Day: September 18, 2020

Holy misdirected anger! Bats not to blame, say scientists.

Read the full story in the Christian Science Monitor.

During times of crisis, it’s natural for people to try to identify a scapegoat, or in this case, a scape-bat. But scientists suggest that we resist this urge.

Podcasts Recently recommended by the Internet Scout Report

Black in the Garden
Settle in and spend some time with “Plantrepreneur” Colah B. Tawkin on her podcast Black in the Garden. Described as an “intersection of Black Culture and horticulture,” the show seeks to create space for diverse voices in the gardening world. Tawkin’s selects episode topics that “directly influence and impact Black plant keepers as we blackily impact and influence the world.” These topics include authentic business practices, plant styling, and Black liberation. Readers may especially enjoy the May 12, 2020 episode, “5 Survival Lessons from our Plants,” which contains wisdom stemming from horticulture during a pandemic. As of this write-up, more than 30 episodes (of various lengths) have been released and listeners can find them on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Radio Public, among other platforms. Looking for additional content from Tawkin? Find her on Instagram, @blackinthegarden. Posts include teasers and highlights from shows, as well as bonus content and (of course) some great plant photographs. [EMB]

In Defense of Plants
Launched in 2015, In Defense of Plants makes the case for the evolutionary resiliency and environmental impact of flora. Host Matt Candeias seeks to share his self-described “obsess[ion] with the botanical world,” reminding listeners that “plants are everything on this planet.” Throughout the show’s more than 275 episodes, listeners will hear about a range of topics, such as assessing extinction risk (Episode 275 “Saving Sonora: The Green Desert” with special guest Dr. Helen Rowe) and harnessing plant-power for mindfulness (Episode 269 “Cultivating Peace” with special guest Derek Haynes). Most episodes are about an hour long, perfect for a commute or lunch break. On the Podcast page, readers will find an archive of all episodes, with descriptions of each episode’s guest(s) and content. Readers will also find a frequently updated blog and embedded videos that build on some episodes’ content. Beyond the website, listeners can tune in to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and other popular listening platforms. New episodes are released weekly, so check back often or subscribe to never miss a show. [EMB]

Planted: Finding Your Roots in STEM Careers
Produced by the Morton Arboretum, Planted: Finding Your Roots in STEM Careers is a podcast designed to connect students with “plant professionals,” demonstrating that various exciting science career paths exist. The podcast has two seasons with nine episodes each. Released in 2018, the first season focuses on “the journey into a STEM career.” These episodes cover topics like “choosing a direction” (see Episode 3), “navigating multiple opportunities” (see Episode 5), and “final destinations” (see Episode 7). Released in 2019, the second season discusses the “highlighted traits of individuals in various stages of their STEM careers.” For example, Episode 1 concentrates on “collaboration,” and Episode 9 looks at “adventure.” Readers can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Google Podcasts, or tune in by clicking the link next to “Listen” on the page linked above. Clicking on an episode from the right-hand panel leads to “bonus” materials, including articles and activities. Listeners may also enjoy the “STEM Career Overview” chart linked at the bottom of the page. The chart profiles various STEM careers, compiling job descriptions, educational requirements, and possible employment opportunities. [EMB]

On the Ledge Podcast
On the Ledge is a podcast on a heroic mission: “saving the world’s houseplants, one episode at a time.” Jane Perrone, a journalist and gardener, hosts the show and runs its corresponding blog. Readers will find both the podcast and blog at the link above. Recent podcast episodes discuss terrariums (see Episode 149) and terrestrial ecology (see Episode 148), while the most recent blog posts cover rare houseplant varieties and picking the perfect gift for friends or family who love gardening. Novice horticulturalists may especially enjoy the show’s site, as it has a series of episodes designed with newcomers in mind. The page linked above houses a list of curated episode guides such as “Complete Beginners, Start Here…” and “Hints, Tips, Questions, and Answers.” Experienced horticulturalists may enjoy some of the episode guides that follow, sorted by species (e.g. “flowering houseplants” and “succulents and cacti”) and topic (e.g. “sustainability” and “houseplant styling”). Of course, listeners are always welcome to binge all the episodes (find the more than 150 episodes on most major podcast platforms). [EMB]

The Native Plant Podcast
Rooted in a friendship initiated at the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference, The Native Plant Podcast has been enlightening listeners with all things conservation and vegetation since 2016. The show has grown to have a significant following, including winning a 2019 GardenComm Media Awards Silver Medal. The trio of hosts invite a variety of guests on their show (from ecotourism experts to palynology professors) to discuss relevant research and explore numerous plant-related questions. Curious how hip hop can serve as a platform for horticulture? Check out “Hip Hop Forestry” (July 11, 2019). Wondering the purpose of controlled burns? Tune in to “Scientists are burning the woods… and no one knows why!” (July 13, 2020). The show has 5 seasons and nearly 100 episodes. Readers can find all of these installments on the Archive page (categorized chronologically), as well as on Apple Podcasts. [EMB]

Plants and Pipettes Podcast
Since its feature in the 09-27-2019 Scout Report, Plants and Pipettes continues to release weekly episodes on everything from “intersectional feminism in academia,” (see the July 31, 2020 episode) to “self-drilling seeds,” (see the July 17, 2020 episode).

Readers curious about the world of scientific research, particularly molecular plant biology, may want to check out Plants and Pipettes. First launched in February 2019, this delightfully quirky podcast is the work of Joram Schwartzmann and Tegan Armarego-Marriott, who are respectively a PhD student and a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam, Germany. In each episode, Tegan and Joram take turns explaining and breaking down a recent scientific paper, translating the jargon into approachable language that general audiences can more easily grasp. Each episode also features the podcasters’ favorite plant of the week, and they frequently discuss other aspects of research and academic publishing, as well as scientific news and fun cat facts. Episodes vary in length, but most are around an hour long. Those interested can stream and download episodes of Plants and Pipettes at the link above, and the podcast is also available via platforms such as Apple Podcasts. Readers should also check out the rest of the Plants and Pipettes website, where they will find engagingly written blog posts (found under Articles) as well as a short Glossary of scientific terms (found at the bottom).

From the September 11, 2020 issue of the Scout Report. Read the full issue here. Copyright © 2017 Internet Scout Research Group

How powerful hurricanes hasten the disappearance of Louisiana’s wetlands

Read the full story in National Geographic.

Strong storms temporarily change an ecosystem, and over time, they could help permanently alter it.

Help me redesign the scientific paper

Read the full post at Dynamic Ecology.

I hereby challenge you to help me redesign the scientific paper through a process called “Collaborative Independent Review”. But if you’ve already comfortable writing the traditional scientific paper, you’re probably not going to like it.

If you don’t like it, blame Andy Dobson. When Andy invited me to write a chapter for the new book Unsolved Problems in Ecology (Dobson, Holt and Tilman eds., PUP – check it out), he figured I would write about how everyone should think about parasites as much as I do. But I had been reading blog posts on Dynamic Ecology about how we do business as Ecologists (which means you can blame Jeremy, Brian and Meghan too). This got me more worried about ecologists than parasites. I became convinced we could get more return on investment in Ecology through better training programs, funding distribution, synthesis, publication models, and evaluation metrics. And so I wrote a chapter on A Science Business Model for Answering Important Questions. While writing, I kept remembering a 1979 paper called Ecology: A science and a religion, where one of my heroes, Paul Dayton, predicted that ecologists’ increasing focus on conservation would begin to undermine their scientific objectivity. This led me to add a section about reproducibility, which is what Jeremy asked me to blog about. Lots has been said about reproducibility in other disciplines, but I wondered if re-visioning how we write papers and how journals publish them was the key for ecology.

How Big Oil Misled The Public Into Believing Plastic Would Be Recycled

Read the full story at NPR.

Laura Leebrick, a manager at Rogue Disposal & Recycling in southern Oregon, is standing on the end of its landfill watching an avalanche of plastic trash pour out of a semitrailer: containers, bags, packaging, strawberry containers, yogurt cups.

None of this plastic will be turned into new plastic things. All of it is buried.

This hoodie is made from pomegranate peels and completely biodegrades

Read the full story at Fast Company.

Fast fashion is a great way to test out trends like vinyl pants, crop tops, or those tiny ’90s sunglasses. But unlike the latest fads, those clothes and accessories take decades or centuries to decompose.

Innovative men’s apparel brand Vollebak has come out with a hoodie that’s completely compostable and biodegrable. In fact, you can bury it in the ground or throw it into your compost along with the fruit peels from your kitchen. That’s because it’s made out of plants and fruit peels. Add heat and bacteria, and voilà, the hoodie goes back from whence it came, without a trace.

Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards announces 2020 finalists

The finalists for the 2020 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards have been announced. View the finalists and vote for your favorite.

Seven Online Green Building Tours for Safe Inspiration

Read the full story at Building Green.

Educational building tours help us learn new strategies—but what if you can’t go in person?

Microsoft finds underwater datacenters are reliable, practical and use energy sustainably

Read the full story from Microsoft.

Earlier this summer, marine specialists reeled up a shipping-container-size datacenter coated in algae, barnacles and sea anemones from the seafloor off Scotland’s Orkney Islands.

The retrieval launched the final phase of a years-long effort that proved the concept of underwater datacenters is feasible, as well as logistically, environmentally and economically practical.

Microsoft’s Project Natick team deployed the Northern Isles datacenter 117 feet deep to the seafloor in spring 2018. For the next two years, team members tested and monitored the performance and reliability of the datacenter’s servers.

The team hypothesized that a sealed container on the ocean floor could provide ways to improve the overall reliability of datacenters. On land, corrosion from oxygen and humidity, temperature fluctuations and bumps and jostles from people who replace broken components are all variables that can contribute to equipment failure.

The Northern Isles deployment confirmed their hypothesis, which could have implications for datacenters on land.

Lego to ditch plastic bags for paper ones in its boxed sets

Read the full story from the Associated Press.

Lego said Tuesday that it will stop using plastic bags inside its boxed sets and replace them with paper ones.

The Danish toymaker said it will start making the switch next year and expects plastic bags to be completely phased out in the next five years. The bags are used to hold loose bricks in boxed sets.

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