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29 December 2022

Platypus, by Ann Moyal

The platypus is extraordinary, and this is a book about how we came to know that. Written by a historian of Australian science, Platypus is subtitled, “The extraordinary story of how a curious creature baffled the world.”  Moyal recounts the first specimens being sent back to the intellectual centers of western Europe (London and Paris, principally) from Australia, the subsequent suspicions that it was a hoax of taxidermy, and then …

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12 December 2022

Distillations: Sharing science for the public good

It’s that time of year again. No, we’re not talking about the holiday season (though, happy holidays everyone!). We’re talking AGU’s annual meeting! To celebrate, we’re releasing an episode each day of the conference, corresponding with the theme of the day.

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31 October 2022

Halloween special: Nessie & the kraken

We’ve all heard stories about fantastical creatures that people swear they’ve seen and have evidence of but can never be confirmed. Think Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster. Mermaids or the Kraken. While there’s no evidence backing the existence of these creatures, either in present day or at any point in the past, there must be a reason why such legends were created in the first place. In most cases, …

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7 October 2022

22-Storied careers: Ocean sensors and dog scenters

Tommy Dickey is an emeritus oceanographer from U.C. Santa Barbara and Naval Operations Chair in Ocean Sciences. His modeling and observational research yielded ocean monitoring technologies and tools. For retirement, Tommy trains and deploys Great Pyrenees as therapy dogs, while studying scent dogs’ capacity to detect COVID-19.

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16 September 2022

19-Storied careers: What you didn’t learn in (geo)science class

In the past couple of decades, Earth and space science education for K-12 has evolved significantly, much due to the work of geologist, educator, and writer, Michael Wysession. This is a time where the science education we receive plays a big role in our response to climate change; an adaptive and engaging curriculum, beyond the usual textbook, is paramount – and way more fun!

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9 September 2022

18.5-The (not so) secret histories of scientists

Science is all about experimentation, discover, and sharing those results. But what happens behind the scenes? What stories do scientists have to tell that don’t make it in the manuscript or the classroom lecture?

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15 August 2022

Book report

Five books get the Callan mini-review treatment: two novels from Amor Towles, an account of life in prison under solitary confinement, a history of Virginia slavery during the War of 1812, and finally a family account of the discovery of the fossil Hesperornis, a toothed bird, and various associated tangents.

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29 July 2022

13-Ice: The ice ships of Project Habbakuk

Dive down into the freezing depths of Patricia Lake, in Alberta’s Jasper National Park, and you will find the wreck of the Habbakuk—a sixty-foot model battleship originally constructed of wood and ice.

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22 July 2022

12.5-A podcast of ice and fire

Cool off from the summer heat with our next six-part miniseries all about ice – from those who call it home to its use as a tool in science.

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17 June 2022

8-Extinctions: The (Maybe) Cambrian (Not Really) Explosion

The Cambrian explosion is commonly labelled as the time in Earth’s history when animals suddenly appear. But research from geoscientist Rachel Wood and her team turns this explanation on its head.

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10 June 2022

7-Extinctions: Dinosaurs, a Big Rock, and…Climate Change?

When you hear the word “extinction,” chances are you probably think of the extinction of the dinosaurs and a big rock. But did you know that there were other factors at play that lead to that extinction including volcanos and sea-level rise?

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22 November 2021

Staff Picks: Toxic City Under the Ice

In 1959, the United States built an unusual military base under the surface of the Greenland ice Sheet. Camp Century was a hub for scientific research, but it also doubled as a top-secret site for testing the feasibility of deploying nuclear missiles from the Arctic. When Camp Century was decommissioned in 1967, its infrastructure and waste were abandoned under the assumption they would be forever entombed beneath the colossal sheet of ice.  

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7 September 2021

Staff Picks: The Johnstown Flood

The Johnstown Flood occurred on May 31, 1889, after the failure of the South Fork Dam, which is located on the south fork of the Little Conemaugh River, 14 miles upstream of the town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The dam, constructed to provide a recreational resource in part to support The South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, broke after several days of extremely heavy rainfall that liquified the dam and blew out the earthen structure, resulting in a …

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17 May 2021

Scientists Mine 16th Century Ship Logs for Geophysical Research

As ships explored the world from the Age of Sail through 20th century, mariners kept detailed navigation records using the Sun and stars. Scientists scoured these ship logs, many of which are preserved in European libraries, for clues about Earth’s magnetic field. The work, published in 2000, created the first-ever magnetic field map for the past 4 centuries.

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16 May 2021

A Brief History of Earth, by Andrew H. Knoll

A review of Andy Knoll’s newly-published book, “A Brief History of Earth: Four billion years in eight chapters.”

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22 March 2021

What Tree Rings Can Tell Us About the U.S. Civil War

Many of us know that tree rings can tell us how old a tree is. But there’s so much more we can learn from these seemingly simple lines.

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28 October 2020

Special Release: Mythical Monsters and their Real-life Inspirations (Part 2)

In this episode, the second in a two-part series, we chatted with Rodrigo Salvador, Curator of Invertebrates at the Museum of New Zealand, about the connections between giant squids and the Kraken, and Danielle J. Serratos, Director/Curator of the Fundy Geological Museum, about the links between prehistoric aquatic reptiles and the Loch Ness monster, respectively.

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26 October 2020

Special Release: Mythical Monsters and their Real-life Inspirations (Part 1)

We’ve all heard stories about fantastical creatures that people swear they’ve seen and have evidence of but can never be confirmed. Think Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster. Mermaids or the Kraken. While there’s no evidence backing the existence of these creatures, either in present day or at any point in the past, there must be a reason why such legends were created in the first place. In most cases, the legend in grounded in fact.

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24 September 2020

The unusual relationship between climate and pandemics

Well-documented torrential rains and unusually cold temperatures affected the outcomes of many major battles during World War I from 1914 to 1918. Poet Mary Borden described the cold, muddy landscape of the Western Front as “the liquid grave of our armies” in her poem “The Song of the Mud” about 1916’s Battle of the Somme, during which more than one million soldiers were killed or wounded.  

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13 July 2020

Escape from Thera

About 3,600 years ago, a colossal volcanic eruption blew apart the Greek island Thera, now the popular tourist destination known as Santorini. Falling volcanic rock and dust buried the Bronze Age settlement Akrotiri, on the south side of the island, preserving multi-story buildings, frescoes, tools, furniture and food, until archaeological excavations uncovered them in the last century, much like the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE famously buried Pompeii and Herculaneum. But unlike the Roman cities, Akrotiri has a notable lack of bodies.

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