by Claire Bekker '21
One could argue that humans are the most successful invasive species on the planet. Since the first groups of Homo sapiens migrated out of Africa 70,000 years ago, we’ve colonized almost the entire globe, wrecking ecological havoc along the way. Over the last few centuries, humans have become increasingly dominant, modifying 50-70% of Earth’s land surface for our own use (1). According to Mark Williams, at the University of Leicester, “It’s not hubris to say this. Never before have animal and plants (and other organisms for that matter) been translocated on a global scale around the planet. Never before has one species dominated primary production in the manner that we do. Never before has one species remodeled the terrestrial biosphere so dramatically to serve its own ends” (2). And yet, our ecological impacts are only becoming more pronounced, in both obvious and subtle ways. Not only do human activities destroy habitats and decrease biodiversity but they also affect animals’ range, migration patterns, and overall vagility — their ability to move — through these fragmented habitats.
by Rahul Jayaraman '19
It’s hard to believe that only about twenty years ago, we knew of less than fifty planets outside our solar system (exoplanets), none of which were known to contain water or compounds suitable for life. Now, we know of more than three thousand exoplanets, and researchers are able to analyze these planets in much finer detail to determine their atmospheric content, using a whole host of new (and old) tools to do so.
by Adrienne Parsons, PhD '21
Scientific progress is charging forward with staggering intensity. But with increases to the number of Americans pursuing scientific research as a career and the growing need for the development of complex technologies, the government is becoming less and less able to foot the bill required to maintain this momentum. To compensate, some scientists are seeking alternatives—by appealing to the public.
by Dylan Sam '21
With the current technological craze, it is hard to go a day without hearing the words “artificial intelligence” or “machine learning.” However, unless you are studying computer science, these buzzwords probably do not mean much to you. You may imagine amazing chess machines or violent robot uprisings. However, artificial intelligence also has social impacts; Professor Makridakis from the University of Nicosia writes about the applications and consequences of the “AI revolution” on society and companies.
by Olivia Woodford-Berry, '19
Fainting spells can be a symptom of such health issues, from heart problems to neurological conditions. Though some patients with the mentioned symptoms may be shuffled from doctor to specialist, these symptoms may be a sign of something often overlooked. Before jumping to conclusions, consider some of the more basic questions: Are you drinking enough water?
By Jess Sevetson
Figure courtesy of Sliman J Bensmaia & Lee E Miller. “Restoring sensorimotor function through intracortical interfaces: progress and looming challenges” Nature Reviews Neuroscience 2014 May
The term “mind reading” usually suggests the ability to read out someone’s thoughts like an audiobook. While there has been some progress on that front recently, another application of these technologies is the ability to operate advanced prostheses.
by Sumaiya Sayeed '20
Brute forces of nature meet civilized people. People cannot handle natural disasters. Chaos ensues.
by Olivia Woodford-Berry, '19
While some organisms, including certain salamanders and planarian, have the capability to regenerate tissues, limbs, or even large segments of the body, mammal regeneration is much more restricted.  Mammals often possess the ability to regenerate tissues in their embryonic stages, but the adult organisms usually heal through the formation of fibrotic scar tissue. The varied regenerative limitations within this class of organisms is of particular interest for the field of tissue engineering and wound healing. Many researchers aspire to uncover the biological processes that allow certain organisms to heal so effectively with the hopes of adapting these processes for humans. While most regenerative studies surround non-mammalian model organisms, certain mice lines show great promise for future regeneration research in mammals.
By Claire Bekker
We know that climate change has enormous destructive potential. It’s been repeatedly established by climate scientists that an increase of two to four degrees Celsius will lead to mass migration and relocations (“climate refugees”), altered growing seasons, high economic costs, and a disproportional effect on impoverished and low-lying countries . So far our solutions to climate change have been unsatisfactory. Many countries have promised to reduce carbon dioxide emissions (all except the United States agreed to the Paris Climate Accord), but they are only willing to do so as long as it doesn’t put them at an economic disadvantage. But could there be a easy fix to climate change? A cheap, efficient alternative that could reverse the effects of global warming? That’s what geoengineering promises.
by Olivia Woodford-Berry, '19
Since the Industrial Revolution, the average pH of the ocean has dropped from 8.4 to 8.2, and scientists anticipate it to fall below 7.9 within the next one hundred years.  At the same time, concerns are intensified by rising temperatures in crucial ecosystems. In a plea for public attention and government funding, environmental groups often plug the same eye catching photo of a polar bear, confused, perched on top of a melting iceberg. While this furry animal might tug at one’s heart strings, the more ecologically important victim of ocean warming and acidification is far less appealing to our love of animals.