Fort Ord National Monument wins environmental award

The Salinas Californian, January 2013

The natural beauty and dedicated volunteers at the Fort Ord National Monument were recognized this week by The Wilderness Society, which presented the 15,000-acre nature preserve with a CAPE award for excellence in the conservation of public land.

Lead story on A1 of print version.

Galactic surprise: New find overturns theories how our galaxy evolved

Santa Cruz Sentinel, January 2013

Our galaxy wasn’t always the beautiful cosmic ballet it is today. Billions of years ago, the Milky Way was a chaotic jumble of stars and gas moving every which way. Only over time did the Milky Way morph into its current uniform shape, with flat arms of starlight reaching out from a galactic core. Now, a new NASA study shows this process happened much more recently than scientists had thought.

Featured in the Santa Cruz Sentinel (Pg. C1 & online, second most viewed story for January 2013) and the San Jose Mercury News (Pg. 1B & online).

Keeping Hammerheads Out of the Haul

Science, November 2012

Special fishing weights could take a bite out of endangered hammerhead shark deaths. The global population of these distinctive sharks has fallen by about 89% in the last 2 decades, largely due to illegal poaching and accidental fishing bycatch. But now, scientists have come up with a shocking way to reduce this collateral damage: generating a mild electric field near fishing lines to keep the sharks away.

Investigating the Venus Flytrap’s Speedy Snap

Inside Science, November 2012

Plants aren’t typically known for their speed, but the carnivorous Venus flytrap can close its jaw-like leaves in the blink of an eye. Charles Darwin once referred to the Venus flytrap as “one of the most wonderful plants in the world.” But despite the plant’s notoriety, its closing mechanism remains a mystery 250 years after its discovery.

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House windows may kill 22 million Canadian birds each year

Mongabay, November 2012

The sickening thud of a bird crashing into a window is an all-too-familiar sound for many Canadian homeowners. Birds often mistake windows for openings, flying into the glass at full speed. A startling new analysis suggests about 22 million Canadian birds die each year from such crashes, researchers reported Sept. 4 in Wildlife Research.

Calcium Keeps Night Vision From Tricking Our Brains

Inside Science, October 2012

As candy-crazed kids run up and down driveways this Halloween, guided only by the flickering light of jack-o’-lanterns, it’s easy to appreciate the low light vision that’s preventing trips over superhero capes and princess dresses. But despite the usefulness of night vision, scientists have only now identified the important chemical process that compensates for visual errors in low light.

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Shortest Laser Pulse Ever Created

Inside Science, September 2012

American researchers have generated a record-setting laser pulse so short that it makes most everything else seem like an eternity. The pulse lasted just 67 attoseconds, which is about two million billion times faster than the blink of an eye. The previous record, set by European researchers in 2008, was about 20 percent slower.

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