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Life Helps Make Almost Half of Earth’s Minerals
A new origins-based system for classifying minerals reveals the huge geochemical imprint that life has left on Earth. It could help us identify other worlds with life too.
What Is Life?
Without a good definition of life, how do we look for it on alien planets? Steven Strogatz speaks with Robert Hazen, a mineralogist and astrobiologist, and Sheref Mansy, a chemist, to learn more.
Solving the Faint-Sun Paradox
We might have a past faint sun to owe for life’s existence. This has consequences for the possibility of life outside Earth.
A Burp or a Blast? Seismic Signals Reveal the Volcanic Eruption to Come
Scientists have begun to decipher the subtle signs that reveal how explosive a volcanic eruption is going to be.
Radioactivity May Fuel Life Deep Underground and Inside Other Worlds
New work suggests that the radiolytic splitting of water supports giant subsurface ecosystems of life on Earth — and could do it elsewhere, too.
The New Historian of the Smash That Made the Himalayas
About 60 million years ago, India plowed into Eurasia and pushed up the Himalayas. But when Lucía Pérez-Díaz reconstructed the event in detail, she found that its central mystery depended on a broken geological clock.
Scientists Pin Down When Earth’s Crust Cracked, Then Came to Life
New data indicating that Earth’s surface broke up about 3.2 billion years ago helps clarify how plate tectonics drove the evolution of complex life.
Scientists Uncover the Universal Geometry of Geology
An exercise in pure mathematics has led to a wide-ranging theory of how the world comes together.
How Earth’s Climate Changes Naturally (and Why Things Are Different Now)
Earth’s climate has fluctuated through deep time, pushed by these 10 different causes. Here’s how each compares with modern climate change.