This week in science Jan. 16


Graphic Illustrations and Written By: Claire Roth

Politics – A glimmer of hope

Perhaps one of the most hopeful developments so far in the world of 2017 science is President-elect Donald Trump and his affiliates’ acknowledgement of climate science. Though the terms ‘Trump,’ ‘science,’ and ‘hopeful’ rarely fit within the same sentence, this recognition stands in stark contrast with much of what President-elect Trump said in the past concerning climate science oftentimes publicly denying its necessity and the existence of climate change in general. BBC News reports that Trump’s “about-face” on these issues came gradually after his election and that he now is softening his opposition to key environmental steps such as the 2016 Paris Agreement.

Source: BBC News

Wildlife – Merging territories

Shifting treelines and warming temperatures as a result of climate change, have created a possibly troublesome overlap of territories between common leopards and snow leopards on the Tibetan plateau. The phenomenon had never beforehand been observed due to the big cats’ differing habitat needs, but wildlife scientists point to a warming climate as the culprit. Common leopards, usually residing in lower elevations than snow leopards, seem to have begun their ascent into snow leopard territory as temperatures continue to rise and treelines recede. This poses an issue to the already endangered snow leopard population.

Source: BBC News

Wildlife – Cooling caribou

Many of us have a friend who’s dead-set on reducing their footprint on the global  climate, but what about a friend who’s reducing their hoofprint? As caribou roam their tundra home and munch on darkly colored shrubs, space is opened up for grasses that are oftentimes more lightly colored and therefore absorb less heat energy than their darkly colored shrub counterparts. Research suggests that the widespread amount of caribou grazing and the resulting decrease in retained heat energy on the earth’s surface has cooling effects on the ecosystem.

Source: Anthropocene Magazine

Food – Staying spicy, staying alive

Researchers at the University of Vermont recently found a correlation between spicy pepper lovers and staying alive longer. A component present in peppers known as capsaicin is thought to be helpful in helping your body maintain a healthy vascular system and overall weight. According to a study by the University of Vermont there is a 13 percent increase in lifespan of those who enjoyed peppers during their lifetime.

Source: Science Daily

Language – Swearing by science

If someone has ever told you that you need a swear jar, they’re probably right. However, science has given those of us who are “swear-happy” a new excuse to say f*** yeah. A team of psychologists at the University of Cambridge found that the more you cuss, the more likely you are to be telling the truth. The study found that the inclusion of swear words in one’s everyday jargon shows that honest beliefs are not being censored. Additionally, the language patterns of frequent swearers were studied and resembled the language patterns having to do with telling the truth.

Source: Science Daily

Wildlife – Moody worms

“Ah, yes, I remember my moody teenage years fondly,” said no one ever. It turns out that humans are not the only animals that experience those ups and downs associated with adolescence. The Salk Institute for Biological Studies found that the brain chemistry of teenage roundworms causes them to act more irrationally than adult roundworms, exhibiting behavior such as taking their sweet time when seeking out food sources or choosing a direction to travel in.

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