How fireflies illuminated our understanding of the world

By Noah Steinfeld

In the early 1950s at Johns Hopkins University, William E. McElroy, a young professor, wanted to figure out what makes fireflies glow. He would pay a quarter to children in the Baltimore area for every 100 fireflies they brought him. McElroy was regarded as a curiosity in the community: the stereotype of an eccentric scientist. But what these people didn’t know was that as a result of this research, McElroy would one day create a tool that would revolutionize the way scientists do biological research.

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Water splitting: One way to store solar energy

By Jimmy Brancho

The fuel source of the future might be a lot more familiar than you think.

Plenty of people are excited about solar energy’s replacing fossil fuels. Harvesting, processing, and burning fossil fuels is a major contributor to environmental pollution and political conflict. Could we reduce those problems by using solar energy instead? Industry seems to think so; the most recent National Renewable Energy Laboratory Data Book statistics show that electricity output from solar installations has grown continually throughout the last decade – nearly 75% from 2011 to 2012 alone.

But what happens when the sun goes down? Are you just supposed to not binge Netflix at midnight? Continue reading “Water splitting: One way to store solar energy”

Keep it simple: Explaining (science) with only the ten hundred most used words

By Alisha John

 

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Image credit: Jon Ashcroft

 

“So, what do you do for a living?”

It’s a simple question you’ve probably heard more times than you can count, but it isn’t necessarily easy to answer. When you’re a scientist, jargon is king in your day-to-day interactions. A seemingly simple question like this can induce an internal battle between the highly technical, scientific part of your brain and the social part that wants to relate to people outside your area of study. Winning that battle is only achieved by effectively communicating your work with people outside your field. Continue reading “Keep it simple: Explaining (science) with only the ten hundred most used words”

The relationship between cancer and aging: Why it is relevant

By Irene Park

At first glance, aging and cancer are polar opposites. Many people will think of aging as growing old and dying. Cancer, on the other hand, is tumors and abnormal, uncontrolled cell growth.

But aging and cancer have more in common than we might think.  Both cancerous and aged cells show genome instability an increased tendency of mutations to occur in your genome. There are multiple factors that lead to genome instability, but we will focus on how gene mutation arise, which is a permanent error in genes.

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Opinion: The case for stronger STEM curriculum

By Bryan Moyers

We’re not teaching enough science in universities.

Now, I know, the humanities have been under attack for some time now. Politicians have disparaged them [1], and some science popularizers have even suggested [2] that science has eclipsed them. This pervasive attack has even included the NSF reducing funding for political science [3]. Continue reading “Opinion: The case for stronger STEM curriculum”

Under the hood: Why scientists are a great fit for science communication

By Ada Hagan

 

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Image source.

 

Imagine this. The check engine light comes on in your car.

You drive it to an auto parts store to get the check engine code read free of charge and an employee gives you their best guess for the needed repair. Feeling you have the solution, you drive to your local repair shop (that would have charged $100 to read the code!) and request the repair.

Proud of your resourcefulness, you pay, pick up your car and leave with a swagger to your step.

Until 3,000 miles later when the check engine light comes on. Again.

Continue reading “Under the hood: Why scientists are a great fit for science communication”