Among the great lies I learned in medical school was that a human being was the product of a sperm and an egg. Yes, these gametes are necessary, but they are hardly sufficient to create and sustain a human life. Each one of us stays alive only with the help of trillions of other organisms – the human microbiome – that live on and in every surface of our body exposed to the outside world.
It’s a rare day when the news doesn’t cover something related to climate change, whether biodiversity loss, climate refugees, retreating glaciers, or an extreme weather event. Though it’s broadly accepted that climate change is caused by “us,” at some level, we often assume the solutions are covered and controlled by experts, especially natural scientists, engineers, […]
In the climate change debate, we often hear the argument that the climate has been changing since time immemorial. This is true, but if modern climate change differs from pre-historic climate cycles, the statement by itself is empty. We need to know how modern climate change compares with that of the past.
Talking about the weather is a national obsession. Thomas Hornsby talked about the weather, or at least wrote about it, in Oxford back in the mid-eighteenth century. His surviving diaries from 1767 mark the commencement of the longest continuous single-site weather records in the British Isles, and one of the longest anywhere in the world.
The famous ocean explorer, Sylvia Earle, has long advocated that people stop eating fish. Recently, George Monbiot made a similar plea in The Guardian – there’s only one way to save the life in our oceans, stop eating fish – which, incidentally, would condemn several million people to starvation. In both cases, it’s facile reasoning. The oceans may suffer from […]
Human impact on climate and environment is a topic of many discussions and research. While the social, economic, and environmental effects of climate change are important, climate change could also increase the spread of infectious diseases dramatically. Many infectious agents affect humans and animals. Shifts of their habitats or health as a result of climate change and […]
The amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by burning of fossil fuels is at a staggering all time high of 34 billion tonnes, having risen every decade since the 1960s.
Our Planet, Netflix’s new nature documentary voiced by David Attenborough, arrives on the online streaming platform today. The series explores the wonders of the natural world, focusing on iconic species and stunning wildlife spectacles.
We used to think—and many of us were taught in school—that the dinosaurs went extinct many millions of years ago. But now it seems like this might not be the case.
During the last few days of February we experienced the warmest Winter day since records began, with a high of 20.6 degrees (Celsius) at Trawscoed in mid-Wales. As if that was not enough, the record was broken again the next day with 21.2 degrees at Kew Gardens.
Female microbiologists many not have had professor or doctor in front of their names, instead listed as laboratory assistants or technicians, but in many cases their skills were critical for numerous notable discoveries. It is worth reminding ourselves who they are and how they changed the world for good.
Since the dawn of advanced civilizations, humanity has sought to manage the flow of rivers. Protection from floods, water for drinking and irrigating crops, and extraction of resources like food and energy are among the most popular reasons for building dams.
A movement is growing where science is no longer restricted to academics but instead it has become a pursuit for the public in general. Nature lovers have unwittingly been acting as data collectors, especially people that create lists of wildlife they see at home, in the park, or during a hike. Birdwatchers are known for […]
How did life begin? We will never know with certainty what the Earth was like four billion years ago, or the kinds of reactions that led to the emergence of life at that time, but there is another way to pose the question. If we ask “how can life begin?” instead of “how did life begin,” that simple change of verbs offers hope.
From Bald Eagle Appreciation Days in Wisconsin to soaring Golden Eagles as a tradition at Auburn University, North American eagles are viewed as stately and powerful creatures. However, these two resident eagles of North America have not survived without a struggle.
Arthur S. Reber’s new book argues that consciousness was present in the first living cells, and that even the simplest of organisms, the prokaryotes like bacteria, are sentient. In this piece, he imagines what it would be like to sit down with two bacteria and hear their opinions on consciousness, and how their sentience helps them keep alive despite the best efforts of humans.