For life as we know it to develop on other planets, those planets would need liquid water, or oceans. Geologic evidence suggests that Earth’s oceans have existed for nearly the entire history of our world.
Harvard physicists have suggested that a disk of dark matter may lie along the center line of the galaxy.
Evidence is mounting that Earth’s water arrived during formation, aboard meteorites and small bodies called “planetesimals.”
Originally scheduled to operate on the Red Planet’s surface for 90 Martian days, the rover Opportunity has now logged more than 3,500 days, traveled nearly 39 kilometers, and collected a trove of data that scientists have used to study the planet’s early history, particularly any past traces of water.
The Harvard Museum of Natural History has opened its renovated Earth and Planetary Sciences gallery, linking the fantastic mineral displays to the story of the Earth and the work of faculty members who conduct research on geological processes.
Astronomers have found a planetary system orbiting the star Kepler-62. This five-planet system has two worlds in the habitable zone — the distance from their star at which they receive enough light and warmth for liquid water to theoretically exist on their surfaces.
Earth-like planets potentially capable of supporting life may be right in our galactic neighborhood, according to researchers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the California Institute of Technology.
The quest for a twin Earth is heating up. Francois Fressin, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), presented the new analysis of Kepler data that shows that about 17 percent of stars have an Earth-sized planet in an orbit closer than Mercury.
Once its axis tilts, how does the Earth “know” to return to its normal orientation? Work by Harvard researchers provides some answers.
In a paper published in the June 7 issue of Nature, Associate Professor Sujoy Mukhopadhyay presents evidence that the Earth’s deep mantle incorporated gas found in the solar nebula in the first few millions of years of the solar system’s formation.
A team of researchers from Harvard, MIT, and the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris have proposed a surprisingly simple explanation for magnetic anomalies that have baffled scientists since the mid-1960s, suggesting they are remnants of a massive asteroid. As described in a paper published in Science, the researchers believe an asteroid slammed into the moon 4 billion years ago, leaving behind an enormous crater and iron-rich, highly magnetic rock.
Harvard astronomers, working as part of NASA’s Kepler mission, have detected the first Earth-sized planets orbiting a distant star, a milestone in the hunt for alien worlds that brings scientists one step closer to their ultimate goal of finding a twin Earth.
Scientists are examining single-celled organisms in extreme environments for clues to what life might look like on the myriad planets being discovered in the universe.
Scientists are advancing in their understanding of the biology of the deep sea, which still remains largely unexplored and mysterious, according to Associate Professor Peter Girguis.
Scientist discusses growing effects of global climate change with members of Harvard’s Class of 2014.
Harvard researchers working with NASA’s Kepler satellite reported Thursday that they might have spotted a planet just 1.5 times the diameter of Earth around a Sun-like star 2,000 light-years away…
Members of Professor Ann Pearson’s lab switched from science to art recently, decorating the slate panels outside the Hoffman Laboratory with depictions of three great eras in Earth’s history: the Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic.
New paper answers the long-standing scientific question about cause of tropics’ stunning biodiversity.
Environmental panel discusses the problems facing the Earth, and what it would take to reverse the damaging trends.
Esteemed biologist Edward O. Wilson called for renewed efforts to understand and conserve the planet’s biodiversity, in the first of three Prather Lectures being presented this week.
“If we really want to understand what’s happed in the history of Earth, we really have to understand this cross talk between the physical and biological processes,” says study coauthor Andrew Knoll of Harvard University.
As NASA’s Kepler space telescope this week begins scanning the Milky Way for planets that might harbor life, scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) are keeping their fingers crossed and waiting for the data to start flowing.
Theoretical geophysicist Jerry X. Mitrovica, whose studies of the Earth’s structure and evolution have important implications for our understanding of climate and sea-level changes throughout Earth’s history, has been named professor of geophysics in Harvard University’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, effective July 1.
Even on Earth Day — an April celebration of the environment since 1970 — humor traditionally has had little place. There’s always more oh-oh than ho-ho.
While joggers and strollers streamed merrily along sunny Memorial Drive on Saturday (April 25), Robert M. “Rob” Gogan Jr. was just a few yards away, bobbing in a kayak while combing the banks of the Charles River for litter.
Harvard paleontologists have shed new light on one of the most enduring mysteries of life on Earth: the origins of the creatures that suddenly appear in the fossil record 530 million years ago in an event known as the Cambrian Explosion.
Scientists at Harvard University have found that tropical cyclones readily inject ice far into the stratosphere, possibly feeding global warming.
Earth is shielded by a film of air barely 6 miles high. About 10 million species of plants and animals, including 6 billion humans, reside within this thin skin of gases.
Once a day, Miaki Ishii rides the Earth tide, rising slowly — along with her desk, chair, and entire office — 20 to 30 centimeters before sinking back again.
It’s December, and undergraduate Jenny Middleton bundles up to face the cold. While all across campus, students, and faculty don their winter gear, Middleton is not preparing for the New England winter; she is preparing for an expedition through the Earth’s coldest desert: the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica.
Climate change has so much momentum behind it that “either/or” discussions about options are meaningless because it’ll take all we can do just to arrest carbon dioxide at levels double those in preindustrial times, a top climate scientist said Dec. 11.
Human degradation of the environment has the potential to stall an ongoing process of planetary evolution, and even rewind the evolutionary clock to leave the planet habitable only by the bacteria that dominated billions of years of Earth’s history, Harvard geochemist Charles Langmuir said Thursday (Nov. 13).
Back in the depths of time, an event almost miraculously improbable happened, creating a long, unlikely molecule. And life arose on Earth. Or, if you prefer, back in the depths of time, in a soup of small, relatively common molecules, an unknown chemical reaction occurred, sustained itself, replicated … and life arose on Earth.
There was a polar bear sighting at Harvard last week. At Pforzheimer House on Thursday (Oct. 2), global warming expert James J. McCarthy delivered a crisp summary of how fast ice is melting in the Arctic — and why we should care. The audience of 80 took in his companion slide show, including images of ice-stranded polar bears.
The Harvard Map Collection presents its fall exhibition, “From the Amazon to the Volga: The Cartographic Representation of Rivers,” which opened Wednesday (Sept. 24). For centuries, cartographers have wrestled with the difficulties of depicting rivers, and in the process they have devised many ingenious ways of answering the challenge — from streambed profiles to bird’s-eye views, ranging in format from portfolio atlases to strip maps, accordion books, and scrolls. This exhibit examines how mapmakers from the 15th century to the early 20th century sought to measure, track, and frame some of the major rivers of the world, including the Tigris and Euphrates, Amazon, Don, Danube, Nile, Congo, Rhine, Volga, and Mississippi. The exhibition runs through Jan. 30, 2009, in Map Gallery Hall, Pusey Library.
Harvard may be rooted in Cambridge, but it has a lot more roots in the small north-central Massachusetts town of Petersham. That's where you'll find the woods, streams, and fields of the Harvard Forest, a 3,500-acre research and teaching facility that's been part of the University for more than a century. Having been closely monitored since 1907 — and with a provenance dating to a Colonial farm established in the mid 1700s — the history of this tract is likely better-documented than that of any other forest in the United States.
A new analysis of the Martian rock that gave hints of water on the Red Planet — and, therefore, optimism about the prospect of life — now suggests the water was more likely a thick brine, far too salty to support life as we know it. The finding, by scientists at Harvard University and Stony Brook University, is detailed this week in the journal Science.
Harvard Professor of Biology and of Geology Charles Marshall presented his Tuesday (April 29), suggesting that it was an increase in interactions between species, such as predation, that drove an escalating evolutionary process that led to the development of teeth and claws and the wide variety of characteristics that we see among Earth’s animals today.
Jeremy B.C. Jackson earned his first chops as a scholar by studying the ecological impacts of an event that unfolded over the last 15 million years: the formation of the Isthmus of Panama, dividing the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and setting off profound evolutionary oceanic and terrestrial changes.
How did we get here? That’s not the first line in a hangover joke. It’s a question that has been asked for centuries about the origins of life on Earth. At Harvard last week, an A-list of astronomers, physicists, Earth scientists, and chemists met in the Radcliffe Gymnasium to look at this and other fundamental questions. (What is life? Are we alone in the universe?)
Researchers at Harvard and the University of Hawaii believe they’ve resolved a long-standing controversy over the roots of islands — volcanoes in the middle of tectonic plates — showing that the islands’ lava provides a window into the early Earth’s makeup.
Steam vents in Yellowstone National Park are part of the area’s unique environment, seen in a case study exploring Yellowstone and the reintroduction of wolves into the park. This case study is part of a new environmental science course for high school science teachers.
The Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) and Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) are two of the Milky Way’s closest neighboring galaxies. A stunning sight in the southern hemisphere, they were named after the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who explored those waters in the 16th century. For hundreds of years, these galaxies were considered satellites of the Milky Way, gravitationally bound to our home galaxy. But new research by Gurtina Besla of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and her colleagues shows that the Magellanic Clouds are recent arrivals — on their first visit to the Milky Way’s neighborhood.
Almost 14 billion years after the big bang, and 3.5 billion years since the first bacteria appeared on Earth, humans occupy just one branch of the tree of life. We share an evolutionary limb with other eukaryotes, creatures whose membrane-bound cells carry genetic material. Our biological neighbors developed over time just as we did, by the evolutionary forces of mutation and natural selection. They include plants, fungi, and slime molds.
On the second floor of the Peabody Museum, in a darkened room painted flat black, Harvard geologist John Shaw slips on a pair of futuristic goggles as he sits before a 23-foot-wide wrap-around screen.
An innovative solution for the man-made carbon dioxide fouling our skies could rest far beneath the surface of the ocean, say scientists at Harvard University. They've found that deep-sea sediments could provide a virtually unlimited and permanent reservoir for this gas that has been a primary driver of global climate change in recent decades, and estimate that seafloor sediments within U.S. territory are vast enough to store the nation's carbon dioxide emissions for thousands of years to come.