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?

  • 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!