Alexandra Branscombe

Alexandra Branscombe

I write about geoscience, mathematics, and renewable energy.



Climate change could increase ER visits for allergy-related asthma

More children could wind up in hospital emergency rooms suffering from allergy-induced asthma if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise and cause longer oak pollen seasons, according to a new study. The new research finds that if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase through the end of this century, the oak pollen season in some areas could extend by up to eight days.

Glass formed by volcanic lightning could be used to study eruptions

Researchers who study volcanoes must get creative: The extreme conditions of an erupting volcano can destroy instruments used to measure the fiery event, making studying the heat, energy, lava flow, and other characteristics of the eruption difficult. Now, researchers have developed a method to measure one of the most striking and difficult to measure volcanic features – volcanic lightning – using the tiny glass spheres formed by hot volcanic ash.
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New study explains how continents leave their roots behind

In some areas of the seafloor, a tectonic mystery lies buried deep underground. The ocean floor contains some of the newest rock on Earth, but underneath these young oceanic plates are large swatches of much older continents that have been dislocated from their continental plates and overtaken by the younger, denser oceanic plate.
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Lightning could be sending powerful electromagnetic radiation into space

During a thunderstorm, lightning that hits the ground may be shooting powerful electromagnetic radiation skyward. At least that is the new theory from a physicist in China who specializes in laser-plasma interactions. Hui-Chun Wu, who works at the Institute for Fusion Theory and Simulation (IFTS) and Department of Physics at Zhejiang University, has developed a new theory connecting lightning to a mysterious atmospheric event: trans-ionospheric pulse pairs.
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Livestock digestion released more methane than oil and gas industry in 2004

WASHINGTON, DC – Livestock were the single largest source of methane gas emissions in the United States in 2004, releasing 70 percent more of the powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere than the oil and gas industry, according to a new study. The new findings based on satellite data from 2004 provide the clearest picture yet of methane emissions over the entire U.S.
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The risky business of climate change

WASHINGTON, DC – Up to $106 billion worth of coastal homes and businesses in the U.S. are likely to be underwater by the year 2050 due to rising sea levels, and up to $507 billion in coastal property will likely be below sea level by 2100, according to a new report released today. The report is based in part on a new study on sea level rise in Earth’s Future, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.
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Scientist wins award for innovative water-filtering technology

By Alexandra Branscombe for INL Communications & Governmental Affairs. Hydraulic fracturing has been under fire for the amount of concentrated wastewater produced by the fracking process — up to 3 to 5 million gallons per drill site. However, a new technology developed at Idaho National Laboratory could change that by turning fracking wastewater back into potable water.

Idaho laser research could benefit nuclear recycling

By Alexandra Branscombe for INL Communications & Governmental Affairs. James Bond uses a laser beam to cut through windows and walls, but scientists at the Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES) are using a new laser that can melt metal. The laser resides in the CAES Radiochemistry Lab. Within a special room inside an impeccably clean and ultra-secure laboratory, scientists are evaluating a system called Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS), which uses a high-power laser to discern the contents of used nuclear fuel.

Idaho scientist creates solution for looming broadband shortage

By Alexandra Branscombe for INL Communications & Governmental Affairs. A new technology could help manage a potential data tsunami that might otherwise drastically restrict the use of smartphones, tablets and other wireless data technologies because of a nationwide mobile wireless broadband deficit.

Crowdfunding: What’s in It for Scientists?

It seemed like no one was willing to take a chance on Louisa Edgerly. She had been working for months to get funding for her research ...
Scientific American Link to Story

Women @ Energy: Kelly Lively

Department of Energy: Women @ Energy Link to Story

USAMO Winners Watch World Turn Inside Out

What you can see from your single vantage point (up and down, all the way around) is called the viewable sphere, explained Torrence. Most photos capture one perspective-looking in one direction. Even with a wide-angle lens, a single photograph cannot capture the full scene. To capture the viewable sphere, a photographer must take a series of photographs in every direction from the same point in space, he said. Special software can stitch together the photo series to create a seamless panorama. On a computer, this panorama can be explored interactively, like Google Street View -- a panorama application that most people are familiar with, he said.
MAA Focus Link to Story


Alexandra Branscombe

I am a science writer and fact-checker passionate about telling stories that connect science discovery to real-world applications.

As a full-time communications specialist at the Mathematical Association of America, my job is to show how mathematics drives society and shapes our lives.

I also work fact checking for Discover Magazine, where I create detailed reports on scientific columns and feature articles that go into the print magazine and online. I research primary sources and interview experts to determine the veracity of all factual statements in the article.

My previous experience includes work as a research assistant in both U.S. and Brazilian ecology laboratories, and positions on communications teams at the university and national level. I covered freshwater ecology at the University of Wisconsin's Center for Limnology, and nuclear engineering and innovation at the DOE's Idaho National Laboratory.

I have two bachelor's degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in life sciences communication and biology.



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