All the World’s a Laboratory

Three long-term science projects that could change everything we know about science. Albert Einstein called scientific discovery "a continual flight from wonder." Today, the path from wonder has an expensive toll. We've solved the basics-gravity, relativity, DNA-but our new queries require greater collaboration,..

Three long-term science projects that could change everything we know about science.

Albert Einstein called scientific discovery "a continual flight from wonder." Today, the path from wonder has an expensive toll. We've solved the basics-gravity, relativity, DNA-but our new queries require greater collaboration, more sophisticated equipment, and oodles of cash. Take the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider. Its objective, when it goes online this spring, is to tell us how the universe began and how its parts fit together. Here's a look at three lesser-known megaprojects that aim to explain, improve, and possibly extend life.1. The Human Genome Project, officially completed in 2003, consists of one person's DNA. But take any two people, and their DNA will be 99 percent the same. Researchers need more data to probe the roots of complex disorders, like cancer, heart disease, and autism, which likely involve multiple genetic mutations. The solution? The 1,000 Genomes Project, which will sequence the DNA of at least 1,000 people worldwide-at a cost of up to $50 million-to catalogue alterations in the tiny bit of DNA that differs from person to person.2. In 2006, the Allen Institute for Brain Science, created with $100 million from Paul Allen, Microsoft's other founder, released the Allen Brain Atlas. A freely available 3-D map showing the activity of 20,000 genes throughout an adult mouse brain, it's a boon to scientists developing therapies to combat human mental disorders. In March, the institute began a four-year project to similarly map the human brain, as well as a two-year endeavor to track gene activity in the mouse brain from embryo to adulthood.3. The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor-a collaboration among China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia, and the U.S.-is a $13-billion effort to develop a working nuclear-fusion reactor in southeastern France. As opposed to fission-which creates energy by splitting unstable uranium and plutonium atoms (and can result in runaway reactions like the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown)-fusion creates vast amounts of energy by jamming two hydrogen atoms together. It's technically safer and produces less radioactive waste, but there are catches: A fusion reaction requires temperatures that are 10 times hotter than the sun's center.

Photo by Josh Couch on Unsplash

Christopher Columbus, Alexander Hamilton, William Shakespeare, and Sir Walter Scott are getting company. Statues of the famous men are scattered across Central Park in New York City, along with 19 others. But they'll finally be joined by a few women.

Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth are the subjects of a new statue that will be on display along The Mall, a walkway that runs through the park from 66th to 72nd street. It will be dedicated in August of next year, which is fittingly the 100-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote.

Currently, just 3% of statues in New York City are dedicated to women. Out of 150 statues of historical figures across the city, only five statues are of historical women, including Joan of Arc, Golda Meir, Gertrude Stein, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Harriet Tubman.

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It's easy to become calloused to everyday headlines with messages like, "the world is ending" and "everything is going extinct." They're so prevalent, in fact, that the severity of these statements has completely diminished to the point that no one pays them any attention. This environmental negativity (coined "eco-phobia") has led us to believe that all hope is lost for wildlife. But luckily, that isn't the case.

Historically, we have waited until something is near the complete point of collapse, then fought and clawed to bring the species numbers back up. But oftentimes we wait so long that it's too late. Creatures vanish from the Earth altogether. They go extinct. And even though I don't think for a single second that we should downplay the severity of extinction, if we can flip this on its head and show that every once in a while a species we have given up on is actually still out there, hanging on by a thread against all odds, that is a story that deserves to be told. A tragic story of loss becomes one about an animal that deserves a shot at preservation and a message of hope the world deserves to hear.

As a wildlife biologist and tracker who has dedicated his life to the pursuit of animals I believe have been wrongfully deemed extinct, I spend most of my time in super remote corners of the Earth, hoping to find some shred of evidence that these incredible creatures are still out there. And to be frank, I'm pretty damn good at it!

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The Planet

For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

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NHM Vienna/Hans Reschreiter

Wealth inequality has been a hot topic of discussion as of late, but it's something that's occurred all throughout history. Class structure is a complicated issue, especially when you consider that haves and have nots have been in existence for over 4,000 years.

A study published in Science took a look at over 100 late Neolithic and early Bronze Age skeletons found in a burial site in southern Germany. The study "shed light on the complexity of social status, inheritance rules, and mobility during the Bronze Age." Partly by looking at their teeth and the artifacts they were buried with, researchers were able to discover that wealth inequality existed almost 4,000 years ago. "Our results reveal that individual households lasting several generations consisted of a high-status core family and unrelated low-status individuals, a social organization accompanied by patrilocality and female exogamy, and the stability of this system over 700 years," the study said.

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via / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

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