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ANIMATION: And Then They Were Gone: Egypt’s Disappearing Wildlife

Using fossils and depictions in ancient art, Justin Yeakel and his colleagues reconstructed the food web of larger-bodies mammals over the past 11,000 years. As the climate became more arid and human population densities increased, the mammalian food web of Egypt lost its redundancy as more animals became locally extinct. Most notably, midsized herbivores—such as gazelles and antelope that link to the most carnivores—declined.

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PODCAST: Expanding with the Cosmos

Using the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ATC) , a 6.5-meter microwave collector in Chile, cosmologists are piecing together the early history of the known universe. Dr. Arthur Kosowsky discusses how he is using ATC to reach back in time billions of years to search for gravitational waves that could verify inflation and reveal unprecedented details about how the cosmos was born.


PODCAST: The Many Personalities of Animals

Have you ever wondered whether animals have personalities the way people do? Dr. Andy Sih researches animal personalities and shows that traits, such as an individual’s level of aggressiveness versus passivity, can impact an individual’s survival as well as the well-being of its surrounding group.

PODCAST: From Balloons to Space Stations: Studying Cosmic Rays CREAM Inflating

Cosmic rays have mysterious qualities about them that scientists continue to research in order to better understand their origins and composition. Dr. Eun-Suk Seo, a professor of physics at the University of Maryland, and her colleagues, fly enormous balloons as large as a football stadium and a volume of 40-million-cubic feet for extended periods over Antarctica. The instruments in the balloons can then record the particles coming from cosmic rays before they break up in the atmosphere.

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ANIMATION: Diving in the World of Biosonar

Porpoises navigate through their environment, find prey, and avoid potential dangers with biological sonar, or echolocation clicks. These clicks are one of the most high-pitched signals produced by any animal. The time between the released clicks and the returning echo tells the porpoise the distance and location of the nearby object. The closer the porpoise gets the more clicks it will release. The click rate increases to several hundred clicks-per-second right as the prey is captured.

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ANIMATION: Revealing the Logic Behind Candy Crush

In this animation, Candy Crush is turned into a model electrical circuit, which can be used to structure the equivalent of a logic puzzle. Besides justifying Candy Crush addictions, this information could be used to harness the player power of this game for bigger concerns, including computer security. Watch the behind-the-scenes movements and how it is truly a logic puzzle.

ANIMATION: Hydrangea Colors: It’s All in the Soil


The Hydrangea macrophylla (big-leafed hydrangea) plant is the only known plant that can 'detect' the pH level in surrounding soil!

One of the world’s most popular ornamental flowers, it conceals a bouquet of biological and biochemical surprises. The iconic “snowball” shaped hydrangea blooms are a common staple of backyard gardens.

Hydrangea colors ultimately depend on the availability of aluminum ions(Al 3+ ) within the soil.

VIDEO: Citizen Scientists Aid Researchers in Studying Camel Crickets

MJEpps Crickets They may bounce really high and look strange, but don't worry, they are harmless...they even scavenge for crumbs off of your floor! A continental-scale citizen science campaign was launched in order to study the spread and frequency of native and nonnative camel crickets in human homes across North America.

Mary Jane Epps, PhD, an author of the paper, went into more detail about the study and significance of citizen scientists in an interview with Katie-Leigh Corder, web managing editor.

VIDEO: Cleaner than Clean: Understanding the Grooming Habits of Termites in Japan

Many unfortunate homeowners in the United States, around 600,000 to be exact, will discover these pesky and TermitesOE hard-to-control insects snacking away at their homes. On top of that, it's estimated that $5 billion a year will be spent to control these insects and repair damage. What are these common, yet unwanted insects? Termites!

The United States isn't the only country that deals with them. In Japan, termites are also a major source of structural damage, costing an estimated $1 billion per year in control and repair. Japanese homes are predominately made of wood, as are a number of its cultural heritage sites.

Dr. Aya Yanagawa discusses how she and her colleagues research ways to more effectively control termites in Japan. Biological pathogens and odors show strong potential for getting rid of them, but as Dr. Yanagawa describes, understanding the insect's grooming behavior is key in increasing the pathogens's effects.

ANIMATION: Drawn Together by the Casimir Effect

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How and why does the Casimir effect take place? This animation interprets what happens to the electromagnetic field because of quantum effects and virtual photons, to show what results when two plates are brought close together in such an environment.

VIDEO: Scientific Artwork Attracts Human and Arthropod Alike

Love Motel for Insects

Humans are bitten and stung by them, and sometimes have their gardens and crops eaten or even destroyed by these little organisms. Insects are everywhere and have a bad reputation with many people. But without them, the terrestrial environment would fall into chaos.

Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society exhibited scientific artwork created by artist and ecologist Brandon Ballengée, PhD, at an event in Research Triangle Park, NC, in July 2014. Named Love Motel for Insects , the goal of these renowned sculptures is to attract insects and allow humans to get a closer look while learning about their role in Earth's ecosystems.

VIDEO: Saving the Honeybee with Genetics and Beekeeping

Bishop with beehives The disappearance of honeybees continues to make headlines in the news and science journals, but are their numbers still dwindling, and if so, what are the causes?

Dr. Jack Bishop, a researcher at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and a hobby beekeeper, discusses the external influences that are linked to bee population decline, as well as ways to help honeybees thrive.

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VIDEO: How Hair Ice Grows

In 2013, American Scientist featured an article on odd ice formations on plant stems, including these curling ribbons of ice. One of the types of ice discussed in the article was hair ice—long, thin strands of ice that grow under quite specific conditions. The only problem is that a new study shows the theory put forth at the time—that gas pressure pushes the water out—isn’t correct... (click the link above to read more).

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