Published: Sept. 24, 2020

Here’s some CU news you can use: How thousands of fireflies flash in unison; what happens to families who are subjected to several natural disasters; singing, aerosols and COVID-19.

In the Smoky Mountains, thousands of fireflies flash in unison; researchers want to know how

What we learned: 

  • New study sheds light on how swarms of fireflies in the southeastern U.S. manage to synchronize their flashing. 
  • Fireflies appear to observe what their neighbors are doing and adjusting their behavior accordingly.
  • The findings could help researchers develop improved swarming robots.

For many families, the first disaster can be far from the last

What we learned:

  • Via intimate, in-depth interviews conducted in the homes of nine mother-child pairs, CU Boulder sociology Professor Lori Peek and co-author Lubna Mohammad reveal just how much a family’s circumstance going into disaster can shape how they fare coming out of it, and whether they’ll face the next one with resilience or despair.
  • Disasters hit some segments of the population far worse than others.
  • If we want to build a more disaster-resilient society, we must tackle big problems, like racial injustice and lack of affordable housing, healthcare and quality education.

Singing unmasked, indoors spreads COVID-19 through aerosols

What we learned:

  • Singing indoors, unmasked can swiftly spread COVID-19 via aerosols.
  • A superspreading event that affected more than 50 people in March was the result of viral transmission by aerosols, not droplets or touching infected surfaces.
  • Wearing masks, improving ventilation, using portable air cleaners and rehearsing for a shorter duration can reduce the risk of singing indoors, although it is recommended to rehearse outside.