Parts of nuclear waste may be converted into diamond nuclear batteries that will last a lifetime

Researchers, physicists, and chemists at the University of Bristol, UK, have discovered a way to convert thousands of tons of seemingly worthless nuclear waste into man-made diamond batteries that can generate a small electric current for longer than a thousand years. This is a truly fantastic breakthrough, given the fact that the main problem in dealing with nuclear waste is to really separate what is just waste and what can still be used as a valuable resource. Read more.

Marine sediments record variations in the Earth’s magnetic field

Past variations in the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field are reflected by the production of isotopes in the atmosphere. Researchers from the CNRS, Aix Marseille Universite and the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission CEA have used an isotope extracted from marine sediments to identify such geomagnetic excursions over a particularly long period.

Beryllium-10 provides a timeline stretching back over the past 850,000 years, during which its concentration fluctuated according to the strength of Earth’s magnetic field. The work, published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, provides a new tool to study past variations in the Earth’s magnetic field and its behavior in the future. Read more.

Earth’s carbon-climate feedbacks varied in past warming episodes

Records from drill holes in the eastern equatorial Pacific indicate that Earth’s orbital eccentricity played an important role in controlling climate as the planet warmed.

Embedded within the Earth’s long-term cooling trend over the past 65 million years are several climate spikes—swift transitions to “hothouse” conditions—that had profound consequences for life. These spikes could serve as analogues for the future of our warming planet.

The cause of these spikes may in part be due to changes in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, an important greenhouse gas. But the complex feedbacks between the Earth’s climate and the carbon cycle have been hotly debated, and there is little scientific consensus on this issue. Read more.

Mammoth and mastodon behavior was less roam, more stay-at-home

According to research conducted by the University of Cincinnati, the fuzzy relatives of modern-day elephants liked living in greater Cincinnati long before it became the trendy hot spot it is today - at the end of the last Ice Age. A study led by Brooke Crowley, an assistant professor of geology and anthropology, shows the ancient proboscideans enjoyed the area to such an extent that they probably resided there year round and were not the nomadic migrants as previously thought. Read more.