Monthly Archives: March 2016

Tracking the devastating sea cucumber fishery


Soft, slimy, and wrinkled, they looked like a heap of waterlogged, disembodied phalluses.

The photographs, snapped by bystanders in the spring of 2015, showed sea cucumbers being hauled away from Hawai‘i’s beaches by the truckload. The animals slid over one another in a pool of mucus. As the images began spiraling through social media channels, locals reacted with surprise and dismay. Sea cucumbers had slunk peacefully along the seafloor for generations, largely ignored and unnoticed, so why were they suddenly under siege, plucked by the thousands from Hawai‘i’s nearshore waters? What would happen to the reefs without them? And where were they all going?

Read the rest of my feature story for Hakai magazine here.

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Cleaning teeth with bubbles?


People with sensitive teeth often hate visiting the dentist. One reason: Having their teeth cleaned and polished can hurt. Now, scientists have taken a close-up look at the tool that dentists use for that cleaning — and the tiny bubbles it creates. They think their work could lead to a new tool that can clean teeth without ever touching them. It would simply let the bubbles do the scrubbing.

Read the rest of my story for Science News for Students here.

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Does astronomy have a future in Hawaii?


For weeks, the astronomers, technicians and support staff working on Mauna Kea watched the protesters.

Native Hawaiians and others opposed to the massive Thirty Meter Telescope gathered near the 9,000-foot mark, their encampment near Hale Pohaku, the small campus where observatory workers stay when they’re not at the summit. In March, the protesters blocked the summit road, stopping construction vehicles. Then, on April 2, observatory workers watched in shock as 12 were arrested.

Doug Simons, director of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, and a 30-year veteran of Mauna Kea observatories, says the moment was a wake-up call for everyone on the mountain. “I realized things have fundamentally changed with Hawaii astronomy,” he says.

Read the rest of my story for Hawaii Business magazine on the future of Hawaii astronomy here.

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Does the universe’s acceleration create the right conditions for life?


Scientists have known for several years now that stars, galaxies, and almost everything in the universe is moving away from us (and from everything else) at a faster and faster pace. Now, it turns out that the unknown forces behind the rate of this accelerating expansion—a mathematical value called the cosmological constant—may play a previously unexplored role in creating the right conditions for life.

Read the rest of my recent story for Science here.

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