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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.

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.
NSF early star rendering

The Earliest Stars

Astronomers who noticed a slight blip in space's background radiation got an insight not just into the early stars but into the age and nature of the early universe.
Hantavirus particles

Solving a Medical Mystery With Oral Traditions

In 1993, Navajo elders provided a key piece of information to CDC scientists and climatologists to help combat a deadly mystery disease.
Fisherman taking freshly caught trout out of fishing net.

The Dark Side of Fish Stocking

It takes place out of sight of non-anglers, but fish stocking, or adding fish for the benefit of sport fishing, is a widespread practice in resource management.
Coffee beans biodiversity

The Connections Between Coffee and Biodiversity

A new study from the Western Ghats suggests that coffee cultivation does not interfere with bird biodiversity, regardless of what type of bean is grown.
Artificial snow Switzerland

The Real Problem with Artificial Snow

As the climate changes, snowfall in many areas has decreased. As natural snow is replaced with artificial snow, what is the environmental impact?
Illustration of Bombardier Beetle (Pheropsophus) excreting a mixture of hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide at speed from opening in abdomen

Bombardier Beetles Are Terrifying Nightmare Insects

In a world full of wild insect defenses, bombardier beetles stand out for the violent chemical reaction they employ to deter enemies.
Mount Everest North Face Tibet

How to Measure a Mountain

It’s not easy to measure a mountain. Mount Everest's height has been known since the middle of the nineteenth century, but how did they figure it out with no altimeters or GPS?
Compass On Antique Map magnetic poles

What Happens if Earth’s Magnetic Poles Reverse?

What would happen if the Earth's magnetic poles flipped? Earth’s magnetic poles have a long history of switching from North to South and back again.