Science

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It might seem like fire season is as bad as it’s ever been. But there’s a group of researchers who question that prevailing wisdom.

Three fresh science papers from separate institutions each makes the case that today's forest fires in the West burn less than in historical times. One of the co-authors is Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist at the Geos Institute in Ashland, Oregon.

Buzzworthy Breeding To Bring Back Bumble Bees

Aug 10, 2014

Some scientists are going to great lengths to help the agreeable Western bumble bee make a comeback.

Many parts of the U.S. have been getting warmer over the past several decades, and also experiencing persistent drought. Wildlife often can't adjust. Among the species that are struggling is one of the American West's most highly prized fish — the cutthroat trout.

In springtime, you can find young cutthroats in the tiny streams of Montana's Shields Basin. Bend over and look closely and you might see a 2-inch fish wriggling out from under a submerged rock — the spawn of native cutthroats.

earthquakes
Domesticat / Flickr

A swarm of central Idaho earthquakes that rattled Challis residents for more than a month appears to be dying out.

But seismologists say five portable seismographs have provided new information about the area that saw a sequence of quakes up to 4.9 in magnitude, peaking in mid-April.

Mike Stickney with the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology based in Butte, Montana, says the earthquakes are occurring on a northwest trending zone on the west side of the Salmon River.

A disease-causing fungus thought to be confined to the deserts of the U.S. Southwest has been discovered in soil samples from eastern Washington.

Steve Swanson / NASA

Tuesday morning, Boise State University students will speak with astronauts aboard the International Space Station. They’ll get to ask the crew 20 questions. It’s all part of BSU’s Space Symposium.

All semester, BSU Space Broncos have been engaging with NASA, chatting online and taking part in the space agency’s research and programs. That work is culminating with a live chat with NASA astronauts Steve Swanson and Rick Mastracchio.

This week, scientists at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History will start unpacking some rare and precious cargo. It's something the Smithsonian has never had before — a nearly complete skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex.

Wikipedia Commons

Geologists plan to install three portable devices known as seismometers or seismographs in the Challis area in central Idaho to help experts better understand a recent flurry of earthquakes.

The U.S. Geological Survey has recorded a sequence of quakes rumbling the area, the largest of which was a 4.9-magnitude quake on Saturday which shook pictures off walls. Challis residents also felt earthquakes above 4.0-magnitude on Monday and April 10.

cans
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The chemical BPA, or bisphenol A, is commonly found in plastics, soup cans, and store receipts. Scientists continue to study how the chemical affects people. New research from the University of Idaho may sound a cautionary note for humans. 

Gordon Murdoch is an associate professor of physiology at the University of Idaho. He focused on fetal heart development in rhesus monkeys.

For the study, pregnant monkeys were fed fruit containing BPA. “Our question was did it affect the genes in the fetal heart?” he asked, “And to our surprise and dismay, it did.”

The mysterious Clovis culture, which appeared in North America about 13,000 years ago, appears to be the forerunner of Native Americans throughout the Americas, according to a study in Nature. Scientists have read the genetic sequence of a baby from a Clovis burial site in Montana to help fill out the story of the earliest Americans.

A new independent review finds the federal government used uncertain science when it proposed taking the gray wolf off the endangered species list across the Lower 48.

It's not something we often think about, but as we go about daily life, we're constantly shedding little flakes of skin. So are animals and fish.

Ron Miller

Look south and imagine the bottom-tenth of the sky blocked by a striped arch like a colossal wall on the horizon. That’s what it would look like from Idaho if Earth had rings like the planet Saturn.

Aaron Kingery / NASA

If you wake up early and the skies are clear this week, a comet named ISON should be visible through binoculars over the southeastern horizon.

Astronomy websites have hyped the passage of this comet as the best in more than a decade. But a lot depends on a close encounter with the sun next week.

NASA.gov

The picture below is the planet Saturn and its rings back-lit by the sun. It’s essentially a planetary eclipse. Earth appears as a blue pinprick in the background. The picture is a mosaic of 141 different images. It comes from the Cassini space craft and it’s getting a lot of attention online.

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