Cold-water fish, snow-dwelling bugs and some grasses have evolved natural antifreeze proteins to avoid turning to ice cubes. Peter Davies, a biologist at Queen's University in Ontario, discusses how these antifreeze substances work, and their applications for human problems--like keeping the ice out of ice cream.
In Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity, Lester Brown says the world's food supply is tightening, and the reasons are many. People in developing countries are eating more meat, a grain-intensive food; farmers are overpumping, causing water tables to fall; and crop yields have plateaued, despite technological advances.
In 2012 the Higgs boson was spotted at CERN, private company SpaceX began supply flights to the International Space Station, and the world bade farewell to the Galapagos tortoise Lonesome George. A panel of journalists discusses the year's top stories in science.
The comet ISON, discovered by two amateur astronomers last year, will zoom past the Earth next fall. But where did it come from? Astronomer Andrew Fraknoi says a passing star could have flung the comet our way from the Oort Cloud, a distant realm of ice chunks at the outer limits of the solar system.
Ruben Fragoso checks out appliances at Best Buy in Miami in April 2010, when Florida residents were taking advantage of a federally funded discount for Energy Star-rated appliances. Legislation just passed by Congress as part of the fiscal-cliff deal includes tax breaks for energy-efficient appliances.
Whether you're a homeowner who bought an energy-saving refrigerator last year or a company hoping to build a wind farm, the tax package Congress just approved may give you a reason to cheer.
"It's got something in there, a Christmas gift if you will, for almost everyone — American homeowners, workers who commute via transit, and manufacturers of efficient equipment like clothes washers, dryers, refrigerators," says Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy.
Every year at around this time, tens of thousands of people take part in a kind of bird-watching marathon. From Canada to Latin America and throughout the United States, participants will get up in the middle of the night. Some brave frigid winter temperatures, and many do whatever else it takes to count as many birds as they can in 24 hours.
No matter how old people are, they seem to believe that who they are today is essentially who they'll be tomorrow.
That's according to fresh research that suggests that people generally fail to appreciate how much their personality and values will change in the years ahead — even though they recognize that they have changed in the past.
Daniel Gilbert, a psychology researcher at Harvard University who did this study with two colleagues, says that he's no exception to this rule.
The wind energy industry is dependent on something even more unpredictable than wind: Congress. Hidden in the turmoil over the "fiscal cliff" compromise was a tax credit for wind energy.
Uncertainty over the credit had lingered long before the last-minute political push, causing the industry to put off further long-term planning. So while the now-approved tax credit revives prospects for an industry facing tens of thousands of layoffs, don't expect to see many new turbines coming up soon.
People have been sharing food with strangers since ancient days, offering up the household's finest fare to mysterious travelers. Think Abraham and the three men of Mamre in the Bible and the folks who take in strangers after natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy. That deep tradition of generous hospitality has long been thought uniquely human.
If so, then bonobos, those gregarious African apes, may be more like us than we thought.
If a stranger attacks you inside your own home, the law has always permitted you to defend yourself. On the other hand, if an altercation breaks out in public, the law requires you to try to retreat. At least, that's what it used to do.