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Science Bulletin

Urban Sprawl: Phoenix

Most people think of urban sprawl as the construction of roads and buildings at a rate that exceeds population growth. Phoenix, Arizona, however, offers a contrasting model of sprawl. Its metropolitan area has grown more than 300 percent in recent decades, but its population has grown even faster. Since the mid-1980's, the city's population density has increased as people continue to move to the region even as the urban area's boundaries have grown more slowly. This trend is by necessity, since the water supply cannot feed an ever-expanding metropolitan area.

Tsunami Science: Reducing the Risk

Science Bulletin

Tsunami Science: Reducing the Risk

The scientific data left in the wake of the horrific December 26, 2004 tsunami is proving invaluable to better prepare for future events. Meet the researchers at the crest of this relatively young science. Featured are the geologists, seismologists, and computer modelers of the U.S. Pacific Northwest, an area replete with geological and anthropological evidence of past tsunamis. Learn how the region is preparing for its inevitable next wave.

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Science Bulletin

Sloan Digital Sky Survey: Mapping the Universe

Taking a census of all the luminous objects in one-quarter of the visible cosmos is a hefty accounting job. It takes a specially-built telescope on task every clear night for eight years, wielding one of the biggest digital cameras on the planet. Over a hundred million stars, galaxies, and quasars have been tallied so far. Meet the astronomical observers and theorists set on divining the three-dimensional structure and origins of the Universe from these unprecedented scores of data.

Yellowstone: Monitoring the Fire Below

Science Bulletin

Yellowstone: Monitoring the Fire Below

Three of the most catastrophic volcanic eruptions in geologic history occurred at a place now visited by nearly four million people a year: Yellowstone National Park. The magma chamber responsible still lies beneath, and continues to steam, heat, and shift the park landscape. Science Bulletins talks with the geologists regularly monitoring these disquieting signals to understand where this active region lies in its volcanic life span.

Melting Ice, Rising Seas

Science Bulletin

Melting Ice, Rising Seas

The rising temperatures of global climate change are melting the world's ice. Most notable are the shrinking ice sheets of Greenland and west Antarctica, which have shown dramatic loss in recent years.

Gamma-Ray Bursts: Flashes in the Sky

Science Bulletin

Gamma-Ray Bursts: Flashes in the Sky

Gamma-ray bursts—flashes of intense radiation in space that are often just seconds long—were accidentally discovered in the 1960's by satellites built to monitor nuclear bomb explosions. They've been one of the leading astrophysical mysteries ever since. This Astro Bulletin introduces you to the scientists and instruments working to unravel the origins of gamma-ray bursts. It highlights Swift, NASA's burst-detecting satellite, and PAIRITEL, one of a fleet of ground-based telescopes that point toward a gamma-ray burst in response to Swift's alert to capture the afterglow before it fades. Astrophysicists at Penn State and other institutions are analyzing these afterglows to understand what causes the most powerful explosions known

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Science Bulletin

Human Footprint

Humans leave a mark on Earth that is detectable from space. By analyzing satellite images, scientists can measure the extent of deforestation, agriculture, urbanization, and other features. Satellite analysts estimate that humans directly affect 83 percent of our planet's land surface, leaving a dwindling percentage of land truly "wild." This huge influence is called the "human footprint."
The Pearl River delta near Hong Kong is a dramatic example of the human footprint. Humans have continuously occupied the region for thousands of years, and the region's cities are among the fastest-growing urban centers ever observed. Scientists use the same techniques illustrated for the Pearl River delta to study human-altered surface features around the world, thus mapping the global human footprint.

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Science Bulletin

Language in the Brain

Why is it that humans can speak but chimpanzees, our closest living relatives, cannot? The human brain is uniquely wired to produce language. Untangling this wiring is a major frontier of brain research. Peer into the mental machinery behind language with this feature video, which visits a brain-scanning laboratory, Columbia Universitys Program for Imaging and Cognitive Sciences, or PICS. Columbia neuroscientist Joy Hirsch and New York University psychologist Gary Marcus explain what researchers have learned about how our brain tackles language—and whats left to learn.

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Science Bulletin

Thinking in Symbols

Modern human culture underwent a "creative explosion" in Ice Age Europe 40,000 to 10,000 years ago. The evidence, which ranges from fantastic cave paintings to elaborate graves to innovative tools, is a sure sign that human symbolic thought-our ability to create and combine meaningful symbols to represent the world-was in full bloom. What evolutionary steps seeded this mental flowering? This Human Bulletin video follows the ongoing excavations of Christopher Henshilwood, an archaeologist who is seeking the earliest evidence of our species' unique mental powers. Recent finds dating to 72,000 years ago at his South African excavation site, Blombos Cave, are slowly shedding light an era of human culture that has been all but dark.

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