David Kilper / WUSTL PhotoWUSTL researchers are trying to infer the Egyptian climate from the fossil evidence.Earth and planetary scientists at Washington University in St. Louis are studying snail fossils to understand the climate of northern Africa 130,000 years ago. While that might sound a bit like relying on wooly bear caterpillars to predict the severity of winter, the snails actually reveal clues about the climate and environment of western Egypt, lo those many years ago. They also could shed light on the possible role weather and climate played in the dispersal of humans “out of Africa” and into Europe and Asia.
To operate a nuclear power plant like Three Mile Island, hundreds of highly trained employees must work in concert to generate power from safe fission, all the while containing dangerous nuclear wastes. On the other hand, it’s been known for 30 years that Mother Nature once did nuclear chain reactions by her lonesome. Now, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have analyzed the isotopic structure of noble gases produced in fission in a sample from the only known natural nuclear chain reaction site in the world in Gabon, Wes Africa, and have found how she does the trick.