Category Archives: Scientific

Now The Fish Could Be Addicts

I’ve just run across another unusual way our civilization is affecting the environment. Our prolific drug habits may be addicting fish. According to a recent laboratory study, published July 6th, 2021 in the Journal of Experimental Biology, freshwater fish can get hooked on methamphetamine that washes into the waterways to the point that they actively seek

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How To Make Your Own Sun

The Italian town of Viganella had a problem — the sun would disappear from November 11th until February 2nd every winter. Normally this only occurs to communities inside the Artic and Antarctic Circles, but Viganella is unique in that respect — it sits at the bottom of a steep, v-shaped valley at the border with

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Unusual Rainbows

My first visit to Yosemite National Park in California happened to coincide with a full moon. Taking in all the wonders the park has to offer, I listened to an evening presentation given by a ranger. She explained how, if you stand in just the right place near one of the major waterfalls during a

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Laughter Isn’t Just for Humans

We think of laughter as a uniquely human trait. Laughter for us is inborn — even deaf babies laugh. Plus there is a cultural component, as people in some cultures laugh more than others, but it’s a universal part of our behavior. Now scientists are saying it’s an important part of animals’ behavior too. New

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What We Can Learn From Cicadas

The late spring is always a trying time to be a substitute teacher, with students quickly losing interest as the summer approaches. This pandemic year has been hard on everyone, from wearing masks and hybrid schedules featuring double periods to in-person learning only four days a week. Nice weather means students can take mask breaks

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What’s Next For Radio Astronomy?

As a casual observer of astronomy, I’ve learned two things — There’s more to the universe than what you can see, and you have to think big. For example, radio astronomy studies the sky at radio frequencies. This subfield of astronomy dates back to 1932, when Karl Jansky at Bell Telephone Laboratories detected radiation coming from within our home

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In Defense of Wasps

What is the most feared insect? Mosquitoes deserve a vote, spiders are scary (although technically they aren’t insects), and I’m not a fan of horseflies. And then there’s the wasp. I have learned to stay well away from all the varieties of these narrow-waisted insects (suborder Apocrita of the order Hymenoptera), which include yellowjackets and hornets. They don’t

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Is There An Earthquake Season?

It’s an accepted fact that there is a tendency for certain natural disasters to occur at specific times of the year. We have a definite hurricane season, parts of the country have fire seasons, and tornados tend to pop up during predictable times. But could this be true for earthquakes? Possibly. A study conducted in

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How Best to Prevent Climate Change?

What is the best way to keep the climate from changing? Transition from fossil fuels as quickly as possible? Go to more plant-based foods and eliminate cattle? Plant more trees? Limit population growth? Any action we take can have serious repercussions and must be carefully considered. And one of the best ways to evaluate an

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In Defense of Spiders

I’m going to say something that goes against every instinct you have — don’t kill that spider. I know how some people feel about bugs in general, and spiders in particular. They’re creepy (lots of legs and fangs) and can be pests. Many people are downright afraid of them; fear of spiders is arachnophobia (in

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