Natural history’s golden age, when Charles Darwin and like-minded scientists pondered connections between creatures and their environments, largely revolved around collecting stuff. Explorers fanned out across the world and picked up as many plants and animals as they could, drying them or stuffing them or storing them in alcohol in small glass jars. They carried them home to grand museums where the public might get a peek at them and be amazed. These venerable collections can seem like relics today—musty storehouses, shrines to imperial plunder. But with billions of samples catalogued among them, museum collections are a treasure for modern evolutionary biologists studying DNA, RNA, proteins and other biomolecules. Sampling decades- or even centuries-old tissues allows scientists to capture snippets of genetic code from plants and animals—including extinct ones—and track molecular changes that took place long before biologists even understood what DNA was. Younger specimens are … [Read more...] about Mining museums’ genomic treasures
Changing course schmidheiny
One of the biggest question marks surrounding the fate of the planet’s coastlines is dangling from its underbelly. The melting of the Antarctic ice sheet has long been a relatively minor factor in the steady ascent of high-water marks, responsible for about an eighth of the 3 millimeters of annual sea-level rise. But when it comes to climate change, Antarctica is the elephantine ice sculpture in the boiler room. The ice sheet is so massive that its decline is, according to the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment , “the largest potential source” of future sea level rise. Accurately forecasting how much of it will be unleashed as seawater, and when that will happen, could help coastal communities plan for surging flood risks. A study published Aug. 14 in Earth System Dynamics — one that took more than 2 years and 50,000 computer simulations to complete, combining information from 26 atmospheric, oceanic, and ice sheet models from four polar regions — … [Read more...] about Antarctic Riddle: How Much Will the South Pole Melt?
The galaxy in Star Wars is vast, and with its streaming series, Disney seems intent on exploring every single corner of it. So far, that has seen mixed success. The Mandalorian is the best new Star Wars character in years, but it turns out I really don’t need to know much more about what Boba Fett gets up to . Now we have Obi-Wan Kenobi , starring Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), which aims to fill in the gap between the original two trilogies. And for the first two episodes, at least, it works — Obi-Wan is playing the hits, reminding me why I actually care about Star Wars to begin with. This review contains spoilers for the first two episodes of Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan is set a decade after the events of Revenge of the Sith and starts with a very helpful recap that boils down the most important parts of the prequel trilogy to just a few minutes. You don’t have to worry about midi-chlorians or Watto. All that matters is the tumultuous and tragic relationship between … [Read more...] about Obi-Wan Kenobi’s early episodes lean on the best of classic Star Wars