Physical Sciences

2014: The Hottest Year Yet

High temperatures in 2014 helped contribute to the California drought.

The past year was the hottest on record since at least 1891, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) announced on January 5th. The JMA reports that the average temperature was 0.27°C warmer than the 1981 to 2010 baseline average. (1) This finding was not unexpected. In December 2014, the United Nations’...


New theory on identity of mysterious formation at center of the Milky Way

Scientists believe that G2, although unidentified, orbits around the massive black hole Sagittarius A* at the center of our Milky Way, photographed in this image by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.

In 2012, scientists detected infrared emissions from an unidentified formation named G2 that suggested a collision course that tracked the formation’s progress toward the center of the Milky Way. Originally believed to be a pure gas cloud, G2 was predicted to produce immense radiation signals as it approached Sagittarius A*...


The Large Hadron Collider Revamp

An aerial shot of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). It is based in the northwest suburbs of Geneva on the Franco-Swiss border, and operates the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s most powerful particle collider.

A refurbishment to CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is near completion. The revamped LHC will approach its design energy of seven trillion electron volts per beam—an amount equivalent to the total energy in a speeding freight train (1). The last time that researchers ran the LHC at high energies, the...


Complex multicellular life discovered from before Cambrian explosion

Stromatolites dated to the Middle Cambrian Era

With the help of a team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Virginia Tech geobiologist Shuhai Xiao discovered fossils of some of the earliest known complex multicellular eukaryotes. The multicellular organisms found in the fossils from that time period, 600 million years ago, are more complex than expected (1). The...


Satellite Detects Local Dips in Gravity Due to Ice Melting

Gravity maps of Antarctica and surrounding ocean have been improved thanks to higher resolution satellite measurements.

Data from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) satellite has shown that the ice lost from West Antarctica has caused changes in the Earth’s gravity field. The GOCE satellite measured the Earth’s gravity over the span of four years to better understand the...


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