Science Week in Review No. 2

I am excited to bring you my second Science Week in Review. I really enjoyed writing and researching the first one and so I was just as excited about this one. As much as I can I am trying to share stories and articles that don’t require lots of background information. I give some short explanations for any concept that I think might not be common knowledge. Please feel free to ask if you need any clarification!

The importance of understanding microplastics. This article reminded me of how important awareness of our use of plastic is. I feel like I sometimes become complacent and need a reminder of how every action counts and just how serious the situation is. There is also this article on plastics and fish. The issue of microplastics is an important one that I will definitely address in the future but in short microplastics are fragments of plastic less than 5mm that are polluting the environment. Plastics degrade into these tiny little pieces that are much harder account for and clean up.

Understanding Species Recovery (IUCN red list). If you are familiar with any part of conservation you have likely heard of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is basically the platform used to keep track of species status. It is basically a database of information on many species around the world. Each species is reevaluated every so often and that allows for numbers to be monitored especially for species that are listed in a threatened category. This article gives some insight into how species recovery works. Recently the Green List has been introduced as an add on to the Red List that will allow for monitoring of conservation efforts. We actually had a discussion about this at the conference I went to last week!

Algae species as a key to plant evolution. Plants are a crucial part of our ecosystem, our breathing depends on them! Studying plant evolution is difficult since we don’t have fossils like we do with animals. The important science here? Recently scientist published the genomes of two algae species that are evidence for plant evolution to land species. They appear to be the closest living relatives of land plants. This is definitely an important find for plant scientists and for evolutionary biologists.

A star flying out of a black hole. I do have a fascination with space so I always look to include an interesting article about it. Astromoners observed a “runaway star” that has come out of the black hole at the center of our galaxy. The speed at which it is going is absolutely crazy (4 million miles an hour)! I think this article was so interesting and understandable (for someone who has not much knowledge of astronomy).

Methane emissions in California. Methane is a greenhouse gas that contributes to the greenhouse effect. This is the process of the warming of the atmosphere by radiation of greenhouse gases. The warming today is so extreme because we have drastically sped up natural processes. We are emitting greenhouse gases at an unprecedented rate. This article speaks to California’s monitoring of methane emissions. The relevance here is that the research done looked at spatial emissions of methane allowing the state to focus efforts on facilities with the largest emissions.

One last interesting article only because I found this to be a fun and interesting little piece of information. A fossil relative of the orangutan. Scientists used proteins from the jaw/tooth of a Gigantopithecus blacki fossil to link it to modern orangutans.

Please let me know if you have found any interesting science articles! Also I always appreciate feedback on posts, especially this series. I strive to bring science to everyone and in terms that are understandable for everyone. I also try to make sure I state the relevancy of each article I share. Thanks for reading!

Erin

Science Week in Review No. 1

While this blog has been a way for me to do something else and get out of the science world for a little (I am a biology Ph.D. student so it is pretty constant), I have felt more and more compelled to share some more of that side of my life. I have struggled with how to do that and still stick with my blog mission. The solution I found is to have a weekly post that rounds up interesting articles that are science related. I am going to try it out for a few months and see how it evolves. For now I will be sharing several articles that are current and from a variety of disciplines. I hope for this to become kind of a round up of what is going on in the world of science every week.

A few articles to start us off:

A study of potential earth-like planets. UCLA scientist are finding that planets like Earth may be common throughout the universe. How? These scientists are studying the geochemistry of asteroids from other solar systems. They are attempting find out what other planets are made of, and they are finding similar elements to what we find on earth. This is incredibly impressive and interesting. The subject of life beyond our planet is so interesting!

Life after dinosaurs- the beginning of mammals. One of the great evolutionary mysteries has been the fall of the dinosaurs and rise of mammals. Recently scientists in Colorado discovered a trove of bones that have led to lots of interesting information about the period of time following the extinction of dinosaurs. This discovery is pretty amazing for the piecing together of mammalian history.

Linking gut microbiota to westernization. It seems that life style changes (increase in fats in diet, sedentary lifestyle, antibiotic use) caused largely by westernization have impacted our gut microbiomes. How? By comparing gut microbes from people in westernized areas to those in non-westernized areas these scientists were able to uncover significant differences in microbes. They were also able to compare to ancient DNA in order to confirm their hypothesis. If you are unfamiliar with the term microbiome it refers to the microbes (fungus, protozoa, bacteria, viruses) that inhabit your gut. I will continue to share microbiome articles since it is a relatively new field and there is a ton still being discovered about its role in health.

One idea for putting a stop to climate change. A solution to climate change by locking carbon into the soil. These scientist are proposing we stabilize C02 emissions through the land, by making desertified lands useable again. It would take a lot of effort and $300 billion dollars. On a semi-similar note, NASA released an article about monitoring the Earth’s atmosphere through satellites. I thought it was an interesting read!

Bonus: In lieu of Halloween I had to add one more article. This is not current science but the story of Roman emperor Domitian and the feast he threw for senators in 89 CE. It is chilling but an interesting historical read for this time of year.

I recognize that this is a little out of character for me but I think about this stuff almost constantly so I figured it would be fun to share some of the highlights and important articles. I hope you enjoyed and learned something new!

Erin