Full steam ahead

NEW SCIENTIST Recent advances could let us crack the immense promise of geothermal heat to power our world. The Reykjanes peninsula juts out of the south-western tip of Iceland like a hitch-hiker’s thumb. Most visitors glimpse it from a plane, as they swoop down onto the runway at Keflavík airport, or through the mist at … More Full steam ahead

Little Weed, Big Problem

HIGH COUNTRY NEWS A genetically modified grass is loose in Oregon. It could have been much worse. In the failing light of an unusually warm January day, Jerry Erstrom and I race along a dirt track behind Rod Frahm’s white pickup. Here, near Ontario, Oregon, a stone’s throw from the Idaho border, Frahm grows onions, … More Little Weed, Big Problem

Play time for researchers

NATURE How hobbies can boost scientists’ productivity and creativity When Audrey Kelly isn’t catching toads and analysing their DNA to study how species hybridize, she makes bread. Kelly is a fifth-year PhD student at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and she learnt to bake from her father before she moved away for her … More Play time for researchers

The Creation of Crater Lake

TRAVEL OREGON America’s deepest lake tells many magnificent stories. Eight thousand years ago, if you stood on the shores of Klamath Lake in Southern Oregon, the horizon would have looked strikingly different than it does today. A snowcapped volcano would have towered over the forested hills, nearly a thousand feet taller than Mt. Hood. To … More The Creation of Crater Lake

Robotic weather balloon launchers spread in Alaska

SCIENCE U.S. weather service union fears that automation threatens jobs and sacrifices forecasters’ local knowledge Last week, things began stirring inside the truck-size box that sat among melting piles of snow at the airport in Fairbanks, Alaska. Before long, the roof of the box yawned open and a weather balloon took off into the sunny … More Robotic weather balloon launchers spread in Alaska

Rebecca Boyle Excavates Earth’s Earliest History

THE OPEN NOTEBOOK Earth has a memory problem. Few rocks have survived from the first billion years of the planet’s history, when all kinds of important things happened, including—perhaps—the first stirrings of life. This amnesia has made it hard for researchers to piece together our origin story, and answer the really big questions like How … More Rebecca Boyle Excavates Earth’s Earliest History