Originally published on Thu August 1, 2013 4:26 pm
You can lead college students to soap and water, but you can't make them wash their hands. In fact, you can't even make them read their e-mail.
That was one takeaway from an outbreak of pneumonia at Georgia Tech last fall that sickened at least 83 students – "the largest [outbreak] reported at a university in 35 years," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Originally published on Thu August 1, 2013 1:07 pm
In the first episode of Downton Abbey, the Countess of Grantham, played by Maggie Smith, complains about the newfangled electrical chandelier installed in her family's 1915 estate. "Oh, dear, such a glare," she says, shielding her eyes with a fan.
Government regulators in Canada are investigating a series of mysterious oil spills around tar sands operations in Alberta. Thick oil is gurgling up unexpectedly from the ground instead of flowing through the wells that were built to collect it.
The spills are raising questions about a technology that's rapidly expanding to extract fossil fuels that could ultimately end up in the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.
Originally published on Fri August 2, 2013 2:00 pm
Whenever we give in to temptation, be it for a helping of something divine, like fine chocolate, or just a so-so piece of saltwater taffy abandoned next to the office coffeepot, there's something more than self-control at work.
Woven into the complexities of food choices and eating behaviors are all sorts of subtle factors that we're likely not even aware of.
This isn't a painting. It's not from a movie. It's not a strange astronomical event. This is real — what you can see when certain helicopters in Afghanistan touch down on sandy ground, raising dust, causing mysterious arcs of light to loop and dance through the air.
This doesn't always happen. "The halos usually disappear as the rotors change pitch," wrotewar photographer Michael Yon. "On some nights, on this very same landing zone, no halos form." How come?
Fewer than 10 percent of all mammal species are monogamous. In fact, biologists have long disagreed over why monogamy exists at all. That's the subject of two studies published this week — and they come to different conclusions.
Animals that leave the most offspring win the race to spread their genes and to perpetuate their lineage. So for most mammals, males have a simple strategy: Mate with as many females as possible.
"Monogamy is a problem," says Dieter Lukas, a biologist at Cambridge University. "Why should a male keep to one female?"
At Margaret O'Keefe's farm in East Texas, they grow high-quality Bermuda grass. The fields are flat and vibrant green, surrounded by woods of a darker, richer green. The family loves this land. O'Keefe inherited it from her mother, who divided it among eight children.
"She used to call it 'enchanted valley,' " O'Keefe says.
But her "enchanted valley" also lies in the path of the Crosstex NGL Pipeline.
On any given day, there's a wildfire burning somewhere in the U.S. — and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Many western forests have evolved with fire, and actually benefit from the occasional wildfire.
The largest solar power plant of its kind is about to turn on in California's Mojave Desert.
The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System will power about 140,000 homes and will be a boon to the state's renewable energy goals, but it was no slam dunk. Now, California is trying to bring conservationists and energy companies together to create a smoother path for future projects.
Steamy days, sultry nights and swarming bugs all make up the thrum of life in the heart of summer. But more and more, our summers are assaulted by the bloodsucking kind of bugs, namely mosquitoes and ticks.
More than a nuisance, new species can impact our health and indicate larger environmental trends.
Beautiful And Adaptable
One relative newcomer prowling the scene is the Asian tiger mosquito. Named for its unique markings, it is black with white stripes.
Just about everything that we do in the water makes noise. When we ship goods from country to country, when we explore for oil and gas and minerals, when the military trains with explosives or intense sonar systems — the noise travels.
But these man-made noises are making it impossible for sea creatures to communicate with themselves, something that is integral to their survival. Michael Jasny, the director of the Marine Mammal Protection Project for the Natural Resources Defense Council, says we have to quiet down.