Science & Environment

Science news

U.S. Geological Survey

Sea level rise is typically mentioned in the context of erosion, coastal flooding, storm damage at the coasts. All of those are issues, to be sure. But rising ocean levels can have other effects – on septic systems and drinking water supplies farther inland. Potential impacts on groundwater are the subject of a new report from US Geological Survey’s New England Water Science Center.

We come into contact with countless chemicals everyday. In fact, we're made of chemicals. But the number of human-made, synthetic chemicals in our lives has skyrocketed, and many common household and personal care products actually contain chemicals that may be bad for our health.

Scientists can measure the amounts of these chemicals in retail products and the home environment, and they can study what they do to animals in laboratory. But that leaves one big, unanswered question:

Andy Morffew bit.ly/2fJ5nj6 / bit.ly/1mhaR6e

With the annual Cape Cod Waterfowl Census coming up this weekend, it’s time to talk ducks. But first I need to make good on my teaser from last week about the latest wacky rare bird to drop by the Cape – specifically the ocean side of Wellfleet. That rare bird was an Elegant Tern, and is about an unlikely a visitor as you could dream up for late November on Cape Cod.

Agence de presse Meurisse / bit.ly/2gCH6zx

When Marie Curie discovered radioactivity, she kick-started the field of atomic physics and inspired two other female physicists whose work gave rise to the atomic age. Her daughter, Irene (and son-in-law, Frederic) Joliot-Curie, discovered a method of inducing artificial radioactivity. And Austrian-born Lise Meitner figured out nuclear fission.

Putneypics bit.ly/2fP0mJi / bit.ly/1jNlqZo

As I sat down to write this week’s bird report, I was prepared to talk about the latest mind-bogglingly rare bird to turn up on the Cape. But then I had one of those forehead-slapping realizations where the proper course of action becomes painfully obvious. I’ll get to that rare bird next time, but this week we obviously need to talk turkey.

Satya Murthy/flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Biochemist Keri Colabroy thinks we could all be better cooks and healthier eaters, if we just learned a little bit of chemistry. That's why she teaches a kitchen chemistry course and a writing class about coffee (yeah, that's a thing) at Muhlenberg College.

Palliative care physician Justin Sanders uses the Serious Illness Conversation Guide in talking with a patient.
Courtesy of Ariadne Labs

There has been a growing recognition in recent years that patients near the end of life need a different kind of care – treatment that focuses on controlling symptoms, like pain and anxiety, rather than attempting to cure a disease. Most doctors and nurses aren’t trained to handle this transition and, until recently, haven’t had the information and tools necessary to do it well. That is changing.

Joyce Maxner sets up for a Death Cafe in West Tisbury, Martha's Vineyard.
Elsa Partan / WCAI

For most of American history, when a loved one died, family members cared for the body of the deceased at home before burial. It wasn’t until the Civil War that people started embalming soldiers’ bodies for the long train trips home. Soon after, funeral homes started offering embalming services, and an industry was born. Now, there’s a movement to bring after-death care back home.

The motivations driving such interest are varied. Some people find it more personal, more meaningful. Others want to avoid toxic embalming chemicals and reduce the environmental footprint of burial.

http://www.capecodbay-monitor.org

Water quality issues can impact people’s lives – and livelihoods – on the Cape and Islands. We’ve seen that most recently with the rounds of shellfish closures. Now there's a website that shows water quality data from around the region.

Keenan Yakola

It’s fall on the Cape, which means it’s the absolute peak time for finding rare birds. And the list of wacky avian visitors for this fall just keeps growing. The most recent example is a pretty spectacular one – a Golden Eagle that turned up over an abandoned driving range in Eastham on Saturday.

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