Science & Environment

Science news

A protest this weekend at the site of a proposed natural gas power generator on the Cape Cod Canal highlights the controversy surrounding the rise of natural gas. Some say it’s an improvement over other fossil fuels, and a necessary bridge to a more renewable energy system. Others say it’s still a fossil fuel, and we should be investing in solar instead.

Teen depression rates jumped thirty three percent between 2010 and 2015, while suicide attempts rose by almost a quarter. Psychologist Jean Twenge of San Diego State University has sifted through the various possible explanations and says only one factor explains the abrupt shift in American teens’ mental health – smart phones.

Meteorological winter is upon us, and if you’re wondering what the next few months have in store weather-wise, you have a few options. There’s always the Farmer’s Almanac which – by the way – is predicting a cold, snowy winter here in New England. If you want something more scientific, there’s the The National Weather Service's winter weather outlook, which is calling for warmer than average winter temperatures in the northeast.

Scientists are working to expand the genetic code.
Duncan Hull / flickr.com

Autumn Oczkowski made headlines earlier this month, not for her science, but for the fact that EPA leadership told her she couldn’t present that science at a conference about the future of Narragansett Bay. EPA leadership never said why they made that decision, but many assumed it was because climate change would be a major theme. A week later, though, Oczkowski was allowed to present her research at a different conference.

David Bailey, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Food insecurity and climate change are affecting millions of people today. Some experts say ocean farming (aquaculture) could help address both of those issues. On Living Lab, we talk with Scott Lindell, aquaculture researcher at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

NASA

An asteroid strike took out the dinosaurs. And a meteor that struck Chelyabinsk, Russia a few years ago woke the astronomy community up to the need for a better system for tracking asteroids that could affect Earth. Now, an international asteroid warning network has gotten its first test. Luckily for us all, NASA aced it. We talk with Lindley Johnson, Planetary Defense Officer for NASA. 

It’s time for your yearly flu shot. But why do we have to do this every year? Why can’t we get a flu shot once – maybe a booster now and again – and be done with it, like we do with other vaccinations? There are scientists working to accomplish just that. David Topham at University of Rochester Medical Center is on the task, but he warns that some efforts to develop a universal flu vaccine may not be as successful as hoped.

NASA

This fall marks 20 years since NASA began continuous, global measurements of life on Earth from space. This kind of thing is unprecedented, and it helps us get a much better idea of how climate change and other environmental factors are affecting life on Earth. 

biomimicry.org

Humans have always been designers and engineers, but we’ve only been on this planet a few million years. Life and evolution have been going for nearly four billion years. And the millions of species on this planet today have evolved millions of ways to meet the challenges of survival. Increasingly, human engineers are turning to nature for solutions to our own challenges, like energy production, water use, transportation, and advanced materials. For example, there’s a way to make concrete using the same method as corals do, to build their structures.

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