Tag Archives | out of the fog 2013


Reforesting Earth, one clone at a time

Last week, to celebrate Earth Day, volunteers around the globe trekked out to forests in Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, Canada and the U.S. to plant 18-inch tall clones of ancient redwood trees in an effort to forestall global warming by reforesting the Earth with the iconic forest dwellers. More than a century…

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The Swallows of Cabrillo

It isn’t Spring until the cliff swallows (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) return to Cabrillo, a community college located in the hills along the Central Coast. Like their famous counterparts, the legendary swallows of Capistrano, these winged harbingers of warmer weather regularly return to campus every March. Although their migration schedule stays the same, recent research shows some…

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photo: Thomas Lersch/Wikimedia commons

Hominids will be hominids

Lately, I’ve had great apes on my mind. Psychiatrist Martin Brüne’s work treating psychopathy in retired laboratory chimps – the topic of my Q&A article – got me thinking about some even slipperier issues. Brüne opened his talk at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in February with what he called…

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Franciscan wallflowers ((Erysimum franciscanum)

California’s Botanical Spring Fling

Although the term “biodiversity hotspot” conjures up images of steamy rain forests and exotic South Pacific islands, if you live in California, you have one right outside your door. California is the most biodiverse state in the U.S, ahead of even Hawaii. Biodiversity isn’t just a count of the number of species — it also reflects…

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River otters are making a strong comeback in Bay Area waters. Photo credit: Paola Bouley, River Otter Ecology Project

Call it a comeback

I looked up from fawning over some orange California newts just in time to spy a fuzzy whiskered face peering out from the waters of the creek. Weasel-like features and silky-smooth contours gave away the creature’s identity: Lontra Canadensis, the North American river otter. As soon as we made eye contact, she flipped her body…

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The ATHLETE vehicle at one of its fuel cell charging stations. Credit: JPL/NASA

Fuel Cells…in Space!

When it comes to exploring strange new worlds, NASA’s ATHLETE (All-Terrain Hex-Legged Extra-Terrestrial Explorer) is one tricked-out rover. The robotic vehicle (pictured) has six wheels attached to six spider-like legs that move independently to traverse the bumpy surfaces of Mars, the Moon, asteroids and beyond. The whole setup acts as a giant platform for whatever…

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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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Patrick Daniel, of Squids4Kids, dissects a Humboldt squid at the 2012 Bay Area Science Festival. Photo by Ken Baltz

Squid: Science ambassadors

Marine biologist Bill Gilly wasn’t prepared for the greeting he received from St. Andrew’s Episcopal school in 2008. He’d come to the Saratoga, Calif. school to teach a special lesson on the Humboldt squid, complete with a dissection. Gilly approached the school and saw a line of ten-year-olds stretching out the door of his classroom….

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But is it Eco Art?

Environmental art pioneers Newton and Helen Mayer Harrison have an exhibit at UC Santa Cruz’s Sesnon Gallery this quarter. It’s part of a larger focus on environmental art, including a series of lectures on Wednesday nights. I’m in Mountain View on Wednesdays and couldn’t attend the lectures, but the guests are an intriguing mix of…

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