Your Wild Life Landing 2017-10-26T12:38:46+00:00

The Wild Life of Columbus

The untold story of the species that stowed away on Columbus’s ship and how they have since changed the world. Columbus sailed to the Caribbean in 1492. On that landmark voyage, and in subsequent trips, he was not alone. On his small ships, he was with other sailors, as well as a wilderness of other species quietly stowed away. We don’t usually think of the ships as wilderness. In fact, the travels of some of the species Columbus and later conquistadors brought with them from Europe to the Americas, are well studied. They brought, we know, terrible pathogens to which Native Americans had never been exposed. They brought agricultural plants [...]

February 2nd, 2016|

Announcement: 6 to 100 Hires in Public Science

[Positions listed at the end of this post] By the time the potato murrain arrived in Ireland scholars had already begun to explain its cause: a blight, a water mold. They had also begun to explore ways to mitigate the effects of the potato blight through shifts in the timing of planting and harvest and strict quarantines. In addition, some farmers had noticed a way to control the blight through the use of copper sulfate (which is still used). But in this moment, the voice of the scientists was too quiet and the willingness of the scientists to listen to those in the public who had ideas was too modest. As a result, the potato [...]

September 24th, 2015|

Students Discover: Ant Health Watch

**This is a guest post from postdoctoral researcher, Dr. DeAnna Beasley. Her research is NSF-funded by our Students Discover grant which partners scientists with educators to co-create citizen science projects and middle school lesson plans. The products of these partnerships can be found at StudentsDiscover.org.** This past summer I worked with middle school teachers in the Kenan Fellows Program and undergraduate students from Shaw University and North Carolina State University at the beautiful North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Our goal was to develop a citizen science project that would engage middle school students in the classroom while providing data for authentic scientific research. Our goal was to develop a citizen science project [...]

September 21st, 2015|

Back to School Heart Rate Checkup

**This is a guest post written by NC State undergraduate, Jakini Kauba. Jakini has been collaborating with Dr. Clint Penick on the Beats project, digging through over a century of scientific literature to find the heart beats of all of the studied vertebrates on the planet and their lifespans and she needs your help!**   With the stress of starting new classes and buying new binders, pens, pencils, and notebook paper, our heart rates can increase this time of the year. Rumor has it, that this strain on our hearts can lessen our lifespan [1], or at least studies of animal heart rates suggest it [2]. Animals that have a faster [...]

September 2nd, 2015|

The First National Inventory of All Household Life (on a swab)

In dust one can record the actions of storms, the wearing of mountains, the consequences of industrialization. The study of dust has a long history. Geologists consider it. Toxicologists too. Arthur Conan Doyle has Sherlock Holmes look to dust to discern where a criminal might have traveled. But perhaps the most telling feature of dust is its life. Each mote of dust is an entire world composed both of living organisms and of those in the process of falling apart. Run your finger along a surface, even one that seems clean, and in the particles you retrieve will be a measure of the life near that spot. The bits of [...]

August 25th, 2015|

The Value of Art to Science—A story of rotting bodies, belly buttons and the music of symbiosis

In The Man Who Touched His Own Heart I tell the story of the artist Leonardo da Vinci’s discoveries inside bodies. Among the most astonishing of his efforts came late one afternoon in 1508 when... "[D]a Vinci was at the Santa Maria Nuova Hospital in Florence, a church hospital. He was not a doctor, but he already knew more about the human body than almost anyone else who had ever lived. He was talking with a very old man, a centenarian. The man, who is known to history simply as il vecchio, the old one, was kind and garrulous. He had lived a grand life. Da Vinci had just returned from Milan, and [...]

June 4th, 2015|

How Islamic Scholars Saved Knowledge (and Science)

My grandfather was concerned with a relatively small number of things in the last years of his life; one of those things was the dark ages. As an intensely curious man, a furiously curious man, he could not fathom how even a single generation of humans lacked the spirit necessary to try to understand their world better than the generations prior. He couldn’t understand a single such generation much less the hundred of them that actually occurred. And yet history is unequivocal. For more than a thousand years knowledge failed to advance. Rome was sacked. The ignorant book-burning masses moved in. The quest to understand stopped. Among historians it has [...]

June 3rd, 2015|

Ecological Medicine: Can intestinal worms cure us of our modern pandemics?

Hundreds of self-experiments, tens of thousands of worms In 1976, Jonathan Turton, a British parasitologist was suffering from allergies. Most of the time scientists suffer from maladies just like everyone else. They sniffle. They whine. They ache and curse the universe. They eat the soup that reminds them of their mothers. But sometimes this is not enough. Sometimes a scientist will wake up in the middle of the night with the nagging feeling that she or he is clever enough to do something more. This is when the scientist will start to read through published papers. The scientist will call his friends. The scientist will start to notice things others [...]

May 29th, 2015|

The Arthropods of San Francisco (and beyond)

What's that crawling under your bed... sitting in your light fixture... lurking in your cabinets? Perhaps it's a new insect species! The Arthropods of Our Homes project has expanded beyond Raleigh -- to San Francisco, and from there all seven continents will be sampled for the common arthropods in homes. Watch the video to see more about the arthropods found in San Francisco homes as well as some familiar faces (Matt Bertone and Michelle Trautwein). "Other than a few pest species, we know very little. There's still a lot to discover... You don't have to be an entomologist to stumble upon one of these unique organisms. If only you take the time [...]

May 28th, 2015|

12 Questions from students about the (Wild) Life of Our Bodies

Today we have a special Q & A from Kelly Allen and her East Chapel Hill HS Biology II (Human Biology) students. Each year Allen's students participate in Biology Book Clubs and this year they read Rob Dunn's The Wild Life of Our Bodies. Without further ado, questions asked by high school juniors and seniors to Rob Dunn:   Amanda: Why did humans lose their ability to detect who a person is by their scent, while other primates and mammals still are able to do so?  Since its something needed for survival, I would have thought that our ability to smell would have improved, so why did it get worse? Rob: This is a fascinating question. [...]

May 18th, 2015|