In a new documentary, filmmaker Robert Stone explores this paradox. Why do so many environmentalists concerned about climate change reject the most abundant source of low-carbon energy, nuclear power? The film, "Pandora's Promise," follows five people who changed their anti-nuclear stance in light of climate change.
According to reductionism, every system, no matter how complex, can be understood in terms of the behavior of its basic constituents. The focus is on the bottom layer of the material chain: matter is made of molecules; molecules of atoms; atoms of electrons, protons, and neutrons; protons and neutrons of quarks; we don't know if the buck stops here or not.
At the biological level, organisms are composed of organs; organs of cells; cells of organic macromolecules; those of many atoms, etc.
If you died 55,000 years ago in the lands east of the Mediterranean, you'd be lucky to be buried in an isolated pit with a few animal parts thrown in. But new archaeological evidence shows that by about 12,000 years ago, you might have gotten a flower-lined grave in a small cemetery.
It looks almost like the Millennium Falcon, creeping ever so slowing, taking up the entire roadway on New York's Long Island. A team of spotters walks alongside, calling out trees that need cutting and road signs that need to be taken down.
Its name is the Muon g-2 (pronounced g minus two) and it's a very powerful electromagnetic ring capable of carrying 5,200 amps of current, says Chris Polly, the lead scientist for the ring's experiments.
"It creates a very strong magnetic field that allows us to store a special particle called a muon," he says.
NASA is sending a reliable servant into a retirement that will end with a fiery re-entry into Earth's atmosphere in about 65 years. That's the fate that awaits the Galaxy Evolution Explorer, the "galaxy hunter" space telescope whose original 29-month mission was extended to more than 10 years.
Along the way, the orbiting system, known as GALEX, helped scientists study how galaxies and stars are born, and how they change over time.
When they proposed it in the 1770s, it was such a novel idea. That instead of a king anointed by God, instead of a sage, instead of one leader telling all of us what to do, we should, every four years, all of us, pick our own leader, who would serve for a season, and then, job done, gently depart.
Nothing like this had been tried for thousands of years. Somehow, together we would be wiser than a single king. We would lead ourselves.
In principle, democracy seems noble, beautiful even.
At my family dinner table, I wondered a little. More than a little.
Humans have long relied on the sense of taste in the struggle to survive and multiply. A bitter taste alerts us to a plant that may be poisonous. A sweet taste tells us that a plant is likely high in calories and can help sustain us.
The value of elephant ivory has skyrocketed in the past few years. That's led to a huge increase in elephant poaching in Africa and, in turn, created new urgency to stop the trade. And as poachers have become savvier, scientists have devised more sophisticated methods of catching the thieves.
A pound of ivory is now worth more than $1,000, with wildlife experts attributing the rise in price largely to consumers, especially in Asia, who have new money to spend on ivory carvings.