August 24, 2015

A self-cleaning leaf: the superhydrophobic Lotus

It might sound like an ad for a new product – the leaf that cleans itself!, waterproof!, 100% organic! – but the lotus plant (genus Nelumbo) really does have self-cleaning leaves.  Or, more accurately, the lotus has...

August 18, 2015

The birth of a cultural meme: the “do not disturb” gesture in Mandrills

Cross-posted with the permission of Dr. Nathan H. Lents from his The Human Evolution Blog. Mandrills are, literally, one of the most colorful creatures on earth and certainly the most colorful primates. Their striking faces are matched...

July 27, 2015

A deadly passion: moths and their attraction to artificial light

Bee to the blossom, moth to the flame; Each to his passion …. ~Helen Hunt Jackson It’s a common saying – “like a moth to a flame” – which implies a strong, perhaps even dangerous attraction to...

July 20, 2015

New Horizons brings Pluto up close and personal

All eyes are on Pluto, the latest darling of our galaxy. On the morning of July 14, 2015, the New Horizons spacecraft came within 7,750 miles of Pluto in a historic data-gathering flyby. At a brisk 31,000...

July 7, 2015

Self-driving taxis could help commuters and climate

Today, if you need to get somewhere, you might catch a lift with another driver using a ride-sharing service like Uber. But twenty years from now, you might just catch a ride with a car —...

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...

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...

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...