The Paleontological Research institution, the curator of fossils and founding organization of Ithaca's Museum of the Earth, has waded into sensitive topics before -- evolution, climate change, the effects of last year's Gulf of Mexico oil spill among others. But now, it's getting involved in the science behind exploration for natural gas in its own back yard, and that can be delicate. After all, scientists are people, too.

""We all have friends across the spectrum," said Robert Ross, PRI's associate director for outreach. "We want to continue conversations with everyone."

With a $100,000 grant from the National Science Foundation obtained in May 2010, PRI has begun publishing a series of printed and online primers on the earth science involved in exploration and extraction in the Marcellus shale rock formation beneath much of central New York.

The first set was published in May this year. The online versions are at More are planned for release starting this summer.

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