Latest Blog Posts


As Obama Restricts Arctic Drilling, A Look at the Region's Different Faces: From 'Workable' to 'Extreme'

By Tom Yulsman | January 27, 2015 1:22 pm

Note: This is a guest post by Gloria Dickie, one of two master’s students who joined me in Tromsø, Norway to attend the Arctic Frontiers conference last week. She wrote this post before today’s announcement by the White House that it is designating 9.8 million acres in the Arctic waters of  the Beaufort and Chuckchi Seas off Alaska’s coast as off-limits to consideration for future oil and gas leasing. This announcement makes her piece particularly newsworthy today. 

Dickie is a stud …

Science Sushi

Journalists vector GM fears as FDA considers Oxitec's Keys mosquito plan

By Christie Wilcox | January 27, 2015 1:10 pm

In the past few days, a new “GMO scandal” has hit the headlines. The UK biotech firm Oxitec has proposed the release of special genetically modified mosquitos in the Florida Keys to help with current mosquito control efforts. Or, according to the media:
Millions of GMO mosquitoes to be released in Florida Keys if Oxitec gets its way
Florida, Meet Genetically Modified Mosquitoes, Which Are Coming Your Way By The Millions
The Washington Post actually called them “genetically modified kille …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Evolution, More Science, select, Top Posts


This Exoplanet's Ring System Puts Saturn to Shame

By Carl Engelking | January 27, 2015 12:59 pm

A newly discovered planet makes Saturn’s famed ring collection look downright tiny by comparison.

Astronomers from the Leiden Observatory in Netherlands and Rochester University in the United States discovered a planet encircled by a ring system more than 200 times the diameter of Saturn’s. With more than 30 rings, it’s the first system of its kind to be discovered outside our solar system, and it may be churning out more moons and protoplanets.
Rings Around the Gas Giant
SuperWAS …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: exoplanets

The Crux

The Bloodthirsty Truth of the Beautiful Orchid Mantis

By James Gilbert, University of Sussex | January 27, 2015 11:05 am

This article was originally published on The Conversation.

In his 1879 account of wanderings in the Orient, the travel writer James Hingston describes how, in West Java, he was treated to a bizarre experience:
I am taken by my kind host around his garden, and shown, among other things, a flower, a red orchid, that catches and feeds upon live flies. It seized upon a butterfly while I was present, and enclosed it in its pretty but deadly leaves, as a spider would have enveloped it in netwo …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: animals, evolution


Athletic Training Makes Lizards Better Runners

By Elizabeth Preston | January 27, 2015 9:27 am

Athletes don’t normally need to be chased down the track to get their training mileage in. But a green anole lizard is not a normal athlete.

Scientists wanted to know whether it’s possible to train a lizard at all. Human athletes and other mammals perform better with consistent exercise, but is this universal? Can a reptile increase its stamina? What about its sprint speed? So the scientists became lizard athletic trainers, which really means lizard harassers. Results were mixed.

Th …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: exercise, sports, top posts, walking
MORE ABOUT: Animals, Evolution

Citizen Science Salon

Winter Weather Citizen Science!

By Guest | January 27, 2015 9:00 am

Winter weather is upon us! Many folks bundle up and venture outside to participate in citizen science, while others look for projects they can do indoors.

Here’s a mitten-full of indoor and outdoor cold-weather projects for you to explore.
The SciStarter Team



This project is run by a graduate student who needs your help! Now through the end of February, she’s looking for people to provide inf …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Environment
MORE ABOUT: newsletter

Seriously, Science?

Money may not buy you happiness, but it can make you less sad.

By Seriously Science | January 27, 2015 6:00 am

We’ve previously discussed how having money can make you feel less pain. So it probably makes you happy too, right? Well, not so fast. This study used census data to test whether higher income is associated with happiness or sadness. Interestingly, they found that although people with money are not happier on a daily basis, they are less sad. Sound paradoxical? According to the authors, “happiness and sadness are distinct emotional states, rather than diametric opposites” — that is, just be …

Clearly meant to keep larger predators at bay.

Science Sushi

Plants vs Everything

By Christie Wilcox | January 27, 2015 5:48 am

In December, I had the amazing opportunity to spend almost two weeks in the Peruvian Amazon at the Tambopata Research Center to do research for a book I’m writing on venoms.

The Amazon is home to some of the most notorious venomous animals on Earth. There’s the bullet ant: an animal whose venom is so painful, it is said to be like getting shot. Then there are the wandering spiders: large, aggressive arachnids known for their deadly bite. And that’s not even getting into the various snakes  …


Body Horrors


By Rebecca Kreston | January 26, 2015 11:10 pm

Abracadabra! Many of us are familiar with this mystical incantation. Its arcane staccato and euphonious intonation has become deeply ingrained in our language through the word’s use as a magical catchphrase. The hex was, in my childhood experience, rather useless when it came to opening locked cabinets and provoking instantaneous transformations; nothing was conjured and very little materialized except for my own disappointment. But millennia past, this word was held in reverence, and it was  …


The Blockbuster Nor'easter as Seen From Space

By Tom Yulsman | January 26, 2015 10:33 pm

|Update: See the two new spectacular satellite images I’ve added below. |

As I’m writing this post, it’s 11:30 p.m. on the U.S. East Coast and heavy snow has been falling from New York City all the way north to New Hampshire.

More than 29 million people are under a blizzard warning.

Weather bloggers, journalists, Tweeters, Instagramers, etc., are blanketing this storm with minute-by-minute updates. So I thought I could add some value by featuring some imagery that puts this nor’ea …


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