Growing plants in space: not just an academic adventure

On December 15, 2017, Alexander “Al” Meyers waited patiently at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to hear the deafening roar of a Falcon 9 rocket signifying the start of the launch. Delayed over a month for technical issues, the successful launch of the SpaceX CRS-13 mission was essential for Al Meyers, as nestled inside were seeds that are potentially critical to the future of space exploration.

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Rumble Down on the Farm

Will Harris is the fourth-generation owner of White Oak Pastures, his family’s 2500-acre farm near Bluffton, Georgia. When he took over the farm from his father in 1995, it was solely a cattle ranch, utilizing modern, industrial methods to raise livestock. However, Harris wanted a more ‘natural’ enterprise, and so began the transition from a modern cattle ranch to an organic, food-producing ecosystem. Today, White Oak Pastures raises cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, rabbits, chickens, turkeys, guinea fowl, ducks, and geese in a system that emphasizes animal welfare and environmental stewardship. Unfortunately, his earth-friendly ambitions have also turned his farm into a gory battlefield between Bald Eagle and chicken.

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Plastic Waters

Living in the modern world, we are completely surrounded by plastics. I have a plastic water filter, a plastic travel mug, a plastic phone, a plastic water bottle, I am currently typing on a plastic keyboard, and there is even plastic in the material my sweater is made out of.

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Hey Doc, U up?

Ever since the new iPhones were announced, millions of people have been pondering one of life’s most important questions: to upgrade or not to upgrade? For me, the newly improved camera could take my Instagram game to a whole new level. For others, retinal scanning could help secure important business emails. Whether you use your phone to post pictures of your vacation, respond to important emails, or stalk an ex-boyfriend, there’s no denying that phones have become integral parts of our lives. For people without access to healthcare, cell phones can help save their lives. Even in Africa, 93% of people have access to cell phone service. This has spurred scientists to find ways to make diagnosing, treating, or tracking diseases as easy as using an app on your phone.

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Designer Babies: Science Fiction or Reality?

What if you could design your future baby? They could be free of genetic disorders, predisposition to future disease, or even have a longer life span. In 1997, the movie GATTACA introduced us to this world of  “designer babies”, where genetic manipulation allowed for the creation of the “perfect” human. But what if this science fiction is not so far-fetched?  In the past three years, we have seen the genetic manipulation of human embryos, termed germline engineering, become a reality.

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The Power of Poop: Fecal Transplants

Everyone poops; it is a fact of life. It is something we do behind closed doors, and rarely discuss in civilized conversation. We refer to it as “waste” to be flushed away and forgotten, but for some people your poop could be a precious medical commodity. Poop is a tool that can help in fighting bacteria that are antibiotic resistant. Individuals dealing with these resistant infections may be looking for someone just like you to aid in a fecal transplant. You heard me right, a poop transplant from one person to another to treat a medical condition.

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The Science of Awe

When I was very little, I asked my dad how long it would take to get from Earth to the Sun.

I was wondering because I was attempting to pay a visit via a well-timed leap off the swingset. After he initially shattered my travel plans with the reminder that, to avoid a fiery death, I’d have to go at night (which, unfortunately, was past my bedtime), he proceeded to shatter my fragile 4-year-old notion of the universe with the fact that the sun is 93 million miles away.

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Its Common Name is Satan

On October 27, 2016, Mike Wallace, a cotton and soybean farmer from Arkansas, met with Allan Jones, also a farmer and Mike’s neighbor. They met along a quiet road between their two farms. Their discussion began civil, but it quickly escalated. Then, suddenly, Jones drew his gun and shot Wallace. The farmer died before paramedics could arrive.

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“Born to Die”: Genetically Modified Mosquitoes could be the answer to Zika Epidemic

When Lana Del Rey sang of  “Summertime Sadness”, I’m sure she was singing of summers in Georgia. Living in Athens, there are three things I can expect during the months of May through September: getting caught in a storm without an umbrella, sweating at 9 am walking into work, and being covered in hundreds of mosquito bites despite multiple coats of bug spray.

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Dirty neighbors, healthier lives: The hygiene hypothesis and model species

Are you a fan of hand sanitizer? Clorox wipes? When it comes to household cleanliness, most Americans are of the opinion that the fewer germs present, the better. And despite increased warnings of potentially dangerous consequences such as antimicrobial resistance, antimicrobial soaps, gels, wipes, and sprays continue to make up a large portion of America’s cleaning routine.

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