Friday, November 28, 2014

In the News: Preserving Collections and their Museums

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving! Studies have shown that the turkey you just ate may not be the reason why you are tired.

This week in science saw ongoing troubles in an important research station in the Galapagos, as well as in other collection-holding institutions. Despite this, several museums are taking steps to preserve important collections and improve upon field techniques.

Friday, November 21, 2014

In the News: Return of the Piltdown Man

Fig.1. The Piltdown man, originally thought to be the fossilized remains of an early human, proved to be a forgery (Credit:

Often called the "greatest hoax in the history of science," the Piltdown man was purportedly the missing link between apes and humans. In 1953, 41 years after its original "discovery," the Piltdown man was revealed as nothing more than a forgery, with pieced together orangutan, chimpanzee, and human bones. In this week's headlines, fake fossils return, along with advances in disease research, movement of carbon dioxide, ice core studies, and more.

  • Taking a fossil out of context can have devastating effects on its scientific utility, not to mention what happens if you start mixing and matching: "How Fake Fossils Pervert Paleontology," Scientific American (Nov. 15, 2014)

  • Feeding nine billion people by 2050 will be no easy task. These scientists play a vital role for the future of food security: "Mineral Uptake and Genetic Diversity in Rice," Crop Science Society of America (Nov. 18, 2014) 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"Evil Twin" of Climate Change

Fig.1. A pteropod (sea butterfly) shell placed in seawater with pH and carbonate levels projected for year 2100. The shell dissolved over 45 days. (Credit: David Liittschwager/National Geographic Stock)

A routine survey off the U.S. West Coast conducted by the NOAA Ocean Acidification Program in 2011 found frightening results. More than half of their collected pteropods (sea butterflies) had severely dissolved shells. The ocean’s absorption of human-caused carbon dioxide emission created an acidic environment that has only recently caught the public eye. Now dubbed as “climate change’s evil twin,” ocean acidification represents a serious problem brought about by global warming. As more carbon dioxide dissolves into the ocean, marine organisms and the humans that depend upon them are put at risk.

Friday, November 14, 2014

In the News

Follow Friday is a new weekly post where we list what we’re reading this week. Our focus spans current scientific research related to SciColl’s research initiatives.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Collecting for the future

In 1993, an unexplained pulmonary illness occurred in the Four Corners area of the southwestern United States, killing otherwise young and physically fit people. Virologists from the Centers of Disease Control established the disease as a novel hantavirus which had a natural reservoir in the deer mouse. In an effort to locate the origin of the virus, researchers studied frozen tissue samples from people who had died of unexplained lung problems. Several samples from 1978 contained the hantavirus, proving that this virus had been around earlier but had been unrecognized. Over the next two decades, 40 more types of hantavirus have appeared in the Americas, most of which affect humans and have rodents or other mammals as natural reservoirs.