drexel University paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara, who discovered the dinosaur in Argentina, said in a statement. "Shockingly, skeletal evidence shows that when this 65-ton specimen died, it was not yet full grown. It is by far the best example we have of any of the most giant creatures to ever walk the planet."

The 85-foot-long, 65-ton creature had "a body the size of a house, the weight of a herd of elephants, and a weaponized tail," Lacovara described. As such, Dreadnoughtus' name was chosen because it means "fears nothing."

Dreadnoughtus is part of a group of supermassive planet-eating dinosaurs called titanosaurs.

 How did a Tyrannosaurus rex bite compare with a modern alligator? Find out:

Stay connected with Science Channel on Twitter and Facebook

2 Sep

Cannibal Crickets Are Invading The U.S. (But No Need To Panic, Probably)

Voracious, rapacious crickets are flooding into the United States and there's "no end to the invasion in sight." Good luck, and may the force be with you.

Wait, let's back up.

Greenhouse camel crickets (Diestrammena asynamora) are native to Asia and weren't thought to be common in the U.S. until one was discovered by happenstance in the home of a North Carolina State University.

In a sample of 10 homes in Raleigh, North Carolina, researchers "found large numbers of greenhouse camel crickets, with higher numbers being found in the areas of the yards closest to homes."

"The good news is that camel crickets don’t bite or pose any kind of threat to humans," Dr. Mary Jane Epps, lead author of a paper -- "Too big to be noticed: cryptic invasion of Asian camel crickets in North American houses" -- about the research, said in a statement.

Camel crickets have insatiable appetites for anything and everything -- even members of their own species -- but the researchers say the public shouldn't panic about the foreign invasion.

"Because they are scavengers, camel crickets may actually provide an important service in our basements or garages, eating the dead stuff that accumulates there," the paper's co-author Dr. Holly Menninger, said in a release.

Can't get enough? Meet a reclusive spider with a ravenous appetite:

Stay connected with Science Channel on Twitter and Facebook

28 Aug

WATCH: Scientists Raised 111 Fish To Walk On Land

Screen-Shot-2014-08-28-at-10.50.59-AMFish that can walk on land and breathe air exist, and they're providing important clues to how their ancient ancestors evolved from swimming in the sea to living on land.

In a study published in the journal Nature, researchers at McGill University studied Polypterus senegalus (the Senegal bichir or "dinosaur eel"), fish with "functional lungs and strong fins" that can pull themselves out of the water.

The scientists raised 111 juvenile bichir on land for eight months and monitored changes compared to a control group of fish remaining in water.

"Fish raised on land walk with a more effective gait," lead author Emily Standen told The Verge. "They plant their legs closer to the body’s midline, they lift their heads higher, and they slip less during that walking cycle."

Scientists found major differences between land-raised and aquatic-raised bichir, NBC News reports:

"They found that the land-raised fish lifted their heads higher, held their fins closer to their bodies, took faster steps, undulated their tails less frequently and had fins that slipped less often than bichir raised in water. The land-raised fish also underwent changes in their skeletons and musculature that probably paved the way for their changes in behavior. All in all, these alterations helped bichir move more effectively on land."

So, what does it all mean for the study of evolution?

"This is the first example we know of that demonstrates developmental plasticity may have facilitated a large-scale evolutionary transition," Hans Larsson of McGill University said in a statement, "by first accessing new anatomies and behaviours that could later be genetically fixed by natural selection."

For more, learn how another species of fish also evolved a unique method for getting a meal:

Stay connected with Science Channel on Twitter and Facebook

25 Aug

Visit A National Park For Free Today On National Park Service's 98th Birthday

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 10.22.56 AMThe National Park Service turns 98 today. To celebrate, all national parks are FREE today.

Find a national park near you.

Officially established on August 25, 1916, the National Park Service now oversees "401 areas covering more than 84 million acres in every state, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands."

The parks range from Alaska's massive Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, spanning 13.2 million acres, to .02-acre Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

America's oldest national park actually outdates the NPS: Yellowstone National Park was created by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872.

Yellowstone's "supervolcano" frequently makes headlines over rumblings that it's getting ready to erupt; one rumor earlier this year claimed bison were fleeing the park ahead of an eruption (a story Yellowstone officials debunked).

So, what are the odds a volcano will erupt in Yellowstone National Park this century?

Stay connected with Science Channel on Twitter and Facebook

7 Aug

Giant Penguins Roamed Antarctica 40 Million Years Ago

A long time ago in a galaxy not-so-far away, massive penguins roamed wild.

The time: 37 to 40 million years ago.

The place: Antarctica.

New fossil evidence reveals that these now-extinct penguins stood more than six feet tall and weighed around 250 pounds. Palaeeudyptes klekowskii, dubbed the "colossus penguin," was far larger than today's biggest penguin, the Emperor penguin, which can grow to heights of about 3.7 feet.

Our friends at SourceFed break it down:

Modern penguins may be much smaller than their ancient ancestors, but their will to survive and thrive is extraordinary:

Stay connected with Science Channel on Twitter and Facebook

about the blog

Welcome to the inSCIder, where you can connect with the people who bring Science Channel to life. Find out what's in the works here at SCIENCE, share your feedback with the team and see what's getting our attention online and in the news.

Advertisement
archives
Advertisement

shows

 

video

stay connected

our sites

shop

corporate