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Hydrangea Colors: It’s All in the Soil

Katie-Leigh Corder, Fenella Saunders, Henry Schreiber

The Hydrangea macrophylla (big-leafed hydrangea) plant is the only known plant that can 'detect' the pH level in HydrangeaAnimationsurrounding 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(Al3+) within the soil.

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Citizen Scientists Aid Researchers in Studying Camel Crickets

Katie-Leigh Corder

MJEpps CricketsThey 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.

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The Relaunch of an Ocean Workhorse

Heather Olins, Fenella Saunders

Alvin Sub

Happy Birthday to Alvin! August 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of Alvin, the submersible that has been so influential in ocean research, including the discovery of hydrothermal vents. In 2014, a retrofitted Alvin also took its first test cruise.

Heather Olins, a doctoral candidate at Harvard, studies microbial ecology at deep sea hydrothermal vents with the help of Alvin, and shares her personal tribute to the submersible on these landmark occasions.

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

Katie-Leigh Corder

Many unfortunate homeowners in the United States, around 600,000 to be exact, will discover these pesky and TermitesOEhard-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.

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Preventing Spread of an Avian Influenza Strain as an Army Veterinarian

Katie-Leigh Corder, Katie L. Burke

YingstVetWhen a person says he or she works in the U.S. Army, people may immediately assume he or she works in combat or engineering. But there are a vast and unique set of skills in the U.S. Army, especially in science and research. An army veterinarian discusses his journeys to different places in the Middle East and Northeast Africa to study various zoonotic diseases (contagious diseases transmittable between animals and humans), including influenza A virus subtype H5N1.

Lieutenant Colonel Sam Yingst, PhD, is the chief of the U.S. Army’s Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Department and studies many zoonotic diseases worldwide by assisting those in developing countries with their research.

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Saving the Honeybee with Genetics and Beekeeping

Katie-Leigh Corder

Bishop with beehivesThe 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), a hobby beekeeper, and treasurer of Sigma Xi's Research Triangle Park Chapter,discusses the external influences that are linked to bee population decline, as well as ways to help honeybees thrive.

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Scientific Artwork Attracts Human and Arthropod Alike

Katie-Leigh Corder, Fenella Saunders

Love Motel for InsectsHumans 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 to allow humans to get a close look while learning about their role in Earth's ecosystems.

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Drawn Together by the Casimir Effect

Katie-Leigh Corder, Fabrizio Pinto, Fenella Saunders

2014-07PintoFp283.jpgClick to Enlarge ImageHow 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.

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Latest Multimedia

VIDEO: The Promise and Peril of Drones

CummingsDrones

The automation of tasks at work and at home is just around the corner, including driving cars, piloting planes, delivering packages, and transporting weapons. Unmanned aerial vehicles are rapidly evolving to meet both society’s and the military’s needs in automation and better efficiency.
During her time as one of the first female fighter pilots in the US Navy, Dr. Missy Cummings observed that computers could take off and land a plane more precisely than humans. Because of this breakthrough and her fascination with this growing technology, she began human–drone interaction research.

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