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credit Shaury Nash (Flickr)

Sequenced and Confused

Dear Scicom Slug, A few years ago I paid $99, spit into a tube and signed up for 23andMe, a direct to consumer DNA testing service. Through their site I learned my genes gave me a low chance for most cancers, a higher chance for diabetes (not much of a surprise given that both my […]

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We turn to the moon figuratively to inspire and imagine. Someday we may return literally to expand our horizons. In this painting astronauts survey a lunar landscape from a rock outcrop. Painting © William K. Hartmann, at Planetary Science Institute, Tucson.

Our moon as art

Like any classic work of art, the moon means different things to different people. For millennia, humans have used its omnipresent face as a canvas for storytelling. Today, we see Earth’s faithful satellite in everything from the children’s book “Goodnight Moon” to the gallery of images collected by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). Even the […]

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Keeping an eye on birds and carbon footprints

  Christmas time draws nature-lovers outdoors to watch the sky. They are uninterested in magical sleigh rides, however — their binoculars follow flocks of birds. December 14 through January 5  marks the 115th annual Christmas Bird Count in which thousands of avian enthusiasts count bird numbers and species for one day —  in California, local bird-lovers organized counting […]

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The sign marking the front of Our Green Thumb community garden on campus at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

Community garden teaches water-saving strategies

Walking up the stone path leading to Our Green Thumb community garden, I peer over the fence and notice that some of the plots look better than others. “You can tell which ones are student plots,” says Trent Hodges, my guide and a master’s student in International Environmental Policy at the Monterey Institute of International […]

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Redwood forest canyon, Felton, California. H Grimes, Flickr

Living Deep in a Redwood Canyon

After moving 50 times in 50 years, I finally settled down in a deep redwood canyon, across a potholed single lane road from a large state park. Eleven years later, my wife and I are still discovering the hidden treasures in our little 0.44-acre property. Compared to the cities and suburbs we lived in before, […]

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Image credit: Christina via flickr Commons | Cropped:

A Place for Religion at the Lab Bench

The remains of eggs Benedict, hash browns, and Bloody Marys littered the brunch table as my girlfriends and I exchanged stories from the previous month. Among the tales of work, men and family, one story stood out. A friend explained how she and her partner had handled their tough year: They went to church. “But, […]

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Smell Of Sex Lures Moths To A Spidery Doom

By Nala Rogers, Inside Science A spider buries her fangs in a clear oakworm moth on Andy Warren’s porch after luring the moth down from the oak canopy. Courtesy Andrew D. Warren   (Inside Science) — Andy Warren spent the summer of 2014 driving around the country with a pair of “magic spiders.” Warren, senior collections […]

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An engraving depicting damage from the 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes from Henry Howe's Historical Collections of the Great West (Cincinnati, 1854, p.239).
Image provided courtesy of Martitia Tuttle.

The Earth Staggers

Long ago, years before they would marry, make two children, raise them and eventually divorce, my parents shared a bizarre experience. On a Sunday morning in the early 1960s, they were at the same church service. Suddenly, everything began to move. Dad first saw something amiss with the ceiling fans. “They were dancing!” he told […]

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Mom may look like she's taking a break, but she's not. Photo courtesy of Mike Baird <> at via Flickr, Creative Commons License.

Tough life for otter moms

    Parenthood is both a universal and deeply personal experience. With my science background, I’m always contrasting what I understand as a biologist and what I feel as a mother. Sometimes the latest evolutionary/genetic/cognitive behavioral/comparative biology discovery reinforces my experiences (for example positive benefits of co-sleeping.) Other times it jars me out of a […]

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