Ancient Water Underlies Arid Egypt

A hidden trove of groundwater is left over from the last ice age.

Aside from the Nile River’s green corridor, much of northeastern Africa is desert. But the arid landscape hides a secret: Vast quantities of groundwater fill an underground aquifer that spans four countries.

A new study using chloride isotopes to date the groundwater under Egypt’s Eastern Desert has found that the water in smaller, shallower aquifers is refilled by the larger, deeper aquifer, where vast quantities of groundwater date to the last ice age. Read more.

Hot Carbon: Carbon-14 and a Revolution in Science (John F. Marra, Columbia University Press, 2019)

Chris Turney applauds a book on carbon-14 and its key applications in archaeology, climatology and oceanography.

It is nearly 80 years since the discovery of carbon-14, a radioactive isotope of the sixth element. Because its decay can be used to track the passage of time, radiocarbon has made myriad contributions across the Earth, environmental, biological and archaeological sciences. In the wonderfully engaging Hot Carbon, oceanographer John Marra takes this story much further, exploring not just the science, but why we should care about it. Read more.

Tooth enamel analyses offer insights into the diet and habitat of T. rex relative tarbosaurus

Together with an international team, Senckenberg scientist Hervé Bocherens studied the fossilized teeth of the carnivorous dinosaur Tarbosaurus bataar. Based on stable isotopes, the researchers were able to draw inferences regarding the habitat and feeding habits of this relative of T. rex, who lived around 70 million years ago. According to the results, the carnivores were not very picky in their prey selection. Read more.

Move Over, Energizer Bunny! NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover Just Got Its Nuclear Battery

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover is fueling up for the Red Planet.

NASA’s next spacecraft on Mars is getting a nuclear battery to do science on the Red Planet.

The Mars 2020 rover will soon be fueled using a multi-mission radioisotope thermoelectric generator, which is essentially a battery to keep it warm and productive on its mission in search of signs of habitability on Mars. Read more.