How cities can beat the heat


Rising temperatures are threatening urban areas, but efforts to cool them may not work as planned.

The greenhouses that sprawl across the coastline of southeastern Spain are so bright that they gleam in satellite photos. Since the 1970s, farmers have been expanding this patchwork of buildings in Almería province to grow produce such as tomatoes, peppers and watermelons for export. To keep the plants from overheating in the summer, … Read the rest


Be prepared


When a key member of a team is lost, the work does not have to come to an end

When Michael Pisaric was two years into his PhD, he travelled to Watson Lake in Canada with his supervisor, Julian Szeicz, and graduate student Tammy Karst-Riddoch, to collect sediment from several lakes in Yukon and in northern British Columbia. Szeicz was a geographer at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada, who … Read the rest

Arthur Rothstein [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Dust Bowl Unrivaled


Atmospheric conditions and human actions combined to drive the 1930s megadrought

Farms failed and livestock starved in the central United States during the Dust Bowl drought of the 1930s. The event was not just the region’s worst dry spell in modern memory — it was the worst in North America over the past millennium, researchers report in Geophysical Research Letters.

“Not only did 1934 [the first year of … Read the rest


A tale of fire and ice


Are wildfires melting Greenland’s glaciers?

During the summer of 2012, fires exploded across the drought-stricken Colorado Front Range—a heavily populated area where the Great Plains meets the Rockies. One evening in early June, lightning struck a tree in the foothills west of Fort Collins. It ignited a fire that burned quietly for a few days and then rocketed downslope, fueled by a windstorm and bone-dry trees, dead from … Read the rest

Cuisine Royale by David Blackwell. Source: Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0

Dept. of Household Sciences: Division of Rubbing and Scrubbing

The Last Word on Nothing

On a recent quiet Sunday morning, I resolved to clean the caked-on grime on my stove. A roiling pot of pasta had overflowed one night, and in the rush to get plate to table and food to four-year-old’s mouth, the cloudy starchy water had cured onto the enamel around the burner and now refused to budge.

Two earlier attempts to remove the gunk with run-of-the-mill … Read the rest


Bird origin for 1918 flu pandemic


Model also links avian influenza strains to deadly horse flu.

The virus that caused the 1918 influenza pandemic probably sprang from North American domestic and wild birds, not from the mixing of human and swine viruses. A study published today in Nature reconstructs the origins of influenza A virus and traces its evolution and flow through different animal hosts over two centuries.

“The methods we’ve been using for years … Read the rest


Ecology: Lady of the Lakes


Diane Orihel set her PhD aside to lead a massive protest when Canada tried to shut down its unique Experimental Lakes Area.

It was an ominous way to start the day. When she arrived at work on the morning of 17 May 2012, Diane Orihel ran into distraught colleagues. Staff from Canada’s Experimental Lakes Area had just been called to an emergency meeting at the Freshwater Institute in Winnipeg. … Read the rest


Scientists call for no-fishing zone in Arctic


Thousands of scientists from 67 countries have called for an international agreement to close the Arctic high seas to commercial fishing until research reveals more about the freshly exposed waters.

Recent Arctic sea-ice retreat during the summer months has opened up some of the waters that fall outside of the exclusive economic zones of the nations that circle the polar ocean. In all, more than 2.8 million square kilometres … Read the rest

Male human head louse, Pediculus humanus capitis.

Technical settings : 
- focus stack of 57 images
- microscope objective (Nikon achromatic 10x 160/0.25) directly on the body (with adapter ~30 mm)

The new lice wars


Despite evidence that it’s time to abandon the no-nit rule requiring kids be sent home, schools have yet to get the message

When her three-year-old daughter was in daycare, Lisa got her first lice-alert telephone call. There were a slew of calls during senior kindergarten and more in Grade 1. The message was the same each time: Her daughter had nits in her hair and needed to be picked … Read the rest


A root of change

Bracing for Impact

The harvest of wild American ginseng root has been a part of North American culture for 300 years, but this tradition is in peril. Is it possible to save both a species and a pastime?

An aged photograph, archived in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, shows the memorabilia once on display at the Sundial Tavern, near Naoma, W.Va. Photos of babies, teenaged girls … Read the rest