Ambergris: A Perfume Ingredient with an Unusual Origin

ambergris

Ambergris is a valuable substance that originates in a sperm whale’s digestive system. (Photo credit: Michael Freeman/Corbis)

When a “strange and mysterious” object washed ashore on a public beach in Wellington, New Zealand, rumors began to spread that it was ambergris. Soon after, fortune hunters arrived and tore the mysterious substance apart with shovels, collecting pieces in plastic bags. [Read more…]

Hate Cilantro? Blame Your Genes

New research indicates that your love (or hate) for cilantro depends on your genes. (Photo credit: Marnie Burkhart/Fancy/Alamy Images)

When it comes to the taste of cilantro in a spicy bowl of soup or wrapped up in a burrito, where do you stand? Do you find its taste refreshing? Or does it seem like you’re eating a mouthful of soap? This seemingly-benign herb elicits a love-hate relationship for many people. New research indicates that your genes may dictate your initial reaction to the flavor of this green herb.

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New Research Connects the Brain to the Immune System

brain illustration

Researchers at the University of Virginia have for the first time identified the connection between the brain and the immune system. (Art credit: PIXOLOGICSTUDIO/Getty Images)

Scientific knowledge is constantly changing as discoveries are made and theories are refined. Our knowledge of the human body is no different, as recently illustrated by a discovery made by researchers at the University of Virginia.

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50 Eco-Friendly Tips to Reduce Your Impact on the Environment

planet Earth

April 22 marks the 46th annual celebration of Earth Day. (Photo credit: Digital Vision/Getty Images)

April 22 marks the 46th annual Earth Day celebration. Earth Day was originally established by Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970 to bring environmental issues to the forefront of the national agenda. Until then, there were little to no legal or regulatory mechanisms to protect the environment.

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10 Questions about the Zika Virus, Answered

mosquito

The Zika virus is primarily transmitted by the Aedes mosquito. (Photo credit: Anest/Shutterstock)

The Zika virus made headlines earlier this year when the illness was connected to a significant rise in cases of microcephaly, a severe birth defect that affects brain and head development in infants. What is Zika virus? Where did it come from? Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the disease. [Read more…]

Please Don’t Stop the Music

band students

Research shows that playing a musical instrument is great for your brain. (Photo credit: Radius Images/Alamy)

Do you listen to music or play an instrument? If so, research shows you’re giving your brain an excellent workout. [Read more…]

The Resilient Water Bear Reveals its Genetic Secrets

water bear

The water bear can survive extreme conditions–and its foreign DNA may explain why. (Photo credit: Eye of Science/Science Source)

Though cute, at less than a millimeter in length, water bears aren’t exactly what you might call cuddly. Water bears are known for their ability to survive extreme conditions ranging from the depths of the oceans to the soaring heights of the Himalayas. Recent research indicates these tiny creatures have another unusual trait – nearly 20 percent of their DNA comes from other species. [Read more…]

Bringing Heritage Breeds Back To the Thanksgiving Table

turkey_crop

Turkey is a common sight on Thanksgiving. (Photo credit: Photodisc/Getty Images)

The centerpiece of many Thanksgiving dinners in the United States is a roasted turkey. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), it is expected that over 240 million broad-breasted white turkeys–the standard turkey found in your local supermarket–will be raised in the United States. [Read more…]

Ebola Vaccine Trials Prove Successful

ebola vaccine

A woman takes part in an Ebola virus vaccine trial in Monrovia, Liberia. (Photo credit: Abbas Dulleh/AP Images)

Last summer, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa was all over the news. At the outbreak’s height, many health officials feared the disease would spread across the globe, and indeed individuals in the United States and Europe were diagnosed with the disease. However, cases outside of West Africa were kept isolated and a global outbreak of the disease was prevented.

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Drones Launch Wildlife Research to New Heights

drone launching

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, also called drones) can cover more ground and easily access hard-to-reach areas. (Photo credit: Sander van Andel/REX Shutterstock/Associated Press)

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)—more familiarly known as drones—are quickly becoming a key piece of equipment for wildlife researchers. UAVs are safer, less costly, more efficient, and more precise than other, more traditional wildlife research methods. [Read more…]