Author Archive | Ryder Diaz


In the key of bee

As I walked down a path at the UC Santa Cruz arboretum, I heard them. The buzz was distinct. It wasn’t the thin sound of a common housefly or the high-pitched trill of a mosquito. This vibration had some weight behind it. I knew it was a bumblebee before I saw it. Years of studying…

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Flies that wiggle in dead bodies can give forensic scientists clues to pinpoint time of death. Photo courtesy: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos

Buzz McFly, Private Investigator

Detectives look to insects for clues to crack cases A lot of dead bodies turn up on Mount Hamilton and in the Santa Cruz Mountains, two natural areas near San Jose, Calif. Some bodies are found decomposed beyond recognition. Jeffrey Honda has worked on a number of these cases. He searches for subtle clues that…

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A still frame of Steven Ward's computer simulation of the 2004 Sumatra tsunami. Credit: Steven Ward

From disaster to outreach

Sharing science in the days of YouTube Steven Ward has a pretty good trick. He can drop you right into the heart of a natural disaster and you’ll come out unscathed. Guaranteed. Tsunami? Earthquake? Volcanic explosion? He’ll even take requests. (more…)

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Clermontia montis-loa is a Hawaiian plant that has lost its native pollinator. Photo courtesy: Clare Aslan.

Can non-native birds save plants from extinction?

As most native Hawaiian birds have gone extinct, “widowed” flowering plants are missing their lifelong partners – the birds that pollinate them. The loss of these partnerships threatens to drive some Hawaiian plant species to extinction, as many of these plants are not found anywhere else in the world. Biologist Clare Aslan investigated whether a…

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The cellar slug, Limacus flavus, is active at night. Scientists say it is fond of pet food. Photo: Ryder Diaz

That which slimes us only makes us stronger

Almost every morning since I moved to Santa Cruz, I’ve seen their long, brown-and-yellow bodies slither across my counter tops. My unwanted house guests are cellar slugs and I imagine that their shimmering slime trails are chock-full of germs, ready to infect me. Like most people, I strive for sterility from the outdoors. But could…

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