Category Archives: Environment

August 02

Snake Eyes: The Fear That Built Your Brain

Indiana Jones is a quintessential American hero, his fedora, satchel, and whip instantly recognizable around the world. He lives a double life, a scholarly professor of anthropology in public and a globetrotting treasure hunter in private. He defeats the Nazis and always gets the girl, displaying daring and fearlessness, with one notable exception. He has […]

January 18

I Feel Your Pain – The Social Transmission of Pain in Mice

We all know that emotions are contagious.  Your trip to the DMV might see you infected with that peculiar emotion – something halfway between apathy and misanthropy – that is endemic to the DMV.  On the other hand, your ray-of-sunshine coworker just may brighten up your day (unless you happen to work at the DMV). […]

July 20

Genomes, Circuits, and the Roundworm: C. Elegans as a Model Organism

A nematode can do much to help our understanding of human biology.

May 05

Hello Darkness My Old Friend: How Echolocation Lets Bats Rule the Night

When I asked my boyfriend, a 15-year-old stuck in 28-year-old’s body, who would win in a battle between Batman and Superman in anticipation of the now-in-theaters “smash-flop” blockbuster, he responded, “Obviously Superman with his powers of x-ray vision and superhuman strength.  Batman is just a human with fancy technology.”  Such gadgets as a tape erasing […]

April 21

Heavy on my Mind: Lead Poisoning (Part II)

When I first heard about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, I didn’t have the slightest idea how serious the problem was. Sure, I’d heard that lead was no good for you. I thought back to the day I moved into my first apartment in New York City and the superintendent handed me a pamphlet […]

April 01

The plastic brain

[En español] We are born with roughly 100 billion neurons, more neurons than we’ll ever have again. It’s still a ton of neurons; they could wrap around the earth 3-4 times. Plus, each of these 100 billion neurons has a couple hundred to thousand connections with other neurons. But as we age, our brains also change. Regions of the brain key for memory […]

March 11

Heavy on My Mind: Lead Poisoning (Part I)

I fear (read: know) that I am not the only person who has chosen to ignore the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. It’s depressing and complicated. But it is also important, and not just about Flint. In this post, I discuss the biological and economic costs of lead poisoning. Its effects are widespread throughout the body—and the United States—and I hope you will find them worthy of your attention.

November 19

Learning Language by Eavesdropping

Though kids seem to learn language without effort, scientists continue to puzzle over how children go from scream-y, pre-linguistic squooshballs to slightly-less-scream-y toddlers who can string a few words together (including “no!”) to older children who speak more or less like adults do. Researchers have learned a lot about how kids learn to talk—they know […]

September 03

Who wants to be an astronaut?

Sensory deprivation. Cultural isolation. Physical confinement. Throw in relearning every menial task for microgravity, the lack of privacy and the disturbed sleep-wake cycle, and you can be sure your life will never be the same (1,2). Yeah, the job description for being an astronaut is a little intense. Especially since you also need to be intelligent, physically fit, and, […]

December 04

Hearing voices: Social context influences psychosis

“People are always selling the idea that people with mental illness are suffering. I think madness can be an escape. If things are not so good, you maybe want to imagine something better.” These are the words of John Nash, Jr., the Nobel Laureate who inspired the book and the movie A Beautiful Mind and […]