Sunday, March 16, 2008

10 questions shaping the earth sciences

A new report from the National Research Council identifies 10 challenges facing the earth and planetary sciences. I served on the NRC Board on Earth Sciences and Resources (BESR) when this proposal was first brought forward and the discussions leading up to the study were incredibly exciting. [right: NASA] The ten challenges are:

  • How did earth and other planets form?
  • What happened during earth's "dark age" (the first 500 million years)?
  • How did life begin?
  • How does earth's interior work, and how does it affect the surface?
  • Why does earth have plate tectonics and continents?
  • How are earth processes controlled by material properties?
  • How has life shaped earth -- and how has earth shaped life?
  • Can earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and their consequences be predicted?
  • How do fluid flow and transport affect the human environment?

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