Author Archive | Molly Sharlach

A sea otter in Prince William Sound, Alaska
(Photo by Laura R

A bacterial blight on Alaskan otters’ hearts

Whiffen the sea otter passed away on May 10 during an MRI scan at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. Three months earlier he was found stranded on a beach, his hind flippers injured. According to the aquarium’s veterinarian, Whiffen was likely infected with Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite from cat feces that finds its…

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Example of visual fixations while reading. The text read is printed with fixations superimposed as gray disks. The diameter of the disk is proportional to the duration of the fixation.

To Patch a Visual Gap, Turn That Text Around

Reader, be proud. You’re a perceptual expert. As you read, your eyes alternately focus and move along each line of text in a seamless sequence honed over years of practice. Reading, recognizing faces and distinguishing colors or musical tones are all forms of perceptual expertise. To appreciate the visual skill involved in reading, turn a…

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Coyote mint
Monardella villosa subspecies villosa
Henry W. Coe State Park, Santa Clara County
© 2009 Barry Breckling

The lumping and splitting of California’s treasures

On African savannas, poachers have forced black rhinos nearly to extinction. Closer to home, poaching, poisoning and habitat loss threaten California condors. Yet nearly 60 percent of all endangered species in California are plants. With more than 6,000 native plant species, the Golden State is so rich that Conservation International calls it a biodiversity hotspot….

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At Taste for the Cure: A Taste of Science, a participant talks with a representative from the Athena Breast Health Network, a program to provide personalized breast cancer prevention for 150,000 women at all five University of California medical centers.

The mixed blessing of bountiful information

I could learn a lot from my spit if I wanted to. Thanks to advances in DNA sequencing, I could send my spit off for personal genomic testing and find out my predicted risks for hundreds of diseases and conditions. But I haven’t. After years of studying the genetics of plants, I’m fascinated by the…

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