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Ice Age Fossils Found During Los Angeles Subway Exploration 64

An anonymous reader writes "During an exploratory dig to extend one of L.A.'s subway lines (yes! Los Angeles actually does have an underground), a host of fossils from the Ice Age were uncovered, including the skull of a sea lion. The dig site is close to the La Brea Tar Pits, where the preserved remains of various plants and animals were discovered in the early 1900s. The La Brea Tar Pit fossils are estimated to be between 11,000-55,000 years old, and the most common animals found were dire wolves."

Observed Atmospheric CO2 Hits 400 Parts Per Million 367

symbolset writes "Over the past month a number of individual observations of CO2 at the Mauna Loa Observatory have exceeded 400 parts per million. The daily average observation has crept above 399 ppm, and as annually the peak is typically in mid-May it seems likely the daily observation will break the 400 ppm milestone within a few days. This measure of potent greenhouse gas in the atmosphere should spark renewed discussion about the use of fossil fuels. For the past few decades the annual peak becomes the annual average two or three years later, and the annual minimum after two or three years more."

Florida Sinkhole Highlights State's Geologic Instability 206

An anonymous reader writes "Last Thursday night, a sinkhole took the life of a man (TV news video, with ad) while he slept in his home in Seffner FL, near Tampa. While human fatalies are rare, sinkholes are so common in Florida that the insurance industry successfully lobbied the state lawmakers to pass legislation in 2011 making it more difficult for homeowners to claim sinkhole damages. The bedrock in Florida is limestone, a weakly soluble mineral formed from calcified deposits of sea creatures tens of millions of years ago. Above the limestone is a clay layer called the Hawthorn Formation which shields the limestone from ground water; and above the clay is sand. However, the protective clay layer is thin or nonexistent in some areas of Florida, particularly in the middle part of the state near the Gulf coast, where caves and sinkholes are common. Geologists say that human activity, particularly construction and irrigation, can trigger sinkholes by destabilizing the landscape above caverns by drawing down water tables and massing structures above them."

Massive Methane Release In the Arctic Region 264

Taco Cowboy writes "Arctic methane release is a well recorded phenomenon. Methane stored in both permafrost (which is melting) and methane hydrates (methane trapped in marine reservoirs) are vulnerable to being released into the atmosphere as the planet warms. However, researchers who are trying to map atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations on a global basis have discovered that the amount of methane emissions in the Arctic region do not total up. Further research revealed that significant amounts of methane releases came from the Arctic ocean (abstract) — as much as 2 milligrams of the gas is released per square meter of ocean, each day — presumably by marine bacteria surviving in low-nutrient environments."

Volcano Near Mexico City Becomes More Active 114

benfrog writes "Popocatépetl, a volcano that sits 34 miles east of Mexico City, has begun a series of small eruptions. It's feared that larger eruptions would not only endanger people within range of its explosions, but disrupt life in Mexico City with ash clouds. 'People in the village of Xalitzintla said they were awakened by a window-rattling series of eruptions. Mexico’s National Disaster Prevention Center said one string of eruptions ended in the early morning, then the volcano started up again at 5:05 a.m., with at least 12 eruptions in two hours.' More than 30 million people live within sight of the volcano."

Why Published Research Findings Are Often False 453

Hugh Pickens writes "Jonah Lehrer has an interesting article in the New Yorker reporting that all sorts of well-established, multiply confirmed findings in science have started to look increasingly uncertain as they cannot be replicated. This phenomenon doesn't yet have an official name, but it's occurring across a wide range of fields, from psychology to ecology and in the field of medicine, the phenomenon seems extremely widespread, affecting not only anti-psychotics but also therapies ranging from cardiac stents to Vitamin E and antidepressants. 'One of my mentors told me that my real mistake was trying to replicate my work,' says researcher Jonathon Schooler. 'He told me doing that was just setting myself up for disappointment.' For many scientists, the effect is especially troubling because of what it exposes about the scientific process. 'If replication is what separates the rigor of science from the squishiness of pseudoscience, where do we put all these rigorously validated findings that can no longer be proved?' writes Lehrer. 'Which results should we believe?' Francis Bacon, the early-modern philosopher and pioneer of the scientific method, once declared that experiments were essential, because they allowed us to 'put nature to the question' but it now appears that nature often gives us different answers. According to John Ioannidis, author of Why Most Published Research Findings Are False, the main problem is that too many researchers engage in what he calls 'significance chasing,' or finding ways to interpret the data so that it passes the statistical test of significance—the ninety-five-per-cent boundary invented by Ronald Fisher. 'The scientists are so eager to pass this magical test that they start playing around with the numbers, trying to find anything that seems worthy,'"

North Magnetic Pole Racing Toward Siberia 187

RogerRoast sends along a backgrounder from Scientific American on the best current theory as to why the north magnetic pole drifts. "The NMP, also known as the dip pole, is the point on Earth where the planet's magnetic field points straight down into the ground. Scottish explorer James Clark Ross first located the NMP in 1831 on the Boothia Peninsula in what is now northern Canada... [T]he NMP drifts from year to year as geophysical processes within Earth change. For more than 150 years after Ross's measurement its movement was gradual, generally less than 15 kilometers per year. But then, in the 1990s, it picked up speed, ... bolting north–northwest into the Arctic Ocean at more than 55 kilometers per year. If it keeps going it could pass the geographic north pole in a decade or so and carry on toward Siberia."

Earth's Temperature at Highest Levels in 400 Years 1044

thatguywhoiam writes "Congress asked, and the scientists have answered: 'The Earth is the hottest it has been in at least 400 years, probably even longer. The National Academy of Sciences, reaching that conclusion in a broad review of scientific work requested by Congress, reported Thursday that the 'recent warmth is unprecedented for at least the last 400 years and potentially the last several millennia.'"

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