Chemistry Health 

How Nonsugar Sweeteners Affect Gut Health

By Brittany Trinh (@brttnytrnh) Do you take your coffee with a spoonful of sugar or use a nonsugar sweetener such as Sweet’N Low or Equal? These nonsugar sweeteners are called nonnutritive sweeteners because they contain little to no calories per gram, compared with nutritive sweeteners such as sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup. Common nonnutritive sweeteners are saccharin and aspartame. Nonsugar sweeteners are often hundreds of times sweeter than sucrose—125 mg of aspartame can replace 25 g of sugar. They have been recommended by medical professionals as sugar substitutes in food…

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Chemistry Health 

Artificial Sweeteners Affect Our Bodies and Environment

By Emily Folk (@EmilySFolk) Artificial sweeteners are prevalent in many grocery stores, restaurants, and fast-food chains, particularly aspartame (sold as Equal), sucralose (Splenda), saccharin (Sweet’N Low), and acesulfame (Sunett or Sweet One). Society’s food technology has evolved drastically in the past century, enabling us to make these types of commercial sweeteners, which are often added to sodas or other beverages for the taste and low-calorie benefit. Yet changes in the environment are showing that these seemingly innocent beverage additives come with a cost. The sweeteners used as health-promoting sugar substitutes…

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Biology Biota Project Chemistry Environment 

Learning Where Water Comes From, With Isotopes

by Nicholas Dove and Alyssa Abbey Did you ever wonder where your water is coming from? For many of us, drinking a glass of water is as easy as turning on the tap. But, the journey of water from a single raindrop to your drinking glass starts long before then. Water can actually travel hundreds of miles or take hundreds of years before it finally reaches you. During this hot summer month of July, The Biota Project is exploring the origins of one of Earth’s most precious resources: water. We…

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Biology Botany Chemistry 

Microbes Help Plants Survive Heavy Metal Stress

By Radhika Desikan When you hear the term heavy metal, what do you think of? Music or chemistry? Exposure to heavy metal music can cause stress in some humans. But what about chemical heavy metals? Are they good or bad for the environment and living organisms? In chemical terms, heavy metals are elements in earth’s crust that have a high density (weight), and they include zinc, copper, iron, silver, gold, arsenic, lead, and cobalt, to name a few. While trace amounts of heavy metals such as copper, iron, cobalt, and…

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Anthropology Biology Botany Chemistry 

Leaf Age Matters for Plant Survival

By Radhika Desikan Does age really matter? For us humans, age seems to be a very sensitive issue relevant to how we live our lives. And while it also matters to plants, it does so at a different level. Some of our tissues, like skin, have cells that are constantly dividing (to replace dead cells) and therefore differ in age, but what defines our age as an organism is not the life span of individual cells in our body, but rather the length of time that has passed since our…

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Astronomy Chemistry Paleontology 

Exploding Stars and Life on Earth

By Brian C. Thomas (@DrBrianAstroBio) A massive star that exploded near Earth about 2.5 million years ago—a supernova—may have helped drive the megalodon to extinction and may even have affected human evolution. Research by an international team of scientists and I have produced the most detailed picture ever of just how such a scenario played out. We’ve combined observations from astrophysics and geochemistry with new computer simulations to explore all the possible effects that life on Earth may have experienced. We’ve found that ozone in the atmosphere could have been…

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Biology Botany Chemistry 

To Grow or Not to Grow? Bacteria Make Seeds Think!

By Radhika Desikan A seed is the beginning of new life for most flowering plants. It has all the potential to develop into a new plant, with its own stored food used for germination (the sprouting of a seed). However, if you have done any gardening, you might know that not all seeds always germinate. Whether or not a seed grows into a plant is determined by a number of factors, such as the presence of oxygen, water, and the right temperature. Seeds have a remarkable ability to detect whether…

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Astronomy Chemistry 

Two Weeks as a Visiting Astronomer in the Quiet Zone

By Olivia Wilkins (@livwithoutlimit) Pictured in the image above is the Jansky Laboratory, where scientific research is conducted at the Green Bank Observatory, with the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in the background. The Jansky Lab is named for physicist and telephone engineer Karl Guthe Jansky, who in the 1930s first detected radio waves coming from the center of the Milky Way. Image by author. Green Bank, West Virginia is known as “America’s Quietest Town”: there is no cell-phone service, and the use of wireless Internet, digital cameras, and even microwaves…

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Chemistry 

Using Flow Cytometry in Biomedical Science

By Kate Warde (@girlinthelab) Flow cytometry is a common laser technique scientists use to look at the characteristics of each single cell in a large population of cells. How flow cytometry works In flow cytometry, cells are labeled with fluorescent tags that correspond to a specific target; for instance, if we want to look at protein X on a cell, we add a tag that binds to this protein. When the cells run through the cytometer, they are contained in a liquid that flows in single file so that each…

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Science with Sophie: Bubble Gum Chemistry Education Videos 

Science with Sophie: Bubble Gum

Bubble Gum Science Have you ever had gum stuck in your hair? Swallowed your gum? Found a wad of chewed gum stuck to the bottom of your shoe? If these things make you wonder what bubble gum really is and how it works, then you might be a scientist, and this video is for you. Do the science experiment with Sophie To do the bubble gum science experiment, you’ll need these things: 3 sticks of gum 1 freezer Go get those things and start the video! About Science With Sophie…

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