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February 15, 2014: California’s Drought, Inside the Human Brain, a 1,000 Mile Desert Trek and More

Join radio host Boyd Matson every week for adventure, conservation and green science. This week they are trekking 1,000 miles through the Empty Quarter Desert, searching for the lost civilization of Shangri La, looking at the implications of California’s severe drought, walking through Chinatowns, researching the human brain, getting a visit from the Love Doctor, and learning what makes Russians smile.

5 Surprising Facts About Rare Species

By Eric Dinerstein, author of The Kingdom of Rarities What if the organisms that populate the natural world—from whales to weevils—were classified not by their evolutionary relationships but by their relative degree of rarity? Imagine a way of looking at the world where we divide the ark into representatives of two kingdoms: the Kingdom of Common…

Ugly Christmas Sweaters Spread Far and Wide

“Ugly” Christmas sweaters have been around for decades, but their popularity has been soaring the past few years. Many people are dressing up in festive knits throughout the winter holidays; some because they think it is “ironic” to don the garments of yesteryear, others because they just like the way they feel in them. With…

Traveling by “Standing Still in a Concrete Jungle”

  By Justin Nobel, author of Standing Still in a Concrete Jungle Have you ever spent 14 hours straight on the New York City subway? I hadn’t either, but one day while living the hectic life of a freelance magazine journalist I had an epiphany. I had spent the summer of 2008 reporting in Nunavik,…

Following Dolphin Flukeprints: A Woman’s Battle to Protect the Animals She Loves

  I’m swimming slowly and alone through crystalline waters beneath a cobalt-blue sky. My skin feels pleasurably numb immersed in this medium. I am totally free, as I turn and dive effortlessly toward the white sandy bottom. I can move as I choose, up and down with the motion of the waves in continuous harmony.…

The DNA of a Successful Book

As a book author, I’m very interested in what makes a title successful. The other day I was listening to a podcast of the NPR show On the Media, and they had a publishing expert on talking about how new digital tools like the Kindle are providing new data sets on reader behavior. Publishers can…

“The Human Quest” Shows How to Prosper Within Planetary Boundaries

“We try to communicate why there is a new narrative and that we need to respect planetary boundaries,” Johan Rockstrom told a well-heeled crowd at an exclusive event space in Rio de Janerio. The King and Queen of Sweden were reportedly in attendance, as was a former president of Finland. Rockstrom is executive director of…

Tiny Libraries Give Readers a New Way to “Read Locally”

Libraries have always been based on the idea of “reuse and recycle”, but a community in Wisconsin took the idea to a whole new level — a tiny one!

Water Books: Soak Up Some Knowledge for World Water Day

If you’ve read about World Water Day in today’s headlines and on your favorite blogs, and are thirsty for more stories and data on the planet’s H20 problems, check out the following books, all published within the last year or so: The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water By Charles Fishman…

Inside the Secrets of Illusions & Memory

Michael Sweeney discusses the biggest surprises and strangest lessons from his new book, “Brainworks: The Mind Bending Science of What You See, How You Think, and Who You Are.”

The Art (and Science) of Good Field Notes

Despite how important they are to good research, there are few hard-and-fast rules for what goes into field notes. A new book offers an inside look into the notebooks of twelve scientists and how they record their observations for their work and for posterity.

Review: Made by Hand by Mark Frauenfelder

I grew up watching my dad fix stuff. I still have a scar where my thumb meets my wrist from when he dropped a hammer on me (claw-down, naturally) while installing drywall in our living room. From changing the oil in the car to putting in a patio, I would help him with whatever project…

Green Jobs Serve Many Ends

By Wendy Gordon A couple of Fridays ago, George Soros, the author of The New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What It Mean, suggested that efforts to build a green economy could be the “motor of the world economy in the years to come.” I certainly hope so, and hope…