To Flee or Not to Flee: Narwhals puzzle scientists with their escape heartbeat

Take a big inhale and a deep dive. Imagine staying underwater as long as possible. Now imagine a shark approaching, with gleaming teeth, and swimming away as fast as you can. Imagine trying to do both at the same time. You are not alone if you find this confusing. Freeze and flight responses are often mutually exclusive. If you try to do both at once, … Continue reading To Flee or Not to Flee: Narwhals puzzle scientists with their escape heartbeat

Dog owners rejoice! Dogs could be smarter than cats

A new study has compared the brains of dogs and cats and found cats wanting. Scientists counted the number of neurons in the cerebral cortex of brains and found that dogs have more than double the number of neurons of a cat. While this doesn’t immediately rule that dogs are the smarter species, it does suggest they have a higher capacity for learning. Continue reading Dog owners rejoice! Dogs could be smarter than cats

The Scales of Federal Land Management: Balancing spacious skies and purple mountains of paperwork

by Olivia K. Foster Rhoades On December 4th, President Trump declared both the Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase-Escalante would be reduced by 1 million acres each–an unprecedented change in federal land policy. As we near the end of 2017, four more monuments totaling 12.3 million acres in size have been slated for reduction. To put that in perspective, the state of Massachusetts … Continue reading The Scales of Federal Land Management: Balancing spacious skies and purple mountains of paperwork

The Future of Energy Storage: A lost opportunity for the U.S.?

by Felix Barber figures by Rebecca Senft Why are batteries important? Ask yourself what a future with a sustainable economy would look like. Such a future would likely exploit sources of renewable energy, such as solar and wind, to power the electric grid, with personal transport in the form of electric vehicles (“EVs”) that would draw their power from that same grid rather than from … Continue reading The Future of Energy Storage: A lost opportunity for the U.S.?

Expanding the genetic alphabet

Since the beginning of time, the genetic alphabet in all living things has consisted of 4 letters. Now, scientists have discovered a way expand the genetic code to store and use orders of magnitude more information than ever before. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the cellular instructions for proteins: little machines in your cells that perform important functions. DNA normally contains 4 nucleotides (A, T, G, … Continue reading Expanding the genetic alphabet

Immunotherapy, with a Side of Poo: How gut microbes influence cancer treatment

by Katherine J. Wu figures by Neal Atsuka Are we flushing the next big cancer treatment down the toilet? Probably not – but the contents of our feces could very well be influencing how our bodies respond to cancer drugs. As it turns out, everybody poops – and everybody poops more than poop. I’m talking, of course, about the gut microbiota – the enormous collection … Continue reading Immunotherapy, with a Side of Poo: How gut microbes influence cancer treatment

A DNA-based view reveals hidden Zika spread

by Colin O’Leary figures by Rebecca Clements News of viral epidemics spreads faster than the viruses themselves. Once the virus arrives, how do we determine where it came from? How do scientists monitor the arrival and spread beyond keeping track of the number of cases at a given time? Instead of sifting through medical records in search of the first infected person—the elusive “patient zero”—studying the … Continue reading A DNA-based view reveals hidden Zika spread