Discarded cigarette butts, the most common environmental waste product, attract egg-laying mosquitoes. (Wikimedia Commons)

June 28, 2015

Cigarettes kick butt in mosquito control

What happens to the 6 trillion cigarettes smoked around the world every year? About two-thirds of them end up tossed into the environment. Besides being non-biodegradable, smoked cigarette butts contain 7,000 chemicals, including at least 69...

Image courtesy of Scanadu: https://www.scanadu.com/scout/

June 9, 2015

Antibodies: Bringing on the Age of Star Trek Medicine

When the original series of Star Trek introduced the medical tricorder back in the 1960s, it was utter science fiction. Nobody had any idea how such a handheld device able to diagnose a plethora of medical...


June 1, 2015

What is the Acceptable (and Ethical) Role of the Scientist in Society?

This past week marked the 108th birthday of marine biologist Rachel Carson, probably most widely known for her groundbreaking book Silent Spring (1962), which sparked a grassroots environmental movement in the United States and led to...

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May 28, 2015

Video of the Week: Climate music

Since people started making regular, reliable measurements of air temperatures in the late 1800s, the Earth has warmed by about 0.85 degrees Celsius–or 1.53 degrees Fahrenheit–on average. This trend is mainly driven by human activities that...


May 20, 2015

Fighting Skin Cancer with Vitamin B3

May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month, so what better time to announce the results of a promising new study by Australian researchers: An inexpensive vitamin pill reduced new occurrences of the most common types of...

Neanderthal maxilla. Credit: Joan Costa/Spanish National Research Council

May 11, 2015

Did Neanderthals Divide Labor by Gender Roles?

Cross-posted with the permission of Dr. Nathan Lents from his The Human Evolution Blog.   It is not uncommon among social mammals to engage in division of labor between the sexes. Female lions do all of the...


May 5, 2015

2015 – The International Year of Light

  Most of us rarely think about light since it is a constant presence in our lives – from the abundant rays of sunshine during a morning commute, to the bulbs that illuminate a darkened room...

Warm waters in the Pacific Ocean have disrupted marine ecosystems and North American weather. (Credit: NOAA)

April 17, 2015

Of sardines, sea lions, and “the blob” in the Pacific

If you’ve been following the news about the Pacific Ocean, there’s a lot going on these days. First, there have been the heartbreaking deaths of thousands of starving sea lion pups along the California coast. Then,...

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), shown in pink. Photo credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

April 8, 2015

MRSA meets its medieval match

In his 1945 Nobel Prize speech, Alexander Fleming warned that misusing antibiotics would lead to resistance in microbes. Fast forward 70 years and zoom in on MRSA: It’s contagious, it’s dangerous, and it resists the antibiotics...

Indian Collecting Cochineal with a Deer Tail by José Antonio de Alzate y Ramírez (1777)

April 6, 2015

Bugs to Dye for: The Colorful Science and History of Cochineal

What gives that red hue to your strawberry yogurt or the pinkish tint to the vitamin tablet you take every morning? It just might come from an insect. For hundreds of years, a small, parasitic bug...