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  • Wild Things

    Resilience protects corals from hurricanes — and climate change

    Many events that humans call disaster rarely are for plants, animals and other organisms, at least in the long term. There are exceptions — like the meteor that killed off the dinosaurs — but usually ecosystems recover from natural events.

    Corals, for example, might get beaten up by the turbulent currents of a hurricane that passes through. But new coral colonies form in the months and...

    12/05/2014 - 16:54 Climate, Oceans, Ecology
  • Scicurious

    Compassionate colleagues can help labs restart after disaster

    Scientists spend a lot of time planning. Planning the next set of experiments, the next paper, the next funding application. An hour on a coveted piece of equipment can require several months of legwork. Mice or other animals for experiments have to be bred years in advance — foresight that takes planning.

    It’s one thing to plan for experiments you’d like to do. Preparing for scenarios...

    12/04/2014 - 15:30 Science & Society
  • Feature

    Designing robots to help in a disaster

    View the video

    Dennis Hong first spied Japan’s ruined nuclear power plant from a bus wrapped in plastic.

    A hefty layer of protection guarded the seats, floors and handles from radioactive dust. Hong wore a face mask and gloves to limit his own exposure. Like the other passengers, he had dressed in old clothes that he was willing to toss after the trip.

    More than three years...

    12/03/2014 - 11:44 Robotics, Technology
  • Feature

    Studying a volcano in a war zone

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    On clear nights a red glow radiates from the top of Mount Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On the mountain’s summit the source of the light thrashes and boils: the largest and most active lava lake in the world.

    Among volcanoes, Nyiragongo stands out. The magma that fuels its violent eruptions is incredibly fluid, capable of racing down the...

    12/02/2014 - 15:52 Earth
  • Museums

    Exhibit lays out principles for disaster-resistant structures

    Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires — no part of the United States is immune to natural disasters. While no one can prevent these hazards, people can prepare for them. “Designing for Disaster” at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., showcases how scientists, engineers and government officials work together to guard the country’s infrastructure against Mother...

    12/02/2014 - 12:30 Earth, Science & Society
  • Growth Curve

    For kids, news coverage can bring distant tragedy home

    Laura Sanders is away on maternity leave. This week’s Growth Curve post is from contributing correspondent Laura Beil, who wrote the feature “Emotional Wounds,” which will appear in the December 13 issue.

    Rarely do I open the local newspaper to a headline as large or as startling as “Ebola Hits Home.” In October, it was hard to tell that anything else was happening in Dallas. One TV...

    12/01/2014 - 14:30 Guidelines, Parenting
  • Feature

    Children can suffer emotional wounds in a disaster

    On April 19, 1995, an unemployed security guard with an antigovernment vendetta detonated more than two tons of nitrogen fertilizer mixed with fuel at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people. A photographer captured a firefighter emerging from the rubble, his thick arms cradling the broken body of an infant, one of 19 babies and toddlers who lost their lives...

    12/01/2014 - 12:53 Mental Health, Human Development