Natural Sciences

Did the Little Ice Age start with a big bang?

Scientists have disagreed for many years over the precise cause for a period of cooling global temperatures that began after the Middle Ages and lasted into the late 19th century, commonly known as the Little Ice Age. 

Caution: early galaxy cluster under construction

An astronomy team led by the University of Colorado Boulder using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has zeroed in on a wild intergalactic construction project -- a cluster of early galaxies just starting to assemble only 600 million years after the Big Bang.

Listen up: crickets have had ears on their legs for more than 50 million years

How did insects get their hearing? A new study of 50-million-year-old cricket and katydid fossils sporting some of the best preserved fossil insect ears described to date are helping to trace the evolution of the insect ear.

According to University of Colorado Museum of Natural History paleontologist Dena Smith and University of Illinois Professor Roy Plotnick, who collaborated on the new study at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, or NESCent, in Durham, N.C., insects hear with help from some very unusual ears.

As Voyager 1 nears edge of solar system, CU scientists look back

In 1977, Jimmy Carter was sworn in as president, Elvis died, Virginia park ranger Roy Sullivan was hit by lightning a record seventh time and two NASA space probes destined to turn planetary science on its head launched from Florida.

Undergraduate student gains hands-on experience in disease ecology

They’re called cowboys, but you won’t find them astride a horse rounding up stray cattle. They are scientists—dubbed disease cowboys—who search for the cause when unknown diseases break out in remote locales.

Ian Buller, a CU-Boulder senior majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology, has his sights set on being one of these daring “disease cowboys” and to specialize in disease ecology, specifically identifying and studying disease emergence and designing control programs.

Research team discovers new kind of bacterial “fingerprint”

Forensic scientists may soon have a valuable new item in their tool kits—a way to identify individuals using unique, telltale types of hand bacteria left behind on objects such as keyboards and computer mice, according to a new CU-Boulder study.

Innovative CU-Boulder programs are transforming science and math education

Responding to a national crisis, CU-Boulder is putting a fresh face on how science and math courses are taught. One of those faces is Sarah Berger, who likes teaching and teaches well. But she is neither a faculty member nor a graduate-student teaching assistant. She is a sophomore in biochemistry and a learning assistant— or LA.

As she explains, students are comfortable with her because “they know that I don’t have all the answers either, so they don’t feel like I’ll think their questions are silly or dumb.”

Examining the politics of global warming

Why has the world been unable to address global warming? Science policy expert Roger Pielke, Jr., CU-Boulder professor of environmental studies, says it's not the fault of those who reject the Kyoto Protocol, but those who support it and the magical thinking that the agreement represents.

In his book The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won’t Tell You About Global Warming, Pielke offers a way to repair climate policy, shifting the debate away from meaningless targets and toward a revolution in how the world's economy is powered.

Explaining the link between climate change and pine bark beetles

“On one hand, I’m gonna tell you, ‘This is no big deal, bark beetles have been around for 35 million years, conifers have been around for a lot longer than that, and bark beetles have been killing conifers for 35 million years. There have been epidemics every 30 to 70 years. This is no big deal.’

“Then, on the other hand, I’m gonna tell you, ‘Holy smokes guys, this has never been seen before. Yes, it’s an epidemic, yes, epidemics are natural, but never has there been an epidemic like this as far as biologists have been able to look into the past.”

Nap-deprived tots may be missing out on more than sleep

A new study led by the University of Colorado Boulder could be a wake-up call for parents of toddlers: Daytime naps for your kids may be more important than you think.

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