Trilobite Riches

At ... trilobite fossils are common to all parts of the world, northern and southern hemispheres. They dominated the early seas.

Patterns on Venus

At ... a Japanese research team has identified a giant streak structure amongst the clouds covering Venus. They aqlso modelled the origins of the feature. The Japanese spacecraft Akatsuki has been orbiting Venus since 2015. It carries an infra red camera that captures coud morphology - even at lower cloud levels.

Flying Bye Bye

On January 8th asteroid 2019AS5 flew past the Earth - just 8600km above the surface. Nine hours afterwards, the asteroid was discovered, by the Mount Lemmon Survey telescope in Arizona. At (11th January 2019) we learn the space rock was just 2m wide - hardly what one might call an asteroid. More like a meteor. Indeed, if it had entered the atmosphere it would have disintegrated somewhat like the Chelyabinsk meteor of 2013. What is more interesting is that astronomers are thinking that Earth's gravity significantly bent the space rock's orbit during fly by.


At  ... we learn that a huge canyon on Iceland was created by a few days of catastrophic flooding. The Jokulsargljufur canyon is 28 km in length and up to 100m in depth - cutting directly into basalt (former outpourings of lava). It is home to a powerful waterfall - and this has cut back through the basalt (sometimes at an astonishly quick rate). How do they know this.

Climate Change in History

Gary sent in the link ... how climate change caused the world's first empire to collapse - which is derived from the US magazine The Conversation - via the medium of ... the link to which was sent in by William. This is a typical hotchpotch by a journalist as the historical reality is a little more complicated. The journalist has managed to combine several hundred years of history into a single event.

Swinging Sahara

At ... a study claims the Sahara desert swings between lush and arid every 20,000 years, a cynchronism with monsoon activity. This old chestnut has been dusted down and resurrected as it involves the tilt of the earth on the Milankovitch model - and the 21,000 year cycle. It involves an analysis of the laying down of Sahara dust on sea bed off the coast of West Africa - over the last 240,000 years. They claim the Sahara swings between wet and dry at regular intervals, the monsoon system recharging itself with the direction of tilt.

Universe Growing in Leaps

At ... an open access article at the arXiv portal has an interesting contribution. It suggests the universe has undergone more than one phases of accelerated expansion. The first, of course, coincided with Big Bang, and right now we have another dose of expansion - or that is the gist of the theory. We are told that it was realised back in the 1990s that the universe was expanding - and it now increasing at an increased rate. Or that is the interpretation of the red shift phenomenon.

Drowned Villages

This one comes courtesy of Anne-Marie de Grazia. At ... we are told that around 8000BC sea levels rose enought to re-establish a link between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. By 7000BC the waters of the Persian Gulf were rising - and around 6000BC it rose again. Around 5000BC sea level rounded out to near enough modern levels (followed by minor oscillations). There is something wrong here but it is difficult to pin down as exponential sea level graphs can come up awry.


Sent in by Gary. At ... where we learn that research by Oslo University into an outbreak of bubonic plague in Glasgow back in 1900 was not spread by rats - or fleas on rats. It is suggested that human fleas were to blame - accusing the Glaswegians of the period of poor sanitation. It is of course a theory but one that will probably stick like glue as it involves the occupants of tenements in the Gorbals. Were they Scots fleas - or Irish fleas.

4 Billion miles away

The flyby by New Horizons, zooming past Ultima Thule, has got a lot of people excited, and on the same day we have the Chinese landing a spacecraft on the dark side of the Moon. At ... we are told Ultima Thule looks like a brick red snowman. The first pictures are filtering back to Earth from New Horizons and NASA scientists are keen to get across mainstream theory - too impatient to wait for further images. The smaller part of the object is 9 miles wide (the snowman's head) and the bigger part is 12 miles across (the snowman's body).