Natural Sciences Magazine Articles




August 24, 2021

In March 2020, as it became clear that we would be spending more time cloistered in our homes than ever before, I took up gardening. In the midst of chaos, digging in the dirt felt fitting, I decided. I would participate in a human experience that went back for millennia, in times of crisis and in times of peace. It felt universal.

June 30, 2021

Writer:

Scott Huler

Slow-growing microbes in peat bogs in the lazy South break down organic matter much more slowly than their northern relatives, making them much better carbon sinks and more effective in preventing the release of greenhouse gases than their counterparts further north.

Illustration of Titi Shodiya and Zakaiya Whatley who host the Dope Labs podcast

June 28, 2021

Writer:

Barry Yeoman

When Titi Shodiya and Zakiya Whatley launched the science podcast Dope Labs, they started not by talking about science, but instead by telling the story of their friendship.

“Zakiya and I met in grad school,” Shodiya Ph.D. ’15, a materials scientist and engineer, told listeners. “It was a tough time, to say the least. And in our pursuit to get the hell out of there, we became cousins. You know how Black folks do. She’s my play cousin.”

Duke Forest trees

December 8, 2020

Writer:

Scott Huler

The forest works on a different time scale.

Duke Forest, 7,000 acres in six divisions sprawled across Durham, Orange, and Alamance counties, where hardwoods tower and even Highway15-501 becomes a distant rush that actually might be a river, or the wind in the pines. When life speeds up, the forest slows it down.

A Sengi peeks out from among the Djiboutian landscape

December 8, 2020

Writer:

Corbie Hill

MAYBE THIRTY FEET from the campsite something rattled in a trap.

September 26, 2020

Writer:

Andy Read

It was the end of sophomore year in college, and I was looking for an interesting way to spend the summer and earn a little money. I stumbled across an ad for a summer job at the Ontario Science Center in Toronto that sounded fascinating—reconstructing the skeleton of a sixty-foot fin whale that had stranded the previous summer in Nova Scotia. I knew nothing about whales, but the concept of marine biology sounded pretty good to a kid who grew up in the middle of Canada.

Didn't read/Too long

November 19, 2019

Writer:

Scott Huler

ANIMALS AND MICROBES

August 12, 2019

Writer:

Stuart Pimm

I stand on a small tributary of the Irrawaddy River. Across it is Myanmar—formerly Burma: I’m about as far west in the Chinese province of Yunnan as I can be. Borders between countries fascinate, for they illuminate different experiments in how we manage our natural world. Across the river, the land is going up in smoke. There’s a dense blue haze. At night, I see dozens of small fires, while overhead a satellite maps them from their thermal infrared radiation.

August 8, 2019

Writer:

Scott Huler

For a guy who spends his time studying climate change, facing down the future of an Earth warming at an astonishing rate, under the management of a population that commonly resists even admitting its problems, Drew Shindell seems surprisingly optimistic.

September 30, 2014

Writer:

Louise Flynn

Billy Pizer, professor of public policy, economics, and environment, and his colleague Tim Profeta, director of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, wanted to find a hands-on way to engage students with the issue of emissions regulation. The Bass Connections energy-theme courses, in which graduate students and undergrads work together in small interdisciplinary groups, seemed the ideal setting in which to launch a new research project on the topic.

September 29, 2014

Nearly 4,200 members of the more than forty species of prosimians—lemurs, lorises, bush babies, and tarsiers—have lived at the Duke Lemur Center since 1966, and the center has been recording data on them.

September 25, 2014

The foothills are alive...with the sounds of creaky wooden porches, husky train whistles, and tobacco plants being scythed. These sounds are stored in the Sonic Dictionary, a digital archive of acoustics hosted by the Audiovisualities lab at Duke’s Franklin Humanities Institute. It’s a kind of “Wikipedia of sound,” according to English doctoral student Mary Caton Lingold, who conceived the project.

July 18, 2014

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, at the age of thirty-five, I did not see my life pass before my eyes. I did not have black spots at the edge of my vision. Instead, I thought, “Oh, crap, what do I do now?”

April 28, 2014

THE CATALYST: In 2000, Congress passed legislation to create the Veterans History Project. Housed in the Library of Congress, the ongoing collection includes correspondence, audio narratives, and visual materials from veterans of every American war since World War I. Several years ago, Center for Documentary Studies instructor Michelle Lanier and then-visiting professor Elaine Lawless saw an opportunity to contribute to the project at duke.

Samantha Emmert helps Victoria Thayer examine a deceased dolphin.

April 28, 2014

“The rolling sand dunes and gentle waves of Emerald Isle are so picturesque that I almost forget why I am here: to conduct a necropsy on a stranded bottlenose dolphin,” wrote Samantha Emmert from the Duke Marine Lab in early 2014. Emmert spent her junior year researching an outbreak of morbillivirus epizootic, a measles-like virus that has ravaged dolphin populations along the Atlantic Coast since last summer.

February 27, 2014

Less than two-thirds of doctors and teenage patients talk about sex, sexuality, or dating during yearly checkups, according to a Duke Medicine study published in JAMA Pediatrics last December. The conversations that do occur usually last just over thirty seconds, on average.

February 27, 2014

Athletes who suffer from torn-cartilage injuries may soon be in luck. Mimicking the strength and suppleness of natural cartilage is tricky, but Duke researchers have developed a synthetic version that comes pretty close to the real thing.

Articular cartilage, the tissue between bones and joints, enables us to bend body parts like elbows, hips, and knees. But overuse or injury can lead to wear-and-tear on cartilage, making movement painful and difficult.

February 27, 2014

An Alumni Faculty Fellow, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong is Chancey Stillman Professor of practical ethics in the philosophy department and the Kenan Institute for Ethics. His current work explores moral psychology and brain science, uses of neuroscience in legal systems, and freedom and responsibility. He co-teaches a MOOC, “Think Again: How to Reason and Argue.”

Vocal fry

February 18, 2014

Writer:

Scott Huler

By the time you finish reading this story you will have learned the following things: Men can hear fertility status in a woman’s voice—and they like it; a big, deep “me Tarzan” voice seems to help not just men but women succeed in politics and business; the pitch and tone of a CEO’s voice in a conference call may give you information about stock performance; women have it even tougher than you knew; and there may be evolutionary value in this whole “vocal fry” trend (think Kardashian end-of-s

November 5, 2012

Writer:

Barry Yeoman

On the first day of his marine conservation course this past January, Martin Smith told his eight undergraduates that they would play a game. One student would wait in the hallway. The other seven would stand around a conference table and go fishing.

May 17, 2012

Writer:

Ashley Yeager

© Glenn Bartley/All Canada Photos/Corbis

April 22, 2012

Matthew Hastings didn’t need a huge particle collider to split an electron. Instead, the Duke physicist did it virtually, with the help of several massive supercomputers.

Illustration above: Fundamental particles Simulated experiments allow researchers to speculate how electrons might react under different conditions.

January 31, 2012

Tropical birds, trees may not be adapting fast enough to climate change.