Thursday, April 28, 2016

Fossils and our Future Climate

Fig.1. 40 million year old fossil planktonic foraminifera from Tanzania 
(Credit: Paul Pearson/Cardiff University)

According to a study published this week in the journal Nature, tiny fossils from 53 million to 36 million years ago may help to predict the future of climate change. This research, led by scientists from the University of Southampton and partners around the United Kingdom, sheds light on the relationship between atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and climate during an ancient period in Earth’s history known as the Eocene Epoch.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Earth Day 2016: Soil and Sand

Fig.1. Earth Day promotes efforts to protect the planet and the life it holds, from microbes on a plate to huge ecosystems (Credit, left to right, top to bottom: Julia Stevens, Christine Zenino/2009
Laura Cochrane/Mills Park Middle School, Acropara/2011)

On April 22, 1970, a celebration of the first Earth Day kicked off the modern environmental movement. Now, 46 years later, we are dealing with some of the hottest months on record, melting ice sheets, bleaching corals, and more.

However, recent and ongoing research projects offer hope for mitigating climate change challenges. Researchers are using scientific collections - from sediment cores to coral fossils - to understand ancient changes in our planet’s atmosphere and surface. This past year, our blog has highlighted efforts by earth scientists to use lessons from our past to preserve Earth’s future. Read to learn more about these studies and how people around the world are working hard to protect the planet:

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Seeds of Scientific Progress

Fig.1. This Chinese seed drill (left) and Jethro Tull’s Seed Drill (right) were both drawn by animals
(Credit: Chinese Seed Drill, Tien Kung Kai Wu/1637Tull Seed Drill, Jethro Tull/1731)

Editor’s Note: Our Food Security Symposium has been postponed until September 2016. Please email us at with any questions or join our mailing-list for routine updates on the new symposium. 

Around 1800, the world's population reached one billion people. In less than 50 years from today, that number is projected to reach 9.7 billion people. Although this rapid increase in population size can largely  be attributed to health, sanitation, and farming innovations in the 20th century, it has roots in the Industrial Revolution.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Millet and the Agricultural Revolution

Fig.1. Professor Martin Jones with millet in north China
Credit: Martin Jones)

Editor’s Note: Our Food Security Symposium has been postponed until September 2016. Please email us at with any questions or join our mailing-list for routine updates on the new symposium. 

Millet’s Long History

Recent research suggests that common millet (Panicum miliaceum) - often used as birdseed today - may have bridged the gap between nomadic hunter-gatherer cultures and agrarian societies in Neolithic Eurasia, holding possible lessons for current food security challenges.