The Neuroscience of Thirst: How your brain tells you to look for water

by Michelle Frank figures by Jovana Andrejevic You’ve undoubtedly experienced the feeling of thirst: it’s a slight itch in the back of your throat, a distracting urge to turn away from whatever you’re doing and find something to drink. It drives you to guzzle water on hot days and to drink something along with your meals. Our need for water is as omnipresent and critical … Continue reading The Neuroscience of Thirst: How your brain tells you to look for water

The Microplastics Crisis–You are the first responder

by Kevin Dervishi Imagine you’re outside running errands, and you see a jogger trip over a sneaky curb. A bad situation becomes worse when that jogger hits their head on the way down (that mailbox just had to be there) and they’re lying unconscious at your feet. Although there are other people out and about, you’re the only one in the immediate vicinity. Your heart … Continue reading The Microplastics Crisis–You are the first responder

The Next Gold Rush: Mining in the deep sea

by Isabella Grabski figures by Abagail Burrus Your next smartphone might be made of materials from an unlikely source: the deep sea. Our current manufacturing practices are depleting terrestrial deposits of important metals like copper, aluminum, and manganese, but the demand for these materials shows no sign of slowing down. They’re not only useful for emails and Instagram – these metals also play a key role … Continue reading The Next Gold Rush: Mining in the deep sea

Living in a World of Extreme Droughts, Floods, and Storms

by Tianjia Liu cover image by Elayne Fivenson A new normal in an intensifying global water cycle While humans have long adapted to regimes of water scarcity or excess, we are underprepared for extreme events — the “mega” droughts, storms, and floods that used to occur once in a hundred or thousand years. But in this decade alone, we witnessed hot, cracked earth in California … Continue reading Living in a World of Extreme Droughts, Floods, and Storms

Nature-Inspired Technology Can Help Combat Looming Water Shortages

by Aparna Nathan In January 2018, Cape Town, South Africa started counting down toward “Day Zero.” It wasn’t the end of the world, but it was similarly apocalyptic: the day that the city would run out of water completely. Through discipline and technological advances, the city was able to avoid catastrophe. But that’s not the last we’ll see of water crises, and like Cape Town, … Continue reading Nature-Inspired Technology Can Help Combat Looming Water Shortages

Water Beyond Earth: The search for the life-sustaining liquid

by Andrew Greenspon figures by Hannah Zucker Picture yourself as the Curiosity Rover, which landed on Mars in 2012. You’ve just arrived on Mars after an eight-month journey from Earth. You begin traveling across the Gale crater toward Mount Sharp, 18,000 feet higher than the floor of the crater. On the way, you take images with a high-resolution camera. There, you find a slab of … Continue reading Water Beyond Earth: The search for the life-sustaining liquid

Hydroponics: The power of water to grow food

by Valentina Lagomarsino figures by Rebecca Senft In the year 600 B.C.E., the climate was arid and dry along the Euphrates River in Western Asia, but there were lush gardens climbing up the walls of the metropolis, Babylon. It is believed that the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were surviving through a pulley-system of water from the river, a technique of agricultural that today is known … Continue reading Hydroponics: The power of water to grow food

Biological Roles of Water: Why is water necessary for life?

by Molly Sargen figures by Daniel Utter Water makes up 60-75% of human body weight. A loss of just 4% of total body water leads to dehydration, and a loss of 15% can be fatal. Likewise, a person could survive a month without food but wouldn’t survive 3 days without water. This crucial dependence on water broadly governs all life forms.  Clearly water is vital … Continue reading Biological Roles of Water: Why is water necessary for life?

Waste Not, Want Not: Harnessing the power of microbes for wastewater recycling

by Elaine Cheung “Use poison to cure poison.” This isn’t just a Chinese old wives’ tale, but an emerging approach being used to tackle one of the modern world’s greatest issues: availability of clean water. The largest portion of water consumed in American households comes from toilet and shower usage. This poses a problem for maintaining renewable water sources, as wastewater is particularly difficult to … Continue reading Waste Not, Want Not: Harnessing the power of microbes for wastewater recycling

Blue-Green Planet: It’s a cyanobacterial world, and we just live on it.

by Olivia Foster Rhoades Green globs coat the shore and placards caution visitors from touching the water. First it was New Jersey’s Lake Hopatcong, then the Pacific Northwest, and most recently in Central Park. The culprit? An ancient and prolific family of microbes that have been shaping our world for millennia—cyanobacteria.” Cyanobacteria are bacteria that thrive in the same conditions that make algae flourish and … Continue reading Blue-Green Planet: It’s a cyanobacterial world, and we just live on it.