On the surface, plants look like easy targets. After all, they can't move, they don't have an immune system like we do, and they are constantly at the mercy of wind, rain, UV radiation, herbivores, and microbial pathogens , and that's all on a good day! If we were rooted in place in such an exposed habitat, we wouldn't stand a chance; yet, plants grow and thrive in most places despite these challenges, suggesting that they're much tougher than they look. In fact, it turns out that plants have a variety of defensive strategies that are amazingly efficient at preventing and overcoming infection.
There is a clash of cultures between scientists and journalists,a conflict that does not bode well for the public's understanding of science. The fundamental principles of journalism rest on accuracy and balance. To appear unbiased, journalists who report controversial scientific issues often portray opposing views as being equally valid (Nelkin 1995; Dunwoody 1999). However, this type of "balance" distorts the way the scientific process works because science is empirical. Within the scientific community, systematic evidence shows that there are often sides that carry more weight than others. Therefore, artificially balancing scientific theories misleads the readers, often enabling maverick science to gain an amount of recognition disproportionate to the evidence.
When Bell Laboratories' star physicist Hendrik Schön started work in 1998, he quickly showed his talent at stirring up excitement. He revolutionized computer parts and confirmed hotly contested theoretical physics. Colleagues described him as "a hard working, productive scientist" and soon whispered of a Nobel Prize. But as Schön's flawless data continued to appear (and reappear) in leading science journals, and frustrated scientists failed to recreate Schön's stunning results, the physics community began to hear other, less-savory, whispers.
The urge to discover humanity's common past, who we are and where we came from, is perhaps as ancient as the human species. First explained by myth, the story of Homo sapiens is continually being pieced together by scientists of different fields. The excavation of our ancestors utilizes traditional methods just as much as new technology and represents a unique cooperation of anthropology, genetics, and ecology.
Melting ice caps, massive flooding, and Armageddon-scale storms reminiscent of The Day After Tomorrow - it seems that everyone has been uttering the new doomsday phrase, "global warming." Environmentalists worry about it, big businesses dismiss it, and many media representations wildly distort it. Misconceptions run rampant and amidst all the controversy, it is almost impossible for the rest of us to decide whom to believe. What exactly is global warming, what causes it, and can we mitigate its effects?