Science & Environment

Science news

willmacdonald18 / flickr

As we head into the Memorial Day weekend, anglers across the Cape and Islands are noting that bluefish haven't yet shown up in numbers. Okay, maybe bluefish aren't the region's glamour species (I'm talking to you, striped bass), but blues make delicious eating, especially on the grill, and at a time of year when bigger stripers are still hard to come by, bluefish are usually an early season go-to.

Public Health Image Library, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Could Viagra help stop the spread of malaria? A new study by a team of European scientists makes it look like a possibility worthy of further consideration.

Jan Mallander / Pixabay

Antibiotics revolutionized 20th century medicine, reigning in common infectious killers, like tuberculosis and influenza. Decades later, though, a growing number of antibiotics are losing effectiveness. In 2013, nearly half a million people worldwide contracted multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.

The World Health Organization warns that “without urgent, coordinated action, the world is heading towards a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries, which have been treatable for decades, can once again kill.”

You may never have heard of MassBiologics, but if you’ve ever gotten a tetanus booster shot in Massachusetts, you’ve gotten one of their medicines. MassBiologics is the only non-profit in the country that is FDA-licensed to manufacture vaccines and biological medications. In its 120 year history, it has delivered more than 100 million doses of medicines globally.

"We started out in 1894, as a collaboration between the Department of Public health and Harvard University," explains Executive Vice Chancellor Mark Klempner.

Jeremy Jenum / flickr

February 25, 2015 - less than 3 months ago - 18 square miles of ice filled Cape Cod Bay.


It's no surprise that striped bass may be a little slow this year returning to Cape Cod waters, which were colder than usual through April, and are slowly warming. 

Vern Laux

This May, with many of the flowering plants and emergent foliage just opening now at almost mid-month, has made the Cape and Islands pretty as a picture. The shadbush is blooming and in some places overwhelms the senses with its delicate white flowers. Meanwhile, lots of land birds have already passed by well inland and the spring migration at places like Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge have seen impressive flights of vireos, warblers and many other kinds of birds.

A mountain top on the island of Hawaii is the proposed site for a new, very large telescope – what’s called a Thirty Meter Telescope. If built, it will be the biggest telescope in the northern hemisphere, with the potential to get sharper images than even the Hubble Space Telescope. But construction on the project has recently been halted over protests from some of the island’s indigenous people. 

Amy Evenstad

Birding on the Cape and Islands, especially during the migration seasons, is all about the wind direction. During the spring we hope for moderate-to-strong winds from the southwest, which is the direction all the birds are coming from this time of year. Sometimes it brings “waves” of birds in the form of all the common nesting birds in eastern North America, and often many birds that nest far from here that “overshoot” the mark on the stirring south wind.

With spring comes warmer weather and beautiful flowers, but also the risk of tick-borne illnesses, like Lyme disease. One U Mass Amherst professor wants to understand how and why tick-born diseases are on the rise, and his lab now tests ticks as both a research tool and a public service.

Pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and household chemicals can be found widely in the environment and drinking water.
Wikimedia Commons

Modern American life is full of synthetic chemicals - medicines, cosmetics, soaps and shampoos, household cleaners, non-stick cookware, and stain-resistant furniture. Most of us don't give much thought to where those chemicals go when we're done with them, but some researchers are tracking them in wastewater, the environment, and even drinking water.