Colourful Wood: Spalting Fungi

by Jan ThornhillChlorociboria produces gorgeous blue-green fruit bodies.It’s easy to forget while collecting fungi that the ones we find growing on wood and elsewhere are only their fruiting bodies—the actual organism is usually hidden, its mycelium buried deep in wood or soil. But the microscopic mycelium of some wood-loving fungi make it very clear just how large an area they’ve taken over by staining the wood they’ve colonized. This staining, which can sometimes be dark lines,…

Continue reading


Following in Darwin’s wake

Post by Helaine BeckerFor those of us who get all fluttery when we hear the words "Voyage of the Beagle," have I got a post for you!I recently had the splendid opportunity to travel to the "End of the World" Punte Arenas, Chile and Ushuaia, Argentina.  Both feature significantly in the history of Charles Darwin's famed journey of discovery.Ushuaia bills itself as the sourthernmost city in the world. It is also the departure point for…

Continue reading


Nature’s Black Boxes

By Claire EamerWhenever an airplane crashes, you hear about investigators retrieving the plane's black box. It's a device that records essential information about the plane's operation, and it can help investigators reconstruct what happened to bring the plane down.Tree rings show a tree's history. Claire Eamer photoWell, there are black boxes in nature too -- lots of them. And they are important tools for scientists who are trying to figure out how Earth's climate changes…

Continue reading


Nature’s Black Boxes

By Claire EamerWhenever an airplane crashes, you hear about investigators retrieving the plane's black box. It's a device that records essential information about the plane's operation, and it can help investigators reconstruct what happened to bring the plane down.Tree rings show a tree's history. Claire Eamer photoWell, there are black boxes in nature too -- lots of them. And they are important tools for scientists who are trying to figure out how Earth's climate changes…

Continue reading


Exploring Haida Gwaii

Sci/Why's peripatetic correspondent Margriet Ruurs sends us another report from a fascinating part of the world - this time from Haida Gwaii, on the western edge of Canada. -CEBy Margriet RuursHaida Gwaii – the very name conjures up images of windblown spruce clinging to rocks surrounded by foamy waves, not unlike an Emily Carr painting. The archipelago stretches along the northern BC coast almost to Alaska. You can reach it by ferry from Prince Rupert…

Continue reading


Books to Inspire the Outdoor Kid

By Margriet RuursLooking for books that will inspire children to learn more about science?Here are some great titles that focus on the natural environment.Water’s Children by Angéle DelaunoisWater's Children has as subtitle ‘Celebrating the resource that unites us all’. The poetic text takes the reader from rainy cities to thirsty deserts, from mountain tops to the ocean shore, and from rice paddies to rain forests. All around the world, children share what water means to…

Continue reading


Getting the Science Right

By Joan Marie GalatHow far will an author go to get her facts straight? In my case, it was a nearly-4000-kilometre round trip from my home in Alberta to Laramie, Wyoming. The program, called Launch Pad Astronomy, is a week-long workshop designed specifically for science-writing authors. It was established to make sure writers present science accurately when creating stories or writing nonfiction. Whether you are reading a book or watching a movie, television show, or…

Continue reading


Family Tree for All Living Things

By Paula JohansonWhen I want to relax this winter, I've been going to a science website called OneZoom. If you like biology, you might like it too! They've made an interactive image called the Open Tree of Life, that shows on your computer screen a family tree for all living things on Earth. You can zoom in to look at a branch of the family tree. The shape of the family tree is curved like…

Continue reading


Crayola’s New Blue and Other Hidden Opportunities

By Larry VerstraeteMonths ago, Crayola, the crayon giant announced the removal of Dandelion from its palette of yellows and oranges. In March, the company issued a news release saying that Dandelion’s replacement would be in the blue family. Not long after, it added another tidbit of information. The replacement would be a newly invented, never seen before, hue of blue with a backstory as unique as its name, “YInMn Blue”.In 2009, Mas Subramanian, an Oregon…

Continue reading


Naming Weather Highs and Lows

By Adrienne MontgomerieWhen the weather forecast calls for a Colorado low or a Texas low, what does that mean?The name is actually pretty easy to figure out: The low or high refers to the air pressure. The place name tells you where it is coming from. Weather generally moves across the North American continent from west to east, and more often from south to north.Low pressure tends to bring clouds and warmer temperatures.High pressure is…

Continue reading