Earth science and climate


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A lightning storm over the Taravo Valley on the French island of Corsica, 15 August 2018. Photo by Pascal Pochard Casabianca/Afp/Getty

Essay/
Earth science and climate
Flash!

It ignited life on Earth, propelled evolution, and now signals climate change. Yet what sparks lightning remains a mystery

Sidney Perkowitz

Mount Fox and Mount Dawson from Asulkan Pass, Selkirk mountain range, British Columbia (1902). Courtesy Library of Congress

Essay/
History of science
How to make mountains

In living memory, geologists believed that the Earth was slowly shrivelling, little guessing how vibrantly alive it truly is

Marcia Bjornerud

Stromatolites at Hamelin Pool, Shark Bay, Western Australia. Photo by Ben Cordia/Wikipedia

Essay/
Earth science and climate
The shape of life

The ancient Earth was profoundly alien. How do we distinguish between the living and non-living in the fossil record?

Sophia Roosth

A scanning electron microscope image shows a nematode in biofilm (blue), in its natural deep-subsurface habitat. The scale bar is 20 micrometres (μm) long. All images courtesy Gaetan Borgonie

Essay/
Earth science and climate
Life goes deeper

The Earth is not a solid mass of rock: its hot, dark, fractured subsurface is home to weird and wonderful life forms

Gaetan Borgonie & Maggie Lau

Photo by Ralph Lee Hopkins/National Geographic

Essay/
Deep time
Welcome to Terra Sapiens

Humans have been altering Earth for millennia, but only now are we wise to what we’re doing. How will we use that wisdom?

David Grinspoon

Potential impacter? A single frame Rosetta navigation camera image of Comet 67P taken on 15 April 2015 from a distance of 162 km. The crescent phase has been rendered in false colours. Photo courtesy ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM.

Essay/
Deep time
Laws or comets?

Does history unfold randomly and by chance, or are there underlying patterns and deep connections between its parts?

Walter Alvarez

The Serengeti National Park. Photo by Medford Taylor/National Geographic

Essay/
Earth science and climate
Half-Earth

Half of the Earth’s surface and seas must be dedicated to the conservation of nature, or humanity will have no future

Edward O Wilson

Dinosaur collectors Pete (l) and Neal Larson (c) of the Black Hills Institute prepare the skeleton of Sue, the Tyrannosaurus Rex now on show at the Field Museum, Chicago. Photo by Louie Psihoyos/Corbis

Essay/
Deep time
A tyrannosaur of one’s own

Dinosaur collecting isn’t just for museums any more – film stars and sheikhs do it too. What drives a man to covet big bones?

Laurie Gwen Shapiro