Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas, is offering a Summer biology field research program
designed for a diverse mix of able-bodied students and students with ambulatory disabilities. Eight students will spend a month in the trees, studying water bears and learning that being in a wheelchair doesn't have to be an impediment to doing biological field research. — Maggie
Science journalist Colin Schultz writes about how boys who know next to nothing about menstruation become men who are uncomfortable with and/or dismissive about the normal bodily functions of their friends, lovers, and wives ... and why that's a problem education can solve. — Maggie
The Guardian reports
that the Phillips Island Penguin Foundation in Australia is asking volunteers to knit sweaters for penguins being rehabilitated after oil spills. Back in 2011, Dean wrote here
about a similar request. The catch: That earlier plea for penguin sweaters (in fact, every
earlier plea for penguin sweaters) has produced far, far more penguin sweaters than penguins actually need. For instance, in 2000, the Tasmanian Conservation Trust requested 100 sweaters and received 15,000
. Yes, penguins wearing sweaters are cute, but it may be a good idea to contact the Phillips Island Penguin Foundation
you get started knitting. — Maggie
It's not an exercise bike for your nose. Instead, the nasal cycle is the biological cycle that automatically switches the bulk of your breathing from one nostril to another throughout the course of the day. It's the reason why you usually feel more stuffed up on one side when you have a cold but, as Matt Soniak explains at mental_floss, it's got some benefits, too.
One, it makes our sense of smell more complete. Different scent molecules degrade at different rates, and our scent receptors pick up on them accordingly. Some smells are easier to detect and process in a fast-moving airstream like the decongested nostril, while others are better detected in the slower airstream of the congested nostril. Nasal cycling also seems to keep the nose maintained for its function as an air filter and humidifier. The alternating congestion gives the mucous and cilia (the tiny hairs up in your nose) in each nostril a well-deserved break from the onslaught of air and prevents the insides of your nostrils from drying out, cracking and bleeding.
Image: Some rights reserved by sapienssolutions
An amusing headline, but a serious problem for beleaguered beekeepers in England
: "According to committee member David McLarin, nosema is becoming more prevalent in the South West and that is not good news as bees with the problem hardly produce any honey." [Exeter Express via Fortean Times] — Rob
For the first time, some researchers studied the long-term impacts of breastfeeding vs. formula feeding in American children by comparing breastfed vs. formula fed siblings — a distinction meant to help distinguish the effects of breastfeeding from the effects of, say, family education levels, social dynamics, and income. It's a really interesting study, though not without its own flaws, so it's worth reading both this Slate piece by Jessica Gross and a rebuttal of that piece posted on the Mammals Suck blog by anthropologist Melanie Martin.
I think Martin's rebuttal makes some good points — particularly pointing out that it would be more interesting, and important, for research to focus on really understanding what breastmilk is made of and what the different components do. That research could not only give us a better starting point for knowing what differences we should and shouldn't expect to see between breastfed and formula fed kids, it would also put us in a better position to create better formula.
That said, I did think one of the arguments made in the Mammals Suck piece was kind of off.
Read the rest
Apply by April 11 to be one of the 54 lucky/gifted high school juniors and seniors chosen to attend the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Disease Detective Camp
this summer. There are two week-long sessions of the day camp, both of which give kids hands-on exposure to public health and epidemiology. Freaking. Awesome. Application details are in the FAQ
. — Maggie
An interesting look at how political tensions on Earth affect relationships on the International Space Station
. Spoiler: They officially do not have any effect and there's a long history of compartmentalizing what happens on the planet from what happens in space. — Maggie
This story about the recent loss of a millions-of-years-old dinosaur footprint
uses the word "vandals" to describe the criminals, but I think that's misleading. Yes, the perpetrators destroyed the footprint, but they did so accidentally in the process of trying to steal a piece of public, shared natural history to sell on the private market. It seems like "fossil poachers" might be a better label for what's going on and what the Bureau of Land Management is trying to fight. — Maggie
In 1924, Mae Keane got fired from a job painting watch dials. Failing at the job may have seriously altered her fate. The paint was full of radium. While many of her more "successful" co-workers died young and horribly, Keane lived to the age of 107
— though not without some serious health problems that could have been linked to her short stint as a Radium Girl. — Maggie
The Intergalactic Travel Bureau is a cool combination of science education outreach and performance art that gives people a chance to interact with real scientists. All you have to do is just walk into an ITB office and start asking questions about space, planetary travel, and astrophysics. The ITB has set up shop before in New York and London. Now they're trying to raise money to take the show on a larger tour of the US and UK. When you donate you get a chance to help decide where the tour will go and you can earn some great rewards, including custom, vintage-travel inspired postcards. There's more details and a video on Kickstarter.
"Albedo" is derived from the Latin word for "white". Scientists use it to describe the reflectivity of a surface — how what a surface is made of changes the amount of light it reflects. The melting of snow, ice, and permafrost in the Arctic changes the albedo of the Earth and that process inspired the gauzy, fabric art pictured above. It's part of a whole show of pieces inspired by the effects of climate change on the Arctic. Created by artists Michele Banks, Jessica Beels, and Ellyn Weiss, the show can be seen in person in Washington D.C. though May 31. But you can also check out photos and video of the art online.
Despite its reputation for sending hundreds of cruise ship vacationers to the bathroom en masse, norovirus isn't nearly as big a problem on naval vessels. Unfortunately, how the Navy prevents norovirus from spreading
isn't really applicable to civilian ships — it involves a lot of discipline with cleaning, strict rules about quarantine, and a lack of places to just hang out and socialize around food and drink. — Maggie
The good news: Otters in Alaska's Prince William Sound seem to have finally rebounded
to population levels and life cycles similar to those they enjoyed before the wreck of the Exxon Valdez in 1989. The bad news: The fact that it took this long is just another example of how the impact of oil spills should be measured in decades, not days. Another example: There is still oil from the Exxon Valdez on beaches near the site of the wreck
. The oil exists in little pockets protected by boulders and it's still getting into food webs, at least in very small amounts. — Maggie