Stormy Music

Arts, Culture & Media

The composer Lois Vierk names her music after dramatic phenomena, like Jagged Mesa or Demon Star or Simoom, an Arabic name for a powerful wind. So it seemed appropriate that when producer Jonathan Mitchell interviewed her about what makes beautiful music, the forces of nature weighed in with their own opinion.

Canaries in the Coal Smoke

Arts, Culture & Media
Rainbow scarab beetle

Dung beetles navigate using the Milky Way and other facts about ‘nature’s recyclers’

'Age of Acceleration'

A new book explores how to survive the ‘Age of Accelerations’

Volunteer Bob Walsh drags away buckthorn branches. (Photo: Olivia Powers)

These volunteer weed whackers are fighting invaders in Boston’s harbor


From Atop an Ecuadorian Peak, an Epiphany About Nature

The following is an excerpt from The Invention of Nature, by Andrea Wulf. Listen to SciFri on September 18, 2015, to hear Wulf talk more about Alexander von Humboldt. Five months after his arrival, Humboldt finally left Quito on 9 June 1802. He still intended to travel to Lima, even though Captain Baudin wouldn’t be […]

Picture of the Week: Corpse Flower

A rotten stench has been wafting through a greenhouse at the Denver Botanic Gardens—and visitors are all too eager to breathe it in. Who knows if they’ll ever get a second chance?  The odiferous offender is a plant native to the Indonesian island of Sumatra and known commonly as the “corpse flower,” for reasons that […]

Quiz: Is This Panda Pregnant?

Figuring out whether or not a giant panda is pregnant is no easy task. Take Mei Xiang, a giant panda at the National Zoo in Washington D.C., for example. Researchers have thought she was pregnant five times before—between 2007 and 2012—but she never ended up giving birth. She was artificially inseminated on April 26 and […]

Picture of the Week: Blue Morpho Butterflies

This is no ordinary butterfly collection. It’s a showcase of blue morphos (Morpho didius), a species native to the forests of South America whose wings—especially the males’—are famed for their brilliant aquamarine sheen. While the first two specimens are a typical male and female, the others are “gynandromorphs”—that is, animals that contain both male and […]

Picture of the Week: Saharan Silver Ant

Summer in the Sahara is scorching—sand temperatures can range between 149-158 degrees Fahrenheit. While skittering across the African desert at high noon might sound like a death wish, it’s only natural for the Saharan silver ant (Cataglyphis bombycina). The insect emerges from its nest in the ground to forage midday, capable of withstanding body temperatures […]