Researchers in a New York cabbage patch are planning the first release on American soil of insects genetically engineered to die before they can reproduce. The work at Cornell University's test farm, 160 miles west of Albany in the Finger Lakes, is a pesticide-free attempt to control invasive diamondback moths. The insect's larval caterpillars devour crops in the crucifer family, including cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, and they're notoriously resistant to chemical controls. Cornell researcher Anthony Shelton is conducting tests of moths genetically engineered by biotech firm Oxitec. They reduce the wild population by producing female offspring that die before maturing. Shelton is awaiting
Growing human skin in a petri dish isn't the first thing that pops into your mind when you hear the name L'Oréal (Euronext Paris: OR-FR). This is part of a larger, ongoing effort within the scientific community to reduce and replace the use of live rabbits, mice and other laboratory animals in tests and experiments.
Fear of earthquakes is part of life in California. But people experience this anxiety in different ways. For some, the fear prompts them to take steps to protect themselves: strapping down heavy furniture, securing kitchen cabinets and retrofitting homes and apartments. For others, the fear prompts denial — a willful ignorance of the dangers until the ground starts shaking. Seismologist Lucy Jones has spent her career trying to understand public attitudes about earthquakes, with a focus on moving people past paralysis and denial. Jones said the way experts like her used to talk about earthquakes wasn’t very effective. They tended to focus on the probability of a major earthquake striking in the
Not many people — and certainly not many government agencies — have the opportunity to say "no" to the president. However, NASA's acting director, Robert M. Lightfoot Jr., might be living your wildest fantasy: he just outright denied Donald Trump something he requested. According to The New York Times, Lightfoot and his team at NASA recently rejected Trump's desire to add more crew to its Space Launch System's first flight. Citing cost and time, Lightfoot conceded that the White House's request was "technically feasible," but it would set the mission back considerably: additional crew members would cost an extra $600 to $900 million. NASA's investigation into whether additional astronauts could
New York City is not known so much for the beauty of nature as for its imposing, man-made cityscape. The sinking sun creates “a radiant glow of light across Manhattan's brick and steel canyons, simultaneously illuminating both the north and south sides of every cross street of the borough's grid. A rare and beautiful sight,” writes Neil deGrasse Tyson, the Frederick P. Rose director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History.
There's "Yard Work" going on at a former Navy installation not too far from here. Jim Axelrod gives us a tour: It's a familiar site across America: A once-booming industrial center now mired in decay. The Brooklyn Navy Yard knows the story well. Nothing boomed louder in the first half of the 20th century: its bustling docks were the backdrop for the opening of "On The Town." Established in 1801, the Yard churned out fleets of military ships over the next 150 years, providing 70,000 jobs during World War II. But when the war ended, business dried up. Within a few decades, the Brookyn Navy Yard had taken its place among the rusting and rotting, until it finally closed in 1966. David Belt had
Remarkably, archaeologists have now unearthed bits of this rice at a site called Shangshan. The grains, of course, were eaten long ago and the plant stalks have long been rotten, but one tiny part of rice remains even thousands of years later: phytoliths, or hard, microscopic pieces of silica made by plant cells for self-defense. Rice leaves have fan-shaped phytoliths that don't burn, digest, or decompose.
Saturday evening stargazers were treated to one of the trippiest natural phenomenons Earth has to offer: a naked eye-visible aurora borealis. The "northern lights," as they are often called, originate with our sun. Solar storms that occur there emit streams
Paleontologists have found the remains of an unknown type of pliosauroidea - an extinct marine reptile - that lived alongside the dinosaurs 130 million years ago on the bank of the Volga River in Russia.
Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high." Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this
A dead whale was found on the Agate Beach in Bolinas, California, on Friday, May 26. This video from May 27 shows the scene. The animal, which measured 79 feet long according to reports , was identified as a blue whale by scientists from the Marine Mammal Center. The center had collected samples of the female whale’s skin and blubber for a full necropsy. Credit: YouTube/brightpathvideo via Storyful
Over 2,600 years ago this Sunday, on May 28, 585 B.C., the sight of a total solar eclipse is said to have suddenly stopped a battle between the Medes and the Lydians in what is now Turkey. This year the anniversary comes as Americans prepare for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to watch as the same phenomenon roll across the skies of the contiguous United States on August 21. The ancient interpretation was sure fortunate for those soldiers fighting in what's come to be known as "The Battle of the Eclipse." When the eclipse passed over the battlefield, the warring kings took it as a sign from the gods that they should knock it off. Ancient Greek historians say the eclipse was actually the first such event to be predicted in advance, in this case by the philosopher Thales.
A group of scientists have slammed the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) over underestimating the threat of a potential nuclear disaster and for not taking enough measures to ensure the safety of the American people. Scientists warned of a potential catastrophic nuclear-waste fire, which they said could occur at any US reactor facility and could likely cause more damage than the 2011 Fukushima incident in Japan. Researchers from Princeton University and the Union of Concerned Scientists wrote an article titled "Nuclear safety regulation in the post-Fukushima era," which was published in Science magazine, detailing how the NRC's reliance on faulty analysis in justifying their refusal to adopt critical safety measures leaves Americans at risk from fires in spent-nuclear-fuel cooling pools at reactor sites.
What is it about a creative work such as a painting or piece of music that elicits our awe and admiration? Is it the thrill of being shown something new, something different, something the artist saw that we did not? As Pablo Picasso put it: "Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not." The idea that some people see more possibilities than others is central to the concept of creativity. Psychologists often measure creativity using divergent thinking tasks. These require you to generate as many uses as possible for mundane objects, such as a brick. People who can see numerous and diverse uses for a brick (say, a coffin for a Barbie doll funeral diorama)
How do you farm surrounded by concrete and millions of people? What does urban sprawl mean for food safety and supply? Students from the University of British Columbia Graduate School of Journalism report from Bangalore in southern India. In Ramagondanahalli village, Muniraju Hanumanthappa bends over his clay-coloured soil surrounded by bright green spinach leaves. He quickly prunes the plants, dwarfed by the apartment complex next to his small plot. Ramagondanahalli is an urban village being swallowed by the city. It lies on Varthur Lake, one of the biggest in Bangalore, which is known as the Silicon Valley of India. There are copper-tinted dirt roads, small-scale vegetable farms and a man who
When was the last time you looked up at the night sky and glimpsed the Milky Way? Last night? A year ago? Never? Some 80% of North Americans can no longer see the galaxy due to light pollution, or skyglow. Light pollution causes a profound ecological disruption that affects human health, alters animal migratory patterns and obstructs astronomical research. Recent findings even suggest higher breast cancer rates may result from artificial day conditions created by over-lighted cities and the consequent suppression of nocturnal melatonin production. It’s estimated that one third of the world’s population lives under light-polluted skies, a situation worsening dramatically with aggressive urban
Quantum computers are still halfway mythical, but they are moving closer to reality step by tiny step. One of the most widely favoured structures for building viable quantum computers is a diamond surface dotted with irregularities only a couple of atoms wide. The problem researchers face, however, is making sure those irregularities – essentially atom-scale holes and accompanying bits of atom-wide foreign material – are drilled into the diamond substrate in exactly the right spot. A report by a team from MIT, Harvard University, and Sandia National Laboratories, in the US, covers a new method of doing so, creating the “defects” in the diamond crystal structure within 50 nanometres of their optimal
A coming astronomical event tested the priorities of astronomer and teacher Barbara Anthony-Twarog. In less than three months, a very rare event — a total solar eclipse — will occur a short drive from the home of the professor in the University of Kansas Department of Astronomy and Physics. Anthony-Twarog, however, has other plans for Aug. 21 and won’t be making a drive to Atchison, Leavenworth, Troy or eastern Kansas City, Mo., to see the moon totally block the sun. “I know people who are desperately anxious to see the totality, but it seems like a good opportunity for public education,” she said. “I’m content to stay here. It would be nice if totality was passing over us, but it isn’t, and
The United States didn't successfully get a spacecraft to Mars until 1971 after years of failed attempts and months after Russia (then the USSR) had successfully landed a craft on the red planet. The NASA craft called the Mariner 9 that went into orbit on Nov. 24, 1971, was actually the first NASA craft to ever orbit a planet other than Earth. The Mariner missions that came before it were unsuccessful or had only completed flybys of other planets, according to NASA.
The early bird gets the worm. But what happens when the worm is even earlier than the bird? In that case, some familiar backyard bird species don’t get enough worms to feed their chicks. That's the conclusion of a recent study of changes in spring “green-up” dates across North America and the arrival dates of spring migratory bird species in those areas. Biologist Stephen Mayor, at the Florida Museum of Natural History of the University of Florida, and nine colleagues from other institutions reported their findings online this month in the journal Scientific Advances. The research team used satellite images to detect the date that vegetation in sample areas began to green up at the start of
Let’s hear it for the written word. Learning to read can have profound effects on the wiring of the adult brain, even in regions that aren’t usually associated with reading and writing. That’s what researchers found when they taught a group of illiterate adults in rural India to read and write. Michael Skeide and colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Science in Leipzig, Germany, wanted to study how culture changes the brain, so they focused on reading and writing. These cultural inventions have appeared only recently in our evolutionary history, so we haven’t had a chance to evolve specific genes for such skills. The team recruited 30 people whose average age was
To say that David Biello’s new book, The Unnatural World (Amazon US / Amazon UK), is not uplifting would be an understatement. Its upshot is that we have seriously f—ed up this planet, along with all of the organisms and ecosystems residing on it, and the situation is likely to get much, much worse. But that's hardly news at this point. Biello knows that something must be done to keep ourselves from putting yet more CO2 into the atmosphere and to counter or adapt to the effects of all the CO2 we’ve spewed thus far. His book is an attempt to explore our options for doing so. But the resulting book is rambling, disorganized, and disjointed, filled with belabored, needlessly complicated sentences
On Jan. 30, 2014, the moon moved between NASA's space-based Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, and the sun, giving the observatory a view of a lunar transit from space. SDO captures a lunar transit two to three times each year. Partial solar eclipses are also visible from Earth two to three times per year on average, but total solar eclipses are only visible from Earth about once every 18 months, and are visible over a much smaller area. This lunar transit lasted for 2.5 hours, which is the longest the spacecraft has ever recorded.
Multitasking is probably the single most overrated skill in modern life. It drains your brain of oxygenated glucose that could be put toward paying more focused attention, makes it difficult for a person to switch between tasks, and is generally an illusion anyway. Only 3% of the population are “supertaskers,” according to a study from Ohio University. The rest of us just pretend to be. A number of systems have been developed to save us from our endless to-do lists, which can turn any job into a soulless assembly line of chores. One such system is “Personal Kanban,” which was named for the Japanese concept that inspired it, a just-in-time manufacturing process developed at Toyota in the late
Humans have excellent olfaction and can smell more than a trillion odors. “People are sometimes taught that because humans developed such a good visual system, we lost a sense of smell as a trade-off,” Rutgers University neurobiologist John McGann says. The myth of poor human olfaction is centuries old.