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...

Bee Hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae)
©Rafy Rodriguez

March 19, 2015

The ecological jewel to our south: Environmental implications of normalized U.S.-Cuba relations

Satellite view of Cuba ©NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio The Obama Administration’s announced change in diplomatic relations with Cuba heralds the start of a new relationship between the Caribbean island nation and the U.S. Though...


March 12, 2015

Writing to Learn in the Science Classroom

Education in the United States, particularly in the K through 12 arena, has been a hotbed of public debate in the last decade, heating up more recently in controversies surrounding Common Core. While few would argue...

Here's a Landsat image of phytoplankton blooms in the Baltic Sea, which reminded NASA scientists of a Van Gogh's Starry Night painting. (Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/USGS)

March 6, 2015

A stunning week of #SciArt draws to a close

This week, Scientific American’s Symbiartic blog decided to try something new: they asked Twitter users to tweet pictures of scientific art — from spectacular satellite photos to science-inspired quilts — accompanied by the hashtag #SciArt. The...

The loudest (and quietest) places in the U.S.
Credit: National Parks Service Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division

February 21, 2015

Image of the Week: Picturing—and Preserving—Soundscapes

Shhh. Do you hear that? Last week at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in San Jose, CA, all eyes (and ears) were fixed on a new map from the National...

Smith created arguably the first geologic map. (Public domain, Scan by the Library Foundation, Buffalo and Erie County Public Library)

January 23, 2015

A Historic Map Turns 200 Years Old

Geologic maps represent the flashier side of earth science. They depict in vibrant colors and funky shapes the rocks and sediments that cover our planet — materials which are often decidedly duller in reality. But though...


January 20, 2015

Copper shines in fight against germs

From centuries-old time capsules to modern medical centers, copper shines as the metal of choice to preserve and protect. Case in point:  A time capsule first buried in 1795 by Paul Revere and Samuel Adams was...

Nicolaus Steno Portrait

January 9, 2015

Nicolaus Steno: An Unlikely Geology Genius

Portrait of Nicolaus Steno as a bishop. Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons Nicolaus Steno could not have guessed that he would one day be known as a father of modern geology on the fateful day in October...


December 29, 2014

Telomeres, Stress, and the Mediterranean Diet

Just as you must wrap the ends of a strand of dental floss around your fingers in order to clean between your teeth, chromosomes of eukaryotes (the kind of life that includes humans) must have slack...

Global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations from Oct. 1 through Nov. 11, as recorded by NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2. 
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

December 20, 2014

A Year in Review: Scientific Advancements of 2014

As we wrap-up another year, it seems appropriate to take some time to think about the scientific advancements made in the past twelve months. From landing on comets to discovering new species in the deepest parts...