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Science Notes 2013

Deadly mushrooms, endangered white abalone, iPad speech therapy, resurrected passenger pigeons, mysterious dark energy, bombarded satellites, a revised theory of sexual selection and a prickly way to cure a horrible skin condition… These nine feature stories make up Science Notes 2013, written by the 2013 class of the UC Santa Cruz Science Communication Program and…

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Patrick Fulton, a geology post-doc at the University of California, Santa Cruz, holds temperature sensors retrieved from an earthquake fault more than seven kilometers under water to learn more about the devastating March 2011 Japan quake and tsunami. Photo by Paul Gabrielsen.

Return to Tohoku – Taking a big quake’s temperature

There’s a hole in the bottom of the ocean near Japan, the deepest ever drilled for science, that leads to the heart of one of the world’s most dangerous faults. Two years ago this fault, which marks the spot where one tectonic plate grinds past another, unleashed the Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami, which devastated…

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Screen shot 2013-05-24 at 2.21.23 PM

Can I bug you for a few minutes of your time?

Evolutionary biologist J.B.S. Haldane, alluding to the enormous number of insect species roaming the earth, is often quoted as saying, “If one could conclude as to the nature of the Creator from a study of creation, it would appear that God has an inordinate fondness for beetles.” If Haldane were still alive, he and God…

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An Ocean Journey with Brandon Southall

Brandon Southall is adept at inhabiting vastly different worlds—similar to the elephant seals and sea lions he studies. While the marine mammals successfully navigate the opposing environments of land and water, Southall is a marine scientist who moves smoothly among the diverse realms of research, business, consulting, and university affiliations. His expertise in ocean acoustics—…

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Red-tide further down the coast from us, in La Jolla, CA. Credit: eutrophication&hypoxia, Flickr.

Sourcing Monterey Bay’s Red-Tide

  We’re all enjoying these days leading up to summer, with the Monterey Bay shining clear and blue. But we know these times are fleeting. Come fall, algae will start to bloom. Clear blue waves will turn brown and red, seabirds and marine mammals will get sick, and swimming advisories could be put in place….

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California Dept of Water's website tries to answer a question on a lot of people's minds right now.

Water World

Several recent developments have gotten me thinking about water use in California — recent water shortages and the conversations about building desalination plants. Water scarcity will be a growing problem this century, mostly due to the world’s growing population. Drought-prone California’s plans to desalinate seawater is likely to have unintended consequences in the form of…

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The Microbe Mystery at Cowell’s Beach

My favorite thing about living in Santa Cruz this year has been my proximity to the ocean. From my apartment, I can hear the sea lions barking at the wharf, and waves crashing at the beach. True, I also have to deal with the rhythmic screaming of rollercoaster riders at the Boardwalk, but it’s worth…

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It's not pretty. An elephant seal molts at Ano Nuevo State Park. Photo by Wikimedia user MonicaSP54.

A Catastrophic Molt

The elephant seals are back at California’s Año Nuevo State Park. But this is not their famous January breeding season, replete with cute newborn seals and brutal fights between males. Nope, this time they’re here to molt. The seals spend their month on land laying around the beach, languishing in the sun while giant patches…

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