Views from the Solar System (204)

Grand Canyon Geology Lessons on View

NASA – The Grand Canyon in northern Arizona is a favorite for astronauts shooting photos from the International Space Station, as well as one of the best-known tourist attractions in the world. The steep walls of the Colorado River canyon and its many side canyons make an intricate landscape that contrasts with the dark green, forested plateau to the north and south.

The Colorado River has done all the erosional work of carving away cubic kilometers of rock in a geologically short period of time. Visible as a darker line snaking along the bottom of the canyon, the river lies at an altitude of 715 meters (2,345 feet), thousands of meters below the North and South Rims. Temperatures are furnace-like on the river banks in the summer. But Grand Canyon Village, the classic outlook point for visitors, enjoys a milder climate at an altitude of 2,100 meters (6,890 feet).

The Grand Canyon has become a geologic icon—a place where you can almost sense the invisible tectonic forces within the Earth. The North and South Rims are part of the Kaibab Plateau, a gentle tectonic swell in the landscape. The uplift of the plateau had two pronounced effects on the landscape that show up in this image. First, in drier parts of the world, forests usually indicate higher places; higher altitudes are cooler and wetter, conditions that allow trees to grow. The other geologic lesson on view is the canyon itself. Geologists now know that a river can cut a canyon only if the Earth surface rises vertically. If such uplift is not rapid, a river can maintain its course by eroding huge quantities of rock and forming a canyon.

This astronaut photograph (ISS039-E-5258) was taken on March 25, 2014 by the Expedition 39 crew, with a Nikon D3S digital camera using a 180 millimeter lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. It has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed.

> View annotated image

Image Credit: NASA
Caption: M. Justin Wilkinson, Jacobs at NASA-JSC

How to Save Ukraine

By Keith Darden – Inattention to Ukraine’s internal demons reflects a dangerous misreading of current events; the struggle between Russia and the West has been a catalyst, but not a cause.

The protagonists in this conflict are subnational regions.

The EU association process, and especially the protests, repression, and revolution that followed, activated very deep and long-standing divisions between them.

Unless Kiev deals with its regions and installs a more legitimate, decentralized government, Ukraine will not be won by the East or the West. It will be torn apart.

Kiev needs to transfer some very substantial powers, including those over education, language, law, and taxation, to the regions. more>


Updates from WordPress

Five Minutes with David Cole
WordPress – As a Happiness Engineer, everything I do revolves around helping others and making a better experience for us all.

Since I joined Automattic almost one year ago, I’ve helped users via our public forums, private support channels, and terms of service queues. I’ve also had the privilege of training staff, beta-testing new features, traveling for work/play with my fantastic co-workers, and much more.

You’ll currently find me answering questions in real-time as part of the Live Chat squad. more>

Tiny “step edges” are a big step for surface science

R&D – It can be found in toothpaste, solar cells, and it is useful for chemical catalysts: titanium dioxide (TiO2) is an extremely versatile material. Although it is used for so many different applications, the behaviour of titanium oxide surfaces still surprises.

The surface of titanium oxide is never completely flat. On a microscopic scale, there are tiny steps and edges, many of them with a height of only one atomic layer. At these edges, electrons can localize quite easily.

“We have observed that oxygen molecules can connect to the surface precisely at these locations,” says Ulrike Diebold at the Vienna Univ. of Technology. more>

The Role For The Business Press As Watchdog And Think Tank

By Paul Glader – News organizations could do a better job of labeling and explaining the difference between news and opinion. And news organizations should recognize their potential to expand their opinion and analysis role.

Employing more experts and producing new kinds of reporting and analysis is a smart way forward for news organizations. more>