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Reflections on Ebola: How do we choose who lives or dies?

by Kevin Boehnke

If you are in America, breathe easy. Ebola is NOT a big threat to your health. Ebola is a public health nightmare in affected African countries. The outbreak is still spreading, and may infect over one million people by next year. This is devastating for both the health of citizens and the stability of governments in affected countries. However, that’s not the whole story. First, …

Our Slice of the Carbon Cycle: Down on the Farm

by Alex Taylor

Looking out an airplane window, it is shocking to see how much of the Earth’s surface is farmland – all those irrigated circles and squares, stretching on to the horizon. If this land was not tilled, sowed, sprayed, guarded and harvested – if it was not teased into the tidy, geometric, human shapes we see from the plane – it could be dales …

Of Salt and Sinkholes

by Katie Grzesiak

According to the internet hivemind, sinkholes form when you divide by zero. According to Wikipedia, a sinkhole is a depression or hole in the ground caused by some form of collapse of the surface layer, usually as a part of karst landscapes.  Most often, water erodes away the stuff underneath for a while before the hole opens up.  The ones …

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Got Milk?

by Kevin Boehnke

I love me some milk. Or at least I did, before my body became less tolerant to lactose and started getting bloated, gassy, and overall unpleasant to be around after drinking it. These symptoms have eased, and I can happily still enjoy nature’s most perfect food – ice cream. Despite this turbulent relationship, I was surprised to see this piece by Matt Saccaro …

The Fecal Frontier

by Kevin Boehnke

We are in the dawn of a new age. Where clean, synthetic drugs of the classic Western medicine have fallen short, doctors have started using poop to treat diseases. Poop, a hazardous substance that overwhelmingly triggers our inherent disgust, is full of bacteria which appear to be able to re-calibrate the microbiome when it is unbalanced. This may hold the key to saving …

Decoding the Stories of our Ancestors: Lonely Island

by Alex Taylor

Photo credit: Wikimedia user Makemake The sweet potato wasn’t lying; DNA evidence confirms it. The Polynesian people of Easter Island voyaged to South America long before the time of Christopher Columbus. Polynesia is a vast stretch of ocean dotted with small islands. The origin and historical spread of the Polynesian people was a topic of anthropological debate over the last century. Though Polynesian …

Our Slice of the Carbon Cycle: More with Less

by Alex Taylor

Cover photo credit: Wikimedia user Coyau The picture is gloomy. Humans are consuming the Earth’s resources at an unsustainable clip, and the prospect of reducing that consumption seems remote at best. While global population growth is slowing, there are still more people every day. Each person is consuming more as people around the world get richer. Global trade is reaching deep into …

Ebola: the main thing we have to fear is fear itself.

by Kevin Boehnke

Ebola. The Voldemort of viruses, we can barely stand to hear its name without paroxysms of fear. A virus with a 90% death rate. An incurable menace that has ravaged western Africa in an outbreak that has killed thousands of people. It’s only one flight away from arriving in the US and wreaking havoc in our cities and homes. Everybody panic! You’re …

The Diversity of Orchids, or: “Are You Orchidding Me?”

by Katie Grzesiak

Featured image:  Michigan Orchids.  Photos:  Katie Grzesiak I really just want to talk about plants all the time; apparently having a job where I talk about plants all the time isn’t enough for me. And since you’re not the boss of me, this time I want to talk about orchids. To make a long story short, orchids (plants in the …

Our Slice of the Carbon Cycle: A Numbers Game

by Alex Taylor

Photo: Sao Paulo at night by Julio Boaro At the dawn of the modern environmentalist movement, as we awoke to the devastating downsides of modern industrial life, our first and most obvious response was to cut back. If our voracious consumption of Earth’s bounty was hurting the environment, the thinking went, then we should probably trim that consumption. That logic is still sound. Reducing the amount of …