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- Feb 1 20179 minutes
A Fish Out Of Water
Can farmers in Iowa help save the world’s seafood supply?
- Jan 12 201711 minutes
Why Most Planets Will Either Be Lush or Dead: Earth Science:The Gaia hypothesis implies that once alien life takes hold, it will flourish.
Can a planet be alive? Lynn Margulis, a giant of late 20th-century biology, who had an incandescent intellect that veered toward the unorthodox, thought so. She and chemist James Lovelock together theorized that life must be a planet-altering phenome
- Apr 7 20167 minutes
Why Nature Prefers Hexagons: The geometric rules behind fly eyes, honeycombs, and soap bubbles.
How do bees do it? The honeycombs in which they store their amber nectar are marvels of precision engineering, an array of prism-shaped cells with a perfectly hexagonal cross-section. The wax walls are made with a very precise thickness, the cells ar
- Feb 5 20178 minutes
The Exotic Matter States Behind PCs, Visual Displays, and the Future of Water
You might have learned in school that there are three phases of matter: solid, liquid, and gas. That is a useful simplification for young students, but there are in fact many, many more. In the past century or so, we’ve discovered that there are hund
- Jan 30 20174 minutes
The Moon May Be Covered With Oxygen Beamed From Earth
The gas travels alongside particles from the sun, and could offer clues to life’s origins.
- Jan 19 201710 minutes
The Not-So-Fine Tuning of the Universe: Physics:There’s more than one way to build a universe suitable for life.
Before there is life, there must be structure. Our universe synthesized atomic nuclei early in its history. Those nuclei ensnared electrons to form atoms. Those atoms agglomerated into galaxies, stars, and planets. At last, living things had places t
- Jan 7 20177 minutes
The Atlantic Ocean and an Actual Debate in Climate Science
Scientists have recently begun to re-examine a scary question: Will a crucial ocean current shut down?
- May 15 20164 minutes
Your Legacy on Earth May Be a Plant
Where I grew up in northern California, we were surrounded by the remains of Gold Rush towns, now subsumed into the wild rye. I used to look for these places on old maps and then search them out by car and on foot; sometimes the only sign I had arriv
- May 5 20168 minutes
What a 9,000-Year-Old Spruce Tree Taught Me : How photographing the world’s oldest living things pushed me outside the boundaries of science.
I had little idea of what I would discover when I set out to find and photograph the oldest living things in the world. I expected that researching, traveling, and photographing would stretch my perspective, and force me to learn a lot of science: bi
- Oct 1 20161 minute
MANY RENEWABLE energy advocates think the best way to store solar and wind energy may be to use what are known as “flow batteries,” which hold liquid electrolytes in tanks and then pump them through a reactor to produce electricity. A major advantage
- Dec 26 20163 minutes
States Are The Nuclear Industry’s Best Hope
Trump’s signaled he’s pro-nuclear, but it’s a low priority for Congress | “It’s going to be quite challenging to do anything at the federal level”
- Nov 1 20163 minutes
Parks And Restoration
How landscape architect Thomas Woltz is invigorating American cities with a new approach to urban parks
- Jan 11 20175 minutes
A Break In The Search For The Origin Of Complex Life
A group of newly discovered microbes, named after Norse gods, may belong to the lineage from which we evolved.
- May 12 201613 minutes
Why Aging Isn’t Inevitable: The great variety of aging styles among plants and animals suggests it can be controlled.
Humans age gradually, but some animals do all their aging in a rush at the end of life, while others don’t age at all, and a few can even age backward. The variety of aging patterns in nature should be a caution sign to anyone inclined to generalize—
- Jul 18 20132 minutes
The Problematic, Newfangled Hack That Is the Human Leg
If you were to design a leg for a bipedal animal from scratch, what would it look like? Don’t bother looking down at your own body for inspiration—you won’t find a good model there. If you want to make a really good bipedal leg, you should make one
- Aug 1 201311 minutes
Monsters, Marvels, And The Birth Of Science: History:How the unlikely and unexplainable, strange and terrifying, spawned the age of science.
Finding regularity in nature is the bread and butter of science. We know that reptiles lay eggs, while mammals bear live young; the Earth revolves around the sun every 365.25 days; electrons glom onto protons like bears onto honey. But what if some o
- Jan 10 20174 minutes
‘Short-Lived’ Methane Could Raise Sea Levels for Another 800 Years
A new study shows that sea levels will keep increasing long after emissions leave the atmosphere.
- Dec 1 20132 minutes
Prefab Homes are Seeing Green
Customizable, sustainable residences get big funding
- Jan 26 20173 minutes
How a Scientist Mapped the Entire Peruvian Amazon by Plane
In August 2011, I climbed onto a small twin-propeller plane, crouching down to avoid smacking my head. The plane took off from Cusco, Peru, and was soon soaring over the Amazon rainforest. From the window, I could see a vast, unbroken layer of trees,
- Jan 10 20173 minutes
Drive-Through Redwoods Are Monuments to Violent Deforestation
Saying goodbye to the age of tunneled trees
- Sep 22 20166 minutes
The Harsh, Hidden Lessons of Tree School: Tree education is full of tearing and screaming.
Thirst is harder for trees to endure than hunger, because they can satisfy their hunger whenever they want. Like a baker who always has enough bread, a tree can satisfy a rumbling stomach right away using photosynthesis. But even the best baker canno
- Dec 21 201616 minutes
President Trump and the Unnatural World
David Biello, author of The Unnatural World, talks about the paradox of climate change in the Trumpocene.
- Sep 19 20161 minute
The Anthropocene Should Bring Awe—and Act as a Warning
JUSTIN WORLAND AS GEOLOGICAL EPOCHS HAVE COME AND gone throughout Earth’s vast history, shifts have often correlated with large-scale global changes like ice ages and mass extinctions. An asteroid hits the planet, wiping out the dinosaurs, and the C
- Jan 9 20174 minutes
Obama in Science: The Renewable Revolution Will Outlast Trump
The president makes the case for his energy legacy in one of the nation’s preeminent scientific journals.
- Dec 23 20164 minutes
Escaping Japan's Cities For The 'So-Called Wilderness'
When the Japanese want to get out of Tokyo, glorious, alpine Kamikochi is where they go.
- Sep 1 20162 minutes
No.229 Fighting Fire With Foam—And A Résumé That Includes The Space Shuttle
Irene Rhodes, founder and CEO of Consumer Fire Products, united her backgrounds in engineering and firefighting to create a system that automatically sprays a biodegradable protective foam onto a house when a wildfire is nearby. Her Eugene, Oregon–based company has grown by beating back the fires that are a year-round threat in some western states.
- Dec 26 201310 minutes
The Termite And The Architect: Architecture:Animal homes resist our understanding.
In 1991, the multinational Old Mutual investment group approached the Zimbabwean architect Mick Pearce with an audacious assignment. The group wished to construct a retail and office complex called the Eastgate Centre in Zimbabwe’s capital city of Ha
- Jul 18 201325 minutes
On the Wilderness Continent: Building new lands requires sacrifice.
The Continent hungers to be realized. Each day adds a new increment to the frontier,” I said, “and behind that expansion is the flux of towns darkening into cities to be threaded along newly spun highways. We will put up the mountains. We will lay ou
- May 2 20164 minutes
Should We All Be Helping Trees Relocate?
Torrey pines seem like they could use some human help. According to the U.S. Forest Service, they are the rarest pine species in North America, with fewer than 10,000 trees growing in the wild. They’re split between Santa Rosa Island, off California’
- Apr 10 20163 minutes
There’s Plenty of Space for One Trillion More Trees
Gregor Hintler had what seemed like a simple question: How many trees are there? As part of Plant for the Planet, a youth initiative that aimed to plant one billion trees in every country by 2020, he needed a way to figure out how many trees the plan
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