Scienceline Staff Picks

Weed, sugar and turtles

Our favorites from the week

April 15, 2011

From Doug Main:

A new study came to the conclusion that weed isn’t green. Dude, are you high? No, I’m just talking about the results of a new study which found that weed growers use 1 percent of all U.S. electricity.

Ever heard about the snake that swallowed a heating blanket and won a prize? Now you have.

More than 150 dolphins and 87 endangered sea turtles have washed up dead on Gulf of Mexico shores in 2011. As BP’s clean-up operations are winding down, one scientist asks: is the oil really gone, and what are the consequences of the spill?

From Katie Palmer:

With all of the satellites we’ve been throwing up into the Earth’s orbit, we’re getting to have a serious problem with space litter. There are lots of crazy ideas about how to reduce the amount of junk up there, but here’s one you might not have thought of: throw more stuff up with it! Some physicists have suggested that big clouds of tungsten dust could help bring smaller pieces of debris closer to Earth where they can be burned up as they travel through the atmosphere.

I can’t say I totally agree with it — especially the headline, which will inevitably be read not as “Is Sugar Toxic?” but “Sugar is Toxic!” But this article from the New York Times Magazine is a must-read if only for the big fuss it’s going to cause. Gary Taubes writes about how we might be able to blame our epidemic of metabolic diseases on high-sugar diets.

I remember Shari on Lamb Chop’s Play-Along teaching me that there was no way you could ever fold a piece of paper more than seven times on top of itself. Guess she was wrong: The current record is 12 folds (with toilet paper, though — does that count?), which a group at MIT says it just beat. Watch and judge for yourself.

From Rachel Nuwer:

On the Gulf Coast, dead dolphins and sea turtles continue to wash ashore in what has been described as an “unusual mortality event.” Mississippi residents who witness the carcasses on a daily basis think the media has largely ignored the story and that the scientific community has dropped the ball on investigating the cause of the animal deaths.

China’s seemingly limitless ways of inflicting cruelty on animals takes a disgusting turn, with live animal key chains. What’s worse—this is totally legal.

Vietnam’s animal markets are bad news for conservation, and sometimes species that researchers weren’t even aware existed turn up on store shelves. Scientists discovered the natural whereabouts of a species of turtle formerly only documented at animal markets, hopefully meaning that conservation measures can be put in place to protect this ellusive animal.







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1 Comment

Josh says:

I really wish we could crack down more on animal markets in south east Asia. Conservation of our fauna is so important and something needs to be done. I own a number of turtles as part of my business and they are truly great creatures.

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