Bees and pollen are associated with a variety of irritations, but together they play a key role in crop production and global agriculture. Unfortunately, bee populations have been declining over the past decade. In response to the threat posed to the world’s food supply, scientists from Japan have been working to develop a robotic bee that can pollinate flowers just like a real honeybee. These … Continue reading Better Bees: Progress Towards Robotic Pollinators
In the year 2000, the Earth’s spin axis made a sudden turn towards the east. While some shifts in the geographical pole occur regularly and are well understood, this sudden shift required a new explanation. According to teams from UT Austin and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), climate change is the driving force behind the north pole’s wayward path. In 2013, the team from … Continue reading Climate Change Makes the Earth Wobble
by Jordan Wilkerson figures by Michael Gerhardt When someone asks you to consider the impacts of climate change, what do you think of? There’s a good chance that melting ice sheets comes to mind pretty quickly. For that reason, a recent finding regarding the trend in Antarctic ice is quite perplexing; the ice sheet is reportedly increasing in size! This is according to a research … Continue reading Why is Antarctica’s Ice Sheet Growing in a Warming World?
by Michael R. Gerhardt Our climate is rapidly changing, and many countries are beginning to take action. In the United States, President Barack Obama has announced the Clean Power Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electric power generation, while Chinese president Xi Jinping has announced economic incentives to reduce emissions [1,2]. Even oil companies have publicly acknowledged the challenges we face and have voiced … Continue reading Solid-oxide Fuel Cells: Using familiar fuel in a new way
By Andrew Wong, a second year graduate student in the Applied Physics program at Harvard University. The increase in global energy demand and subsequent carbon dioxide emissions has driven advancements in renewable energy generation technologies such as wind turbines and solar cells. However, these technologies are inherently intermittent, and require robust energy storage devices. Inexpensive, large-scale energy storage systems such as aqueous … Continue reading The Light of Elendil in Shelob’s Lair
by Matthew Niederhuber figures by Kaitlyn Choi Summary: Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a common bacteria that has played a very uncommon role in agriculture and the development of genetically modified foods. The natural insecticidal abilities of these bacteria have made them an important pest control tool for nearly a century. While their use as a natural biopesticide is widely accepted and approved for organic applications, … Continue reading Insecticidal Plants: The Tech and Safety of GM Bt Crops
by Jordan Wilkerson figures by Brian Chow Summary: In the history of agriculture, no technology has been adopted so quickly and completely as genetically engineered crops. Particularly useful crops are ones that have an engineered resistance to herbicides. These crops have alluring benefits: reduced crop damage when herbicides are sprayed, easier weed management, and even the potential for environmental benefits. So what’s the problem? Herbicide-resistant … Continue reading Why Roundup Ready Crops Have Lost their Allure