Reviews & Previews
CannibalismBill SchuttAlgonquin Books, $26.95
Until recently, researchers thought cannibalism took place only among a few species in the animal kingdom and only under extraordinary circumstances. But as zoologist Bill Schutt chronicles in Cannibalism, plenty of creatures inhabit their own version of a dog-eat-dog world.
Over the last few decades, scientists have observed...
Science & the Public
If you spent Thanksgiving trying in vain to convince relatives that the Pope didn’t really endorse Donald Trump or that Hillary Clinton didn’t sell weapons to ISIS, fake news has already weaseled its way into your brain.
Those “stories” and other falsified news outperformed much of the real news on Facebook before the 2016 U.S. presidential election. And on Twitter, an analysis by...
Hillary Clinton’s “I believe in science” declaration aside, science has not played a starring role in the 2016 presidential election. Far from it. For the most part, the candidates’ science policies have trickled out in dribs and drabs, and in varying degrees of detail — talking points on a website here, a passing comment in response to a spur-of-the-moment question there.
Acid rain is a popular term referring to the deposition of wet poo and cats.
No, not really. But that's what people looking at Wikipedia's article on acid rain could have read on December 1, 2011.
An anonymous editor had tinkered with the text. Over the next few minutes, the silly sentence winked in and out of the article as editors wrangled over the wording.
The incident is...
“I Fooled Millions Into Thinking Chocolate Helps Weight Loss. Here's How.”
That’s the headline on a May 27 article by science journalist John Bohannon that revealed the backstory of a sting operation he conducted earlier this year. Bohannon and a German television reporter teamed up to “demonstrate just how easy it is to turn bad science into the big headlines behind diet fads.” So they...
In the near vacuum of outer space, each rare morsel of matter tells a story. A speedy proton may have been propelled by the shock wave of an exploding star. A stray electron may have teetered on the precipice of a black hole, only to be flung away in a powerful jet of searing gas.
Since 2011, the International Space Station has housed an experiment that aims to decipher those origin...
Scientists and nonscientists don’t always agree. When it comes to genetically modified foods, 88 percent of scientists think they are safe to eat. Only 37 percent of nonscientists approve of them. Scientists overwhelmingly (89 percent) support the use of animals in research, but only 47 percent of the public is in favor. And while 87 percent of scientists agree that humans are behind climate...
Guest post by Tina Hesman Saey
I donated my used toilet paper to science. The act wasn’t a prank or a weird protest; it was an effort to discover what microbes are living in my intestines.
Those microbes in and on your body include bacteria, which outnumber your own cells 10 to 1. Together with with fungi, archea, viruses and other single-celled organisms, they are known...
Strawberry poison frogs (Oophaga pumilio) don't create their own poison. The Central American frogs sequester the alkaloid chemicals from the mites, ants and other arthropods they eat and store it in glands on their skin. Predators that ignore the bright red “don't eat me” warning pigmentation get a nasty surprise — a bad taste in their mouth, sickness or even death.
Tadpoles of a...
When I was in graduate school, I once gassed out my lab with the smell of death. I was studying the products of plant decomposition, and I had placed copious quantities of duckweed into large tubs and let the mix decompose for a few weeks. Duckweed is a small floating aquatic plant; it looks harmless enough. But when I dragged my tubs into the lab and set up a pump and filtration system, all...