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What a Cold War Mission Reveals about Climate Change Today

  By Allison Kubo New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that in the last 1.1 Ma the Greenland Ice sheet melted at least once and reformed. The team found fossilized plants buried under 1 million years of snow based on the Camp Century Ice Core. The long core samples the layers of snow in the Greenland Ice Sheet. Silvan Leinss , Radar reflector installation Greenland , CC BY-SA 4.0 The deeper the core the older the ice is and at its deepest point the Greenland Ice Sheet measures approximately 1.9 miles. Finding dirt and plant material in the core under layers of ice indicates it was once covered with plants and maybe even trees. The researchers used cosmogenic isotopes , atoms that are only formed when radiation from space and the sun interact with dirt, to show that it melted at least once within the last 1 million years. Although it may seem like a long time, 1 million years is an eyeblink to geologists. This research indicates that
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The Winding Road to Net Zero Leads Offshore

  By: Hannah Pell On 29 March 2021, the Biden administration announced another ambitious clean energy goal: deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030. According to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the U.S. offshore wind capacity was 28,521 megawatts (or 28.5 gigawatts) in 2019. Deploying an additional 30 gigawatts over a decade would more than double the current U.S. offshore wind energy generation capability. How much power is 30 GW? It could be enough to power 10 million homes for a full year, offsetting 78 million metric tons of CO2 emissions ( equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions from 16,851,398 cars driven over a year and CO2 emissions from more than 8.7 billion gallons of gasoline consumed or 20 coal-fired power plants over the course of a year). So how does energy generation from offshore wind work, and how is it different from land-based wind? What role does offshore wind play in our national energy portfolio? And what are the particular

Women Supporting Women in Science

  By Jill Kathleen Wenderott Women Supporting Women in the Sciences (WS2) , an international organization unifying and supporting graduate and professional-level women and allies in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), has recently been awarded an American Physical Society (APS) Innovation Fund to form international teams that will design and distribute low-cost physics and materials science lab kits to 5000 elementary and secondary school students, predominantly in eastern Africa. These teams will work with WS2 Partners in eastern Africa who wish to participate in outreach delivering and teaching these science lab kits to their local communities. The origin of WS2 can be traced to an intensive two-week-long live-in program of the Joint Undertaking for an African Materials Institute (JUAMI) held in Arusha, Tanzania (TZ), in 2016. JUAMI was co-founded by Sossina Haile, African Academy of Sciences Fellow and the Walter P. Murphy Professor of Materials Science

Are Diamonds Really Forever? Quantum Mechanics says yes

  By Allison Kubo Hutchison Synthetic diamond created using vapour deposition process. Steve Jurvetson , Apollo synthetic diamond , CC BY 2.0 In late 1940, the Debeers Diamond company started using the slogan “Diamonds are forever” to popularize diamond engagement rings. What they didn’t know is that in terms of quantum mechanics that might be true. Diamonds are formed of pure carbon with the atoms arranged tetrahedrally in a strong, rigid crystal structure. They are the hardest known material meaning that they have a hardness of 70-150 GPa in the Vickers Hardness test . This hardness is inherited from its strong crystal structure and is exactly what makes diamond forever. Green indicates carbon atoms within a diamond crystal structure. When a nitrogen a vacancy can form, basically an empty hole in the crystal. NIST, Nitrogen-vacancy center , marked as public domain. All materials have specific quantum states which are extremely fragile. They must be isolated from everything to be m

CDR Primer: Carbon Removal 101

  By: Hannah Pell “Go out and make the world a better place.” So ends the foreword to CDR Primer, an online, freely available digital booklet co-authored by more than a dozen climate scientists, social scientists, engineers, and writers in dialogue about carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technology and its important role in addressing our climate crisis. CDR technologies — including carbon capture use or sequestration (CCUS), reforestation, carbon-friendly soil management, among others — are used to remove carbon dioxide pollution, transport it to a storage site, and deposit it in such a way that it cannot reenter the atmosphere. Carbon removal processes are usually characterized by three different methods : biological, using forests, agricultural systems, or marine environments to capture carbon; geologic methods, capturing and storing carbon underground or in rock formations; and carbon-utilization, capturing carbon and using it to produce products like plastic or cement. Carbon

What does a city weigh?

  By Allison Kubo Hutchison Noah Friedlander , San Francisco from the Marin Headlands in March 2019 , CC BY-SA 4.0  As you walk the pavement of your city, the buildings rising around you, the impact of a city on the landscape is clear. It changes the skyline and the view. But how does it change the ground below? Does the weight of a city bend the crust below? Thirty years from now it is estimated that 70% of Earth’s population will concentrate into high-density metropolitan regions most of which are coastal. It is evident that our human activities influence the air we breathe but how do the concrete structures influence the land below? Recent research published in the AGU Advances estimated the weight of the San Fransisco Bay region home to about 7.75 million people at 1.6x1012 kg. Author Tom Parsons of the US Geologic Survey calculated the weight by satellite-based building footprints across the Bay area then applied average values for the dead load, the weight of the building its

What’s a Hedgehog Got to Do with Condensed Matter Physics?

By: Hannah Pell Pictures are a helpful way to express abstract ideas. Whether through Gedanken experiment s like the famous Schroedinger’s Cat or Feynman diagrams (some of which have been described as " penguin diagrams "), physicists often draw on everyday language, sketches, and well, animals, to characterize complex scientific theories. You can take a quick visit to the Particle Zoo and see more examples for yourself. Hedgehogs have also entered the condensed matter physics vocabulary. Papers with titles such as “ Topological Transport of Deconfined Hedgehogs in Magnets ,” “ Finding Spin Hedgehogs in Chiral Crystals ,” and “ Magnetic hedgehog lattices in noncentrosymmetric metals ,” were published in Physical Review Letters last year. So you’re probably wondering (as was I): what does a small, pokey tiny, pokey animal have to do with condensed matter systems? The answer has to do with magnetism, thin films, and a very interesting particle called the skyrmion. Image Cr