Landslides and Tectonics

When do mountain landslides occur? Mountain ranges are formed with sharp and steep ridges due to tectonics. When do they become unstable? Some of the steepest mountain slopes in the world got that way because of the interplay between terrain uplift associated with plate tectonics and powerful streams cutting into hillsides, leading to erosion in the form of large landslides. The work, presented May 27 in Nature Geoscience, shows that once the angle of a slope exceeds 30 degrees – whether from uplift, a rushing stream carving away the bottom of the slope or a combination of the two – landslide erosion increases significantly until the hillside stabilizes.

The Last Extinction Event

The Permian–Triassic extinction event, sometimes known as the Great Dying, was an extinction event that occurred 250 million years ago, forming the boundary between the Permian and Triassic geologic periods, as well as the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras. It was the Earth's most severe known extinction event, with up to 96% of all marine species and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species becoming extinct. It took some 10 million years for Earth to recover from the greatest mass extinction of all time, latest research has revealed. There were apparently two reasons for the delay, the sheer intensity of the crisis, and continuing grim conditions on Earth after the first wave of extinction.

Conserving the Wild West: Arizona’s green dream

The cowboys and Indians are still there but there's more to America's 48th state than reliving the glory days of the Wild West. Home to seven different ecosystems, it is leading the way in conservation and green tourism. Ruth Styles went to find out more.

Climate Change Doubt not due to ignorance of the science

A new study has dispelled the myth that the public are divided about climate change because they don't understand the science behind it. And the Yale research published today reveals that if Americans knew more basic science and were more proficient in technical reasoning it would still result in a gap between public and scientific consensus. Indeed, as members of the public become more science literate and numerate, the study found, individuals belonging to opposing cultural groups become even more divided on the risks that climate change poses. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the study was conducted by researchers associated with the Cultural Cognition Project at Yale Law School and involved a nationally representative sample of 1500 U.S. adults.

Soft-Shell Lobsters arrive early in Maine

April and May are fairly quiet times for Maine lobstermen and women, with the height of the summer season still a couple of months away. This year, strange things are happening on the ocean floor. Many of the lobsters have prematurely shed their hard shells, and lobstermen are hauling large numbers of soft-shelled lobsters much earlier than usual. "That is definitely not normal," says Steve Train, who's been hauling traps for 35 years in Casco Bay, near Portland. He usually sees hard-shell lobsters at this time of year, instead of these "shedders" — lobsters that have abandoned their old casing to grow into a new, hard one.

Canada closing its marine pollution program

Canada has been sending letters to government scientists notifying them that their jobs will be eliminated or affected by the closure of the country's marine pollution program -- but at least one isn't going without making some noise. "It's perplexing that we face the loss of this program, given the 25,000 chemicals on the market and the ever-increasing threats posed by shipping and oil and gas exploration and development in temperate and Arctic waters," Peter Ross told Ross is perhaps Canada's best known marine scientist for his work on identifying killer whales as the most contaminated marine mammals on the planet. "As can be expected when one is told their position is being terminated, one is shocked and saddened," he added. "However, when told that the entire pollution research and monitoring program for Canada's oceans is being eliminated, I was speechless."

Volcanic Crystal Growth

Volcanoes tend to be unpredictable. It would be nice to know when and why an eruption may occur. A forensic approach that links changes deep below a volcano to signals at the surface is described by scientists from the University of Bristol in a paper published today in Science. The research could ultimately help to predict future volcanic eruptions with greater accuracy. Using forensic-style chemical analysis, Dr Kate Saunders and colleagues directly linked seismic observations of the deadly 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption to crystal growth within the magma chamber, the large underground pool of liquid rock beneath the volcano.

Plastic Bags to be Banned in the City of Angels

Plastic bags are perhaps the largest source of waste from our modern consumer culture. Stores give them out without question for all products big and small. Later, they can be found littered on the sides of roads and highways, hanging from tree branches, floating in rivers and clogging up our landfills. Now, a new plastic bag ban is set to be imposed by the largest US city to date to do so. This week, the Los Angeles City Council approved plans to phase out plastic bags at about 7,500 stores within the next 16 months.

Rangers now allowed to shoot tiger poachers on sight in Indian state

In the wake of a surge in tiger poaching, the state government of Maharashtra, India will no longer consider the shooting of wildlife poachers by forest rangers a crime, reports the Associated Press.

The Delight of Curry

Curry is a generic term primarily employed in Western culture to denote a wide variety of dishes originating in Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, Thai or other Southeast Asian cuisines. Their common feature is the incorporation of more or less complex combinations of spices / herbs, usually (but not invariably) including fresh or dried hot capsicum peppers, commonly called "chili" or "cayenne" peppers. New research at Oregon State University has discovered that curcumin, a compound found in the cooking spice turmeric used in some curry dishes, can cause a modest but measurable increase in levels of a protein that's known to be important in the innate immune system, helping to prevent infection in humans and other animals