Science & Environment

Science news

Mark Faherty

When it comes to late winter on Cape Cod, and the knowledge that beach weather is still four months away, it’s the little signs of better things to come that keep you going. If you are paying attention to the birds around you every day, you should be brimming with hope, because they clearly are, too.

Alex Knight /

The PyeongChang Olympics are likely to be remembered for the joint Korean team, wind delays, and robots. Yes, robots. South Korea is taking advantage of the international spotlight to show off its leadership in robotics, with eleven different types of robots – eighty five, in all – in action at the Olympics. And that’s not counting the swarm of drones featured in the Opening Ceremonies.

wikimedia commons

A news organization called Climate Home News this week obtained, and then published, a draft of a UN climate science report. The report assesses the feasibility and likely benefits of achieving the most ambitious goal set by the Paris climate agreement – which is to hold total global average warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The conclusion is that it will be difficult to cut emissions quickly enough.

themozhi / / Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

MIT is the latest in a string of prestigious universities to reveal ties to slavery that go back to the founding of the institution. The information comes from an undergraduate research course called “MIT and Slavery.” 

David Clode /


Congress averted a second government shutdown by passing a bipartisan budget deal that raised spending caps for the next two years, but didn’t specify how the money should be spent. That came a few days later when President Trump released his budget proposal for 2019.

Yumi Kimura

Forensics laboratories have featured in hit TV shows and attained a level of mainstream familiarity and fame that few other sciences can claim. But a new investigation, which appears as the cover story of the February 26 edition of The Nation, finds that much of forensics may not be scientific at all.

Moira Brown and New England Aquarium

A workshop in Woods Hole on February 1st brought together an unusual combination of scientists, engineers, fishermen, and government regulators to talk about an even more unusual idea: catching lobsters with no rope connecting the traps at the bottom with a buoy at the surface.


SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launch has ignited hopes of sending humans back to the moon, and on to Mars. But what about that cherry-red Tesla left floating through space?

At each Olympics, athletes set new records and achieve new feats not imagined a few years ago. For example, Brian Boitano wowed the judges in 1988 with his triple jumps. Now male figure skaters are doing quad jumps: four rotations.

The White House

The only overt mention of science came late in President Trump’s first State of the Union address, one that many scientists have criticized for ignoring or misrepresenting climate science and failing to recognize the science connections inherent in infrastructure and immigration policy.

Werner Kunz

It’s no secret that Massachusetts has an affordable housing problem. In his 2018 State of the Commonwealth address, Governor Charlie Baker noted that “it has been decades since this state produced enough housing to keep up with demand.”

Shaughnessy Naughton was a chemist and entrepreneur, before she decided to run for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 8th District. That was 2014. By 2016, she had founded an organization aimed at helping other scientists run for office.

It’s no secret that the lobster fishery in southern New England is in trouble. The population has declined by almost eighty percent in the past few decades. In contrast, lobsters in the Gulf of Maine have exploded and the fishery has seen record landings. So, what gives? 

Ben Hershey /

The conventional wisdom in sports is that offense may get the glory, but defense wins championships. That’s not great news for the Patriots, who are a stronger offensive team. But Mark Otten, who heads the sports psychology laboratory at California State University at Northridge, says “Pats fans should not despair.”

The White House /

The federal government employs a surprising number of scientists. In addition to the thousands of researchers at federal laboratories, there are hundreds of scientific advisory committees, and eighty-three high-level science appointees. At the one year mark, President Trump is way behind his predecessors - either Obama or G.W. Bush – in filling those.