VOICES Ideas and Insight From Explorers
The latest warning light from the environment: Long-lived industrial and household chemical compounds associated with liver toxicity and reduced fertility have been found at detectable levels in the blood of both American alligators and South African crocodiles populating waterways a third of the globe apart. Two studies are first-of-their-kind examinations of PFAA levels in these “sentinel” reptile species, which the researchers say are especially useful for investigating the impacts of long-lived chemicals in the environment. PFAAs (perfluorinated alkyl acids) have been used in products that include water-repellent clothes, stain repellents, waxes, nonstick pans and fire-suppressing foams.
European researchers find a gene that appears to curb coffee consumption. This means that a person with the genetic variation would not need to consume as much coffee to get the same caffeine hit. “The results of our study add to existing research suggesting that our drive to drink coffee may be embedded in our genes,” says Dr Nicola Pirastu, of the University of Edinburgh.
Three decades after the first reports of the arrival in Botswana of Salvinia molesta–a free-floating, mat-forming water fern native to Brazil– scientists from the southern African country’s Department of Water Affairs say they are at last prevailing in the struggle against a weed that has come close to threatening the entire Okavango, Africa’s largest wetlands that is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to some of the world’s most endangered species.
Researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden have shown how the effect of exposure therapy can be improved by disrupting the recreation of fear-memories in people with arachnophobia (the extreme fear or loathing of spiders).
Hiroshima University scientists examined lobster feces to discover that the crustaceans surround their servings of jellyfish in protective membranes that prevent the stingers from injecting their venom. The results inform aquaculture efforts to sustainably farm lobsters for diners around the world, the university said in a news statement.
Scientific understanding of rainbows highlights many practical applications of their interaction between light, liquid and gas.
Growing sunflowers begin the day with their heads facing east, swing west as they follow the sun through the day, and turn back to the east at night. “The plant anticipates the timing and the direction of dawn, and to me that looks like a reason to have a connection between the clock and the growth pathway,” says Stacey Harmer, a plant biologist at UC Davis.
The world population will reach 9.9 billion in 2050, up 33 percent from an estimated 7.4 billion now, according to projections included in the latest World Population Data Sheet from the Population Reference Bureau (PRB). While Africa will see a doubling in population density in that period, several countries will experience a decline. There will be fewer people in Europe than there are today.
University of California-Santa Barbara colleagues lay out a set of guidelines for how de-extinction can be made more ecologically responsible.
According to a recent AAA survey, 79 percent of Americans say they are as likely (42 percent) or more likely (37 percent) to visit a national park in the next 12 months. America’s “best idea,” the National Parks have never been more popular than they are today, when the U.S. National Park Service celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founding.
A Bosnian pine (Pinus heldreichii) growing in the highlands of northern Greece has been dendrocronologically dated to be more than 1,075 years old, says a team of scientists from Stockholm University (Sweden), the University of Mainz (Germany) and the University of Arizona (USA). This makes it currently the oldest-known living tree in Europe.
Researchers correctly identified impoverished areas across five African countries by using machine learning to extract information from high-resolution satellite imagery, Stanford University’s School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences say in a news statement. “One of the biggest challenges in providing relief to people living in poverty is locating them,” the release states. “The availability of accurate…
Male Japanese termites form homosexual couples when no females are around — and when the chance arises, they take over a heterosexual couple’s nest and kill the male so that one of them can mate with the now spouseless female, scientists from Kyoto University reported in a study published this week in the research journal Animal Behaviour. The…
Scientists say we’re in the middle of the sixth great extinction, and this one, unlike those that happened millions of years ago, is driven largely by the activities of humans. “So we decided to put together an interactive piece of content where a user can enter their age and find out how soon in their…
A secret, elite-driven plot to release harmful chemicals into the air from high-flying aircraft does not exist, the world’s leading atmospheric scientists state in the first peer-reviewed journal paper to address the “chemtrails” conspiracy theory.