Earth & Climate

Jurassic climate of large swath of western U.S. was more complex than previously known

Climate over a large swath of the western U.S. was more complex during the Jurassic than previously known, according to new research from SMU.

Instead of a gradual transition from dry to wetter, chemical analysis of ancient soils reveals there was an unexpected abrupt change. Samples came from the Morrison Formation, which sprawls 13 states and Canada and which has produced dinosaur discoveries for over 100 years.
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International Business Times: Angola — Ancient Mystery Mammal Tracks Found in Angolan Diamond Mine

Angola, dinosaur, mystery, tracksThe research of an international team co-led by SMU paleontologist Louis L. Jacobs is receiving worldwide coverage for discovery of the first dinosaur tracks discovered in Angola, including those of a mysterious mammal from 118 million years ago.

The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology announced the discovery in a press release Nov. 5, “African diamond mine reveals dinosaur and large mammal tracks.” Continue reading

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KERA Think: Tiny Particles, Big Impact

Tom Coan, neutrinos, SMU, physics, NOvAKERA public radio 90.1 hosted SMU physicist Thomas E. Coan on Krys Boyd‘s “Think” program Oct. 29. Coan and Boyd discussed neutrinos, one of the most elusive particles in the Standard Model’s “particle zoo.”

Neutrinos are the subject of the NOvA experiment, with the goal to better understand the origins of matter and the inner workings of the universe. Continue reading

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Hunt begins for elusive neutrino particle at one of the world’s largest, most powerful detectors

NOvA, SMU, Thomas Coan, Fermilab, neutrinosWhen scientists pour 3.0 million gallons of mineral oil into what are essentially 350,000 giant plastic tubes, the possibility of a leak can’t be overlooked, says SMU physicist Thomas E. Coan.

The oil and tubes are part of the integral structure of the world’s newest experiment to understand neutrinos — invisible fundamental particles so abundant they constantly bombard us and pass through us at a rate of more than 100,000 billion particles a second. Continue reading

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The Atlantic: Can a Nation’s Soil Explain Its Economic Fortunes?

Omer Ozak, SMU, agriculture, soil, economicsJournalist Joe Pinsker with The Atlantic covered the research of SMU economist Ömer Özak about the association between cultures that value long-term payoffs and their ancient history of successful crop yields.

Pinsker’s story, “Can a Nation’s Soil Explain Its Economic Fortunes?” published Sept. 17. Continue reading

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KERA: Telescope-Wielding Twosome: High School Students Discover New Stars

SMU, Lake Highlands, binary star, discovery, Fritz, Barton, Quark, KERAReporter Courtney Collins at public radio station KERA covered the discovery of five stars by two Dallas high school students in an SMU summer physics research program.

Quarknet enabled the students to analyze data gleaned from a high-powered telescope in the New Mexico desert. All five stars are pairs of stars that orbit around each other so closely that their outer atmospheres touch, then dim and brighten as one emerges from behind the other. Continue reading

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Houston Chronicle: Project to protect rare dinosaur tracks

dino3Houston Chronicle reporter Marvin Pfiefer has written about a project led by SMU alum Thomas L. Adams to catalog and protect the tracks of a 110 million-year-old dinosaur preserved in rock at Government Canyon State Natural Area.

Adams, a paleontologist, is a graduate of Dedman College’s Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences.

The story, “Project to protect rare dinosaur tracks,” published in the Thursday, Aug. 28 edition of the Houston Chronicle. Continue reading

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DMN: Two high school students discover variable stars during SMU summer program

Lake Highlands, variable star, discovery, SMU, QuarknetReporter Alexis Espinosa with the Dallas Morning News covered the discovery of five stars made by two Dallas high school students, Dominik Fritz (left) and Jason Barton, in an SMU summer physics research program.

The Quarknet program enabled the students to analyze data from a high-powered telescope in New Mexico to discover a variable star — one that changes brightness. (Credit: DMN) Continue reading

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Eclipsing binary stars discovered by high school students at SMU summer research program

binary stars, SMU, Quarknet, students, discovery, physicsTwo Dallas high school students discovered five stars as members of an SMU summer physics research program that enabled them to analyze data gleaned from a high-powered telescope in the New Mexico desert.

All five stars are eclipsing contact binary stars — pairs of stars that orbit each other so closely that their outer atmospheres touch. As they eclipse, they dim and then brighten. Continue reading

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