Gayathri Vaidyanathan ::

Part 4: Exposing a small part of a forest to the ‘threatening’ heat of 2100

EL YUNQUE RAINFOREST, Puerto Rico — Yellow cables marked “danger” carry 480 volts of electricity through the rainforest. The cables reach into a circular metal scaffold that holds six large space heaters. The heaters, pointed at the forest floor, are not working. At the control center building half a mile away, Tana Wood, a biologist […]

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Part 3: Fires rapidly claim more forests and peatland in the Arctic

HOARFROST RIVER, Canada — Burning taiga changed everything for the Olesens on July 4, 2014. David and Kristen Olesen, their two daughters, and 44 sled dogs lived at a homestead at the edge of the boreal forest on a sandy peninsula at a spot where the Hoarfrost River meets the Great Slave Lake near the […]

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Part 2: Runaway global warming becomes a concern as permafrost melts

GOOSE LAKE, Northwest Territories — In a fragile landscape where footsteps leave an imprint for years, Jennifer Baltzer stood and surveyed the surrounding bog of green sphagnum moss. Black spruce trees tilted here and there like drunkards. Using a metal rod, Baltzer, an ecologist with Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, pierced the ground near […]

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Part 1: Forests dictate Earth’s future in the age of humankind

EL YUNQUE RAINFOREST, Puerto Rico — Palm trees flower here in flashes of magenta and orange. Luscious green fronds drag on the floor, and ropelike lianas hang off trees, topped by giant flowers. Ignoring the brilliance all around, 22 scientists trudged through their forest with their eyes planted on the floor. At times, they picked […]

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Oceanic Black Holes Found in Southern Atlantic

Black holes are a tear in the fabric of space-time from which nothing escapes, not even light. They take on a mythic significance in popular culture as portals to alternate dimensions or grave threats to space travel. Astronomers are certain they exist out there in the universe, formed by the collapse of dead stars. Now, […]

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Death on the gas field illustrates high risks of the rush to drill

Buckhannon, West Virginia: The ground was like a sponge and the men’s legs sank, in places up to their calves. A rumble of diesel engines filled the air. Then, there was a cry: “Back! Go back!” Charles “C.J.” Bevins, a 23-year-old roughneck, was pinned against a trailer by a forklift. The vehicle was partially sunk into […]

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Gorilla Populations Need More Human Interference

CONVENTIONAL WISDOM: It’s best for gorillas if they have little to do with humans.   CONTRARY VIEW: Tracking great apes for eco-tourism purposes can protect the species.   For years, scientists have attached tracking devices to a variety of animals, but they have mostly steered clear of tagging great apes. In recent years, conservationists have worried that habituating gorillas, […]

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Cell: Clinical trials on trial

As Hiroyuki Mano entered the oncology ward at Seoul National University Hospital, he was amazed to see his patient walking around, asking people to recommend the best local restaurant. Just days before, the patient had been hooked up to oxygen monitors. Cancer had spread rapidly through his lung, making it difficult to breathe and swallow. […]

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Nature: Science in Africa – View from the Frontline

Kenyan science is a study in contrasts. Among sub-Saharan nations, it ranks third — behind South Africa and Nigeria — in its output of scientific papers published in international journals, and its publishing outranks that of economic heavyweight Nigeria in fields such as environment, ecology and immunology. It is also a hub of collaborations on the continent (see ‘Country connections’). But Kenya’s research output has grown more slowly than most other sub-Saharan nations. In the recent African Union survey, Kenya scored last in terms of the increase in the numbers of published research papers, normalized for population size.

Most of the scientific work in Kenya is centred in government-owned research institutes that have extensive international collaborations.

By contrast, the universities suffer from lack of infrastructure and money. The government and donors have focused on boosting primary and secondary education, but have neglected universities, say observers […]

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Nature: The Wheat Stalker

Njoro, Kenya (Jun 30, 2011) — David Cheruiyot noticed that his wheat fields were turning the wrong colour. The stems of the plants took on a sickly brown hue, and when he peeled open the heads there was no grain inside. “If you go to inspect it, there is nothing but dust,” he recalls. Ug99, […]

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