Tag Archives | The Crashing Edge

transit of venus

Aphrodite’s Commute (or, the Transit of Venus)

As we wind up our year in the UCSC Science Communication Program, it’s a time of transition. Not only for the ten of us, as we wrap up our final stories, multimedia projects, and internships, but also for the solar system. This week marks a rare celestial event, which happens just twice every hundred or…

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Golden Gate Bridge

Math, Engineers, Bridges, and Hand Waving

After seeing the alarming video of the Minnesota I-35 bridge collapse in class today, I’m reminded from my recent reporting on the flattening of the Golden Gate Bridge 25 years ago on how flexible numbers can be. Searching for a simple detail revealed how much hand waving goes on that I hope is reserved for…

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SciCom Field Guide

A Field Guide for SciCom

Two quarters ago, David Cohn—the web whiz and crowd-funded journalism advocate who invented Spot.us—left the SciCom class of 2012 with a note-worthy nugget of internet advice. “It’s cheaper and easier to try something,” he said, “than to debate about whether or not to try it.” Instead of carefully considering the pros and cons of making…

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Citizen scientists collect data that will help researchers track the spread of sudden oak death. Photo: E. Loury

SOD Blitz: Volunteers take on Sudden Oak Death

Ah, the signs of spring. The sun is out, the rain has stopped (for now)—and sudden oak death is on the move. This invasive, fungus-like tree killer, which is related to the Irish potato blight, moves in fits and spurts with bouts of warm spring rains. Every spring for the past four years, scientists from…

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A deer tick on a fingernail
Copyright Stuart Meek, Creative Commons License

The Lyme Twilight Zone

When my mom said she was headed to the doctor for a sore knee last month, I didn’t think much of it. I figured she probably just twisted it doing yard work or something. But, when she called back to say her swollen knee was Lyme arthritis, she had my attention. And I braced myself…

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Photo credit: cyclonebill, Wikimedia Commons

Drink at your own perceived risk

How dangerous is unpasteurized milk? Many health-conscious consumers want to know. The answer depends on how you look at the numbers. In March, CDC scientists published a study in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases that tried to quantify this risk by analyzing milk-related disease outbreaks from 1993 to 2006. The research was widely covered in…

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Starry Starry Night: A visit to Lick Observatory

San Jose is a bustling city of just under a million inhabitants. Yet only 25 miles to its east, on the tranquil summit of Mount Hamilton, astronomers cast their view skyward at the Lick Observatory. I visited the observatory, which is operated by the University of California, last week. Lick actually encompasses nine different research…

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Blue Marbles and Ocean Microbes: A Sea Change at TEDxMonterey

A volunteer placed a translucent, blue marble in my hand as I walked through the door.  Everyone else in the darkened auditorium held a similar token.  Ocean-philes of one kind or another, we were gathering at the Monterey Institute of International Studies for the third TEDxMonterey.  A community-organized event modeled after the popular TED talk…

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Though naturally rare and found only in the Santa Cruz sandhills, the Santa Cruz spineflower (Chorizanthe pungens var. hartwegiana) carpets the ground where it grows

Keep (the) Santa Cruz (Sandhills) Weird

I’ve heard that Santa Cruz might be weird. I live in the redwoods above the city and maybe it’s a little strange here too. Sunset Magazine called Boulder Creek, just up the road, “absurdly rural.” In a search for the absurd, I considered visiting the nearby Bigfoot Museum to see if I could scare up…

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