Latest Blog Posts


The Rusty Patched Bumble Bee Is Disappearing in the US

By Nathaniel Scharping | January 11, 2017 1:38 pm

For the first time, a species of bumble bee has been placed on the endangered species list in the United States. In fact, it’s the first bee of any kind in the contiguous 48 states to land on the list.

The rusty patched bumble bee, Bombus affinis, was once prevalent in 28 states in the Midwest, south and north-eastern U.S., but its numbers have been declining since at the least the 1990s, say researchers with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The agency announced Tuesday that B.  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Living World


Two Manifestos for Better Science

By Neuroskeptic | January 11, 2017 4:46 am

Two new papers urge scientists to make research more reproducible.

First off, Russ Poldrack and colleagues writing in Nature Reviews Neuroscience discuss how to achieve transparent and reproducible neuroimaging research. Neuroimaging techniques, such as fMRI, are enormously powerful tools for neuroscientists but, Poldrack et al. say, they are at risk of “a ‘perfect storm’ of irreproducible results”, driven by the “high dimensionality of fMRI data, the relatively low power of most …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: FixingScience, fMRI, papers, select, Top Posts

Dead Things

Mammals: Is It Better To Be Horny or Brainy?

By Gemma Tarlach | January 10, 2017 6:01 pm

The arms race between prey and predator has been around since the first time one microbe evaded another; it’s a never-ending spiral of adaptations to be faster, stronger or better-defended. Now a new study looking at antipredator defenses across 647 species of mammals has found animals seem to have taken a couple different evolutionary paths to avoid being eaten. Each path came with a trade-off, however.

According to the paper published today in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biolo …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts


For Rhinos, Social Media Is a Heaping Dung Pile

By Carl Engelking | January 10, 2017 6:01 pm

To get the latest news and notes, white rhinos visit the local dung heap.

Although it’s well known that mammals use scents in urine to convey information about fertility and demarcate territory, the way dung is used to communicate is less established. White rhinos defecate in communal mounds, called middens, and researchers believe these troves of waste serve as important information hubs about their community.

And to test their hypothesis, an international team of scientists pulle …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts


In the Brain, Binge-Drinking and Binge-Eating May Go Hand in Hand

By Nathaniel Scharping | January 10, 2017 2:22 pm

After bartenders announce last call, like clockwork, pizza joints and 24-hour diners fill to the brim with drunk revelers.

It seems counter-intuitive: Alcohol contains ample calories and the body should recognize it as a source of energy, adjusting our appetites accordingly. This predilection for imbibing and pigging out has been a scientific curiosity for some time now, and researchers have attributed the “drunchies” to our sense of smell, our taste buds or our deactivated social inh …

Citizen Science Salon

Environmental Protection Belongs to the Public: A #CitSciChat about the report for EPA on the role of citizen science

By Darlene Cavalier | January 10, 2017 1:07 pm

Last month, the National Advisory Council on Environmental Policy and Technology (NACEPT), an EPA advisory council, transmitted a report to EPA titled Environmental Protection Belongs to the Public: A Vision for Citizen Science at EPA outlining thirteen specific recommendations for EPA. (Learn more about the report, its genesis, and NACEPT, in this post, coauthored byShannon Dosemagen, Public Lab and Alison Parker, ORISE Fellow hosted by EPA.)

Tomorrow, January 11, 3-4pm ET, join some  …

MORE ABOUT: citizen science, EPA, NACEPT

Seriously, Science?

A new thing to fear: sinus "fungus balls".

By Seriously Science | January 9, 2017 6:00 am

We thought we hit rock bottom with intranasal leeches and intranasal teeth. But this is (amazingly) even more nauseating: paranasal sinus fungus balls. Apparently, it’s not terribly uncommon to have balls of fungus, often species of Aspergillus, grow in your sinuses. The fungus balls sometimes migrate around in there, and they can become a cause of sinus headaches. Luckily, they can be removed surgically with few side effects. Click through to the photo below… if you can stomach it. (You’ …


A new "hole" in the Sun's atmosphere has sparked stunning displays of the northern lights here on Earth

By Tom Yulsman | January 8, 2017 1:26 pm

As the coronal hole rotated into view of the Solar Dynamics Observatory, the spacecraft captured a video of what it looked like

Ok, let’s say it straight away: A “hole” in the Sun’s corona is completely natural. It’s just one of those things that happens from time to time.

Even so, when it occurs, the results can be spectacular — on the Sun itself, as well as here on Earth.

And it just happened. Again.

The video above shows the Sun spinning on its axis and carrying an elonga …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Photography, select, Sun, Top Posts


Experience with Traffic Makes Pigeons Reckless

By Elizabeth Preston | January 8, 2017 12:43 pm

You might expect city-dwelling birds to be savvy about traffic. Birds didn’t evolve around giant, motorized predators made of metal—but once they realize how quickly a cab or bus can bear down on them, they should take heed. A recent study, though, found that pigeons do just the opposite.

Travis DeVault is a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Wildlife Research Center. Based in Ohio, he looks for ways to keep birds, bats, deer and other animals fro …


New analysis: global sea ice suffered major losses in 2016

By Tom Yulsman | January 7, 2017 2:47 pm

The extent of sea ice globally took major hits during 2016, according to an analysis released yesterday by the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

At both poles, “a wave of new record lows were set for both daily and monthly extent,” according to the analysis.

In recent years, Arctic sea ice has been hit particularly hard.

“It has been so crazy up there, not just this autumn and winter, but it’s a repeat of last autumn and winter too,” says Mark Serreze, director of the NSIDC.



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