We may think of war as a human invention, but often unnoticed by us, insects engage in miniature battles of their own. Understanding how insects fight each other could offer insights into human warfare.
University of Connecticut Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Ph.D. student Elizabeth Clifton studies social insect fighting behavior. Social insects, such as termites, live in colonies containing up to millions of individuals working together to survive.
Clifton’s work is based on mathematical formulas developed from human warfare. These formulas also apply to battles between animals, including social insects. …
Adding chemicals to water to clean other harmful chemicals from the water may seem counter-intuitive. But according to a 2016 research review written by researchers at Tsinghua University in China, fighting toxic pollutants with chemicals is a fast, efficient method for cleaning water. Laboratory testing has shown that two substances — iron oxide and ozone — form an effective water-treatment duo.
Like a recipe, ingredients are added to polluted water to clean it. The ingredients in this recipe — iron oxide and ozone — are each individually capable of cleaning water but do so faster when they work together.
Iron oxide is a chemical made of iron and oxygen (like the rust that forms on metal objects). Iron oxide is added to polluted water to instigate a chemical reaction that breaks down pollutants. Iron oxide acts as a catalyst — a substance that speeds up a chemical reaction. …
We’re nearing the end, but there are no hard feelings. All my feelings are soft; they float past me like tendrils of blue and pale gray smoke, swirling through the air around my feet like water in a shallow stream.
Each colored curl carries a small memory: a smile across a kitchen counter top, a whispered name, a snort of laughter, a reluctant hand pulling me to a stop.
They first appeared during my last week — the first time I did everything for the last time — pulsing around the washing machine while I did my last load of laundry and fogging up the bathroom mirror while I packed my shampoo. …
Earth is wearing her favorite blue coat;
Swaddled in shimmering oxygen,
The latest intergalactic fashion.
But, her wrap wears thinner with each gay twirl.
Threadbare holes in her pockets grow larger;
Blue fades ’til her soft tunic is torn; small
Pieces float towards heavenly neighbors, who lost
Their wrappings long before hers had been knit.
Warmth — glowing blue in endless black — flickers;
Earth clutches her best blue frock tight, twirling.
Imagine that you are taking a hike in Sequoia & King’s National Park in California. It’s just after dawn in late autumn as you begin your hike. The sun is just peeking its rays over the nearby Alta Peak, and the entire forest is bathed in a soft yellow light. Above you, tall Sequoia pines loom, the other-worldly trees that give the park its name. Dead pine needles crunch under your hiking boots as you slowly make you way down the path, your footsteps loud in the stillness of the morning.
Ten minutes into your walk, you notice something strange. Although you are a frequent visitor to the park, you haven’t been to this part of it since spring, and in that time the forest has undergone a stunning transformation. A section has been burned by a forest fire, leaving charred dead trees where saplings once stood. The tall sequoias still stand, but their roots have blackened and the undergrowth has been replaced with a fine gray dust. …
Though it’s not always obvious in the present, the past has a way of revealing the small pivot points of life. Call them forks in the road or changing tides. One day freshman year, I stood in a stairwell waiting for my chemistry lecture to begin. My younger self would have been disappointed that I was taking Chemistry instead of English — I had always proudly claimed I was going to grow up to be a novelist (I owned many sparkly t-shirts that said so). I enjoyed science, but I couldn’t see myself becoming a scientist. While waiting, I spotted a poster that caught my attention, particularly the part of me that yearns to be creative. The poster was an advertisement for a graduate program in science writing at MIT. …