Tag Archives | out of the fog 2015

Spring brings thoughts of strawberries...and pesticides. Photo by Leslie Willoughby

Strawberries, power, and science

Monterey County>> Fragrant, tender, and sweet, strawberries brighten produce aisles nationwide. The use of pesticides assures their abundance and affordable price. Yet the chemicals that protect the berries may extract costs beyond those paid by shoppers. They may harm workers who harvest the berries, as well as their children. A quarter of America’s strawberries grow…

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How Does A Young Brain Read?

Cross-post from the Inside Science Currents Blog Cozying up with a good book can transport a reader anywhere, from Victorian England to the desolate craggy plains of Mordor. We take for granted how seamlessly our mind’s eye paints these elaborate pictures, but it’s natural to wonder how our brains learn to associate a word like…

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Here, Buchanan is measuring groundwater levels in the Ogallala aquifer in Morton County, Kansas.
[Credit: Kansas Geological Survey]

From Journalist to Geologist: A Q&A with Rex Buchanan

After decades as a science reporter, interim director of the Kansas Geological Survey Rex Buchanan now finds himself at the epicenter of a media frenzy.  When Rex Buchanan became interim director of the Kansas Geological Survey in 2010, earthquakes there were practically unheard of. Only a handful had occurred in the previous ten years, and…

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York Johnson, who works with the Tillamook Estuaries Partnership, collects a sample of coastal water in Pacific City, Ore. Ken Buesseler will analyze the sample for radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster. Photo courtesy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).

Fukushima Daiichi news – a teachable moment

Today marks the fourth anniversary of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. On March 11, 2011, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake occurred offshore of Japan and kicked off a tsunami. At the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, the natural disasters knocked out backup power systems used to cool reactors. Consequently, three reactors underwent fuel melting, hydrogen explosions,…

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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: http://ow.ly/E4BSG

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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