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James MacDonald

James MacDonald received a BS in Environmental Biology from Columbia and a PhD in Ecology and Evolution from Rutgers University, spending 4 years in Central America collecting data on fish in mangrove forests. His research has been published in scholarly journals such as Estuaries and Coasts and Biological Invasions. He currently works in fisheries management and outreach in New York.

Mid adult man lying in bed looking at thermometer reading

The Science of Fevers

Trying to bring down that fever? Studies show that most fevers are actually integral to effective immune responses.
memory diagram

What is Memory?

Research suggests that memories may alter the brain's architecture, forming new synapses and strengthening existing ones.
Pompeii boulder skeleton

The Secrets of Pompeii

In 79 C.E., Mt. Vesuvius covered Pompeii with ash and pumice, preserving the remains of people trying to escape. Researchers have made a haunting new find.
cerebrospinal fluid

What is Cerebrospinal Fluid?

A patient was convinced that her runny nose indicated a deeper problem. She was right. Her case brought cerebrospinal fluid into the national spotlight.
Dark matter galaxy clusters

Dark Matter in the Universe

According to current scientific theories, dark matter and dark energy make up most of the universe. But we don't even know what they actually are.
Bajau boys on boat

Humans Are Still Evolving

Biologists suggest that evolution never stops, even for modern humans. This is especially true in parts of the developing world.
US Embassy Havana Cuba

The Science Behind Sonic Incidents

U.S. government employees stationed in Havana, Cuba, and Guangzhou, China, have experienced mysterious symptoms. Could the culprit be a sonic weapon?
Cuckoo wasp

The Overlooked Importance of Parasites

Parasites can be creepy, but according to some ecologists, parasites may substantially impact entire ecosystems—for the better.
Chan Chan idol

Child Sacrifice in the Ancient Americas

At various sites throughout Peru and Argentina, archaeologists have found remains of child sacrifices.
Mauna Ulu lava cone

After the Lava Stops

When volcanos erupt, the type and location of the lava determines what habitat will develop after it stops flowing.
herd of mammoths

What Really Happened to the Megafauna

Could humans be responsible for the extinction of megafauna like giant sloths and mastodons?
psychedelics

The Pscience of Psychedelics

Researchers found that Psilocybin and other hallucinogens may prove helpful in their ability to quiet a portion of the brain connected to depression.
3d printing biological

3D Printing Body Parts

3D printing has evolved far beyond printing out a simple item using plastic. For example, scientists Jody Connell and colleagues described an innovative use of the technology to create three-dimensional bacteria cultures.
Kingdom of Kush

The Lost Kingdom of Kush

A handful of archaeological sites and the written language Meroitic are all that remains of the Kingdom of Kush, located in what is now Sudan.
Venezuela Tepui Highlands

Venezuela’s Mysterious Tepuis

Many species on the tepui summits are found nowhere else. How did those species get there?
Antarctica

The Impact of Studying Antarctica

In such a pristine landscape, even a few thousand people can have a major ecological impact.
AUVs exploring the Titanic

The Wildest Inventions in Scientific Research

Sometimes scientists end up turning into inventors throughout the course of their research. Three cases in point.
synesthesia

Synesthesia for Beginners

Synesthesia—a mixing and merging of the senses—is surprisingly common. Studies of the phenomenon can help explain how the brain and sensory system work.
Mars

Great Scientific Discoveries That Weren’t

Dinosaur DNA! Life on Mars! In the world of science, amazing discoveries don’t quite work out the way the discoverer hopes they will.
Raw beef cure

The Long Tradition of Dangerous “Cures”

Medical cures are usually too good to be true. Numerous doctors wrote to the prestigious British Medical Journal, reporting on their prescription of raw meat juice to patients.
X Chromosomes

The Secrets of the X Chromosome

Most people know that the X chromosome is one of the two sex chromosomes. But it does more than just determine if you're born male or female.
interrogation room

The Psychology Behind False Confessions

In criminal interrogation, interrogators often ask questions and interpret the responses in such a way as to confirm guilt.
duck billed platypus

The Platypus Is Even Weirder Than You Thought

Platypuses. They’re weird. In fact, platypuses are so unusual that it took taxonomists more than eighty years just to decide what they are.
Bacteriophage, illustration

Fighting Bacterial Infection With…Viruses?

As bacteria develop resistance to widely-used antibiotics, some researchers are turning to bacteria’s natural enemy: a very special virus called a bacteriophage.
Sir Humphry Davy

When Scientists Perform Experiments on Themselves

More than one self-experiment has resulted in a Nobel Prize. Against all odds, and sometimes in spite of the damage they cause, these crazy gambits pay off.