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Latest Science News

The Science Behind Hawaii’s ‘Smiley Face’ Volcano

The Science Behind Hawaii’s ‘Smiley Face’ Volcano

[source] A “smiling” volcano has gone viral. Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano has been actively erupting since 1983, and it’s one of the most active volcanoes in the world, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). But the volcano received more attention recently when the volcano’s lava formed what looks like a smiley face. The smiley face appeared in a lava lake crater on the west flank of Pu’u ‘O’o, on Kilauea’s East Rift Zone, according to Janet Babb, a geologist with the USGS’ Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. [Explosive Images: Hawaii’s Kilauea Erupts for 30 Years] Pu’u ‘O’o also recently made headlines when the lava flow reached the ocean for the first time in three years. While it may seem like Kilauea was smiling for the cameras, the “face” has a more scientific explanation: The bright spots and incandescent line that created the face shape were produced by normal volcanic activity. As a lava lake circulates, lava upwelling and downwelling will occur on opposite sides of the lake, according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. This often results in a spattering of molten lava, which creates bright spots on the dark-colored, semi-solid lake surface. Circulation can also cause sections of the surface to pull apart, revealing the lava beneath and creating lines. By chance, these processes occurred in a pattern that created the smiling image, Babb said. “The Pu’u ‘O’o lava lake just happened to produce two spattering sources (bright dots) that have been interpreted as ‘eyes’ and an incandescent line that has been interpreted as a ‘mouth’ — with the two lake surface features located relative to each other to produce the... read more
From atop Mauna Kea, UH scientists are finding exoplanets, boosting the chance of discovering alien life

From atop Mauna Kea, UH scientists are finding exoplanets, boosting the chance of discovering alien life

[source] University of Hawaii astronomers were part of a globe-spanning team that recently announced the discovery of more than 100 new planets orbiting stars beyond our own solar system. These new exoplanets, confirmed in part through observations made from Hawaii-based telescopes, reveal an unprecedented range of diversity in the places and ways in which planets can form. And the study’s findings further raise the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial life. “One of my favorite quotes comes to mind, from Arthur C. Clarke,” said Evan Sinukoff, a co-author of the study and a graduate student at the UH Manoa Institute for Astronomy. “‘Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the universe or we are not — both are equally terrifying.’” This artist’s concept shows a crop of more than 100 planets, discovered by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope. Those planets include four in Earth’s size range orbiting a single dwarf star. NASA/JPL “We all know how easily fear can motivate people,” he laughed, then added, “What keeps me going into work every day is my desire for exploration and the notion that I’m contributing a chapter to a journey thousands of years in the making … and coffee.” The Flea And The Street Lamp To find these new planets, an international group of astronomers collaborated on a specific set of observations made with NASA’s orbiting Kepler Space Telescope, launched in 2009. Sinukoff said they started by taking measurements of more than 10,000 stars, in five different patches of the sky, each of which they monitored for three months. They looked for specific changes in a star’s brightness, potentially caused by an... read more

Local Events

Keahi Warfield’s Testimony in the TMT Contested Case Hearing

Keahi Warfield’s Testimony in the TMT Contested Case Hearing

On February 15th, 2017, Keahi took the stand to explain the story of PUEO, his struggle to educate himself and his mission to help kids find a positive and successful future for themselves.  He also explains how Hawaiians will benefit in the short term and long term by the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea.  His powerful story explaining his reasons for supporting the telescope is a message that everyone should hear before they rush to judge the TMT project. Video is courtesy of Na Leo TV.... read more
“Sea to Sky Event” – Rebuilding Hōkūalaka’i – Sept. 24

“Sea to Sky Event” – Rebuilding Hōkūalaka’i – Sept. 24

A free youth event called “Sea to Sky” will be held this weekend.  This event is designed to bring different aspects of our island together with the common purpose of rebuilding the voyaging canoe, Hōkūalaka’i.  The Hōkūalaka’i will be used for teaching purposes on Hawaiʻi Island and beyond. Hōkūalakaʻi’s home is in the same location (Palekai) that the historic Hōkūleʻa departed from on its world wide voyage. This will be the first of many “Sea to Sky” events at Palekai in Hilo.  It will be an all day event with something for everyone to enjoy.  We have invited many members of the scientific field to have fun educational learning stations available for kids and all participants will be hosted with great food and activities. The focus of the monthly events are structured to: Unite community in helping to restore the voyaging canoe, Hōkūalaka’i. Promote indigenous knowledge in science programs Increase cultural relevance Create opportunities to pursue careers in science and culture education fields The schedule for the September 24th will be: 8:00-8:30am Informal meet, setup and discuss days activities and work planned for the canoe. 8:45-9:30am ‘awa ceremony and welcome 9:30-11:30am Work on Hōkūalakaʻi, Visit Learning Stations, and Site Beautification Project 11:30-12:30pm Lunch 1:00-4:30 Paddling, Sailing, Swimming (Ocean Activities) 4:30-5:00 Closing talk and cleanup We will have “Learning Stations” and a variety of organizations joining us each week. Come down to Palekai and join in the community effort to restore Hōkūalakaʻi and help our youth learn about the science and culture that is happening on the Big Island. If you would like to setup a booth to help educate... read more