A Climate of Extremes

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Classroom Activity Page: Higher temperatures are only part of the climate change forecast. Are current extreme weather events a sign that warming is already here? What do climate models forecast for weather around the globe? Why is it so hard to predict the climate? More »

Ants

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Classroom Activity Page: Four genomes for ants have just been decoded. The genetic information gives us a better picture of why ants are so successful, and helps us understand why leaf-cutter ants live in a close, mutually beneficial relationship (symbiosis) with fungus. Some argue that leaf-cutters are the most industrious farmers on Earth. More »

Arctic Warming: Greenhouse gas nightmare?

Arctic Warming: Greenhouse gas nightmare?

Synopsis: The polar regions are home to the fastest warming on the planet. Warming releases not only carbon dioxide but also methane – an even stronger greenhouse gas. Will more warming release more of these gases, leading to more warming… More »

Einstein

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Classroom Activity Page: In 1919, 14 years after Einstein published his theory of special relativity, scientists found the first proof for his theory. Then, in 2011, scientists found that Earth’s rotation “drags” spacetime, further proof that Einstein had it right! Applying his penetrating intellect to data gathered by simple instruments, Einstein devised deep physical theories that changed our view of the world. Over the last century, scientists have found that gravity bends light, neutron stars make gravitational waves, and a new state of matter exists near absolute zero: all predicted by Einstein. Although Einstein had neither satellites nor modern equipment, his theories are still on the money. What was his secret? More »

Flu vaccine

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Classroom Activity Page: Each year, as influenza season approaches, medical authorities must scramble to predict which strains of flu will be most important, and then grow enough vaccine to inoculate the population. Why does this take so much time, and what are some alternative strategies that might speed the process? More »

Forensic Science: Bugs, Maggots And DNA

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Classroom Activity Page: Don’t leave any goodies behind at the crime scene. Collect the bugs. Collect the maggots, and don’t EVER leave a ransom note! Forensic science — it’s better than ever! More »

Fracking

Fracking

Classroom Activity Page: Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a high-pressure technique for cracking rocks and allowing natural gas to reach wells. Amid a boom in U.S. natural gas production, industry promises that fracking will bring Americans jobs and low-cost energy for decades. Opponents warn that the drilling-and-fracking process threatens to pollute air, surface water, and most importantly, groundwater. Will these concerns stymie an ongoing boom in natural gas production? Should they? More »

Hurricanes

Hurricanes

Synopsis: Hurricanes, the most powerful and dangerous storms of all, get their energy from the difference in temperature between a warm ocean and a cooler atmosphere. A century ago, hurricanes blew in with almost no warning; now they are tracked… More »

Live birth in ancient reptile

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Classroom Activity Page: The fossil of a plesiosaur, which was a large, dangerous predator of the seas between 200 and 85 million years ago, showed strong evidence of being pregnant. Evidence for pregnancy included the location of the unborn plesiosaur, its size, and the fact that its bones were not fully hardened, or ossified. The find helps flesh out the evolutionary transition between laying eggs and live birth. More »

Mosquito Madness

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Classroom Activity Page: As disease-infected mosquitoes expand their range, these bugs rise higher on the “menace to human health” list. What makes mosquitoes such perfect agents for disease transfer? Is global warming a factor? How is modern technology being harnessed in the war against skeeters? More »

Native American Farming

Native American Farming

Synopsis: Native American agriculture was often a sophisticated response to a challenging environment. What were the secrets of permaculture, companion cropping and corn farming? Could these techniques contribute to modern farming? Find the article: Farming: Native American style Courtesy Eve… More »

Neutrinos

Neutrinos

Synopsis: To view neutrinos from distant explosions, astrophysicists have set up thousands of detectors in pure ice at the South Pole. What are neutrinos, and what do these scientists hope to learning from them? Find the article: Chasing Neutrinos at… More »

Polar science

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Classroom Activity Page: The poles are fascinating, partly because they are such difficult places to visit, work and live. They still guard many mysteries that we’d like to unravel, including the survival of polar animals, the history of ancient peoples, and the understanding of Earth’s climate. More »

Screaming about screen time

Screaming about screen time

Synopsis: As people spend more time with computers, smart phones and tablets, screens are really taking over. What is the social impact of our intimate relationship with these screens, and the technology and networks behind them? Is this just something… More »

Secrets of the microfarm: Amoeba grows bacteria!

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Classroom Activity Page: One species of amoeba can transport and plant bacteria when it runs short of its normal food, bacteria in the soil. A recent study is the first proof that anything smaller than an ant can “farm,” and shows how evolution can produce alternative strategies to meet the challenges of survival. More »