In early March, D.C.'s famed cherry blossoms were ready to pop. An unusually balmy February had nudged the trees from the naked skeletal branches of dull dormancy into full flower production mode. Although most of the flowers were still young—little more than buds—some had reached a status worthy of peeping, with full “puffy white” blossoms. And then came a week of not wholly unexpected back-to-back hard freezes. It was early March, after all, and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration doesn't declare Washington free from frost risk until the end of April.
In preparation for war in 1940s, U.S. Army tanks crunched across the wild deserts of Southern California, leaving tracks that will remain for thousands of years. Jeffrey Lovich, a U.S. Geologic Survey research ecologist, has trekked through these harsh desert environs for decades, and sometimes comes across the tank- imprinted past. “It's a consequence of history,” he says.
On April 1, 2017, the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico opened its Stallion gate to the public, like it does twice every year. For a few hours, visitors are free to wander the Trinity Test Site, where, on July 16, 1945, the United States tested the first atomic bomb in history, forever altering the destructive power available to humans. On the way in, the over 4,600 visitors were greeted by about two dozen protesters, whose signs bore a simple, stark message: The first victims of an atomic bomb are still living.
Our smartphones and other gadgets are powered by lithium-ion batteries, but as companies like Samsung know all too well, those charge-holders can be flammable under the wrong conditions. The hazards of lithium-ion batteries are also a concern for another group, one with a strong incentive to keep fires at bay: the U.S. Navy. Now chemists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NLR) have announced a new battery technology that they say is both safe and rechargeable, and could make its way into electric vehicles, bikes, or ships.
In 1970, Republican President Richard Nixon signed an executive order creating the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It was a time when pollution made many of our nation's rivers and streams unsafe for fishing or swimming. Back then, New York City's air pollution was so thick that you often couldn't see the city's iconic bridges. Forty-seven years later, there is serious talk of dismantling the agency, or at least slashing its size by two-thirds.