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From the Editors

With 2004 now half over, Geotimes is taking stock of what the big ideas and activities have been in all corners of the geosciences over the past twelve months. Almost 40 stories strong, this year’s Highlights issue includes more disciplines than ever. Some stories cover new disciplines, while others pick up where they left off last year. We hope that the diversity of topics will provide a reasonable snapshot of the current research trends in the earth sciences.

Not surprisingly, Mars has captured both the imagination of the public and the mindset of much of the geosciences. Our Highlights authors bring the reality of martian field geology closer to home, with the red planet rising as a topic in both the predictable arenas — meteorites and planetary geology — and in some unexpected fields — geomorphology and economic geology. And so it was fitting that we featured the launch of one of the twin martian rovers, Spirit, on this year’s Highlights cover. Their successful launch and the wealth of information they are returning to us on Earth arguably represent the biggest earth science story of the year.

If you are itching for more details and information after reading this issue, check out Geotimes online, www.geotimes.org. As has been a tradition for the past two years, we are providing expanded coverage of the Highlights stories on our Web site, including additional information on a number of the topics covered and additional stories for which, regretfully, we could not find space in the print issue.

Just because this is the Highlights issue does not mean that we are not covering the latest news about our planet. As always, you can read the latest happenings in the News Notes section, ranging from a report on homeland security and geospatial data to the potential impact of piping natural gas through Caribbean reefs. Also, be sure to read our new Trends column, which we added to our lineup in May: This month, Staff Writer Megan Sever takes a look at changes in the field of synthetic diamond making, both for the gem and technological industries.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2004, we believe you will find an exciting variety of themes and stories. August promises to be a fun issue on geology and wine, which we hope will suit the mood of those taking late summer vacations. September is lining up with a hard look at the state of the geosciences in university-level education, including a comparison of how different countries structure their systems. And something that we are sure most of our U.S. readers will look forward to with great interest is our planned October issue, which will have a strong focus on the upcoming U.S. elections and how the geosciences stand to be affected not only by the presidential race, but also by the myriad other political contests that will be playing out across the country. Later this year will also bring coverage of energy issues and a special 360-degree focus on the topic of methane hydrates.

We hope you enjoy this month’s Highlights issue, and, as always, we enjoy hearing from you, our readers.

Christopher M. Keane
Geotimes Editor

Lisa M. Pinsker
Geotimes Managing Editor

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