Science

CO2 Levels Hit New Record

CO2 Levels Hit New Record

Kelly Shen '23, image from Unsplash.com For the first time, CO2 levels in the atmosphere have surpassed 420 parts per million (ppm = 1 particle of CO2 per 1 million particles of air). Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii has been monitoring weather and climate since the 1950’s and reported the news on April 5th, after recording a daily average of  421.21 ppm, a new record. For comparison, the daily average was 315 ppm only sixty years ago.  Kate Marvel, a climate scientist at Nasa, is “more certain CO2 causes global heating than smoking causes cancer.” The evidence is strong, as…
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Scientists Discover Why Our Brains Are So Big

Scientists Discover Why Our Brains Are So Big

Kelly Shen '23 A defining characteristic of mammals, and especially humans, are our very large brains. In fact, the human brain typically reaches about 1,500 cm3, nearly three times the size of the gorilla brain (500cm3) or the chimp brain (400cm3). How did we develop larger brains than most other organisms? Scientists believe they have finally unlocked some clues, starting with cells from our primate cousins.  The Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK, has grown brain “organoids” out of stem cells called neural progenitors. These cells are shaped like cylinders, and when they split make…
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A Light Free Zone for Birds

A Light Free Zone for Birds

Kelly Shen '23, image from Unsplash.com One of the many consequences of light pollution is an increase in bird deaths. Artificial light emitted from homes or skyscrapers during the night time can confuse migratory birds, who use the stars and night sky to navigate. When it is cloudy and the stars are hidden, the birds will become disoriented, which leads them to crash into buildings or go off course. Windows also play a role, reflecting light and images of their surroundings. In the morning, hundreds of dead birds line the street, a grim reminder of the effects of light pollution. …
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Long Lost Bird Found After 170 Years

Long Lost Bird Found After 170 Years

Kelly Shen '23, photo from the New York Times Muhammad Suranto and Muhammad Rizky Fauzan trekked into the South Kalimantan rainforest in Borneo, and spotted a black and brown bird darting between the trees. They couldn’t identify it, so they captured one and sent photos of it to a birdwatching group, BW Galeatus. One member, Joko Said Trisiyanto, matched the bird to the black-browed babbler, which was listed in his guidebook as extinct. He sent the photos to ornithologist Panji Gusti Akbar, who passed the photos along to many other experts. After the initial shock faded, experts agreed: it had…
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This Flower Has Learned To Hide From Humans

This Flower Has Learned To Hide From Humans

Kelly Shen '23, Photo from AllThatsInteresting.com While writing this article, I was looking up pictures of the flower’s bulb out of curiosity, and it turns out that the bulb of this flower is a staple in the cough syrup/medicine (糖水) I drink when I’m sick. I went to my grandma with the Chinese name of the plant, and she immediately knew what it was. In fact, she commented on how the price of the bulb was skyrocketing. No one in my family, including myself, knew that this plant was only grown in remote Chinese mountains in limited numbers, we all…
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A Bird That Builds Its Nest Right Next to Its Enemy

A Bird That Builds Its Nest Right Next to Its Enemy

Kelly Shen '23, photo from Unsplash.com Eagles are known to prey on other bird’s chicks and eggs, and the Blue Heron is no exception. When eagles swoop in, Blue Herons have no choice but to flee, leaving their nest unprotected. The eagle will snatch an egg or a heron chick and fly away with it. You’d expect the herons to live as far away as possible from eagle nesting territory. However, the opposite is happening, herons are actually trying to get as close as they can. If eagles prey on Blue Heron young, why would they build a nest colony…
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How B Cells Contribute to COVID Immunity

How B Cells Contribute to COVID Immunity

Kelly Shen '23, Image from Unsplash.com One good thing about SARS-CoV-2 is that there is rarely ever re-infection, though many are still falling ill. This points to a positive aspect about immunity: there might be long-term memory in the immune response to the virus. However, immune response can get extremely complicated, and research is still scarce. We will take a closer look at all the promising reasons as to why we might have long term immunity.  The immune reaction requires the coordinated activity of a variety of cell types. There's an innate immune reaction that's triggered when cells sense they're…
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Using AI To Predict Mental Illness

Using AI To Predict Mental Illness

Kelly Shen '23, Unsplash.com Facebook is a one of the biggest social media platforms. Users share posts, comment, send messages, go through their feeds, as well as many other things. This makes it a really good place for targeting ads. With an app that has as much data as Facebook, marketers will easily find which ads to give you, tailored to your recent searches or liked posts. However, there also are people out there trying to use Facebook for good—or, at least, to enhance the diagnosis of mental disease.  On December 3, a group of researchers reported that they had…
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Christmas During the 1918 Spanish Flu

Christmas During the 1918 Spanish Flu

Kelly Shen '23, image from Unsplash.com “You will show your love for dad and mother, brother, sister and the rest of ‘em best this year by sticking to your own home instead of paying annual Christmas visits, holding family reunions, and parties generally.” These are the words of a commissioner in 1918, warning people to stay home during the deadly Spanish flu. Right now, Americans’ main concerns are about the safety of gift shopping, family gatherings, and church services. It was the same in 1918. How did their Christmas stay the same and also differ from ours? Christmas 1918 was…
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The Pfizer Vaccine Explained

The Pfizer Vaccine Explained

Kelly Shen '23, photo from the CDC on Unsplash.com There are several vaccines against the Sars-Cov2 virus which are being studied, one is made by Pfizer, and is an mRNA based vaccine. It was found to be 95% effective in their phase 3 study of at least 8,000 patients. As is standard for clinical trials, the trial was “double blinded,” meaning that no one except the independent board — not the volunteers, doctors, or the company’s top executives — knows how many of the 94 people sickened by the virus got the vaccine or the placebo. Here’s how it works…
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