From Our Own Borealis Blog

Bringing bodies together: Solar eclipse generates excitement for science

Characters of all types gathered at TELUS World of Science for an eclipse-viewing party. Image by Armin Mortazavi

by Lauren Borja, Physics and Astronomy editor Millions of people gathered to watch the moon completely obstruct the sun today […]

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What’s noise, what’s Illumina bias, and what’s signal?

The PhD student and I are trying to pin down the sources of variation in our sequencing coverage. It's critical that we understand this, because position-specific differences in coverage are how we are measuring differences in DNA uptake by competent bacteria.Tl;dr:  We see extensive and unexpected short-scale variation in coverage levels in both RNA-seq and DNA-based sequencing. Can anyone point us to resources that might explain this?I'm going to start not with our DNA-uptake data…

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US Dept. of Agriculture announces its nanotechnology research grants

I don’t always stumble across the US Department of Agriculture’s nanotechnology research grant announcements but I’m always grateful when I do as it’s good to find out about  nanotechnology research taking place in the agricultural sector. From a July 21, 2017 news item on Nanowerk,, The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced 13 grants totaling $4.6 million for research on the next generation of agricultural technologies and…

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NASA’s Planetary Protection Officer

By Paula JohansonThere's been a new job posting at NASA, for a Planetary Protection Officer.Sounds like something from the film Men In Black, doesn't it? But for NASA, planetary protection isn't so much about people resisting invasion by giant space bugs. It's about tiny germs.NASA needs to avoid "organic-constituent and biological contamination in human and robotic space exploration." Policies for planetary protection apply to all space flight missions, whether they might carry Earth microbes or…

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2017 Research as Art Awards at Swansea University (UK)

It’s surprising I haven’t stumbled across Swansea University’s (UK) Research as Art competitions before now. still, I’m happy to have done so now. Picture: Research as Art winner 2017. “Bioblocks: building for nature”. How the tidal lagoon could be a habitat for marine creatures. A July 14, 2017 news item on announces the results of 2017 Research as Art competition, Fifteen stunning images, and the fascinating stories behind them—such as how a barn owl’s…

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Right Turn: Vacationing on Mars

Hi Loyal Readers, Happy summer! Thanks for your visits all year. I’m on vacation this week, but I thought I’d leave you with something anyway. Next week, I’ll provide some more details about the upcoming blog carnival taking place August 29th. I hope you’ll drop by to read all the interesting blogs and different points of view. No, I’m not vacationing on Mars, but maybe one day.   Our regular feature, Right Turn, appears every…

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Friday Fun: Is Game of Thrones an allegory for global climate change?

After a bit of an unexpected summer hiatus, I’m back to regular blogging, at least as regular as it’s been the last year or two. Of course, I’m a committed Game of Thrones fan. I read the first book in paperback soon after it was reprinted, some twenty years ago. And I’ve also been a fan of the HBO series, which though a bit inconsistent and wobbly at times, has been quite worth watching. And…

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#435 Total Eclipse of the Sun

On August 21, 2017, a solar eclipse is going to appear, visible to most of the continent of North America. Bethany is very, very excited. What's going to happen, and what are scientists doing to take advantage of the event? Bethany Brookshire starts with a primer on the upcoming eclipse with Lisa Grossman, astronomy writer at Science News, then discusses three eclipse-related citizen science projects that need data: Smithsonian Astrophysicist Trae Winter tells us about…

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The US White House and its Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)

It’s been a while since I first wrote this but I believe this situation has not changed. There’s some consternation regarding the US Office of Science and Technology Policy’s (OSTP) diminishing size and lack of leadership. From a July 3, 2017 article by Bob Grant for The Scientist (Note: Links have been removed), Three OSTP staffers did leave last week, but it was because their prearranged tenures at the office had expired, according to an…

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