Since we’re on the cusp of a three-day holiday weekend, we figured you might be searching for something fun to do with all your extra time. Why not use some of it to check out a few science stories that caught our attention this week?
- Deep within the series of tubes: In this NY Times article Peter Andrey Smith takes us into the field with biologist Norm Pace and team to investigate the microbes living in our municipal water supply.
- Salmonella in your spices? New analyses from the US Food & Drug Administration suggest that spices can carry nasty pathogens like salmonella. Get the scoop and learn how to reduce your risk by reading this NY Times article by Gardiner Harris and a follow-up by Nancy Shute on NPR’s food blog, The Salt.
- A funny little man: Anton Von Leeuwenhoek looms large in Rob’s new introduction to our book-in-progress about the microbes in your daily, Invisible Life.
- Thank Mom for your microbes: Carl Zimmer discusses the emerging body of evidence that fetuses pick up microbes in the womb.
- Citizen science in the fallout zone: Eliza Strickland reports on efforts by a volunteer group called Safecast to monitor radiation in the Fukushima fallout zone.
- Hell Yeah! Over at the Scientific American Blog network, John Platt describes the captive rearing efforts taking place at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo for the ginormous, yet threatened salamander known as the eastern hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis). I’ve long been obsessed with hellbenders since first seeing one in a jar in Zoology class during my freshman year of college – glad to read about efforts to boost wild populations!
- Finally, for fun: Last weekend, Drs. Roland Kays and Michelle Trautwein from the Biodiversity Lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences hosted a science communication scavenger hunt for Museum staff and friends (including Your Wild Life team). We climbed trees in search of insect herbivory, tracked stuffed animals with radio telemetry, and stalked insects – all the while tweeting our adventures like crazy people. Check out Roland’s Storify of the event, complete with links to the silly Public Service Announcements we made about the dangers of texting while hiking.