Two timely science facts from Scientific American:
Why Trees Lose Leaves: University of Missouri plant biologist John Walker says he and colleagues have identified a group of compounds [in Arabidopsis thaliana] that prompt production of the proteins that cause plants to shed their petals. By blocking these chemicals, they succeeded in keeping petals intact, according to their paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Well, assuming nature continues to take its course and old leaves are replaced with new ones in the spring, Project BudBurst will seek your help in observing the tree buds to detect long-term impacts of climate change.
Each spring, thousands of citizen scientists participate in Project BudBurst by observing and recording buds and blooms across the nation. Scientists are using this data to learn about the responses of individual plant species to climatic variation locally, regionally, and nationally, and to detect longer-term impacts of climate change by comparing with historical data.
Why hurricanes hit the East Coast of the U.S. (From Scientific American): Hurricanes almost always form over ocean water warmer than about 80 degrees F. in a belt of generally east-to-west flow called the trade winds. California’s cool coastal buffer appears to keep the West Coast hurricane free. If you want to learn a little more, here’s a nice primer on hurricanes from an Earth Science Teacher.
This football season brings us perhaps the utimate citizen science sacrifice: The NY Times reports 12 NFL players have donated thier brains (post-humously of course) to enable scientists to explore the long term effects of repetitive head injuries. (hint: not good) See http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/24/sports/football/24concussions.html
Not an original idea: in 1876 la Société d’autopsie mutuelle
(The Mutual Autopsy Society of Paris) allowed members to donate thier bodies for study (by other society members) to advance science.