Must Reads

August 2017 Issue

City Smarts

Urban Planning Goes Green Early American developers of Washington, D.C., and Savannah, Georgia, strived to recreate the plans of European cities that offered plenty of public squares and parks. Subsequent high-rise apartments in most other U.S. cities that followed lacked certain elements of neighborhood cohesion, as documented in Zane Miller’s book The Urbanization of Modern America. In Boston, Baltimore, New ... Read More »

Tea Time

Citizen Scientists Needed for Carbon Storage Experiment Australian scientists have launched a project to bury tens of thousands of teabags in wetlands around the world to discover how efficient different kinds of wetlands are at capturing and storing carbon dioxide. Already, more than 500 citizen scientists are involved on every continent but Antarctica. The bags will be monitored over a ... Read More »

Nature Rights

Waterways Granted Personhood This year, the Whanganui River, in New Zealand, became the first in the world to be granted the same legal rights as a person. Equally vital, a court in northern India has given the sacred Ganges and Yamuna rivers, as well as several glaciers, the legal status of “living human entities” to help in the preservation and ... Read More »

Buzzing RoboBees

Harvard University researchers led by engineering professor Robert Wood have introduced the first RoboBees—bee-sized robots that can ascend and hover in midair while tethered to a power supply. The project is a breakthrough in the field of micro-aerial vehicles. It has previously been impossible to pack all the components onto such a tiny workable robot framework and keep it lightweight ... Read More »

Orca Finale

Sea Mammals Freed from Showtime The California Orca Responsibility and Care Advancement Act, sponsored by Congressman Adam Schiff, is aimed to end the famous SeaWorld orca shows. “It means no more wild capture, no more breeding. We would essentially phase out the captive orcas that are currently in these water parks,” says Schiff. This means that SeaWorld must end their ... Read More »

Tuna Turnaround

Levels of highly toxic mercury contamination in Atlantic bluefin tuna are rapidly declining, a trend that has been linked to reduced mercury emissions in North America, according to a new study published in Environmental Science & Technology. Average mercury concentrations dropped by more than 2 percent per year, for a total decline of 19 percent between 2004 and 2012. Scientists ... Read More »

Accepted Misfits

Due to customer requests and petitions, more stores are beginning to stock the one in five pieces of produce that never made the cut before due to quirky shapes or other blemishes. Often, these are displayed next to their better-looking, more expensive counterparts to give consumers an eco-friendly choice. The 133 billion pounds worth of misshapen or scarred fruits and ... Read More »

Maple Syrup Gives Good Gut

Researchers from the University of Rhode Island have discovered that pure maple syrup contains inulin, a complex carbohydrate that serves as a prebiotic. It encourages growth of beneficial gut bacteria and extends the lengthy list of beneficial vitamins and minerals contained in this natural sweet. Consume it in moderation, limited to a few times a week. Read More »

Natural Sounds Soothe the Brain

Sussex University researchers in the UK tested the brain activity of 17 healthy subjects as they listened to a series of soundscapes from either natural or artificial environments. Brain scans and questionnaires found that natural sounds led to relaxation and positive feedback, while artificial sounds activated stress and anxiety-related brain activity.   Read More »

Meditating Raises Spirits More than a Vacation

Scientists from the University of California at San Francisco, and Harvard Medical School, in Boston, tested the effect of vacations and meditation on the genes of 64 women between the ages of 30 and 60 that were novice meditators. They all spent six days at the same resort in California. Half participated in a meditation program that included yoga, self-reflection ... Read More »