• sea-otter-mom-and-pup

    The Dark Side of California Sea Otters

    For many years, I thought California sea otters were cute and cuddly. Who can resist watching them playing in the ocean, often with a baby otter alongside? Cute sea otter imagery is everywhere, from event logos to plush toys to ...

sea-otter-mom-and-pup

The Dark Side of California Sea Otters

For many years, I thought California sea otters were cute and cuddly. Who can resist watching them playing in the ocean, often with a baby otter alongside? Cute sea otter imagery is everywhere, from event logos to plush toys to bumper stickers, because we love them so much. Sea otters also help keep the ocean […]

Continue Reading
Flash point: 
Science meets policy

Flash point: science meets policy

The story of the world’s first Ebola epidemic burns at the flash point between science and policy, an enticing yet frightening intersection that can make or break a writer’s credibility. During an after-dinner speech at the time when the outbreak is beginning to dominate the news, I grasp the value of health care policy and […]

Continue Reading
new_mexico_sky

A passion brewing

For the past six years I lived under the cotton candy clouds and big blue sky of Albuquerque, home of the television series Breaking Bad. The show is about a high school chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin, and it’s great drama. But the most memorable scenes for me were not the tense standoffs with bad […]

Continue Reading
Fig2

Please, stop reading The Mind Unleashed

There’s a scourge eating away at the quality of online journalism. It’s not just the partisan news outlets, the well-disguised native advertising, or the websites full of off-the-wall rants; it’s sites that publish such a range of material that the good reporting is indistinguishable from the bad. Take The Mind Unleashed, a relatively young news […]

Continue Reading
Image credit: aes256 via Wikimedia Commons | http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pacific_bluefin_tuna.jpg

Using body chemistry to track ocean predators

Open-ocean predators, like tuna and sharks, don’t settle down as happy homemakers, content to prowl amongst the corals of one reef. Instead, these hunters perform surprisingly long migrations, chomping on seafood from numerous marine ecosystems. The source of sashimi sushi, bluefin tuna can tantalize our taste buds. But, these tuna cost much more than our […]

Continue Reading
Poisonoakyoung

Invisible Itch: Is a Solution in the Works?

Here in the Santa Cruz mountains, poison oak is everywhere. My dog tromps through it, and I tromp after her. I feel fine. Presumably, this means I am one of the lucky 30 percent who are immune. It also means the dog and I could be covered in poison oak oil, and I wouldn’t know. […]

Continue Reading
“Monarch in May.” Image credit: Kenneth Dwain Harrelson via Wikipedia. CC BY-SA 3.0. http://bit.ly/1CbXgQf

Long Live the Monarch, an Ambassador for Nature

Monarch butterflies always take me back to elementary school. I remember watching and waiting for weeks as bright green caterpillars munched on milkweed plants in our classroom terrarium, then wound themselves overnight into snug chrysalises. Just writing ‘chrysalis’ makes me feel like I’m 10 again and peering at the dangling little insect sleeping bags, wondering […]

Continue Reading
picture of yellow green gourd

Mystery Fruit

Last weekend we made our annual trek to the pumpkin patch. While my kids scoured the field for their future jack-o-lanterns, I pursued a box of gourds, marveling at the variety. They were yellow, orange, green, white, round, bottlenecked, squat, elongated, smooth, undulated, and bumpy, in every permutation. I went for a twisty, warty, mostly […]

Continue Reading
Credit: Flickr: mlradio

Water pumping elevates Central Valley, increasing earthquake odds

In a dire drought like this one, most people aren’t worried about the connection between groundwater pumping and seismicity. Yet in addition to the slew of other ensuing problems, over pumping the Central Valley’s groundwater basic might lead to more earthquakes, according to Roland Burgmann, a University of California, Berkeley seismologist and co-author of a […]

Continue Reading
gorilla-top

Zoo-Raised Gorillas Prefer Forest Sounds Over Chopin

The sounds of a gently babbling stream or leaves rustling in the wind can calm city-dwellers far from woodsy retreats. These natural sounds may also influence the behavior of gorillas raised in zoos that have never seen a rainforest. Western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) exhibited fewer stress-related behaviors when a recording of rainforest sounds […]

Continue Reading