Landscapes evolve very slowly, over thousands of years, which makes them both fascinating and a little difficult to study. Mathematicians have looked at landscape features, including mountains and big rock formations, and wondered where their interesting shapes come from. To find answers they began experimenting, except they didn’t use rocks - they used candy! The process allowed them to speed up their investigation and find the answers they were looking for. Listen to learn how hard candy helped mathematicians study and understand landscapes.
Alaska is home to 54 active volcanoes. Scientists, called volcanologists, watch and study these volcanoes to try and predict when they are going to erupt and so they can give warnings to the nearby communities. In 2008, Mount Redoubt, one of Alaska’s most famous volcanoes that is known to be active and dangerous, began to show signs of erupting. Listen as a volcanologist explains how taking a closer look at what goes on deep down below the surface of a volcano like Mount Redoubt can reveal warning signs that indicate a possible eruption.
Human beings have a long-standing fascination with dinosaurs that dates back to the discovery of the first fossils. To this day, people of all ages visit museums and fossil sites to study and learn more about these prehistoric creatures. This audio story features the answer to a seemingly simple question: how did the dinosaur age begin? Listen to hear what scientists know about the beginning of the age of dinosaurs. The story may contain a few surprises!
There is no natural hole to the center of the planet Earth, so seeing what is in the center is difficult. Scientists haven’t ever drilled deeper than 2,000 feet into the Earth’s crust. Seismographs are used to measure earthquakes, which send waves of motion through the earth’s crust. Listen to hear about how scientists have tried to discover what is in the center of our planet.
Current Event April 22, 2015
When did humans begin to shape the earth? This is the debate happening among geologists who are determining whether the official timeline of the Earth should have a name for the current period of human domination. The concept of the “anthropocene” or the human era first emerged 15 years ago and a working group of scientists is determining whether to adopt it officially and when it should begin. Listen to learn more about the lively debate that surrounds this decision.
Tsunamis are created by tectonic plates thrusting against each other and then lifting the sea floor and dropping it down, which creates a giant wave. A 2010 earthquake in Chile was caused by a shift in the seafloor. This same shift set off tsunami detection buoys and left scientists waiting for the tsunami to hit. But it ended up being small. Listen to learn more about this quake and how tsunamis are created.
As nations look for clean energy alternatives many are turning to wind and solar, but Indonesia is turning to its volcanoes. Indonesia has 130 active volcanoes. These volcanoes generate geothermal heat that is releases through vents and hot springs throughout the country. Power companies are learning to harness and redirect this heated steam into power plants in order to generate electricity. Indonesia’s geothermal energy potential is huge, but start up costs and oil subsidies might prevent this burgeoning clean energy from taking off.
The Grand Canyon has amazed visitors and scientist alike since it was discovered. The debate over what created this geologic wonder has been reignited in recent years. Is the Grand Canyon 6 million years old or 70 million? Listen to learn more about this debate between two geologists who have very opposing viewpoints.
Current Event October 16, 2014
Cave painting has long been thought to be developed by early humans in Europe. A new discovery of equally old cave paintings on an island in Indonesia has upset this perspective and is pushing scientists to look even farther back to our human origins in Africa. Listen to this public radio story to hear more about the cave paintings themselves and to learn how archeologists discovered their true age.
Current Event September 16, 2014
A month ago, earthquakes below a volcano in Iceland alerted scientists that an eruption was beginning. Various eruptions have created ash, fire and lava at the Bardarbunga volcano. This spouting lava creates rolling fields of lava that scientists have had an opportunity to study up close. When you listen to this public radio story you will hear the sounds of the volcano recorded by a scientist who recently visited the Bardarbunga volcano.
Current Event September 5, 2014
Large rocks on the desert floor in California’s Death Valley have puzzled miners and scientists for years. These heavy rocks have long winding trails in the sand behind them but no one had ever seen the rocks move. For the last 60 years scientists have searched for answers but now with the use of GPS and video cameras they have solved the mystery. Listen to this public radio story to engage your student in the mystery and the science behind the moving rocks.
Current Event August 19, 2014
Lakes, rivers,and oceans are places we normally see water, but most of the water on Earth is actually stored underground. This groundwater supply is vital to food production and providing drinking water for American cities. A new study shows that the groundwater of the Colorado River Basin is disappearing at a shocking rate. Listen to this public radio story to learn more about the impacts of this disappearing water supply and the ways that it can be slowed.
A geologist has turned decades worth of data into music. He created a multitrack sequencer for data instead of music. The data and music show a tight correlation between the amount of carbon dioxide and the amount of ice on the earth. Listen to hear what climate change sounds like and how it is helping scientists understand how humans affect our climate.
Current Event July 24, 2014
Diamonds are the hardest materials on Earth—and in space. Neptune’s core is made out of diamonds and still survives the core’s intense pressure. Scientists now study diamond’s resistance to high pressure to see what else it’s useful for. Listen to this radio story to learn more about diamonds.
Rare earth minerals are very important to today's electronics. Your iPod, laptop, and television use them. They make electronics light so they don't need much power. But the Chinese have a lock on the production of rare earth elements and this could become a problem for the US.
Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is the process of putting liquid into shale to remove natural gas. There's concern that when the drillers get rid of wastewater from fracking, it goes into the ground and causes earthquakes. This is happening in places such as Arkansas, and now residents are speaking up to try to put a stop to it. Listen to learn how residents figured out where the earthquakes were coming from and how they are taking the issue to court.
Giant volcanoes appear every few million years, and their eruptions are rare, but they are deadly. The ash and gas released into the atmosphere have the potential for significant harm. So scientists are studying two new suspected volcanic “hot spots" and are trying to figure out why they erupt. Listen to learn how seismic waves give scientists a picture of the large regions where intense volcanic activity could develop in the distant future.
Current Event April 22, 2014
A cracked dam in Washington endangers farming near the area with lower water levels and the looming threat of a summer heat. Lowered water levels have caused a temporary increase in tourism in spots but also revealed old graves.
Current Event March 28, 2014
In Washington state the clean up effort is still underway after a large mud slide killed at least two dozen people. Landslides are hard to predict. Scientists can determine which hills are most vulnerable, but getting the information to people that could use is it difficult.