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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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High-fructose honey and the diet of urban bees

The story of New York’s red honey struck a chord with those already concerned about honey bee health. Bees have been hit hard by a host of challenges ranging from parasitic mites to neonicotenoid pesticides—but could red honey be another sign of bee decline? Could artificial flavors and chemicals in human foods be toxic to bees? Could we be at risk if we eat “local honey”?

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Space travel to improve health on earth

World Space Week has been celebrated for the last 17 years, with events taking place all over the world, making it one of the biggest public events in the world. Highlighting the research conducted and achievements reached, milestones are celebrated in this week. The focus isn’t solely on finding the ‘Final Frontier’ but also on how the research conducted can be used to help humans living on Earth.

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Why peer review is so important

As part of Peer Review Week, running from 19-25 September 2016, we are celebrating the essential role that peer review plays in maintaining scientific quality. We asked some of our journal’s editorial teams to tell us why peer review is so important to them and their journals.

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A Flame as a Moth: How I began chronicling the life of Harrison G. Dyar, Jr., Part 2

I joined the staff in the Smithsonian’s Department of Entomology, National Museum of Natural History in 1992, at the time Pam Henson and I published “Digging for Dyar: The Man Behind the Myth”. Having stayed in Washington, DC long enough to complete the article, my job at the Museum would give me roughly a dozen years to accumulate information on Dyar, while performing other duties.

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Remembering John Muir on the centennial of the National Park Service

This year, Americans celebrate the centennial of the National Park Service. On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service Organic Act. The bill culminated decades of effort by a remarkable generation of dedicated men and women who fought to protect the nation’s natural wonders for the democratic enjoyment of the people.

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A flame as a moth: how I began chronicling the life of Harrison G. Dyar, Jr., Part 1

I first became acquainted with Dyar’s work on the moth family Limacodidae, my chosen entomology dissertation topic, in 1983 at the University of Minnesota. It was in the Hodson Hall library on the St. Paul campus where I noted how Dyar’s authorship dominated the Journal of the New York Entomological Society in the middle to late 1890s. Particularly notable was his running series from 1895-1899

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Designer nature: mosquitoes first and then what?

We’re told that we can insert a gene to confer sterility and this trait would race like wildfire through Aedes aegypti. Why this species? Because it’s the vector of the Zika virus—along with the dengue and yellow fever viruses. The problem is that A. aegypti isn’t the only culprit. It’s just one of a dozen or more bloodsuckers that will also have to be wiped out. After we’ve driven these species to extinction, we’ll presumably move on to the Anopheles species that transmit malaria.

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Why cooperate?

Birds do it. Bees do it. Microbes do it, and people do it. Throughout nature, organisms cooperate. Humans are undeniably attracted by the idea of cooperation. For thousands of years, we have been seeking explanations for its occurrence in other organisms, often imposing our own motivations and ethics in an effort to explain what we see.

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12 little-known facts about cats

Cats are among some of the most popular pets in the world, and they’ve been so for thousands of years. In fact, there are more than two million cat videos on YouTube. In appreciation of our feline friends for World Cat Day on 8 August, we’ve put together a list of 12 little-known cat facts.

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Aldo Leopold’s legacy on our national parks

As my family gazed down on the stratified color bands of geological history in the Grand Canyon, snow and ice lined each ridge, and made each step on the path going down a dangerous adventure, highlighting the glorious drama of the miles-deep gorge. It was dizzying and frightening and awe-inspiring.

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Illuminating Shakespeare

Shakespeare and the natural world [infographic]

It is probable that Shakespeare observed, or at least heard about, many natural phenomena that occurred during his time, which may have influenced the many references to nature and science that he makes in his work. Although he was very young at the time, he may have witnessed the blazing Stella Nova in 1572.

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Changing tropical forest landscapes: A view from a small plane

We emerge from the thick tropical clouds that perpetually hang over Kota Kinabalu at this time of year. I crane my neck to get a good view through the plane window of the surreal profile of Mount Kinabalu, its multi-pronged rocky top standing well aloof of the surrounding clouds and forest. It seems as if the mountain, aware of its own splendour, has shaken off all vegetation from its peaks to better show off their plutonic immensity.

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Turning waste into resource: a win-win situation that should not be missed

Soon after the Flinstones’ cartoon period, formally called the Stone Age, humans started to use metals for constructing tools, weapons, or ornaments which tremendously boosted human development. Since then, metal utilization has been evolving and nowadays, metals are a central pillar for all kind of routine and technological uses. You can find aluminium in most of your pots and pans

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Which mammal are you? [quiz]

Mammals are defined as warm-blooded vertebrates that are distinguished by the possession of hair or fur, of which the females secrete milk for the nourishment of their young, and typically birth live young (except five known species, including the duck-billed platypus). Can we match up your personality traits to those of our mammalian friends? Find out which mammal you most closely resemble!

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Astronomy’s next big thing: the Square Kilometre Array

When I started research in radio astronomy in 1947, the only known sources of cosmic radio waves were the Sun and the Milky Way. Observing techniques were simple: receivers were insensitive, there was no expectation that other radio sources could be located or even existed. A few years later, a whole vast radio sky was revealed, populated with supernova remnants, galaxies, and quasars.

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