The locusts have no king, and yet they all go forth in ranks, noted King Solomon some three thousand years ago. That a multitude of simple creatures could display coherent collective behavior without any leader caused his surprise and amazement, and it has continued to do so for much of our thinking over the following […]
Major global environmental problems threaten us. Recent scientific reports show that we are falling short on tackling climate change or stopping biodiversity loss, meaning that the Earth’s climate is under threat and natural species are undergoing a mass extinction wave. While these global environmental issues persist and become more urgent, policymakers have trouble elaborating and […]
Big cats are the most specialized killers of large prey among carnivorans. Dogs, bears, or hyenas have teeth fit to deal with non-meat food items like bone, invertebrates or plants. Not the cats: In the course of evolution they lost almost all teeth not essential for killing prey or cutting meat. But in the distant […]
After a close round of voting, the winner of our Place of the Year 2019 is the atmosphere! While the global conversation around climate change has increased in recent years, 2019 set many records – this past summer tied for the hottest one on record in the northern hemisphere, continuing the trend of extreme weather set […]
Around the world, young adults are voicing concern that the climate is in crisis and are correctly describing this as an intergenerational inequity. The adults who determine the quality of our air are continuing to burn fossil fuels, which release the pollutants that science shows could negatively and dramatically alter planetary conditions as early as […]
Over the past few weeks, hundreds of you voted on our eight nominees for Place of the Year 2019. While competition was fierce, we have our final four: New Zealand, Greenland, the Palace of Westminster, and the Atmosphere! But which one is most emblematic of 2019? Which location has truly impacted global discourse? Refresh your […]
2019 has been a year of significant events – from political unrest to climate disasters worldwide. Some of the most scrutinized events of the past year are tied inextricably to the places where they occurred – political uprisings driven by the residents of a city with an uneasy history, or multiple deaths caused by the […]
More than ever, humans need to find new ways to connect to other animals. In the United States alone, over 150 million people have a pet. There are over 10,000 zoos worldwide, with each of the larger zoos having several thousand animals. These and millions of other animals rely on humans for their survival. It […]
Resilience is a much-desired characteristic. The dictionary defines resilience of materials as the ability of a substance to spring back into shape – elasticity. Resilience is increasingly applied to individuals and institutions, as in the other dictionary definition: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties – toughness.
James Glaisher and Henry Coxwell are best known for a dramatic balloon ascent in 1862, in which they launched from Wolverhampton and reached heights above the top of Everest within an hour. The aeronauts went on to perform many highly successful ascents, recording invaluable data of the upper atmosphere. On one trip in 1864, Glaisher noted a characteristic warm, south-westerly wind blowing above the country. His thoughts proved to be well over a hundred years ahead of their time.
When did you last look up at the night sky? Before the advent of streetlights, paying attention to the heavens above us would have been an everyday part of existence, as commonplace as noticing the weather. Now, as many of us hurry from brightly lit office buildings to the cosy lights of home, few remember […]
Many people view evolution as an extremely slow, long-term process by which organisms gradually adapt and diversify over millennia. But researchers also have found that rapid evolutionary change can occur over mere centuries, or even decades. Such ongoing rapid evolution is the focus of a fast-moving field of empirical work, made easier by new techniques […]
Scientific journals are complex ecosystems, bringing together different actors in what is loosely akin to an inquisitorial court of law. The chief editor is the judge. She will decide whether a manuscript goes out for review and makes the final decision should the paper be peer reviewed. Members of the editorial board are like council, […]
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.