Hunt for the Sun’s superflares

On March 10, 1989, solar astronomers observed an intense brightening on the Sun followed by a massive explosion that hurled a billion tonnes of hot ionised gas into space. These were tell-tale signs of a solar flare, a magnetised plasma storm ... A few days later on March 13, 1989, the Quebec power grid tripped, blanketing large parts of Canada in darkness and shutting down the Montreal metro network. Out in space, satellites started malfunctioning, radio communications broke down ... Read more.

Feds find 21 percent of tested honey samples adulterated

All of the “unsatisfactory” products were imported into Canada

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has announced that a surveillance program targeting honey sold to Canadians has found that more than 21 percent of tested samples were adulterated with foreign sugars. Read more.

New CRP: Optimizing Nuclear Techniques to Assess Accurate Quantitative Biomarkers of Added Sugar Intake in Adults

The IAEA is launching a new five-year Coordinated Research Project (CRP) that aims to optimize the use of natural abundance stable isotope ratios of carbon (13C/12C, hereafter the “CIR”) to assess added sugar intake in different populations. This is relevant in terms of the emerging evidence for the role of carbohydrate and free sugar intake in chronic disease, and the recent guidelines issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), which recommend restricting free sugar in the diet to less than 10%, or even 5% of total energy intake for additional health benefits. Read more.

Rocks Cooled the Whole Planet 15 Million Years Ago

New indications as to what initiated a long phase of cooling in Earth’s climate and kept it going may debunk a long-held theory about the pre-ice-age cooling.

Fifteen million years ago, the Earth’s climate entered into a period of slow, continuous cooling, and simultaneously the Antarctic ice sheet grew steadily larger. Finally, around 2.5 million years ago, ice covered Greenland, thrusting the Earth into its current bipolar ice age.

Geoscientists have been debating what brought about this global cooling for many years. Some argue that major mountain ranges such as the Andes, the Himalayas, and the Alps started to form 15 million years ago, and that they accelerated erosion and the weathering of rocks. This theory posits that the formation of mountains drew more carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere than processes such as volcanic eruptions were giving off, causing temperatures to continuously decrease.

Researchers have now demonstrated that this hypothesis is not accurate enough. Read more.

Radiocarbon helps date ancient objects — but it’s not perfect

For nearly 70 years, archaeologists have been measuring carbon-14 levels to date sites and artifacts.

Nothing good can last — and in the case of carbon-14, a radioactive isotope found in Earth’s atmosphere, that’s great news for archaeologists.

Over time, carbon-14 decays in predictable ways. And with the help of radiocarbon dating, researchers can use that decay as a kind of clock that allows them to peer into the past and determine absolute dates for everything from wood to food, pollen, poop, and even dead animals and humans. Read more.