Neil Pederson’s introduction to tree rings came from a “sweet and kindly” college instructor, who nevertheless was “one of the most boring professors I’d ever experienced,” Pederson said. “I swore tree rings off then and there.” But they kept coming back to haunt him. Continue reading Tree rings contain secrets from the forest
Humans love plastic. We put it on and in everything from food wraps to face wash, and in doing so we also send it off to distant oceans and the dusty corners of our homes in the form of microplastics. Continue reading There’s plastic in your poop, but we have no idea how dangerous that is
President Trump’s proposed 2019 budget calls for deep cuts to research, and while it is unlikely to gain traction in Congress, it is a troubling statement of the administration’s priorities. As Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted, “The fastest way to Make a America Weak Again: Cut science funds to our agencies that support it.” Continue reading NASA almost never came to be. Its creation is a lesson in political power.
If the world gets warmer by two degrees Celsius, we’re screwed. To prevent that, the United Nations signed the Paris Agreement, an international treaty designed to keep the average global temperature “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels”…A.K.A. what the Earth was like before factories started spewing greenhouse gases into the air.
It started in the early hours of the morning, 31 minutes after midnight in Alaska. The shaking lasted for half a minute in places, rattling land hundreds of miles away from its underwater origins. Then came the sirens, screaming a warning for people to leave their homes and beds and head for higher ground—the quake happened out in the Pacific, and there was a chance that a tsunami was on the way.
When Winter Storm Grayson plowed into the East Coast earlier this month, it brought a few unwelcome gifts—namely brutal cold, power outages, coastal flooding, and whiteout conditions from Virginia to Maine. But the blizzard also gave parts of New York and New England the chance to experience the rare and thrilling weather event known as thundersnow. It happens when a snowstorm produces thunder and lightning, and has been known to send meteorologists into ecstasies of delight.
The saffron war of 1374 lasted 14 weeks driven by a notion that the spice could cure plague. It can’t. But people lost their heads over it. It’s not just gold, diamonds, and oil we cherish and plunder. Seemingly benign commodities—whether it’s medicinal tea or stinky fungus—have exerted power over us for centuries. Here’s just a taste of their recent history.