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Citizen Science Salon

River Keeping in New Mexico

By Sharman Apt Russell | April 25, 2017 9:00 am

River Keeper. Watershed Keeper. There’s something poetic—maybe a bit Celtic—about these terms, which in the world of citizen science refer to someone monitoring a waterway for soil erosion, contaminants, and loss of biodiversity. Across the United States, with sonorous names like Willamette River Keepers and Chattahoochee River Keepers, citizen scientists are keeping watch over the environmental health of our rivers, lakes, and estuaries.

Where I live in southwestern New Mexico, the …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Environment


Plastic Bags Are a Feast for This Caterpillar

By Charles Choi | April 24, 2017 11:00 am

A caterpillar that can eat plastic and produce an industrially useful compound while doing so could take a bite out of the global scourge of plastic trash, a new study finds.

Plastics typically resist breaking down, and as plastic use has risen exponentially over the past 50 years, plastic garbage is piling up in landfills and could wreak havoc on wildlife and the environment for centuries.
Digging into Pollution
The most common plastic used in packaging, polyethylene, represents about  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts


Watch as a giant explosion on the Sun blasts material into space, followed by dancing loops of glowing gas

By Tom Yulsman | April 24, 2017 10:48 am

NASA describes the display of coronal loops as particularly unusual

As NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory watched on April 19, 2017, a huge explosion of hot, ionized gas and magnetic field blasted outward from the Sun.

Immediately following this coronal mass ejection, or CME, gargantuan loops of glowing plasma many times larger than Earth arced high in the Sun’s atmosphere. Such bright coronal loops form as charged particles spin along the Sun’s magnetic field lines.

While such displa …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, select, Top Posts


Here's the first installment in a new series at ImaGeo: dazzling imagery from the new GOES-16 weather satellite

By Tom Yulsman | April 23, 2017 4:17 pm

With Earth Day just behind us, I’ve been inspired to start a new series here at ImaGeo: semi-regular posts showcasing the truly dazzling imagery now being produced by the GOES-16 weather satellite.

It’s now on its shakedown cruise, so to speak. Scientists are still testing everything out and evaluating the data being returned by the satellite. So it is not yet officially operational.

Even so, just have a look at the animation above, and the others below, and I think you’ll agree that G …


There's no place like home

By Tom Yulsman | April 22, 2017 7:40 pm

A visual celebration of the home planet, starting with a view from Earth as seen from Saturn — 870 million miles away — and zooming in close

On the morning of the first Earth Day, on April 20th, 1970, a friend and I boarded the IRT subway line in Brooklyn and headed for Manhattan. Our destination: Fifth Avenue, where New York City’s festivities were to take place.

I don’t recall ever having heard the term “home planet” back then. Yet the basic idea already had great currency,  …

Science Sushi

Why I March Every Day

By Christie Wilcox | April 22, 2017 8:00 am

As the March for Science has drawn near, scientists and science-lovers across the country have pontificated at length on why they are—or aren’t—marching. But while today’s 400-plus demonstrations around the nation will hopefully resonate with lawmakers, it takes more than rallies to accomplish lasting change. The following is a guest post from Dr. Kira Krend, a biology teacher in Honolulu, HI, on her March for Science—one that she does every day. 


13,407 steps.

Th …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: More Science, select, Top Posts


Tropical Storm Arlene spins up in the Atlantic, two months before average date of first storm of hurricane season

By Tom Yulsman | April 21, 2017 9:25 pm

Is climate change playing any role in an apparent lengthening of the hurricane season?

It’s way early for hurricane season to start, but that’s precisely what happened yesterday with the formation of Tropical Storm Arlene in the far northern Atlantic.

Brian McNoldy, a researcher at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, writing at his Tropical Atlantic Update blog, puts this into perspective:
. . . this is exactly two months before the average da …


Check out this cool animation illustrating California's dramatic change in fortunes

By Tom Yulsman | April 21, 2017 3:20 pm

The animation, based on data from a NASA airborne observatory, show just how much the state’s snowpack has grown

The incredible impact of California’s drought-busting deluges has now become even clearer, thanks to this compelling new animation from NASA.

You’re looking at a comparison of snowpack on April 1, 2015 and 2017 in the Tuolumne River Basin of the Sierra Nevada range. Famous Mono Lake is to the right. The entire basin spans more than 1,600 square miles, an area larger than …


Functional Connectivity Between Surgically Disconnected Brain Regions?

By Neuroskeptic | April 21, 2017 2:26 pm

A new article posted on preprint site bioRxiv has generated a lot of interest among neuroscientists on Twitter. The article reports the existence of ‘functional connectivity’ between surgically disconnected distant brain regions using fMRI, something that in theory shouldn’t be possible.

This is big news, if true, because it suggests that fMRI functional connectivity isn’t entirely a reflection of actual signalling between brain areas. Rather, something else must be able to produce connectivi …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fMRI, methods, select, Top Posts


The Hobbit: A Lineage More Ancient Than Once Thought?

By John Wenz | April 21, 2017 12:02 pm

The 2003 discovery of the Homo floresiensis added a new, weird branch to the human family tree. At the same time humans were spreading across Asia and Neanderthals were inching toward extinction in Europe (and the mysterious Denisovans were doing … something), this three-and-a-half foot human relative was carving out an existence on the Flores island in what is now Indonesia.

But where, exactly, it came from has been a mystery. There were suggestions that it was simply a modern human su …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: archaeology

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