Category: Science

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NoteStreams (Most Recent First)

Did Climate Change Cause Hurricane Harvey? Plus What to Expect in the Storm’s Aftermath

The astonishing ferocity of Hurricane Harvey may mark the moment when the discussion linking extreme weather with climate change got seriously widespread.
PLoS Blogs
CC BY 4.0

Category: Science

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A Nightmare at Murder Farm: The Story of one of America’s most Prolific Serial Killers

Children in La Porte, Indiana grow up listening to graphic horror stories about the gruesome murder’s committed by Belle Gunness on her farm at the end of McClung Road. The most disturbing part about these grisly stories is that the gory parts are not fiction.
Strange Remains
CC BY NC-SA 4.0

Category: Science

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Maryam Mirzakhani was a Role Model for More Than Just Mathematics

On July 14, Maryam Mirzakhani, Stanford professor of mathematics and the only female winner of the prestigious Fields Medal in Mathematics, died at the age of 40.
The grief was especially hard-hitting for a generation of younger academics like me who have always held Maryam as a role model whose example is helping redefine women’s status in science and especially mathematics.
Post by Mehrdokht Pournader, Lecturer in Operations Management and Organizational Behavior, Macquarie Graduate School of Management
The Conversation
CC BY-ND 4.0

Category: Science

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The Upcoming Total Eclipse of the Sun has a Potential Dark Side

Ha ha. You thought the total solar eclipse on August 21 was going to be a fun thing as well as a glorious natural phenomenon, right?
Nope. Turns out that the eclipse is packing a collection of potential crises.
PLoS Blogs
CC BY 4.0

Category: Science

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Where Did Dogs Come From?

INVENTING THE DOG, CANIS FAMILIARIS
It once seemed as if the dog was a triumphant early human invention, our first domesticated animal many thousands of years ago, a deliberate product of ancient Homo sap ingenuity that has done us proud down through the millenia.
But now it appears as if dogs may not be evidence of paleolithic human cleverness after all. Perhaps, new research argues, the incipient dog was a genetic accident that we stumbled upon. Maybe dogs are just mutant wolves with a genetically based developmental disorder that we simply seized on and exploited.
PLoS Blogs
CC BY 4.0

Category: Science

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The Murder That Instigated the UK’s Most Dangerous Autopsy

There is an ivy-covered grave in London’s Highgate Cemetery that looks no different than the other graves around it. This particular burial, however, holds the lead-lined coffin and radioactive corpse of Alexander Litvinenko, who was subject of the UK’s “most dangerous” post-mortem examination.
Strange Remains
CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Category: Science

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Human Cannibalism Through the Ages: Why?

Cannibals are an ancient human tradition. Cannibalism in the human line goes back more than 2 million years, and–given its ubiquity in the animal kingdom–probably far beyond.
PLoS Blogs
CC BY 4.0

Category: Science

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NASA Maps a Star's 'Death Spiral' into a Black Hole

Some 290 million years ago, a star much like the sun wandered too close to the central black hole of its galaxy. Intense tides tore the star apart, which produced an eruption of optical, ultraviolet and X-ray light that first reached Earth in 2014.
Now, a team of scientists using observations from NASA's Swift satellite have mapped out how and where these different wavelengths were produced in the event, named ASASSN-14li, as the shattered star's debris circled the black hole.
NASA

Category: Science

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Roman Empress Used Forensic Science on her Rival's Head

A soldier presents a Roman Empress with the head of her hated rival, but she is unable to recognize the face. How could she be sure this was the right head?
Strange Remains
CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Category: Science

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An American in Orbit: The Story of John Glenn

How time flies...it's been fifty five years since John Hershel Glenn Jr. rode an Atlas rocket named Friendship 7 - a name suggested by his children - into a cloudy sky on February 20, 1962.
This post was authored by Sean Bryant, Science Reference & Research Specialist in the Science, Technology, and Business Division of the Library of Congress.
Library of Congress Blogs

Category: Science

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Pluto, Planet Nine and Other Backyard Worlds

If you're interested in playing a part in discovering a new Planet Nine you're in luck - no scientific background necessary. Introducing a citizen science project called Backyard Worlds: Planet 9: a new search for moving objects in the realm beyond Neptune.
PLoS Blogs
CC BY 4.0

Category: Science

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How Forensic Science can Unlock the Mysteries of Human Evolution

The newest research has extended forensic science’s reach from the present into prehistory.
The Conversation
(CC BY-ND 4.0)

Category: Science

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What’s so “Bad” about the Badlands, Anyway?

Badlands National Park in southwestern South Dakota is over 240,000 acres of wilderness, pinnacles, spires, eroded buttes, and mixed grass prairie. What's so bad about that?

Jeff Atkins is a Postdoctoral Scholar at Virginia Commonwealth University and Visiting Scholar at the University of Virginia. His background is in carbon cycling and ecosystem ecology.
PLoS Blogs
CC BY 4.0

Category: Science

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Anosmia: the Disability of Being ‘Noseblind’, Is No Laughing Matter

Anosmia is a complete loss of the ability to smell. Some people lost their sense of smell as a consequence of a nasal condition or brain injury, while others are anosmic from birth.
The Conversation
(CC BY-ND 4.0)

Category: Science

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How Many Genes Does It Take to Make a Person?

It’s time to rethink the question of how the complexity of an organism is reflected in its genome.
The Conversation
(CC BY-ND 4.0)

Category: Science

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Investigating Red-Colored Bones in Mesoamerica

When bones are recovered in archaeological contexts, they are not the white shiny ones you see hanging in the back of museums. Nor are they always tinted brown from years in soil. Bones can be a number of colors including black, red, yellow, white or green.
Bones Don't Lie
(CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Category: Science

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Turning Diamonds’ Defects Into Long-Term 3-D Data Storage

On the atomic level, these crystals are extremely orderly – but sometimes defects arise. We’re exploiting these defects as a possible way to store information in three dimensions. Siddharth Dhomkar explains.
The Conversation
(CC BY-ND 4.0)

Category: Science

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The Next Frontier in Medical Sensing: Threads Coated in Nanomaterials

In my engineering lab at Tufts University, we asked ourselves whether we could make sensors that could be seamlessly embedded in body tissue or organs – and yet could communicate to monitors outside the body in real time.
The Conversation
(CC BY-ND 4.0)

Category: Science

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The Incredible Shrinking Mercury is Active After All

A shrinking planet sounds like something out of bad movie. But this is real - this is science.
NASA

Category: Science

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Why We Like to Laugh at Things that Go Bump in the Night

While this might seem an unlikely choice in the fictional world of film, from the perspective of religious traditions and folklore it might make much sense.
The Conversation
(CC BY-ND 4.0)

Category: Science

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The Curse of Frankenstein

Anyone remember Mary Shelley's Frankenstein? Here we explore how myths and stories shape the way people think about science,

Category: Science

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Is Psychotherapy for Depression Any Better than a Sugar Pill?

We now know that estimates of the efficacy of antidepressants that were once readily accepted were exaggerated.
PLOS
(CC BY 4.0)

Category: Science

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The Mystery of Breast Cancer

It is almost unique among the common cancers of the world in that there is not a known major cause; there is no consensus among experts that proof of a major cause has been identified.

Category: Science

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Was the 2015 Nobel Prize a Turning Point for Traditional Chinese Medicine?

How should we interpret the seismic shift in international attention on traditional Chinese medicine?

Category: Science

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How Someday Robots May Run to the Rescue

Giving athletic balance to robots is no small task, but University of Michigan students are up for the challenge.

Category: Science

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John Snow: The First Epidemiologist

Before you get too excited, this John Snow, may not be who you think he is.

Category: Science

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Using Lasers to Make Data Storage Faster than Ever

As we use more and more data every year, where will we have room to store it all?

Category: Science

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The Cost of Being Poor: As Told By Toilet Paper

The poverty rate in the US remained mostly consistent from 1966 to 2014, fluctuating from 15% to 11%. We like to call it the “American Dream.”

Category: Science

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What Satellites Show About Arctic Climate Change

It is not news that Earth has been warming rapidly over the last 100 years as greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere. But not all warming has been happening equally rapidly everywhere. Temperatures in the Arctic, for example, are rising much faster than the rest of the planet.

Category: Science

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Are the High-Rolling Quants of Horse Racing Friends or Foes?

From Wall Street to politics, quantitative analysts (or quants) are revolutionizing much of the world. Nowadays, that even includes horse racing.

Category: Science

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‘Skin Orgasms’ From Listening to Music?

Listening to emotionally moving music is the most common trigger of frisson, but some feel it while looking at beautiful artwork, watching a particularly moving scene in a movie or having physical contact with another person.

Category: Science

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Looking For Art In Artificial Intelligence

Algorithms help us to choose which films to watch, which music to stream and which literature to read. But what if algorithms went beyond their jobs as mediators of human culture and started to create culture themselves?

Category: Science

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Automatic Braking in Cars to be Mandatory by 2022

The National Safety Council estimated that, in the first 6 months of 2015, there were approximately 18,630 motor-vehicle deaths, and almost 2.2 million injuries, costing approximately $152 billion (a figure that includes direct and indirect costs).

Category: Science

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How to Capture the Violent Tumult of Our Universe

We now know that the night sky is a seething, bubbling tableau. Look up, and unseen by your eye a vast number of stars are erupting, exploding or being torn apart. How can the universe be so tumultuous, when it seems so peaceful?

Category: Science

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What We Know About Smell

Smell is the fifth sense, probably the most primitive sense in primate evolution, and it’s also the one people usually ignore until they get a stuffy nose and at the same time lose their appetites somehow.

Category: Science

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Women at NASA: Cynthia Schmidt

I’ve had a passion for environmental issues since I was young. When I graduated from college I thought I wanted to go the policy route so became an Urban Planner, but then I was lucky enough to attend the International School for Geo Information Science and Earth Observation in the Netherlands for 2 years and discovered that I really loved looking at Earth from space. When I returned from the Netherlands I got a job at NASA Ames Research Center in the Earth Science Division and decided that’s what I wanted to do.

Category: Science

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The Secret Behind The Bermuda Triangle

In exploring the deep mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle, scientists may have found some of the reasons for the unusual number of disappearances in this area.

Category: Science

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How to Spot Research Spin

Researchers try to gain attention by using terms that are too advanced for the everyday reader. It’s believed that more common used words might require a lower cognitive level to understand and therefore get better results and acceptance.

Category: Science

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Rock Art – A Hunting Ritual?

Exploring the culture of the early humans, from their hunting and ritual traditions, to how they learned to survive.

Category: Science

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The Evolution Of Tyrannosaurs

T. rex is probably the most notorious and infamous dinosaur of all time, and somewhat of an icon in both the scientific and public spheres. After all, it was a pretty fearsome and impressive carnivore, and arguably worthy of such admiration. But there were actually a lot of other dinosaurs similar to T. rex, together forming a group known as tyrannosauroids.

Category: Science

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What Protects Study Subjects in Genetic Research?

On February 25, the White House hosted a forum on the National Institute of Health’s Precision Medicine Initiative. This is an ambitious research study that aims to develop targeted drugs and treatments that would vary from individual to individual.

Category: Science

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The Biomechanics of Riding a Bicycle

Humans have been riding bicycle-like machines for close to 200 years, beginning with the Draisine or “velocipede” in 1817.
While riding and balancing a bicycle can seem simple and effortless, the actual control process used by a human rider is still somewhat of a mystery. Using mathematical equations, researchers have explained how a bicycle without a rider can balance itself and have identified the bicycle design features critical for that to happen.

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Women at NASA: Erika Podest

I grew up in Panama, a country with exuberant nature. As a child I often spent my weekends enjoying the outdoors and from a young age I was intrigued by the perfection of nature and its purpose. This curiosity, appreciation, and respect for nature has carried in me and driven my desire to become a scientist focused on Earth Science.

Category: Science

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Entertaining the "What If’s?"

I have always been one of those people who asked “What if?” and “Why?” Sometimes that gets me into trouble or frustrates my colleagues, but it also helps me define and push the boundaries of what’s possible. Getting a glimpse of NASA’s innovation space is why I am excited to support NASA’s Innovation & Digital Services Team over the next several months. I am looking forward to putting a toe back into a world that has fascinated for almost as long as I can remember.

Category: Science

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The Science of Mysteries: An Overdose of Strychnine

One day on Twitter, some science bloggers who began life on the dark side, in the humanities, happily discovered a shared taste for classic mystery writers. We thought we might write a series of posts, all on the same day, about the science in mystery books and so we did exactly that in December. And it was so much fun we decided to do it again.
As for me, this time around, I found a combination of Agatha Christie and the terrifying toxicity of strychnine to be an irresistible combination…..
There is altogether too much strychnine about this case – The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Agatha Christie, 1920.

Category: Science

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Vanishing Acts: Disappearing Delivery Vehicles

It sounds like an engineering fantasy, or maybe an episode from Mission Impossible:
A flock of small, single-use, unpowered delivery vehicles dropped from an aircraft, each of which literally vanishes after landing and delivering food or medical supplies to an isolated village during an epidemic or disaster. And it would be nothing more than a fantasy, were it not that the principle behind disappearing materials has already been proven.

Category: Science

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Sneaky Crocodiles Occupied Sauropod Hatcheries

The nesting grounds of sauropod dinosaurs where absolutely astonishing, covering hundreds of square miles in cases, forming vast playgrounds to rear their young. Some of the most exquisitely preserved sauropod hatcheries are from Jabalpur in India, and offer a unique window into investigating the reproductive and parental behaviour of these magnificent giants.

Category: Science

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Empathetic Rats Help Each Other Out

The act of helping others out of empathy has long been associated strictly with humans and other primates, but new research shows that rats exhibit this prosocial behavior as well.
In the new study, laboratory rats repeatedly freed their cage-mates from containers, even though there was no clear reward for doing so. The rodents didn't bother opening empty containers or those holding stuffed rats.

Category: Science

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Pi Pops Up Where You Don’t Expect It

Pi Day - the day we celebrate the famous number: π.. Why do we care? π. crops up in all sorts of places - take a look at some of them here!

Category: Science

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A Beginner’s Guide to Sex Differences in the Brain

Asking whether there are sex differences in the human brain is a bit like asking whether coffee is good for you – scientists can’t seem to make up their minds about the answer. In 2013, for example, news stories proclaimed differences in the brain so dramatic that men and women “might almost be separate species.” Then in 2015, headlines announced that there are in fact no sex differences in the brain at all. Even as I write this, more findings of differences are coming out.

Category: Science

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Are You Curious About NASA's Mission To Mars?

The arguments for and against have already been hashed out and are so well documented that anyone with access to the Internet can read up on the topic for days.
But! What if... you got the chance to go inside one of the space-pod "houses" NASA is designing for astronauts to maybe live on the surface of a planet that isn't Earth? Would you be just a little curious? You bet!

Category: Science

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Annie Jump Cannon

If you've never heard of Annie Jump Cannon, prepare to be amazed. She was an outstanding scientist whose research helped shape contemporary astronomy. She was honored with numerous awards for her work at Harvard College Observatory, and In numerous cases, she was the first woman ever to do so.

Category: Biography

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The Occupational Disease of Matchstick Makers

Phossy jaw is the necrosis of the jaw by phosphorus- whereby the bone of the jaw is not given proper blood flow or nutrients, and essentially dies and collapses.

Category: Science

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Insects and Spiders Living in Your House

A survey of 50 North Carolina homes turned up just five rooms that were completely free of arthropods.

Category: Science

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Woman of Science: Marie Curie

She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize — in fact, to this day she remains the only woman to win two — and the first person of either sex to win Nobel Prizes in two different sciences. These achievements make it all the more noteworthy that her undergraduate education took place at an illegal, private institution.

Category: Biography

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New Morbid Terminology: Coffin Birth

Coffin birth is what it sounds like- the occurrence of a fetus being birthed by the mother after her death. When I started researching the term more closely I discovered that this was actually fairly uncommon in the past, and we are still unsure whether this is something that can actually happen.

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The Ecology Of Mass Extinctions

Gaining insight into mass extinctions in the past is becoming increasingly important as we are now well into the sixth mass extinction, thanks to the global damage humans are causing.

Category: Science

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Building A Mirror For The World’s Biggest Telescopes

When astronomers point their telescopes up at the sky to see distant supernovae or quasars, they’re collecting light that’s traveled millions or even billions of light-years through space. Even huge and powerful energy sources in the cosmos are unimaginably tiny and faint when we view them from such a distance. In order to learn about galaxies as they were forming soon after the Big Bang, and about nearby but much smaller and fainter objects, astronomers need more powerful telescopes.

Category: Science

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Before Antibiotics, How Did Doctors Treat Infections?

The development of antibiotics and other antimicrobial therapies is arguably the greatest achievement of modern medicine.
Alternative therapies have been used to treat infections since antiquity, but none are as reliably safe and effective as modern antimicrobial therapy.

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When a Bad Animal Model is Good: Cystic Fibrosis

A “good” animal model is one that has the same symptoms of a disease that we do, right?
Not always. Sometimes we can actually learn more when an animal is not a perfect model; their good health can reveal new points of intervention. That’s the case for cystic fibrosis (CF), according to findings published today in Science. Mice with CF that do not develop airway infections hold a chemical clue to how people with CF might do the same.

Category: Science

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Luminous Galaxy Is Ripping Itself Apart

In a far-off galaxy, 12.4 billion light-years from Earth, a ravenous black hole is devouring galactic grub. Its feeding frenzy produces so much energy, it stirs up gas across its entire galaxy.

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Future Grains

When global food prices spiked dramatically in late 2007 and into 2008, the costs of many basic dietary staples doubled or even tripled around the world, sparking protests and riots. Panicked governments stopped exporting food, aggravating the crisis. Almost as troubling: the crisis had taken the world by surprise.

Category: Science

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Pb: An Ancient Poison

The chemical symbol for lead is Pb, from the Latin word “plumbum” which referred to a malleable metal. We are surrounded by references to what is arguably the most important poison in human history - from ancient Rome to Japan, even today this toxin poisons our lives. Learn what you need to know to protect yourself.

Category: Science

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Citizen Science of the Deep Blue Sea

For centuries, the lives of sailors were full of risks from shipwreck by storms, currents, and navigation of poorly charted waters. Sailors believed in jinxes from cutting hair, trimming nails, or shaving beards, stirring tea with a knife or fork, and 13 was uttered as 12+1. Sailors had good luck superstitions too, like being followed by dolphins or seeing an albatross.

Category: Science

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The Science Of Post-Holiday Weight Loss

If you – or someone you care about – are embarking on post-holiday weight loss, understanding the body’s physiological responses to excess kilojoule intake could give you the edge for a successful New Year’s resolution.

Category: Science

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Weird Animals Described in Lost Report

The dodo bird was not the only wacky animal inhabitant of the island of Mauritius: Bad-tempered parrots, wart-faced pigeons and several other now-extinct but noteworthy indigenous animals called this land home, new research suggests.

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Lab Life And Becoming A Scientist

The first in our series following on from the PLOS Genetics Deep Reads article “Recommendations from Jane Gitschier’s Bookshelf” comes from Christine Weber, a PhD student in Fiona Watt’s lab at King’s College London, UK. Besides her research project in cancer immunology she enjoys writing about various kinds of science topics and is a big fan of science outreach in general.

Category: Science

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Dogs Can 'Read' Our Communication Cues

Dogs can understand our intent to communicate with them and are about as receptive to human communication as pre-verbal infants, a new study shows.

Category: Science

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Too Much Focus On Young Attractive Patients

William Schofield’s provocative book, Psychotherapy: The Purchase of Friendship was written while I was in high school, but it was still being debated in bars and smoke-filled rooms when I was in graduate school. It continued to be discussed in my seminars when I was an Assistant Professor at University of California Berkeley. Fifty years after its publication, Schofield’s book is a bit dated and probably not discussed much in the training of mental health professionals just entering the field. But the book has unrecognized relevance to understanding inequalities or social disparities in the psychosocial care for cancer patients. And the ideas of the book might be used to generate some caution about what to expect in efforts to reduce the considerable gap between the proportion of cancer patients who report heightened psychological distress and the minority who actually get psychosocial services.

Category: Science

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Saving the Majestic Redwoods With Citizen Science

Citizen scientists collect data to find out how climate change impacts redwoods.

Category: Science

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Domestication May Have Made Dogs a Bit Dim

Thanks to their relationship with us, dogs are less adept at solving tricky puzzles than their wolf relatives.
Dogs are considered some of the most intelligent animals on the planet. Thanks to a relationship with humans that dates back tens of thousands of years, dogs can respond to emotions, recognize numerous words and be trained to follow commands.
Notably, these seemingly smart accomplishments all hinge on the partnership between our two species. Now, however, tests of canine problem-solving skills indicate that dogs rely on humans so much that we actually seem to be dumbing them down.

Category: Science

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Can Listening to Music Help You Sleep?

By now, you’ve surely heard that Americans aren’t getting enough sleep. In our always-on society, a solid chunk of nightly rest seems, well, like a dream. We shave the edges of sleep to keep up, exchanging extra waking hours for compromised health, productivity and safety.Despite this, we actually know how to sleep better; the list of empirically supported, low-cost, simple behavioral tweaks is extensive, whether it’s avoiding alcohol as bedtime approaches or just going to sleep at a regular hour. Though changing habitual behavior is easier said than done, one of these tweaks may be as simple as putting in your earphones and pressing play.

Category: Science

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Delta Orionis in Orion's Belt

One of the most recognizable constellations in the sky is Orion, the Hunter. Among Orion’s best-known features is the “belt,” consisting of three bright stars in a line, each of which can be seen without a telescope.

Category: Science

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How NASA Helped 'The 33' Chilean Miners

In 2010, all eyes were on 33 miners trapped for more than two months under the stone walls of a Chilean copper mine as the world watched and hoped for their safe rescue. Men and women from all over the world provided aid as the Chilean government sought assistance from other organizations for how to help the trapped miners.
Among them was a team from NASA who provided insight from the agency’s long experience protecting humans in the hostile environment of space. The International Space Station is a blueprint for global cooperation to address challenging endeavors. NASA's initial support for “The 33” included recommendations on medical care, nutrition, and psychological support. The support was broadened to include recommendations on the design of a Chilean vehicle used to extract the miners. Consultations continued between members of the NASA team and Chilean government officials until the miners were rescued, October 13, 2010.

Category: Science

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What Happens To Your Brain When Pregnant?

It’s a common claim that pregnancy makes you forgetful. But does “pregnancy brain” actually exist? There’s no doubt that many changes happen to a woman’s body during pregnancy, but how do these changes affect – or originate in – the brain?

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How Do Enzymes Work?

Enzymes are biological molecules (typically proteins) that significantly speed up the rate of virtually all of the chemical reactions that take place within cells.

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Climate Change and Coffee Production

Formerly known as the “devil’s drink,” coffee is increasingly being viewed as an “elixir of life”. Nowadays, we are getting accustomed to read about news of coffee intake in different media outlets reporting on research showing positive effect on health outcomes like Type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, and cardiovascular disease. According to a metaanalysis from 2014 there is even a weak, but significant, inverse association between moderate coffee consumption (1-2 cups per day) and total mortality.

Category: Science

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Is there Archaeological Evidence of Bigfoot? (Part II)

This article is a continuation of another review of Bigfoot. To briefly review, Mitchel Townsend was featured in an article that announced that they had found archaeological evidence of Bigfoot and challenges scientists to refute their findings that the chewed bones they found are evidence for Bigfoot’s existence.
[This article is being co-written by myself, Katy Meyers Emery, and Lisa Bright, a graduate student at MSU in the mortuary archaeology program.]

Category: Science

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Does This Dinosaur Make Me Look Fat?

Body mass is probably the most important physiological features for all animals. It corresponds strongly with a range of life features, including metabolic and growth rates, population density, diet and dietary strategy, locomotion style and mechanics, and mode of reproduction. It comes as perhaps no surprise then that body mass is one of the most widely explored features of extinct organisms by paleontologists. Last year, a slew of papers explored the evolution of body size in dinosaurs, including birds.

Category: Science

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When Counting is Hard

Counting is hard. But when it comes to research data, not in the way we thought it was. The Making Data Count (MDC) project aims to go further – measurement. But to do so, we must start with basic counting: 1, 2, 3… uno, dos, tres…
This is a guest post by Jennifer Lin, project manager for the Making Data Count project, and since last week CrossRef Director of Product Management.

Category: Science

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Teaching How To Think Is Important

A new paper on teaching critical thinking skills in science has pointed out, yet again, the value of giving students experiences that go beyond simple recall or learned procedures.

Category: For Teachers

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First Americans Used Spear-Throwers to Hunt

Despite a lack of archaeological evidence, the first North Americans have often been depicted hunting with spear-throwers, which are tools that can launch deadly spear points at high speeds. But now, a new analysis of microscopic fractures on Paleo-Indian spear points provides the first empirical evidence that America's first hunters really did use these weapons to tackle mammoths and other big game.

Category: Science

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Our Brains Have a Map for Numbers

“Come on. Get out of the express checkout lane! That’s way more than twelve items, lady.” Without having to count, you can make a good guess at how many purchases the shopper in front of you is making.

Category: Science

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New Frontiers in Survey Methodology

National Science Foundation-sponsored research looks into how a changing technological landscape affects survey collection.

Category: Science

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Is There Archeological Evidence of Bigfoot? Pt I

In 2015, Mitchel Townsend was featured in an article that announced that they had found archaeological evidence of Bigfoot, the mysterious ape-man said to wander the woods in the Northwest of North America.Townsend challenges scientists to refute their findings that the chewed bones they found are evidence for Bigfoot’s existence.
This article is being co-written by myself, Katy Meyers Emery, and Lisa Bright, a graduate student at MSU in the mortuary archaeology program.

Category: Science

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The Future is Now

Jumping gigawatts! Today, the future has arrived! If you were around in 1989, Oct. 21, 2015, may have seemed light-years away, and you might have thought we would all be riding around in flying cars or something. Well, your imagination isn’t as far-fetched as you think.

Category: Science

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The Science of Starvation

How long can humans survive without food or water?

Category: Science

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It Never Rains But it Pours: Climate Change and Drought

Droughts have been getting a lot of press lately. From affects on agriculture in California to the water rationing in Puerto Rico, and a near miss on rice paddy losses in North Korea; droughts are affecting ecosystems around the globe.

Category: Science

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Galaxies

The keen eye of hubble has revealed intricate details of the shapes, structures and histories of galaxies — whether alone, as part of small groups or within vast clusters. From supermassive black holes at galactic centers to giant bursts of star formation to titanic collisions between galaxies, these discoveries allow astronomers to probe the current properties of galaxies as well as examine how they formed and developed.

Category: Science

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How To Support Kids In Learning More Than 1 Language

There is little doubt that knowing more than one language carries tremendous advantages.
Young bilinguals are known to be flexible thinkers and better problem solvers. They have a competitive edge in the labor market, with those fluent in English along with another language showing higher earnings.

Category: For Teachers

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The Truth About Green Products

In all honesty, I am more excited about this piece than I am about most of my others, because it is an article that I know could really and truly help people. If some of the suggestions end up reducing a family’s exposures to toxic chemicals, then I am one happy lady.
While reporting the piece, I learned something that really shocked me: so-called “green” or “natural” household cleaners aren’t any less toxic than regular ones—and in fact, are sometimes more so. You really need to know this stuff.

Category: Science

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Decapitation: Scientists Should Learn to Draw

That title is not a mistake. When I read the recent articles about the earliest example of a decapitation, my first thought was “wow, look at those illustrations; we really need to teach archaeologists to do this more”. Maybe it is because I get to read articles about decapitation fairly frequently, maybe I’m jaded—but seriously… the eye-catching thing about this is the amazing illustrations and what they do to forward this argument. I’m getting ahead of myself. You’re probably here for the decapitation, right? Let’s focus on that first!

Category: Science

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Wild Animal Populations Could Impact Public Health

What do Ebola, rabies and bovine tuberculosis have in common? The answer is that they are all zoonotic diseases, which are diseases that originate in one species and then spillover into another.

Category: Science

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Myopia is Potentially Treatable

Myopia (commonly known as nearsightedness) is the most common ocular disorder worldwide. It is estimated that 2.5 billion people (1/3 of the world’s population) will be affected by myopia by 2020.

Category: Science

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How Did Wild Boar Become Farmyard Pigs?

Ever thought how the ingredients for that bacon sandwich got to your plate? By that, I mean the amazing historical journey that has transformed the animal and plant species we farm today into the huge global biomass that now feeds billions of us.

Category: Science

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Why Americans Obsess With Pumpkin Spice Everything

It was a humid, sticky 32°C when I made a quick trip to the grocery store in shorts and a tank top earlier this week. Despite the heat, however, the store clearly wanted me to think it was the fall season – and for us Americans, that means pumpkin spice.

Category: Science

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NASA Confirms Evidence of Liquid Water on Mars

New findings from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) provide the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars. Using an imaging spectrometer on MRO, researchers detected signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where mysterious streaks are seen on the Red Planet. These darkish streaks appear to ebb and flow over time. They darken and appear to flow down steep slopes during warm seasons, and then fade in cooler seasons. They appear in several locations on Mars when temperatures are above minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 23 Celsius), and disappear at colder times.

Category: Science

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Loving Stars: Telescopes from Galileo to Webb

In February of 2010 I wrote a post for Inside Adams titled “Stars in His Eyes” about the 1610 Sidereus nuncius (Starry Messenger) by Galileo Galilei. This was the small book in which Galileo described his adventures with the newly invented telescope. Having read descriptions of the then recently invented ‘spyglass,’ Galileo set about devising his own, creating prototypes and making observations of the Moon, stars, and most importantly, what he referred to as the four little ‘stars’ spotted near Jupiter.
Today’s post is from science reference librarian Margaret Clifton.

Category: Science

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Human Experiments: The Good, Bad and Ugly

Research involving human subjects is littered with a history of scandal that often shapes people’s views of the ethics of research.

Category: Science

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Targeting Cancer: A Basketful of Hope

Targeted treatments for cancer have been extending and saving lives for more than 15 years — precision medicine isn’t a new idea in oncology. Now drugs pioneered on select, specific cancers are, one by one, finding new applications. The first wave of targeted drug approvals were for cancers associated with specific mutations. Herceptin (traztuzumab) led the way, approved in 1998. It’s a monoclonal antibody deployed against the HER2/neu receptor that is overabundant in some aggressive and early-onset breast cancers. Robert Bazell’s excellent book Her 2 tells the tale.

Category: Science

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Agatha Christie: An Overdose of Strychnine

One day on Twitter, some science bloggers who began life on the dark side, in the humanities, happily discovered a shared taste for classic mystery writers. We thought we might write a series of posts, all on the same day, about the science in mystery books and so we did exactly that in December. And it was so much fun we decided to do it again.

Category: Science

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How Many Trees are on Earth?

Although the field of forest ecology is quite advanced, until now, policymakers and scientists have relied primarily on satellite images to provide estimates of global forest area. So just how many trees are out there? One billion, ten billion, one hundred billion?

Category: Science

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Behind the Hype and Hopes of Stem Cell Research and Therapy

The words “stem cell research and therapy” evoke a number of responses. In emotionally vulnerable patients, a sense of hope. In scientists, a great deal of excitement about future prospects. In the case of legal experts and ethicists, a need to ensure that patient safety and a spirit of distributive justice are maintained. And in the minds of entrepreneurs, an opportunity to develop a profitable business. Stem cells are the building blocks of our bodies. They are able to differentiate into the more that 200 cell types that make up our bodies. From a fertilized egg to a fully fledged human being which contains billions of cells, the purpose of stem cells during development in the womb is to ensure normal structure and function.

Category: Science

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9 Real Technologies (NASA) in 'The Martian'

Mars has held a central place in human imagination and culture for millennia. Ancients marveled at its red color and the brightness that waxed and waned in cycles over the years. Early observations through telescopes led some to speculate that the planet was covered with canals that its inhabitants used for transportation and commerce. In “The War of the Worlds”, the writer H.G. Wells posited a Martian culture that would attempt to conquer Earth. In 1938, Orson Welles panicked listeners who thought they were listening to a news broadcast rather than his radio adaptation of Wells’s novel.

Category: Science

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Morbid Terminology: Cementochronology

Cementochronology : When I saw this word I knew it would make a great new morbid terminology. If we take the word apart, there are two major pieces: cemento and chronology. Chronology is the easy one; it means the arrangement of events or dates in the order of their occurrence. When we are talking about building chronologies in archaeology, we are arranging objects of some sort into the order in which they occurred. Cemento is a little harder. At first reading, I was thinking cemetery, but that is definitely not right. Nor is it related to cement, the hard binding substance we use in construction sites.

Category: Science

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Fossil Suggests Plant Bloomed Underwater was Among First Flowering Plants

A recent discovery and analysis of fossilized plants has opened up the discussion of the nature and relationships of these early plants. First found in the lithographic limestone being mined in the Pyrenees Mountains over 100 years ago, these fossils, with their strange sprawling stems, were little understood. Some thought they were mosses, some considered them to be conifers, but few recognized the fossils as flowering plants.

Category: Science

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The Most Influential Scientist You Never Heard Of

Gaze at Alexander Von Humboldt’s 1814 self-portrait and you peer into the eyes of a man who sought to see and understand everything. By this point in his life, at age 45, Humboldt had tutored himself in every branch of science, spent more than five years on a 6,000 mile scientific trek through South America, pioneered new methods for the graphical display of information, set a world mountain climbing record that stood for 30 years and established himself as one of the world’s most famous scientists, having helped to define many of today’s natural sciences.

Category: Science

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Drawing In The Third Dimension

Technology from small business Mental Canvas reimagines drawing in the digital age.
Imagine you could reach inside your old Batman comic, grab the Caped Crusader by the shoulder, and spin the whole scene around to get a new 3-D view.
A new software platform from small business Mental Canvas may soon let you do just that.

Category: Science

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Space Farming Yields a Crop of Benefits for Earth

The six astronauts currently living on the International Space Station (ISS) have become the first people to eat food grown in space. The fresh red romaine lettuce that accompanied the crew’s usual freeze-dried fare, however, is far from the first crop grown on a space station. For decades, NASA and other agencies have experimented with plants in space, but the results were always sent to Earth for examination, rather than eaten. A number of technologies NASA has explored for these space-farming experiments also have returned to Earth over the years and found their way onto the market.

Category: Science

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Why Volcanoes Erupt

Some people believe volcanic eruptions are caused by fate. Others believe a volcanic eruption is a sign that a mountain is upset because residents living nearby have sinned. But science has another explanation. Volcanoes are channels that transfer underground molten rock called magma from Earth’s crust up to Earth’s surface. These channels have shapes like cones, shields or calderas. Beneath a volcano lies a magma chamber, a reservoir of a single large body of molten rock. It is increased magma movement within a volcano that causes an eruption. These movements are triggered by different processes that happen below, inside, and above the magma chamber.

Category: Science

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Small Animals Live in a Slow-Motion World

Time seems to pass more slowly for lighter animals with faster metabolisms.
One “dog year” supposedly equals seven human years. But does one year feel like seven years to a dog? Evidence suggests that distinct species do indeed experience passing time on different scales. A recent study in Animal Behavior reveals that body mass and metabolic rate determine how animals of different species perceive time.

Category: Science

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Jupiter’s Great Red Spot: A Swirling Mystery

The largest and most powerful hurricanes ever recorded on Earth spanned over 1,000 miles across with winds gusting up to around 200 mph. That’s wide enough to stretch across nearly all U.S. states east of Texas. But even that kind of storm is dwarfed by the Great Red Spot, a gigantic storm in Jupiter. There, gigantic means twice as wide as Earth.

Category: Science

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Startups: Here’s How to Brainstorm Better, According to Science

Seed-stage startups lack a history of proof but offer plenty of promise. And part of the attempt to fulfill that promise means generating new and innovative ideas, or perhaps scrappy ones that help push the ball forward bit by bit. Regardless of the need at your particular startup, brainstorm meetings seem to be widely accepted as the best way to generate those new and/or scrappy approaches to execution. And that’s a huge problem.

Category: Business

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Awkward Silences: Technical Delays Hurt

Smooth social interaction is fundamental to a sense of togetherness. We’ve all experienced disrupted conversations—some caused by human awkwardness and others by breakdowns in technology. The content of our interactions does influence our connection to each other, but the form and process of communication also play a role. Technical delays that occur below our conscious detection can still make us feel like we don’t quite click with the person we are trying to communicate with.

Category: Science

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Leonardo da Vinci’s Walnut Oil

In order to create their colorful palette, fifteenth-century panel painters had to produce most paint supplies from scratch. Unable to walk into a shop of artist’s supplies as we can today, they obtained color from different kinds of earths, minerals, metals, flowers, roots and insects. A binding medium was required to transform all these pigments into paint. By the end of the fifteenth century, both North and South of the Alps, panel painters mostly used oil for this purpose. Painter’s oil is not just any type of oil, however; it needs to have drying properties.

Category: Arts

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Monarch Larva Project Builds Connections to Nature

What do citizen scientists gain when they collect data for a research study? What do they learn, and how does it change them? These are some of the questions that I try to answer in the course of my PhD research. As a graduate student in the University of Minnesota’s Monarch Lab, I have an up-close view of our lab’s citizen science project, the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (MLMP), which has given me an excellent opportunity to find out how citizen science affects the citizen scientists themselves. Over the past few years I’ve spent a great deal of time meeting, writing about, and studying our MLMP volunteers. More often than not, what strikes me about these interactions is the volunteers’ familiarity with and connection to their monitoring sites.

Category: Science

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What is Behind the Magic of Sesame Street?

What is it about the long-time favorite television show, Sesame Street that has allowed it to influence generations of viewers? A recent study by economists Melissa Kearney and Phillip B Levine concluded that children who watched Sesame Street in the 1970s fared better in school than peers who did not tune in to the iconic program.

Category: Science

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A Librarian and Scholar Find Books & Each Other

Astrobiologist David Grinspoon and science librarian Margaret “Peg” Clifton have such an easy rapport that all I had to do was ask an initial question, and the two proceeded to speak for 30 minutes–finishing each other’s sentences along the way. The two reflect on their relationship forged at the Library of Congress that helped Grinspoon produce new scholarship on the Anthropocene Era.

Category: Science

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Your Brain Has 2 Clocks

Did you make it to work on time this morning? Go ahead and thank the traffic gods, but also take a moment to thank your brain. The brain’s impressively accurate internal clock allows us to detect the passage of time, a skill essential for many critical daily functions. But how does the brain generate this finely tuned mental clock? How do you sense the passing of time?

Category: Science

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Balancing Costs & Benefits of Animal Research

Think for a moment, if you will, of all the chemicals that you conscientiously and unconsciously are exposed to everyday. Banal, daily-life things like toothpaste, cosmetics, food additives, pharmaceuticals. They are composed of manufactured chemicals, synthesized and tested in a lab. You have probably never doubted the safety of your toothpaste or the efficacy of your pain reliever, but that comfort and assurance doesn’t come for free. The testing of safety and efficacy of the chemicals that we subject our bodies to depends on the use of animals that may suffer for our conveniences.

Category: Science

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Earthquake in Nepal: Science, Media, Health Risks in Dispute

Perched as it is, smack in the Himalayas, that great climbing wall heaved up by the titanic tectonic shoving match the earthly regions we call India and China have been waging centimeter by centimeter for many millions of years; Nepal will always be shattered by earthquakes. We still don’t know how calamitous the one that hit Nepal in May will be on the future, but there are dire predictions.

Category: Science

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Mystery: Thunderstorms that Strike at Night

Thunderstorms that form at night, without a spark from the sun's heat, are a mysterious phenomenon. This summer, scientists will be staying up late in search of some answers. From June 1 through July 15, researchers from across North America will fan out each evening across the Great Plains, where storms are more common at night than during the day.

Category: Science

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Mathematics, Spaghetti Alla Carbonara & You

I’ve come to believe that mathematics, as an investigative science, as a practical discipline and as a creative art, shares many characteristics with cookery. It’s not just spaghetti alla carbonara, it’s the whole business of inventing dishes and preparing them. It’s an analogy with many parts, and it has consequences. To introduce myself: I’m a professional mathematician, an amateur cook and an enthusiastic eater. The ideas in this essay are distilled from years of formal reasoning, mad culinary experiments and adventurous meals.

Category: Science

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Importance Of Field Work: Careful Excavation

Field work is an important part of being an archaeologist, regardless of if you study human remains or any other type of artifacts. Excavation is a detailed and careful process, and knowing how it is completed at a site can have implications for the research and interpretations. When anyone asks me about how to be a bioarchaeologist or mortuary archaeologist, I always stress the importance of taking a related field school as soon as they can. Here, I want to talk a little bit about why field work is so important!

Category: Science

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The Science Of Fireworks

While large firework displays have become even more more popular over the past ten years or so, most of the chemistry behind these exuberant displays has been known for centuries. Marrying this with modern digital technology provides the fiery choreography of our celebrations.
The school chemistry lesson of “flame colours” provides the clue to how fireworks can provide a range of hues!

Category: Science

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Sea Slug Offers Clues to Long-Term Memory

Using sea slugs as models, scientists someday may be able to design learning protocols that improve long-term memory formation in humans, a new study suggests.
The researchers used information about biochemical pathways in the brain of the sea slug Aplysia to design a computer model that identified the times when the mollusk’s brain is primed for learning.

Category: Science

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New Theory Explains Where Old Memories Go

Why some memories disappear, some remain, and others blend with fiction
Think back to your first childhood beach vacation. Can you recall the color of your bathing suit, the softness of the sand, or the excitement of your first swim in the ocean? Early memories such as this often arise as faded snapshots, remarkably distinct from newer memories that can feel as real as the present moment. With time, memories not only lose their rich vividness, but they can also become distorted, as our true experiences tango with a fictional past.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have come up with a new theory that just might settle some of this controversy.

Category: Science

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Could Video Prevent Injuries in Young Pitchers?

These days, it seems like elbow surgery for pitchers is a rite of passage. Whether it’s stars like Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez or lesser-known players like Colorado Rockies reliever Adam Ottavino, the number of pitchers going under the knife to correct torn elbow ligaments – so-called Tommy John surgery – continues to rise. To date, 988 of these procedures have been performed. But in recent years, numbers have skyrocketed. Today, 25% of major league pitchers have had the procedure done, while 40% of all Tommy John surgeries are being performed on adolescent ballplayers.

Category: Science

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Don’t Freak if You Can’t Solve a Viral Math Problem

It’s been quite a year for mathematics problems on the internet. In the last few months, three questions have been online everywhere, causing consternation and head-scratching and blowing the minds of adults worldwide as examples of what kids are expected to know these days. As a mathematician, I suppose I should subscribe to the “no such thing as bad publicity” theory, except that problems of this ilk a) usually aren’t that difficult once you get the trick, b) sometimes aren’t even math problems and c) fuel the defeatist “I’m not good at math” fire that pervades American culture. The inability to solve such a problem quickly is certainly not indicative of a person’s overall math skill, nor should it prompt a crisis of confidence about the state of American math aptitude.

Category: Science

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Does Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’ Show How Memory Works?

Disney/Pixar’s newest film, Inside Out, tells the story of 11-year-old Riley and her difficulty dealing with a family move to San Francisco. The film is getting a lot of attention for its depiction of emotion and memory.

Category: Science

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Mt St Helens: Where Were You When It Blew?

Without checking your calendar, can you remember where you were at 8:30 a.m. April 24, 2015? Some of you might, but more will likely have to think hard to remember. In contrast, if you ask someone who lived in the Pacific Northwest 35 years ago where they were at 8:32 am on May 18, 1980, they will tell you exactly what they were doing without hesitation. Momentous events like the massive explosive eruption of Mount St Helens in Washington state live in the memory of those who experience them forever. The volcano and its surrounding landscape were forever changed, as was our understanding of how volcanoes work and the hazards associated with explosive eruptions. The eruption claimed 57 human lives and caused $2.7 billion in damages.

Category: Science

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A Missed Opportunity for Paleontologists

Ask any paleontologist how they chose their field, and one of the most frequent responses that you would hear is “I always loved dinosaurs as a kid, and just never grew out of it.” Like astronaut or firefighter, the job of paleontologist is certainly a title that many children aspire to hold, and we often refer to paleontology as a “gateway drug into science.” Dinosaurs have captured the public imagination since their discovery, and for nearly 200 years have starred in books, cartoons, and movies. They have advertised gas stations and inspired as the centerpiece of blockbuster museum exhibits. This weekend, the film Jurassic World broke domestic and international records, grossing $524.1 million worldwide, and once again will expose a generation to the excitement of watching genetically re-engineered extinct animals running amok. And paleontologists aren’t happy about it.

Category: Science

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Celebrating 50 Years Of Spacesuits

NASA has a long history with spacesuits that started with pressure suits needed for pilots in high-altitude aircraft.
Early attempts at pressure suits stemmed from the recognition that piston engine aircraft using turbochargers were able to fly at altitudes that now posed new dangers for pilots.
Over time, there have been two types of suits, partial pressure and full pressure; both accomplished keeping pilots alive at high altitudes.

Category: Science

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Robots: Blurring the Line Between Machine & Nature

Our robots are going soft. Or at least they will be if Barry Trimmer has anything to say about it. Trimmer is the editor-in-chief of a new scientific journal called Soft Robotics. The journal, also known as SoRo, will chronicle the rise of squishy robots designed to mimic living things. In an editorial introducing the new publication, Trimmer, director of the Neuromechanics and Biomimetic Devices Lab at Tufts University, explained why scientists should look to nature for engineering tips.

Category: Science

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Plants With Personality

If you had to be an endangered animal, you’d be better off as a tiger than a toad. If you were a tiger, filmmakers might cast you in wildlife documentaries and journalists might write heart-rending stories about the disappearance of your kind.
Our preferences for certain species over others have serious implications for conservation.
It never occurred to me that this idea might apply not only to animals but also to plants until I came across the work of Emily Hounslow, currently a PhD student at the UK’s University of Sheffield.

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John Nash: Beautiful Mind & Exquisite Mathematics

John Nash, mathematician and Nobel laureate in economics, died in a taxi accident on May 23; he was 86. His wife, Alicia, was with him and also did not survive the crash. The Nashes were on their way home to Princeton from Norway, where John was honored as a recipient (along with Louis Nirenberg) of this year’s Abel Prize in mathematics. Thanks to A Beautiful Mind, Sylvia Nasar’s chronicle of Nash’s life, and its film adaptation starring Russell Crowe, Nash was one of the few mathematicians well known outside the halls of academia. The general public may remember the story of Nash’s mental illness and eventual recovery from paranoid schizophrenia. But Nash’s influence goes far beyond the Hollywood version of his biography. His colleagues count his mathematical innovations, particularly on noncooperative games (the work that would earn him his Nobel Prize), among the great economic ideas of the 20th century.

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Brain & Music: Evidence for Musical Dyslexia

Music education in the western world often emphasizes musical literacy, the ability to read musical notation fluently. But this is not always an easy task – even for professional musicians. Which raises the question: Is there such a thing as musical dyslexia? Dyslexia is a learning disability that occurs when the brain is unable to process written words, even when the person has had proper training in reading. Researchers debate the underlying causes and treatments, but the predominant theory is that people with dyslexia have a problem with phonological processing – the ability to see a symbol (a letter or a phoneme) and relate it to speech sounds. Dyslexia is difficult to diagnose, but it is thought to occur in up to 10% of the population.

Category: Music

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Flashbulb Memories: Why So Vivid?

It isn’t surprising that many Bostonians have vivid memories of the 2013 Marathon bombing, or that many New Yorkers have very clear memories about where they were and what they were doing on 9/11. But many individuals who were not onsite for these attacks, or not even in Boston on April 15, 2013 or in New York on September 1,1 2001 also have vivid memories of how they learned about these events. Why would people who were not immediately or directly affected have such a long-lasting sense of knowing exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news?

Category: Science

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Why You Crave Tomato Juice on an Airplane

I’m writing this seated on a plane heading to San Francisco. We’ve been in the air for under an hour, and the drink cart is just starting to make its way down the aisle. As the cart rolls nearer I’m forced to decide what drink I’ll be having. Since the cups are miniscule, and the liquid is largely displaced by ice cubes if one’s not quick enough to add “no ice, please” to the order, the decision is critical. Despite the fact that I never drink tomato juice on the ground, I’m once again craving the drink in mid air.

Category: Science

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Not True: Nigerian Rest. (Not) Selling Human Meat

Every once in a while, I’ll get sent an article that is something so fantastical and bizarre that I’m not so sure I even believe it. This is a very good approach to have when dealing with popular news and morbid topics—don’t believe what you read. Yes, we find evidence of vampire related burial practices—No, there are no real vampires. Yes, there are some elongated skulls that don’t have a traditional human shape—no, they are not aliens, they are just humans with cranial modification. But there are really strange morbid things that happen that are real. Remember the story about the guy who drank a mummified toe in a whiskey shot? I do! It really happened! But other stories… maybe not so much.

Category: Science

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How Do You Measure Sea Level, Anyway?

There are about 330 million cubic miles of water in the world oceans today, 97% of all the water on the planet. Early in our planet’s 4.5 billion year history, water from the atmosphere and from the interior of the Earth gradually collected in the low areas on the planet’s surface to form the ocean basins, accumulating salts along the way.
The level of the ocean around the Earth, and therefore the location of the shoreline, are directly related to the total amount of water in the oceans, and also closely tied to climate. As climate changes, so does sea level.

Category: Science

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What It Took To Launch The Hubble Telescope

Iconic images of astronomical pillars of gas and dust, views of galaxies soon after they were formed, an accelerating universe driven by Dark Energy… “give us more!” say the public and the taxpayers. The Hubble Space Telescope is undoubtedly one of the most popular science projects today. It was not always thus. With its origins dating back to a time when almost all astronomers used photographic plates to record images at ground-based telescopes, the idea of an ambitious and expensive observatory in space was not a popular one.

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A Look at the Plastics Industry’s Spin on BPA

One thing I’m very concerned about these days is bisphenol A, or BPA, the chemical that has become famous for turning up uninvited in plastics, tinned food cans, shopping receipts, and—surprise!—us. A whopping 95 percent of Americans have traces of this plastic building block in their bodies, according to the CDC in Atlanta.
Here are five industry arguments that just don’t stand up to scrutiny—for reasons, I’m sure, they would prefer you didn’t know.

Category: Science

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So You Want To Be An Astronaut?

Filling out paperwork (www.nasa.gov) and sending it to NASA is pretty easy…as a matter of fact, it might even be fun! Passing the rest of the tests and interviews that lie ahead may be a bit more daunting, but the “thrill of the chase” to become an astronaut is exciting and challenging nonetheless!

Category: Science

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Do Allergies Try to Protect Us From Us?

I have a love/hate relationship with spring, thanks to the aggravating bouts of hay fever that transform me into a faucet for pretty much the entire season. So I’ll admit I was a little skeptical when my editor at Scientific American asked me last week if I wanted to write about a new paper coming out in Nature suggesting that allergies may actually be a good thing. But always curious, I said sure.

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Brontosaurus Thunders Back

Pretty much every person who ever read a dinosaur book or went to a natural history museum learned that Brontosaurus is just an outdated name for a big long-necked dinosaur that should be called Apatosaurus. Two different names were applied to the same type of animal, but Apatosaurus wins out because it was named first. But…it’s just not that simple. It’s never that simple! In a move that is sure to generate considerable discussion by scientists and non-scientists alike, Brontosaurus is back.

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Gemology: Species

Recently, I was invited to do a presentation on gemstones for two local North County San Diego clubs: Treasure Seekers of San Diego, and the Temecula Valley Prospectors. Their principal hobby is panning for gold, however some dabble in mining gemstones. We had an enthusiastic audience decidedly interested in learning more about gemstones, a proverbial “gold mine” for educators if you will.

Category: Science

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A City Corpse Meets a Country Corpse

I’ve been indulging in a little HGTV this week as a way to recover from post-conference exhaustion. I know that shows like House Hunters aren’t real- they already have bought the house so it’s just a sham discussion of other houses. And yet, I can’t help myself. Sometimes this mundane drama is just what one needs. In the most recent episode, there was a classic division between the couple: a city girl and a country boy. She wanted to be downtown with a big house and lots of neighbors to entertain. He wanted a small farmhouse on a large plot of land without a neighbor in sight. In the end, they got the farmhouse. But it left me thinking about the divisions between them, the difference between city and country living. Is it really that divisive? Well, if I’m going to address that question, I’ll need some dead bodies to do it.

Category: Science

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Hubble Ringside At The Death Of A Star

During its impressive 25 years the Hubble Space Telescopehas captured numerous remarkable views of the universe, providing astronomers with a wealth of data for making astounding discoveries. Of all the beautiful astronomical objects observed by Hubble one of the most awe-inspiring is the massive, dying star V838 Moncerotis.

Category: Science

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Griffith Pugh: Everest Pioneer

Scientists almost never get to be household names just for doing science. Most who impact the public consciousness, like Brian Cox, Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking, tend to at least combine the science with being best-selling authors. You might just encounter (Francis) Crick and (James) Watson in a pub quiz for their discovery of the structure of DNA, but what about (Alan) Hodgkin and (Andrew) Huxley, responsible for working out the basis of nerve transmission, one of the 20th century’s greatest discoveries in biology? Given that other pre-eminent discoverers, even Nobel Laureates, remain relatively unknown, it’s probably not a great surprise that you haven’t heard of Griff Pugh.

Category: Science

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New Brain Measures: Tech Improves Targets

A Pervasive Mind Problem: Ask yourself this important question: “Why do so many fear/disdain psychiatric treatment and psychiatric medications?”
In A Word – Unpredictability.
Our collective humanity lives in a complexity of coping with real life beyond standardized label-beliefs and orthodox dogma. That new, measurable cellular and subcellular set of variables includes Brain Function, Metabolic Challenges, Change, Cognition, Context and Working Memory.

Category: Science

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The Role of Ice in Penguin, Polar Bear & Ivory Gull Survival

As winter grips the Northern Hemisphere tightly, many of us are happy to retreat to the comfort of our warm homes. But for some animals, this season plays a vital role in the formation of something necessary for their survival, ice. There is one thing that we are becoming increasingly sure about: not all winters are created equal. In some years, ice and snow blanket the ground until mid-spring, and in others, light dustings of snow only last for a couple days. For animals that depend on ice for survival, varying winter conditions year to year may provide challenges to finding food, breeding, and making it from one day to the next.

Category: Nature

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Why Do Some People Feel the Cold More than Others?

When HMS Beagle docked at the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego, Charles Darwin remarked on the capacity of the locals to deal with cold: “A woman, who was suckling a recently born child, came one day alongside the vessel and remained there out of mere curiosity, whilst the sleet fell and thawed on her naked bosom, and on the skin of her naked baby.” Japanese pearl divers dive for long periods in cold water without the comfort of wetsuits, whereas many of us whimper as the waters of the relatively warm Pacific or Indian Oceans reach our midriff. Why is there such variation in our reaction to cold?

Category: Science

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Who Let the Microbes Out: Doggy Bacteria

A house is not a home without a dog, and a dog isn’t a “D-O-double-G” without its microbial “crew.” Human microbiome research is progressing rapidly, and we are always learning how the bacteria living on and inside of us contribute to our survival and well-being. Although we are making some headway to understanding the role of human flora in our bodies and in disease progression, we know far less about the microbial flora in our pooch friends.

Category: Science

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Adventures in Stem Cell Land

Two weeks ago a neurologist asked me to blog about a US-based company that is offering stem cell treatments, because it had raised hopes among some of his patients. Intrigued because I cover “stem cell tourism” in my bioethics class and ask students to evaluate companies, I did a little poking around. I’m questioning what appears to be a strategy to deceive desperate and vulnerable patients by offering stem cell treatments under the guise of participating in clinical trials. The company name isn’t important, because I suspect many others are doing worse. But their strategy, which may well be legal, is unethical.

Category: Science

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Computers Reveal Gauguin’s Techniques

Paul Gauguin’s art has always held special meaning for me. When I was six years old I spent a year on the small island of American Samoa. Faint memories of eating fresh guava plucked from trees, sliding down waterfalls and joining in Fia Fia – feasts where we would eat taro-root and chicken cooked in a pit – are triggered whenever I see Gauguin’s Tahitian imagery. So when I had a chance to lead a project on the technical analysis of the Gauguin’s prints, drawings and watercolors, I jumped at the opportunity.

Category: Science

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Zoos' Role in Education and Conservation

“He had black fur and a horn on his head,” my sister said. She came to DC for a few weeks and spent many afternoons visiting our local zoo. After one of those visits, she hurried to Google Chat to report that a big tall bird was chasing her behind the fence of his enclosure. My sister described the bird as having long fur-like feathers and a horn. She has never seen anything like that before and was genuinely curious. She was familiar with the belligerent bird’s neighbors, the rheas (ratite birds like ostriches and extinct moas). Rheas are native to South America, as are we, and we’ve seen them before while growing up in south Brazil. “Mystery bird” was about to become a perfect example of zoo education.

Category: Nature

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Philosopher John Searle: Mind & Consciousness

Dan Turello interviews philosopher John R. Searle, philosopher and member of the Library of Congress Scholars Council. Searle is the Slusser Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. He has published extensively on the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind, and has been at the center of discussions with philosophers and scientists around the world in an effort to better understand the nature of consciousness.

Category: Science

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The Gemstone Spinel

In the world of gemstones, people desire rarity and beauty. There is no better way to achieve both of these goals than with nature’s treasure, a fine spinel. Once distinguished as history’s most under appreciated gemstone, spinel’s eminence is rising meteorically.

Category: Science

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Robert Griffin III’s Knee: NFL Teaches Anatomy

It was Monday Night Football and season opener for the Washington NFL team when I joined friends to watch the game at a sports bar. Between bites of chicken wings I saw one particular scene that amazed me. I’m not talking about a touchdown, but of a 3D animation with a Toy Story-like human in a hospital gown undergoing knee surgery. And I was not the only one surprised.

Category: Science

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How Sports Can Teach Statistics

Statistics. Math. Mental arithmetic. Do those words scare you? If they do, you’re in good company. Mathematical anxiety is a well studied phenomenon that manifests for a number of different reasons. It’s an issue I’ve talked about before at length, and something that frustrates me no end. In my opinion though, one of the biggest culprits behind this is how math alienates people.

Category: Science

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A Jade's Story

Don’t be alarmed, yes, it’s me, I’m the ravishing beauty on your wrist, and my name is Jade. I know just what you’re thinking - how can this possibly be - this bracelet is talking to me? I am what your species calls a mineral; one of over 3,000 known minerals, and a gem among gemstones. Most call me Jade. Grab a seat and let me tell you my story.

Category: Science

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The Faces of Engineering

Founded by the National Society of Professional Engineers, Engineers Week aims to raise public awareness of the contributions to society of the profession. The celebration is typically held in conjunction with George Washington’s actual birthday (February 22). Washington could be considering one of the nation’s earliest engineers, particularly for his work in surveying.

Category: Science

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Winston Churchill And Science

Yet another anniversary for Winston Churchill has just past, with the 50th anniversary of his death falling on January 24th.
One of my aims over the coming months must be to get more familiar with the life of Winston Churchill, since I will now be so closely associated with his name and his legacy.
Like so much about Churchill, his views towards science and scientists seem to have been very complex.

Category: History

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A Month In The Life Of An Astronaut

November started with the graduation of the ASCAN (Astronaut Candidate) class of 2009. After two years of training, it was a nice way to close that chapter of our journey. Graduation isn't the end of training - far from it. Instead of “a day in the life of…,” I thought it might be even more useful to describe one month of my life as an astronaut in training.

Category: Science

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The Math of One-Night Stands & Relationships

Popular wisdom and established evolutionary science hold that the sexes seek fundamentally different relationships: men want short-term, no-strings-attached relationships whereas women value longer-term, loyal partnerships. The explanation generally comes down to biological differences between men and women. Because women invest more in reproduction than men do – think pregnancy, morning sickness and stretchmarks – being picky becomes important because choosing poorly can be costly, even devastating. However, for men, reproduction may only entail a brief sexual liaison and a bit of sperm – there are potentially no long-term costs. This calculus has been built into our psychology, many argue.

Category: Science

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Celebrating Planet Earth

While this agency is perhaps most known for explorations beyond Earth, for decades, NASA has been dedicated to unraveling the mysteries of one of the most complex objects in the universe — planet Earth. Because of NASA’s commitment to Earth science, we have developed an understanding of our home planet that is unmatched in human history. But there is still so much more to learn. Scores of NASA satellites are expanding our knowledge and in the process helping save lives through improved response to natural disasters, and helping us better cope with environmental, health, and energy challenges that know no borders.

Category: Science

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What Historic Megadroughts Tell Us

Recent droughts throughout the American West have been stark reminders of our current and growing drought vulnerabilities. Depleted water resources have continued to impact our economy, food supply, ecosystem services and recreation, to name only a few.
The most recent western droughts are nevertheless not the full story.

Category: Science

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Art, Science, and Human Spaceflight

Emerging efforts and studies demonstrate that art plays a critical role in enhancing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, an important NASA and U.S. goal of great importance, given that current U.S. youth lag far behind other industrialized countries in math and science skills. Partnering science with art also encourages the development of creative and critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills. These abilities are becoming increasingly necessary to ensure high performance in a rapidly changing global society. Thus, educational approaches combining space science topics with art could provide an effective method to inspire youth to seek education and careers in STEM-requiring fields, and to approach them innovatively and creatively.

Category: Science

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Teaching Entomology in a World Afraid of Bugs

Perched on a cantaloupe slice, the palm-sized animal – with its glossy chitinous surface and half dozen legs – sat motionless. The black-green bug looked more like a statuesque chess piece and less like a creepy insect. It was probably the reason why Dan Babbit chose the Atlas Beetle as his companion and ice breaker. Babbit is the manager of Smithsonian’s Insect zoo, and that day he was addressing a new group of museum volunteers and he started with the blunt question: “Is anyone afraid of bugs?” How can we teach entomology to such a crowd? Can we break the bug phobia stereotype?

Category: Nature

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Climate Change & The Chinchorro Mummies

The Chinchorro mummies are quite different from the traditional linen-wrapped mummies of Egypt that we often equate this the term ‘mummy’. These mummies that have been preserved and protected for 1,000s of years are beginning to decay due to the increased moisture in the atmosphere.
What makes this mummification process so unique, is that everyone who died within this culture during this period was mummified, unlike Egypt where mummification was used only for the highest status individuals.

Category: Science

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San Diego Pure Water Program Approved

The work of numerous activists with Surfrider's San Diego County Chapter over a period of many years paid off on November 18, 2014 when the San Diego City Council voted unanimously to approve Pure Water San Diego, a program which will significantly reduce wastewater discharges to the ocean and produce 83 million gallons per day (mgd) of high quality drinking water.

Category: Science

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The Digital Age Changed Our Approach to Death

In the days and weeks leading up to the death of Leonard Nimoy, the actor and director most known for playing the gravel-voiced Vulcan Mr. Spock in Star Trek, knew he was dying. He used Twitter as a means to make peace with this fact, and to say goodbye to his friends, family and fans around the world with sayings, poetry, and wise words. So is a new ars moriendi, or a new craft of dying, emerging in the digital age? Historians have argued that dying was a more public affair before the 20th century, when most people were cramped together in one room hovels. Even the rich in their grand houses lived more public-facing lives than we might tolerate today.

Category: Science

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Why Serve Unhealthy Snacks in a Small Bowl?

It is often stated that the accumulation of excess body weight is a simple matter of energy intake exceeding energy expenditure. While this notion is certainly correct, it does not account for the myriad of factors that drive one to consume more calories than necessary.

Category: Science

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Coop’s Scoop: Tweet Spring Citizen Science

With the occurrence of the spring equinox, there are many cultural and religious celebrations of life, renewal, bounty, and freedom. Over 300 million people celebrate the Persian festival of Nowruz. In South Asia, there are festivals for Chaitra Sukladi, Ugadi, Gudi Padava, Chetti Chand, Navreh, Sajibu Cheiraoba, and more. Pagans celebrate Ostara. There will be Easter egg hunts and Passover Seders.

Category: Science

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Origami: Mathematics in Creasing

Origami is the ancient Japanese art of paper folding. One uncut square of paper can, in the hands of an origami artist, be folded into a bird, a frog, a sailboat, or a Japanese samurai helmet beetle. Origami can be extraordinarily complicated and intricate.

Category: Science

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Game Theory: Clues To Why We Cooperate

Why do people cooperate? This isn’t a question anyone seriously asks. The answer is obvious: we cooperate because doing so is usually synergistic. It creates more benefit for less cost and makes our lives easier and better. Maybe it’s better to ask why don’t people always cooperate. But the answer here seems obvious too. We don’t do so if we think we can get away with it. If we can save ourselves the effort of working with someone else but still gain the benefits of others’ cooperation. And, perhaps, we withhold cooperation as punishment for others’ past refusal to collaborate with us. Since there are good reasons to cooperate – and good reasons not to do so – we are left with a question without an obvious answer: under what conditions will people cooperate?

Category: Science

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Mining Conquistadors & Air Pollution

When the Spanish conquered South America in the 16th century they took over the Incas' mines and soon began to pump clouds of lead dust over the Andes. The silver the conquistadors sent back home made them wealthy. It also made them the world’s first industrial-scale toxic metal air polluters – perhaps causing us to rethink the timing of the moment when humans truly began to change the environment.

Category: Science

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Bitter Coffee? Change The Color Of Your Cup

In research published recently in the journal Flavour by my colleagues and I, it appears that cup color plays a big part in the way coffee drinkers perceive the taste of their morning cup.

Category: Science

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Security and the Internet of Things

An ever-increasing number of our consumer electronics are internet-connected. We’re living at the dawn of the age of the Internet of Things. Appliances ranging from light switches and door locks, to cars and medical devices boast connectivity in addition to basic functionality. The convenience can’t be beat. But what are the security and privacy implications?

Category: Science

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Global Warming: More Or Less Snow?

At first glance, asking whether global warming results in more snow may seem like a silly question because obviously, if it gets warm enough, there is no snow. Consequently, deniers of climate change have used recent snow dumps to cast doubt on a warming climate from human influences. Yet they could not be more wrong.

Category: Science

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GM Crops Shrink Pesticides' Footprint

No wonder modern apocalyptic mythology about agriculture, sinister stories about pesticides and assertions that genetic engineering of crops break a biological taboo find a very receptive audience, especially among those who don’t ever go to a modern farm. In truth, there’s a lot to feel good about in the way modern agriculture is shaping up to the big challenges of the present – reducing carbon emissions, preventing soil erosion and minimizing any environmental damage by herbicides and pesticides.

Category: Science

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Poop Will Tell: Do Rhinos & Elephants Compete?

A recent study of the two animals in Addo Elephant National Park, called “Shift in Black Rhinoceros Diet in the Presence of Elephant: Evidence for Competition?” suggests the answer is yes. Scientists interested in helping endangered species like the African elephant and the black rhinoceros would like to know whether these animals compete for resources in the wild, as such food contests could impact the population and health of both species. Unfortunately, our favorite rough-skinned big guys have IUCN statuses of vulnerable and critically endangered, respectively, so competition for food between them may present a bit of an ecological puzzle.

Category: Nature

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The Dark Side of Creativity

Creativity—the generation of novel and useful ideas, products, or solutions—is seen as a valuable trait for people and organizations to possess. Organizations harness it to develop innovative products, services, or processes, all of which promote profitability, long-term sustainability, and a competitive advantage. Yet creativity isn’t always embraced—in fact, certain ideas can initially be viewed as so implausible that they are outright rejected.

Category: Science

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On Climate, More 'Now’ and ‘How’ is Needed

To hear Jeffrey D. Sachs tell it, if humanity manages to avert catastrophic warming from manmade greenhouse gases, it won’t be because of an astonishing technological breakthrough that suddenly saved the day.
It will be because policymakers mustered the will to start acting today rather than later, and focused on how to transform global energy systems before squabbling about who should pay for it.
Unfortunately, that has not happened yet. “What we have is mostly a debate about what’s fair and unfair, but very little understanding about what to do,” he says.

Category: Science

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Help For Declining Monarch Populations

With its striking orange and black coloring and transcontinental range, the monarch butterfly is probably the most recognizable insect in North America.
All pollinators are important to maintaining our food supply, but monarchs also have a key role in education; for decades schoolchildren across North America have been raising and releasing monarchs as part of their science lessons. Unfortunately, while monarchs were once one of the most commonly seen pollinators in gardens and fields, in the past decade there has been a precipitous drop in the monarch population.
The good news it that there are many things that the public can do right now to help monarchs!

Category: Science

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Aquilops: The Little Dinosaur that Could

Several colleagues and I named a really cute little dinosaur–Aquilops americanus. At around 106 million years old, Aquilops turns out to be the oldest “horned” dinosaur (the lineage including Triceratops) named from North America, besting the previous record by nearly 20 million years. Even more interesting is the fact that Aquilops is not at all closely related to later horned dinosaurs from North America, but is mostly closely related to forms that lived in Asia around the same time. This is in line with a growing body of evidence showing an exchange of animals between the two continents at that time.

Category: Science

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Where do Vampires come from? Isotopic Analysis of the Drawsko Vampires

Vampires have continued to be a hot topic in studies of deviant burial practices, and the popular news is more than happy to share these types of archaeological finds. Of course, the problem with the popular media is that they don’t really understand the evidence at hand, and they don’t accurately share the findings of the bioarchaeologists. Here’s a good rule- always go to the primary source- find the journal article, find the book, find the archaeologist, and you will learn what they actually said about the site.

Category: Science

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My Brain Made Me Do It, But Does That Matter?

Imagine that Brian promises to drive you to the airport but never shows up, and you miss your flight.
When you confront Brian, he tells you that he remembered his promise but decided to watch a movie instead. Would you be angry? You betcha!
But then suppose Brian pleads, “Don’t be angry at me. My brain made me do it. I wanted to watch the movie, and my desires are lodged in my brain. Moreover, I don’t care that much about you, but that is only because my neurons do not fire very fast when I think of you. My brain makes me act as I do, so I’m not responsible.”
This plea will not quell your anger. Why not?

Category: Science

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The Corrupting Power of Cancer

Cancer researchers have found that certain types of cancer cells acquire what’s called multidrug resistance by producing lots of antioxidant enzymes and cellular pumps that export drugs out of the cell. This leads to cancers that are much harder to treat, as these cells can inactivate or expel drugs before they are able to perform their cancer-killing actions.

Category: Science

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Is there Life After Football for NFL Pros

Why do smart, talented, disciplined and wealthy young men have so much trouble adapting to life after football? In a recent study, my colleague Richard Jones and I had the opportunity to collaborate with former Super Bowl Champion George Koonce, Jr. to explore the complex challenges many NFL players confront when they leave the game.

Category: Sports

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Football: Science and Deflategate

News reports say that 11 of the 12 game balls used by the New England Patriots in their AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts were deflated, showing about 2 pounds per square inch (psi) less pressure than the 13 psi required by the rules, so it seems that the most bizarre sports scandal of recent memory is real. But there are still plenty of questions: why would a team deflate footballs? Could there be another explanation? And most importantly, what does physics tell us about all this?

Category: Science

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New York: Hot Dogs, Donuts, Burgers & Bugs

New York is one of many cities whose mythical allure claims that the streets are paved with gold. Sadly, you are more likely to be treading on – or at least wading through – the remains of burgers, hot dogs, sweets, cookies, fries and more unmentionable sources of nutrients. Yet in among all that detritus is an awful lot of energy, a resource that could underpin a complex ecosystem.

Category: Science

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Science Says: Eat with your Kids

As a family therapist, I often have the impulse to tell families to go home and have dinner together rather than spending an hour with me. And 20 years of research in North America, Europe and Australia back up my enthusiasm for family dinners. It turns out that sitting down for a nightly meal is great for the brain, the body and the spirit. And that nightly dinner doesn’t have to be a gourmet meal that took three hours to cook, nor does it need to be made with organic arugula and heirloom parsnips.

Category: Science

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Everything About Cometary Exploration

Exciting as it is (and it is incredibly exciting), the Rosetta mission is the latest in a history of comet exploration that has added to our knowledge of these icy dirtballs.

Category: Science

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How Our Brains View Others

Race-related demonstrations, Title IX disputes, affirmative action court cases, same-sex marriage bans.
These issues made headlines in all spheres of the media this year. However, thoughtful articles on these subjects seem always to devolve to pitting warring factions against each other: black vs white, women vs men, gay vs straight.
At the most fundamental level of biology, we recognize the innate advantage of defining differences in species. But even within species, is there something in our neural circuits that leads us to find comfort in those like us and unease with those who may differ?

Category: Science

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Copyright and Scientific Debate

We’ve all monkeyed around trying to sort out the ownership of published content. In the scientific community, copyright and its (mis) application in publishing has authors, publishers, and readers grappling with questions of what is legally possible, what is desirable, and what is “allowable” by any particular party.

Category: Science

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Music, Language, and the Brain

Have you ever thought about everything that goes into playing music or speaking two languages? Musicians for example need to listen to themselves and others as they play, use this sensory information to call up learned actions, decide what is important and what isn’t for this specific moment, continuously integrate these decisions into their playing, and sync up with the players around them. Likewise, someone who is bilingual must decide based on context which language to use, and since both languages will be fairly automatic, suppress one while recalling and speaking the other, all while continuously modifying their behavior based on their interactions with another listener/speaker.

Category: Science

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Using Science Fiction to Teach Science

As teachers and educators, we suffer from a very real limitation when it comes to teaching. Either due to time, lack of equipment or other constraints we cannot teach some issues the way we would like. But even in the most well-equipped lab, sometimes we can’t teach a concept because the technology doesn’t exist. Teachers can use outlandish examples to discuss a concept, and then work backwards from there to discuss the limitations we currently face, a concept called a Thought Experiment.

Category: Science

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Excavating Santa...

This is not meant to be taken as a statement of fact or truth, rather it is a humorous exercise in using osteological knowledge to examine a current debate. With that, let’s begin.
In "Who Is Santa" we talked about the reason why Santa’s ethnicity and bones have been discussed in the news recently, and then who St. Nicholas actually was. Today we’re doing something a little more fun- we are going to do an osteological analysis of different versions of Santa.
Here, we report on the excavations of a number of individuals who potentially are ‘Santa’ (again, this isn’t real, just having fun here).

Category: Science

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Who is Santa?!

This is not meant to be taken as a statement of fact or truth, rather it is a humorous exercise in using osteological knowledge to examine a current debate. With that, let’s begin.
This is where the mortuary archaeology comes in… we are going to discuss first the bones of St. Nicholas, and then second (in Excavating Santa) we'll discuss what the bones of Santa would really look like if we found them (again, this is meant to be humorous, Santa is still alive and well according to the NORAD Santa tracker).

Category: Science

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Rare Today, Gone Tomorrow

The ecological impacts of climate change are likely to be varied and widespread. In a recent study,
special attention has been given to understanding the vulnerability of particular species and functions within ecosystems.
But how exactly does one go about identifying which species are vulnerable to climate change, and how is that vulnerability defined? Sensitivity? Exposure? Adaptive capacity? And should we lose one of those vulnerable species, what is the effect on the rest of the ecosystem?

Category: Science

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Turf Wars on the Football Field

This NoteStream is not about the players or the teams bound for the Super Bowl, but about a part of the game. Plain and simple, I am writing about the turf grass (natural and synthetic) because in football, turf (i.e. grass) is a necessary and significant aspect of the game.

Category: Science

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Jack the Ripper Lives On: Mystery Not Solved

The Jack the Ripper murders are the most potent cold case ever. More than a century on from the first killing in 1888 they are still attracting global attention.
In September a book by Russell Edwards, Naming Jack the Ripper, appeared to great fanfare. In an article in the Mail on Sunday, the author said: "we have finally solved the mystery of who Jack the Ripper was … we have unmasked him."
Solving the mystery of Jack the Ripper is a big claim – but seldom have so many words been written about so few pieces of meaningful evidence. Let’s take a closer look at Edwards' argument.

Category: Science

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Green Energy vs. Wildlife...

Finding solutions to replace coal and oil burning power plants are necessary. However, we must not be hasty in labeling them as purely “green” just on the grounds of emissions. As we move forward in developing and perfecting these technologies it is important to consider their impact on the environment—just as we have considered the impact of dumping nuclear waste or pumping carbon dioxide into the air and sea. We must always step back and see what else needs to be done.

Category: Science

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The Challenge of New Languages As an Adult

Given how involuntarily we adults use our primary language, it’s shocking how difficult learning new languages as an adult can be.
Although fully developed prefrontal and parietal cortices endow adults with many advantages, according to the authors, these same adult brains may hinder us from learning some aspects of language. We might, in fact, be “trying” too hard.

Category: Science

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OMG These GMO's

For anyone who works in hospitality or hospitality-related fields, the debate about Genetic Engineering (GE), specifically Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) is likely at the center of many a conversation; both with colleagues and customers. The debate is also at the center of many food justice forums, and no matter what side of the debate one’s loyalties rest, one thing is certain: there are extremely intelligent people with solid arguments on both sides.

Category: Science

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Ancient Humans and Their Prehistoric Pups

While the tale of how man’s best friend came to be (i.e., domestication) is still slowly unfolding, a recently published study may provide a little context—or justification?—for dog lovers everywhere. It turns out that even thousands of years ago, humans loved to share food with, play with, and dress up their furry friends.

Category: Science

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What Makes a Spirit Gluten-Free?

Since beginning work with Purity Vodka (2012 NY International Spirits Competition medal winner) as their national brand ambassador in 2010, one of the most commonly asked questions I’m asked is, “Is it gluten-free?” Myths about alcohol are as common and as numerous as the people who drink it, and I for one have often wished that there was a definitive test that could set the record straight. Here you'll learn what you need to know.

Category: Science

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Modelling Greenland's Ice Sheets

Greenland’s ice sheet is not simply a giant ice cube, inert but for gradual erosion from climate change. It’s a dynamic, shifting landscape, a place of delicate balance between the forces that create ice and those that destroy it. Here you'll find out how ice speed is affected by surface meltwater predicting climate change and its effect on surface melting using climate models, and predicting how these would affect ice flow and sea level using ice sheet models.

Category: Science

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Learning From Hollywood's Bad Science

Sure, movies have that creative license to add drama, but not everyone knows where the line is between truth and fiction. This is a great teaching moment to point out inaccuracies, because left unattended these moments will lead to misconceptions. Whether you're just simply curious, or a parent or teacher, this will inspire you to learn more!
This is part of a NoteStream Series called Real Life Science.

Category: Science

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Wildlife Documentary or Entertaining Science?

A conservation advocate, Chris Palmer believes that filmmakers “have a responsibility of raising viewer awareness of the serious environmental problems facing the world”. Wildlife films are a great opportunity to educate the general public about science and spread a message of conservation. But, like Chris said, “[solely] promoting the beauty of the natural world is not the same as conservation.” How can we use wildlife films to educate?
This is part of a Series called Real Life Science.

Category: Science

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Yeast and Cultural Diversity

Yeast—including more than 1500 species that make up 1% of all known fungi—plays an important role in the existence of many of our favorite foods. With a job in everything from cheese making to alcohol production to cocoa preparation, humans could not produce such diverse food products without this microscopic, unicellular sous-chef.

Category: Science

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Bugs: 7 Reasons Why We Hate Them

Even before that day when Gregor Samsa woke up as a monstrous, verminous bug, people have disliked bugs. The bug hatred can be deleterious for science and for the way the public perceives science. Studies have quantified how people (adults and children) are repulsed by arthropods and do not grasp the invertebrate’s impact in agriculture and our economy. So let’s consider “bugs” arthropods and break down the hatred in a Buzzfeed-type list!
By Sci-Ed PLOS, licensed (CC BY 3.0)

Category: Science

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Using Math to Make Guinness

Let me tell you a story about William Sealy Gosset. William was a Chemistry and Math grad from Oxford University in the class of 1899 (they were partying like it was 1899 back then). After graduating, he took a job with the brewery of Arthur Guinness and Son, where he worked as a mathematician, trying to find the best yields of barley.
But this is where he ran into problems.
Using Math to make Guinness by PLOS Blogs Network, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Category: Science

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Mathematical Literacy: A Necessary Skill

I regularly work with undergraduate and graduate students in statistics, and I notice that many of them, while they have all the skills to do math, are absolutely terrified of it. But you need it for daily life. Mathematical literacy is the knowledge and skills required to apply arithmetic operations, to numbers embedded in printed materials, such as balancing a checkbook, figuring out a tip, completing an order form or determining the amount of interest on a loan from an advertisement.

Category: Science

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Low Carb or Low Fat for Weight Loss?

Here we have a replay of the dueling diets thing, low carb vs. low fat. Low carb continues to appear to have a very slight edge, with many caveats. The sane advice continues to be that the best diet for weight control is the one you’re most likely to stick to. It’s easy to understand the craving for a conclusive answer. This rigamarole has gone on too long. There is certainly enough information now to at least make it clear that insisting on low fat as the only way to go is just plain wrong.
Low carb v. low fat for losing weight by by On Science Blogs, PLOS is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Category: Science

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Science Education and Storytelling

My basic premise is this: Science is awesome, but science needs to do a better job of communicating that awesomeness to non-scientists. We’re sitting on the frontiers of human knowledge, and yet we cannot get others as excited about this issue that we’re very, very passionate about.
Science and Storytelling: The use of stories in science education is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License

Category: Science

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Understanding Fear: What Scares Us Most

Maybe you’ve seen a ghost, or been told the house in the above picture is haunted, or watched enough scary movies to associate houses like this with spooks.But which of these three is the most likely to scare you away?
Fear is a conditioned response, meaning that we learn to be afraid through a variety of mechanisms, including past experiences, direct instruction, and learned associations. There’s little evidence, though, to show whether one kind of conditioning is stronger than the other.
Studies could help us understand how we learn to avoid stimuli that are perceived as unpleasant even in the absence of repeated exposure, and perhaps eventually point to ways that we could overcome some fears.

Category: Science

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Need to Listen Carefully? Look Away!

A dish clatters to the floor, and you spin around to view the damage. A friend calls out from beyond your line of sight, and you turn toward the sound. We’re instinctively aware that looking at the source of a sound makes it easier to understand—except when your eyes trick your brain into hearing things.
In a phenomenon known as the McGurk illusion, the syllables you hear sound different if you simultaneously watch a person’s mouth moving in the shape of another syllable.
Seeing is believing for this!

Category: Science

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Your Dog is Eavesdropping on You!

Researchers have been investigating the question of whether animals can eavesdrop—or listen in on third-party interactions—for some time, and evidence of potential eavesdropping has been identified in dogs and other mammals, fish, and birds.
Dogs are especially good candidates for studying eavesdropping because they are social animals and have been domesticated, so they are accustomed to interacting with humans day-in and day-out.
Researchers have also confirmed that dogs can recognize human emotions, facial expressions, and friendliness versus hostility, the latter even in strangers.
So - should you watch what you say and do around your dog?!

Category: Science

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Is Climate Change Impacting Coffee?

When thinking about the impact of changing climate (increased droughts, wilder fluctuations in seasons) and increasing pest activity on food production—my thoughts tend toward crops such as rice, wheat, and corn. Not so much wine, chocolate, or coffee, though I probably consume more coffee throughout the day than I do these other staples.
A recent study showed that warming air and land temperatures can change the distribution of the coffee berry borer - a critter that causes exceeding $500 million per year...
Is your coffee in peril?

Category: Science

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Coffin vs Casket: What's in a Name?

When discussing burial containers, there are dozens of terms that can be employed and a range of descriptive terms. It is important to get the terminology correct since different types of containers have different implications.
Here, we’re going to discuss two major types of burial containers which are all similar in that they hold complete human remains, but different in construction, history and purpose.
It is interesting how the shift in terms is associated with the shifting relationships of the living to death!

Category: Science

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Gulp! Did I Just Swallow a Toe?

A major news article last year from Yukon, Canada had the amazing headline “Yukon bar patron swallows famous sourtoe, pays fine, leaves town”. To clarify this right from the start, the famous sourtoe is actually a real mummified toe that came from a deceased individual.
The eating of mummified remains actually has a long history within the Western world. Throughout the early modern period in Europe, ‘corpse medicine’ was thought to be quite efficacious. It wasn’t until the late 18th-century that these practices stopped.
So what is the difference between the native cannibalism so reviled by Westerners, and the medicinal practice?

Category: Science

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Fakes, Frauds and Hoaxes! Or Are They?!

As a discipline, Archaeology has been faced with numerous hoaxes and fakes throughout the years. There is a certain amount of wild romanticism that surrounds our field- it is one of the last disciplines that deals with unknown territory, exploration of unknown lands, and the discovery of unknown peoples. Archaeological discoveries reveal what an amazing and diverse place our world is, and how very different people across the globe are.
Here we are going to look at some of the top hoaxes relating to mortuary archaeology, as well as a known fake which turned out to be real!

Category: Science

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