Earth & Environment

The "third rock from the Sun"—Earth. With an orbit neither too close nor too far from the Sun, it occupies a unique position in the Solar System. It's the only planet known to man with the right conditions for the origin and evolution of life. During Earth's 4.5 billion-year history, a combination of processes has transformed it into a watery blue, living planet. The Earth's ecosystems involve complex interactions between the biological (living) and physical (non-living) worlds. Scientific research helps us comprehend our effects on the environment and how the environment in turn responds to impacts of our activities.

Tiny solutions to big water problems

How do you take dirty water and make it clean? With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), this team is hard at work designing nanometer-scale water filters that could soon make clean drinking water available and affordable for even the poorest of the poor around the world

Clean, green (and cheap!) plastics

The goal of researchers at the Center for Sustainable Polymers? Economically competitive and environmentally friendly polymers that outperform their traditional counterparts

Pulling drinkable water out of dry air

Imagine a future in which every home has an appliance that pulls all the water the household needs out of the air, even in dry or desert climates, using only the power of the sun

Polyploidy

A team of three scientists from Kansas State University, Michigan State University and the Desert Botanical Garden are investigating polyploidy (the condition of having more than one set of chromosomes) and diversity in the plant genus Phlox (Polemoniaceae).

NSF Science Now: Episode 51

In this week's episode, we learn about marine mammals' need for speed, magnify a new tool combating mosquito-borne disease, break down new materials inspired by kirigami, and finally, discover new hydrothermal vents. Check it out!

Dive Deeper: Donna Blackman looks at the future of Alvin

Marine geophysicist Donna Blackman from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography remembers Alvin's discovery of the Lost City hydrothermal vent field in 2000 and looks ahead to the people and tools that will take Alvin to even greater depths of discovery

SupraSensor: A super tool for precision agriculture

The SupraSensor device is designed to give farmers a highly accurate, virtually constant stream of data on nitrate levels. The device is an excellent example of highly applied science with roots in basic research -- in this case supramolecular chemistry at the University of Oregon.

Researchers assemble 5 new synthetic yeast chromosomes

A global research team has built five new synthetic yeast chromosomes, meaning that 30 percent of a key organism's genetic material has now been swapped out for engineered replacements. Jef Boeke discusses the importance of yeast as a research model and how new research may lead to synthetic genomes to address unmet needs in medicine and industry.

Urban heat island: Improving data for sustainable cities

This video is part of "Changes and Choices in the Yahara," a mini-documentary series showcasing the major research implications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Water Sustainability and Climate project, a five-year research endeavor funded by the National Science Foundation.

Groundwater and agriculture: tapping the hidden benefits

This video is part of "Changes and Choices in the Yahara," a mini-documentary series showcasing the major research implications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Water Sustainability and Climate project, a five-year research endeavor funded by the National Science Foundation.

Agriculture

Soil salinization prevents crops from taking up water and nutrients due to an excess of salt in the soil. Meagan Mauter at Carnegie Mellon University is developing technology to monitor salinity levels to allow farmers to make better watering decisions.

Wastewater

Wastewater is what gets flushed down the toilet, rinsed down the drain, and produced by places such as factories, workplaces, and homes. Kartik Chandran at Columbia University is changing the perception of wastewater by treating it more efficiently and creating energy from resources found in it.