Minuscule machines earn trio 2016 chemistry Nobel

Science News, October 2016

The world’s most minuscule machines operate on the molecular level and have won their creators the 2016 Nobel Prize in chemistry. The prize is shared between Jean-Pierre Sauvage of the University of Strasbourg in France, J. Fraser Stoddart of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and Bernard Feringa of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

Pioneering geophysicist’s theory of peak oil still debated

Science News, May 2016

In the 1950s, long before the climate change debate began, geophysicist Marion King Hubbert presented research that made the oil industry queasy. Society needed to quickly wean itself off its dependence on oil, he concluded, or face dire consequences. Hubbert’s argument wasn’t motivated by the global climate impacts of fossil fuel burning, but rather by a bold prediction that U.S. oil production would soon peak and quickly taper off.

Maximum size for Arctic sea ice hits a new low

Science News, March 2016

The ice at the top of the world has set a new wintertime low for the second straight year, scientists at NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center announced March 28.

Wine quality subject to climate change

Science News, March 2016

Be wary, wine lovers: Climate change can muck with your merlots. By tracking the timing of French and Swiss grape harvests from 1600 through 2007, scientists have discovered that the link between high temperatures and drought conditions — a combination crucial for fine wine production — has broken down since 1980.

Earth’s inner secrets divulged in ‘Into the Heart of Our World’

Science News, January 2016

More than 150 years ago, Jules Verne imagined a fantastic voyage into Earth’s depths. In reality, the planet’s innards are no less remarkable than the Jurassic–period monsters and subterranean labyrinths that Verne envisioned: Iron crystals stretch 20 kilometers long, colossal plumes of liquefied rock surge toward the surface and fragments of ancient seafloors lie entombed in the mantle.

Five things science can (and can’t) tell us about North Korea’s nuclear test

Science News, January 2016

North Korea sent political shock waves around the world on January 6 when it claimed to have carried out a successful test of a hydrogen bomb, which, if true, would be a substantially more powerful and sophisticated class of weaponry than the country’s previous efforts. The underground test generated a magnitude 5.1 earthquake, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Global carbon emissions fell in 2015, despite economic growth

Science News, December 2015

Society’s oversized carbon footprint shrank slightly in 2015, a new bookkeeping of greenhouse gas emissions suggests. If confirmed, the 0.6 percent reduction marks the first drop in carbon emissions since the 2008–2009 financial crisis and the first decrease ever during a period of economic growth, researchers from the Global Carbon Project report December 7 in Nature Climate Change.