Fluffy specks of carbon-rich dust found in Antarctica could help explain how the carbon needed for life wound up on Earth.

Fossil fuels have a new crime to live down. A frenzy of hydrocarbon burning at the end of the Permian period may have led to the most devastating mass extinction Earth has ever seen, as explosive encounters between magma and coal released more carbon dioxide in the course of a few years than in all of human history.

An alternative to conventional uranium and plutonium reactors might be immune to the problems that have plagued the Fukushima nuclear power plant.