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6 March 2014 1:04 pm ,
Vol. 343 ,
Magdalena Koziol, a former postdoc at Yale University, was the victim of scientific sabotage. Now, she is suing the...
Antiretroviral drugs can protect people from becoming infected by HIV. But so-called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP...
Two studies show that eating a diet low in protein and high in carbohydrates is linked to a longer, healthier life, and...
Considered an icon of conservation science, researchers at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) headquarters in Washington, D.C.,...
The new atlas, which shows the distribution of important trace metals and other substances, is the first product of...
Early in April, the first of a fleet of environmental monitoring satellites will lift off from Europe's spaceport in...
Since 2000, U.S. government health research agencies have spent almost $1 billion on an effort to churn out thousands...
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ScienceShot: What Struck Earth in 775?
3 June 2012 1:00 pm
In 775 C.E., while Charlemagne was ruling his Frankish kingdom, something mysterious struck Earth. An analysis of the rings of two Japanese cedar trees (typical tree rings shown above), reported online today in Nature, reveals that from 774 to 775 C.E., the atmospheric level of radioactive carbon-14 jumped by 1.2%. This indicates that cosmic rays—high-speed, charged particles from space—bombarded our planet and converted some atmospheric nitrogen-14 into carbon-14. Earlier work had found a rise in radioactive carbon during the same decade; the new discovery means that scientists have been able to narrow down the date of impact to within just 1 year. The scientists argue against two logical suspects: solar flares are too weak to do the job, and no supernova explosion was seen at the time, nor do any nearby supernova remnants date back to Charlemagne's time. There's also nothing unusual in the history books. So the cause remains a mystery, but whatever it was, something similar could presumably strike again.
See more ScienceShots.