Most of the epic survival stories you’ve read probably involve crazy mountain climbers, adventurous cave divers, or bearded and grizzled desert hikers. Scientists aren’t typically mentioned in this company. But sometimes, geologists find themselves enduring nature’s worst in the pursuit of that must-have dataset… or at least, a dataset that seemed really important at the time. Here are three stories about four geologists who found themselves at the wrong place at the wrong time when nature removed her flowery veil and donned her murder hat. But before I get into those, it needs to be said that people perished during the events of some of these stories. Given that, please consider this a celebration of the perseverance, luck, good fortune, and bad-assery of those who survived. Continue reading
Science is constantly reinventing itself, revising past theories and proposing new ideas that hopefully further our understanding of the world. Copernicus proposed the heliocentric solar system, Newton had gravity, and Einstein gave us relativity. But every once in a while, a theory gets proposed that’s downright nutty. Not only that, some of these theories can persist for decades or even centuries. As these ridiculous theories hang around, sometimes they find themselves intersecting with strange moments in history. Here, I present the crazy history you’ve never heard of behind 3 ridiculous geological theories. Continue reading
Hank Greely and Jake Sherkow discuss the science, morals, and ethics of de-extinction: bringing extinct species back to life. As lawyers with an interest in biotechnologies, Hank and Jake explain how they first got involved with de-extinciton, how scientists propose to bring species back, and discuss the potential for de-extinction technology to help restore damaged ecosystems. While discussing some potential side effects of this new process, Hank and Jake recall how a man obsessed with William Shakespeare transformed the ecosystem of New England, and how de-extinction might do the same.
We revisit our conversation with biological anthropologist James Holland Jones, who explains how diseases typically spread from animal to human populations and how that might change as our planet continues to warm. He also discusses how we might prevent future epidemics with limited vaccines by looking to community structure and identifying the key bridge populations. It’s all about disease, hemorrhagic fever hopefully not included.