NOVA Marathons: Animals | NOVA


5 episodes exploring the companionship, communication, and amazingness of animals.

Hiya, NOVA followers! We perceive that a lot of chances are you’ll be spending extra high quality time at house than regular. And, as colleges throughout the nation shut and stay closed, fostering scholar studying at house is a high precedence.

Within the upcoming weeks, we’ll be sharing collections of a few of our favourite NOVA movies—all organized by topic to make bingeing, studying, and leisure as straightforward as potential for science lovers of all ages.

Have you ever ever wished to see the world by way of the eyes of nature’s quickest animal or questioned in case your canine actually loves you? Prepare: The topic of this assortment is “Nature and Animals.”

Cat Tales (2020)

Worshipped as a goddess, condemned as satanic, and spun into a shocking array of breeds, cats have lengthy fascinated people.
However did we ever actually cultivate them? And what can science inform us about our most mysterious companions?

Canine Tales (2020)

Canine have lengthy been reliable companions by our sides. But it surely wasn’t all the time that method, and a take a look at their closest dwelling relative, the wolf, makes it clear why. Analysis into canine domestication and intelligence presents clues into what the human-dog relationship is all about. And analyzing canines’ mind exercise and genes might even assist reply the query of whether or not canines are in it for the meals—or in the event that they actually love us.

World’s Quickest Animal (2018)

See the world by way of the eyes of nature’s quickest animal: the peregrine falcon. Although as soon as perilously endangered within the U.S., this spectacular predator is now thriving once more in American cities and on each continent however Antarctica. What’s the secret to its predatory prowess? To search out out, observe a younger household of peregrines in city Chicago because the chicks hatch and study from their mother and father to fly and hunt. And be part of professional falconer Lloyd Buck as he trains a captive peregrine and places its searching expertise to the check. What’s the key behind the peregrine falcon’s blistering pace, in a position to attain practically 200 mph?

NOVA Wonders: What Are Animals Saying? (2018)

From singing whales and squeaking bats to thumping spiders and clicking dolphins, the world is full of the unique sounds of our fellow creatures. What are they saying? Whereas we consider language units us aside, some animals display they’ll study our language—like Chaser the canine, who acknowledges a whole bunch of phrases, and Kanzi the bonobo, who seems to have a classy understanding of spoken English. However can we decode their very own communications? NOVA Wonders follows researchers across the globe who’re deciphering an incredible array of clues that reveal how animals share info important to their survival. Will we in the future have the ability to write the bat dictionary or decode the hidden signal language of chimps? And what can these findings inform us concerning the roots of our personal language?

Inside Animal Minds: Who’s the Smartest? (2013)

What makes an animal good? What forces of evolution drive brains to change into extra complicated? Many scientists consider the key lies in {our relationships}. All through the animal kingdom, among the cleverest creatures—together with people—appear to be those that dwell in complicated social teams, like dolphins, elephants, and apes. May the talents required to maintain observe of buddy and foe make animals smarter? To search out out, NOVA goes contained in the social lives of among the smartest animals on the planet. Off the coast of Florida, we see dolphins staff as much as catch fish by whipping up a wall of muddy water that drives the meal proper into their companions’ ready mouths. Plainly the dolphins are working collectively to plan their hunt. However are they actually? Biologists go on a quest to decipher the secrets and techniques of animal societies, from the seas of the Caribbean to the plains of Africa. Do dolphins and elephants have “language?” Do chimps have a way of equity? And are any animals apart from ourselves able to feeling empathy?

Take a Virtual Field Trip with NOVA Education | NOVA

Planet EarthPlanet Earth

Be part of NOVA on three digital discipline journeys this month in celebration of Earth Day and Environmental Training Month.

Be part of NOVA on three digital discipline journeys this month in celebration of Earth Day and Environmental Training Month. We might be dwell streaming a presentation and Q&A with three scientists doing Earth science analysis in excessive environments on the poles. 

We all know that many lessons are assembly just about now resulting from faculty closures from the coronavirus pandemic and we invite you to hitch the dialog along with your college students on the NOVA Training Fb web page the place we might be internet hosting the digital discipline journeys. For those who’re eager about attending any of those journeys along with your lessons, please RSVP to

Assist a Satellite tv for pc from the South Pole

Wednesday, April 15, 2020
1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT
Watch Right here: NOVA Training Fb or NOVA Training YouTube

For our first digital discipline journey, Dr. Kelly Brunt (Affiliate Analysis Scientist with the College of Maryland and NASA) will focus on how researchers are monitoring the modifications at Earth’s poles utilizing satellites with centimeter degree accuracy.

Rejoice Earth Day with Dr. Kirk Johnson

Wednesday, April 22, 2020
1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT
Watch Right here: NOVA Training Fb or NOVA Training YouTube

For our second digital discipline journey, rejoice the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day with Dr. Kirk Johnson, Sant Director of the Smithsonian Nationwide Museum of Nationwide Historical past and host of NOVA Polar Extremes. Hear about a few of his favourite locations on planet Earth, and why it is important to proceed studying about our planet.

Surviving (and Thriving) in a Polar Desert

Wednesday, April 29, 2020
1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT
Watch Right here: NOVA Training Fb or NOVA Training YouTube

For our third digital discipline journey, Melisa Diaz, a PhD scholar at Ohio State College, will focus on how organisms have survived for thousands and thousands of years within the salty, dry soils within the dry valleys of Antarctica.

Scientists find warm water beneath Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier | NOVA

Planet EarthPlanet Earth

Thwaites Glacier is melting quick. However to know how local weather change is driving its decline, scientists have to ship devices by way of 2,000 ft of ice into the water under.

Researchers on Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier peer right into a crevasse. Picture Credit score: Seth Campbell

Aurora Basinski crouches in a tent on a glacier jutting out from Antarctica, half a mile off strong land. She’s tinkering with a tool known as a VMP, which measures water temperature and salinity, when she begins cursing.

Thirty-six hours earlier than, a storm moved off West Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier, giving Basinski and her fellow investigators a tiny, essential window of time. They dug their gear out of snow drifts as tall as themselves and on January 8 started hot-water drilling a 14-inch-wide gap down into the glacier. 

Basinski is considered one of about 50 researchers engaged on the jap tongue of Thwaites Glacier as a part of the Worldwide Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC). The $50 million, five-year research is supported by the U.S. Antarctic Program and the British Antarctic Survey. The aim is to higher perceive how local weather change is affecting Thwaites, nicknamed the “doomsday glacier” as a result of it’s melting so rapidly. Researchers will deploy all method of scientific devices throughout its floor. However to essentially perceive what’s occurring with Thwaites, additionally they have to ship devices into the water under it. 

And which means drilling a gap by way of 2,000 ft of ice.

The group on the aptly named MELT mission drills in shifts for 36 hours and by the point they hit water under the glacier, their borehole is twice as tall because the Eiffel Tower. Basinski and her advisor, New York College mathematician and ITGC Principal Investigator David Holland, instantly start a “science shift,” buying and selling in drilling instruments for fine-tuned scientific devices. It’s already the nighttime, and when Basinski’s VMP acts up, she’s compelled to remain awake twiddling with the machine for an additional 12 hours. 

“You wish to get good knowledge,” she says. “You may have one shot.”

Winds blow by way of the ITGC analysis camp the place David Holland and Aurora Basinski conduct their work. Picture Credit score: David Holland and Aurora Basinski

Runaway Glacier

Thwaites Glacier is a fragile piece of probably the most quickly altering locations on Earth. That tempo of change is what caught individuals’s consideration about 20 years in the past, Holland says. Thwaites’ elevation falls by a number of ft yearly. Scientists theorize that as the vanguard of a glacier retreats farther inland, the thicker ice above begins flowing down towards the ocean quicker. This creates a runaway impact of retreat, thinning, additional retreat, and, in the end, collapse.

“If a glacier collapse happens within the subsequent decade to century, or centuries, will probably be right here,” Holland says. “And will probably be triggered by heat water and be unstoppable.” Thwaites may additionally set off ice loss in connecting areas of West Antarctica, scientists consider. “Every little thing that we’ve seen, significantly from satellite tv for pc and distant sensing within the final decade or so factors to this space changing into extra lively,” says Paul Cutler, program director of glaciology, ice core science and geomorphology on the Nationwide Science Basis. “And it’s not performing in isolation. If it begins quickly retreating, it begins performing on the neighboring glaciers as properly.”

The ice shelf that Basinski, Holland, and the remainder of their group shared from mid-December to mid-January is like an ice dice in a glass of water. As a result of it’s over the ocean, it received’t instantly contribute to sea stage rise. However about half a mile away is what scientists name the grounding zone, the place this “flowing” piece of Thwaites sitting on the water meets the “grounded” half hooked up to the seafloor.

It’s this ice atop strong floor—an enormous ice dice on a countertop—that climatologists fear about. “The ice dice I’m standing on is holding [back] the ice dice on the kitchen counter,” Holland says from Thwaites’ jap ice shelf. 

Altering winds and currents carry heat water beneath Thwaites Glacier, accelerating ice soften on its underside. Because the glacier loses its grip on the seafloor, the grounding line shifts again, hastening retreat. Picture Credit score: Worldwide Thwaites Glacier Collaboration

Already, the melting of Thwaites Glacier, which is roughly the dimensions of Florida, accounts for 4% of world sea stage rise on an ongoing foundation. And the quantity of ice flowing from it and its glacial neighbors has virtually doubled within the final 30 years. Present mathematical fashions illustrate that if it have been to break down, which scientists consider will occur within the coming many years or centuries, a lot of western Antarctica’s remaining ice will grow to be unstable. 

If Antarctica have been to lose solely Thwaites, the Earth’s oceans would rise by about two to a few ft or extra, researchers consider. That’s sufficient to trigger main flooding in New York Metropolis and fully engulf some low-lying cities like New Orleans and Venice, Italy, with seawater.

And if the lack of Thwaites triggered the collapse of the remainder of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, the worldwide sea stage may rise by greater than 10 ft. “It will possibly really feel very distant,” Andra Garner, a local weather scientist at Rowan College who shouldn’t be a part of the ITGC, says of melting glaciers. However “coastal sea rise is an issue for communities in itself,” she says. If the seas have been to rise by 10 ft, Holland says, the results on nations like Bangladesh, coastal states like Florida, and main cities like New York, London, and Shanghai might be “profound.” 

Increased seas can even imply intensified storms. “On the East Coast we’re involved as a result of we already see sea stage rise [playing out] within the background,” says Cutler, who’s based mostly in Virginia. “Storms are in a position to encroach inland.” Even a minor hurricane, which wouldn’t trigger intense flooding as we speak, Garner says, may have a a lot worse impact in deeper coastal waters. 

And to make issues worse, storms themselves appear to be rising. Garner’s analysis reveals that from 850 to 1850, storms related in measurement to Hurricane Sandy have been prone to happen about as soon as each 500 years in New York. At present, Hurricane Sandy is what she calls a “25-year storm,” that means one which has a 1 in 25 likelihood of hitting in any given 12 months. But when our present patterns of carbon dioxide emissions proceed—and glacial soften together with them—Hurricane Sandy might be a 5-year storm in New York by 2100.

Floor Fact

Local weather fashions depend on arithmetic to explain how power and matter work together within the ambiance, on land, and within the ocean. About 30 organizations world wide, Holland says, constantly develop them to higher perceive the complexities of the Earth’s previous, present, and future local weather. However these fashions are restricted, unable to account for the day-by-day shifting of glaciers’ grounding traces, for instance, or options but to be found. This leaves sea-level-rise projections with “a giant asterisk known as ‘Thwaites,’” Holland says. “And Thwaites is gonna run the entire present.” 

That’s the place the ITGC is available in. 

The placement, form, and conduct of Thwaites’ grounding line, a characteristic that’s sure to play closely into future local weather fashions, was unknown a decade in the past. However from 2011 to 2014, Pietro Milillo of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and his group used satellite tv for pc knowledge to map out the grounding-line retreat of Thwaites and the neighboring Pine Island, Smith, and Kohler Glaciers. 

Shortly after, a group of Seoul Nationwide College scientists used distant sensing knowledge to indicate that the Thwaites Ice Shelf—the a part of the glacier hanging over the ocean—is disintegrating rapidly and its charge of shedding ice into the ocean is accelerating. That made Thwaites a “prime spot” for concern, Cutler says.

Then, in January 2019, Milillo’s group made a startling discovery. 

Their distant sensing work revealed a Manhattan-sized cavity in opposition to the grounding zone on Thwaites’ western facet, a spot too crevassed for scientists to conduct on-the-ground analysis. The existence of such a cavity means that heat water under Thwaites licks at an already-unstable part of its ice shelf—a phenomenon that might hasten Thwaites’ retreat, however isn’t accounted for in fashions, Milillo says.

His group’s findings additionally revealed that Thwaites’ grounding line strikes by a number of miles with the tides—one other characteristic that’s not taken under consideration by present local weather fashions.

Even the boundaries of Thwaites are exhausting to outline, says Slawek Tulaczyk, a glaciologist on the College of California, Santa Cruz and a principal investigator of the ITGC. Whereas the boundary between glacier and rock are well-defined in locations like Yosemite, he says, “in Antarctica, you kind of have a sheet of ice. Thwaites is a fast-flowing piece of ice on the edges, rubbing in opposition to slow-moving ice within the center. There isn’t a rock wall.”

About three many years of analysis present that these boundaries can shift over time because the glacier widens and narrows, or the grounding line shifts. “Fashions aren’t nice at predicting that proper now,” Tulaczyk says. “It’s a lot simpler to put in writing code the place issues are set and don’t change.”

Although they lack a layer of complexity, as we speak’s local weather fashions do supply a glimpse into what Earth’s future may appear like. For comparability, think about planning a highway journey with solely a globe. You’d be capable of draw a line out of your place to begin to the place you wish to find yourself. When you hit the highway, with a globe in hand, you could possibly hypothetically head within the correct path. However to efficiently find yourself within the state, city, and road of your vacation spot (and get site visitors studies alongside the way in which), you’ll doubtless need one thing extra detailed. 

Equally, local weather fashions want one other layer of complexity to higher assess Thwaites’ future and its potential results on the planet: They’ll have to evolve from globes into Google Maps.

A Glimpse Beneath the Ice

Again on the ice in Antarctica, after 12 hours of toying with the VMP, or vertical microstructure profiler, in a analysis tent, Basinski and Holland lastly work out what’s flawed with the extremely delicate probe: The noise from the mills surrounding them had created electrical interference sturdy sufficient to throw off the VMP’s readings. 

As soon as fastened, Basinski lowers the VMP—somewhat probe on an extended wire—down the two,000-foot borehole and into the water under. The instrument quickly will get a learn on turbulence, the blending of the colder floor water and hotter, saltier, water under, a phenomenon that may stoke additional melting of the glacier doubtlessly quicker than heat air can. 

The two,000-foot borehole, known as a “Thwaites Glacier entry level,” stays coated when scientists aren’t deploying their devices. Picture Credit score: David Holland and Aurora Basinski

“It’s actually thrilling to have it within the ocean and to see the info that’s coming again,” Basinski says. “All of it seemed good and dependable.”

Sharing this nook of Thwaites is Britney Schmidt, an ITGC principal investigator and Georgia Tech astrobiologist, and her group, which is answerable for a 12-foot torpedo-like robotic known as Icefin. On January 10, Schmidt and her group lean over the borehole and pull on Icefin’s tether, guiding the yellow robotic out of the water and ice after six hours of exploration, its third of 4 journeys. Icefin carries knowledge concerning the temperature and salinity of the water in Thwaites’ cavity in addition to the first-ever photos from the grounding zone. Not like the researchers’ different devices, Icefin will be guided away from the borehole utilizing a distant management, permitting the researchers to seize readings over a wider space.

“Deploying a fancy system is rarely easy, however the robotic was a champ and we truly beat our private bests in a number of methods,” Schmidt mentioned in an e mail. Icefin accomplished its two longest journeys ever, venturing over a mile out from the borehole. “We truly acquired to the tip of our tether on our second dive on the market,” Schmidt wrote.

Inside a matter of days, the ITGC researchers obtain their first readings.

The water beneath the borehole is about 160 ft deep. The highest half of it’s chilly water, a number of levels above freezing, and the decrease half is hotter, saltier water, Basinski finds. Based mostly on this even splitting, it might appear that turbulence—the speedy mixing of heat and chilly water—is low. Meaning the nice and cozy water isn’t readily in a position to warmth up the chilly water above it, which could possibly be excellent news for Thwaites.

However the researchers aren’t celebrating but.

We will’t ignore the truth that this heat water is there and touching the ice, Basinski says. This heat water, she provides, is from our lively heating of the ambiance. When the ambiance warms, wind patterns change, which in the end impacts the form of ocean currents. Scientists already know that altering currents, which now shepherd heat water to Greenland, are responsible for a lot of glacial melting in Earth’s Northern Hemisphere. The identical may be occurring within the South at Thwaites, they concern.

And, Holland provides, not all of Thwaites behaves the identical: Beneath its heavily-crevassed, quick-moving western tongue, it’s very doable that heat and chilly water are mixing. 

Aurora Basinski and David Holland depart from West Antarctica. Picture Credit score: David Holland and Aurora Basinski

Now that the ITGC researchers have returned residence, they’ll pore over extra knowledge, a lot of which is being beamed to them by instruments they’ve left on the ice. Some group members plan to return to Thwaites subsequent 12 months or the next, or will go to for the primary time. Some, like Basinski, don’t want to return in any respect. “Antarctica is a variety of enjoyable. However [returning there] would imply a variety of digging,” she says, referring to unearthing instruments from a 12 months’s price of snow —about 10 ft.

With the data they accumulate over the 5 years of the ITGC, they hope to map out the glacier intimately. 

“By doing that, we assist perceive what the linch pins are within the system,” Schmidt wrote in an e mail. “We all know from an entire host of information that the local weather is warming, that the ocean is warming and that Thwaites is altering quickly, however the charges of change beneath the ice are unsure with out these new knowledge.”

These knowledge “will assist beat down the uncertainty in how the system is altering,” she wrote. And that may enable scientists to make higher local weather predictions and society to correctly reply.

Thwaites has the facility to quickly break up and shed, to lift the seas, to inundate coastal cities. “The way forward for our planet’s sea stage is tied up virtually definitely with what I’m standing on and what the parents behind me are engaged on,” Holland mentioned from the glacier in January, gesturing to Schmidt’s group and Icefin behind him. “The affect, world wide, might be on tens or a whole lot of hundreds of thousands of individuals. And the affect in {dollars} is big.” 

For now, that affect comes with uncertainty. And that uncertainty is hinged on the quantity of carbon dioxide we emit into the air now and shifting ahead, says local weather scientist Andra Garner. It will possibly really feel dire, she says, however the way forward for Thwaites and our planet is essentially in people’ palms. “That’s our supply of hope,” she says, “that now we have the possibility to vary issues.”

NOVA science correspondent Miles O’Brien assisted in reporting this text.

Correction: A earlier model of this text incorrectly said that beneath Thwaites Glacier, a layer of heat water is sitting above colder water. Chilly water is the truth is above the nice and cozy water.

NOVA Marathons: Health and Medicine | NOVA

Physique + MindPhysique & Mind

Six episodes exploring the fascinating science and improvements in well being and medication.

Whats up, NOVA followers! We perceive that a lot of you might be spending extra high quality time at residence than regular. And, as colleges throughout the nation stay closed, fostering scholar studying at house is a high precedence.

Within the upcoming weeks, we’ll be sharing collections of a few of our favourite NOVA movies—all organized by topic to make bingeing, studying, and leisure as straightforward as doable for science lovers of all ages.

Whether or not you’ve got ever been curious concerning the microscopic world of organisms dwelling inside you or needed a deeper understanding of the science of dependancy, prepare: The topic of this assortment is “Well being and Drugs.”

Decoding COVID-19 (2020)

The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has upended life as we all know it in a matter of mere months. However on the similar time, an unprecedented international effort to grasp and include the virus—and discover a remedy for the illness it causes—is underway. Be part of the medical doctors on the entrance strains of the struggle in opposition to COVID-19 as they strategize to cease the unfold, and meet the researchers racing to develop therapies and vaccines. Alongside the way in which, uncover how this devastating illness emerged, what it does to the human physique, and why it exploded right into a pandemic.

Dependancy (2018)

Hear firsthand from people fighting dependancy and comply with the cutting-edge work of medical doctors and scientists as they examine why dependancy is just not an ethical failing, however a power, treatable medical situation. Quick access to medication like heroin, fentanyl, and even prescription medicines like OxyContin has fueled an epidemic of dependancy—the deadliest in U.S. historical past. Now, science is revealing how dependancy impacts the mind, and high consultants are gathering proof about how we must always tackle our drug downside, from embracing evidence-based therapies, to rethinking public insurance policies.

Poisoned Water (2017)

Water. Activate the tap and it’s at all times there. With out it we perish. However how protected is our faucet water?

On this particular report narrated by Joe Morton, NOVA investigates what occurred in Flint, Michigan, when native officers modified the town’s water supply to economize, however ignored a crucial remedy course of. Because the water pipes corroded, lead leached into the system, exposing the neighborhood—together with hundreds of kids—to harmful ranges of poison. NOVA uncovers the science behind this artifical catastrophe— from the intricacies of water chemistry to the biology of lead poisoning to the misuse of science itself. NOVA follows bizarre residents and impartial scientists who uncovered the hazard lurking in Flint’s water and confronted those that turned a blind eye. And uncover the disturbing reality that reaches far past Flint—water programs throughout the nation are equally weak. How can we defend ourselves from poisoned water?

Vaccines—Calling the Pictures (2014)

Illnesses that had been largely eradicated in the US a technology in the past—whooping cough, measles, mumps—are returning, partially as a result of nervous dad and mom are skipping their youngsters’s photographs. NOVA’s “Vaccines—Calling the Pictures” takes viewers around the globe to trace epidemics, discover the science behind vaccinations, hear from dad and mom wrestling with vaccine-related questions, and make clear the dangers of opting out.

NOVA Wonders: What’s Dwelling in You? (2018)

Whether or not they make you fats, fart, or freak out, microbes play a central function in your life.

Proper beneath your nostril—in your face, in your intestine, and in all places in between—trillions of micro organism, viruses, and fungi are so ample in your physique, they outnumber your human cells. However these aren’t simply nasty hitch-hikers. Many are essential to your survival. Proof suggests {that a} various microbiome can maintain you wholesome and, conversely, a broken one may kill you. NOVA Wonders friends into this microscopic world to find the fascinating, weird, and downright stunning secrets and techniques of the human microbiome, together with the world’s largest stool financial institution, which transforms uncooked stool into life-saving poop drugs.

Life’s Best Miracle (2001)

A sequel to probably the most widespread NOVAs of all time, “Miracle of Life,” this Emmy Award-winning program tracks human growth from embryo to new child utilizing the extraordinary microimagery of Swedish photographer Lennart Nilsson.

Meet the NOVA Science Studio Team | NOVA

Ralph Bouquet — Director of Schooling and Outreach, NOVA

Ralph Bouquet is the Director of Schooling and Outreach for NOVA, the PBS science documentary sequence produced by WGBH in Boston. At NOVA, Ralph’s staff helps science educators by the creation of free STEM classroom assets distributed by PBS LearningMedia and engages new audiences for NOVA’s broadcast and digital content material by science communication occasions and outreach campaigns throughout the nation. Earlier than NOVA, Ralph taught highschool biology and chemistry in Philadelphia after which labored in ed-tech at a Boston-based startup. Ralph acquired his B.A. in psychology from Harvard College and studied secondary science strategies whereas finishing his M.Ed. at UPenn.

Tenijah Hamilton — NOVA Science Studio Program Supervisor, NOVA

Tenijah Hamilton is the Program Supervisor for the NOVA Science Studio, the primary youth going through program from NOVA, the PBS science documentary sequence produced by WGBH in Boston. Bringing together with her a ardour for work on the intersection of media and social affect, Tenijah joined the NOVA Schooling staff in 2018 the place she executed the Boston pilot of the NOVA Science Studio. Via her work as Program Supervisor, she goals to to empower the following era of science communicators by making STEM extra accessible for underrepresented youth. Beforehand she has labored within the public sector in Wellington, New Zealand in addition to in New York Metropolis on the nonprofit arm of a significant worldwide movie competition. She holds a Bachelor’s Diploma in Mass Communications and Movie/Media Research from the College of West Georgia.

Alex Clark — Digital Video Producer, NOVA

Alex Clark is the Digital Video Producer for the NOVA Science Studio and produces authentic movies for this system and leads video manufacturing coaching for website coordinators and college students. Alex is a video journalist, cinematographer, and teacher of documentary filmmaking and he holds a level in journalism from Columbia College. He has created TV and digital content material for PBS, NBC, and NowThis. A lover of all issues science, he produced and co-hosted Vox’s Emmy-nominated YouTube sequence, Glad You Requested.

Kara Norton — NOVA Schooling Digital Editor

Kara is the NOVA Schooling Digital Editor liable for producing authentic content material for science educators on NOVA Schooling’s web site and social media channels, in addition to offering editorial help for the event of curriculum and workshop sequence for the NOVA Science Studio. Previous to NOVA, Kara labored as an unbiased wildlife and setting journalist. She has reported on a spread of matters on the intersection of science and social points together with environmental justice for nail salon employees in New York Metropolis, the hyperlink between the unlawful wildlife commerce and COVID-19, the following era of feminine ocean explorers, in addition to a sequence of in-depth interviews with the organizers of the viral on-line motion Black Birders Week. Kara holds levels in journalism and environmental research from New York College.

Dr. Brian Southwell — Advisor to the NOVA Science Studio Program

Dr. Brian Southwell is Senior Director of the Science within the Public Sphere Program within the Middle for Communication Science at RTI Worldwide. He’s a social scientist who oversees quantitative and qualitative analysis to evaluate threat perceptions, psychological fashions of scientific ideas, and belief in science and scientists. As well as, Dr. Southwell is an Adjunct Professor and Duke-RTI Scholar with Duke College, the place he has taught programs in sociology, public coverage, and documentary research. He is also a graduate school member (in Media and Journalism) and Adjunct Affiliate Professor (of Well being Conduct) on the College of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Southwell’s contributions seem in additional than 100 journal articles and chapters and his varied books, together with Misinformation and Mass Audiences (College of Texas Press) and Social Networks and Widespread Understanding of Science and Well being (Johns Hopkins College Press), have been centered on public understanding of science. Southwell is host of a public radio present, The Measure of On a regular basis Life, for WNCU. He is also an lively participant in efforts to handle public understanding of science, together with frequent talks in venues such because the Aspen Concepts Competition.

The NOVA Science Studio empowers college students with the talents to inform participating tales about science by textual content journalism and short-form video and creates a platform to amplify the voices of younger individuals who have been historically underrepresented in science communication.

5 Technology Documentaries Streaming Now | NOVA

Tech + EngineeringTech & Engineering

5 episodes exploring the revolution and ethics of know-how.

Good day, NOVA followers! We perceive that lots of it’s possible you’ll be spending extra high quality time at dwelling than typical. And, as faculties throughout the nation stay closed, fostering pupil studying at house is a prime precedence.

Within the upcoming weeks, we’ll be sharing collections of a few of our favourite NOVA movies—all organized by topic to make bingeing, studying, and leisure as straightforward as doable for science lovers of all ages.

Have you ever ever questioned in regards to the ethics of genetic engineering or thought-about whether or not autonomous automobiles will sometime take over our roads? Prepare: The topic of this assortment is “Know-how.”

Decoding da Vinci (2019)

Leonardo da Vinci was a Renaissance genius. Not solely did he paint masterpieces of artwork, however he was an obsessive scientist and inventor, dreaming up complicated machines centuries forward of his time, together with parachutes, armored tanks, grasp gliders, and robots. On the five hundredth anniversary of Leonardo’s loss of life, with the assistance of biographer Walter Isaacson, NOVA investigates the secrets and techniques of Leonardo’s success. How did his scientific curiosity, from dissections of cadavers to research of optics, form his genius and assist him create maybe probably the most well-known portray of all time, the “Mona Lisa”?

Rise of the Rockets (2019)

Rockets have gotten cheaper and extra highly effective than ever earlier than due to gorgeous new applied sciences. As firms like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic make house extra accessible, and NASA returns to crewed spaceflight, a brand new period of house exploration appears to be on the horizon. However will this seeming rocket Renaissance grow to be extra than simply hype? NOVA explores the most recent rocket applied sciences and the rising position non-public residents could have in house.

Look Who’s Driving (2019)

After years of anticipation, autonomous automobiles at the moment are being examined on public roads world wide. As bold innovators race to develop what they see as the following high-tech pot of gold, some consultants warn there are nonetheless daunting challenges forward, together with easy methods to practice synthetic intelligence to be higher than people at making life-and-death choices. How do self-driving vehicles work? How shut are we to large-scale deployment of them? And can we ever have the ability to belief AI with our lives?

College of the Future (2016)

In a brand new age of data, speedy innovation, and globalization, how can we put together our youngsters to compete? As soon as the envy of the world, American faculties at the moment are in hassle. Check scores present our children lag far behind their friends from different industrialized nations, and because the divide between wealthy and poor grows wider, the objective of getting all children prepared for school and the workforce will get tougher by the day. How can the most recent analysis assist us repair schooling in America? Can the science of studying—together with new insights from neuroscientists, psychologists, and educators—reveal how children’ brains work and inform us which methods are most definitely to have interaction and encourage rising minds? What position ought to know-how play within the classroom? Academics, college students, dad and mom, and scientists take middle stage as NOVA explores a brand new imaginative and prescient for the “College of the Future.”

NOVA Wonders: Can We Make Life? (2018)

“It is alive!” Since Dr. Frankenstein spoke these well-known phrases, we have been alternately enthralled and terrified by the thought of making life within the lab. Now, a revolution in genetic engineering and thrilling improvements in artificial biology are bringing that dream—or nightmare, because the case could also be—nearer to actuality. New instruments permit researchers to make use of cells to create their very own DNA and edit it into present genomes with extra ease and fewer value than ever earlier than. Together with renewed hopes for treating some genetic ailments, there’s severe speak of utilizing the latest applied sciences to deliver long-extinct animals again from the useless – just like the staff hoping to resurrect the woolly mammoth. Science fiction is rapidly changing into science reality. One other daring genetic experiment to bioengineer animals may forestall Lyme illness. However the energy to make life comes with deep moral questions. What are the potential rewards—and risks—of tinkering with nature? NOVA Wonders explores the advantages and the burden of danger surrounding the controversial new know-how.

Bring Climate Science to the Digital Classroom with the Polar Lab | NOVA

Planet EarthPlanet Earth

On-line, interactive assets for instructing local weather science and local weather change to center and highschool college students

On-line studying assets are extra necessary at present than ever earlier than. Now, with assist from NOVA’s Polar Lab, educators may give college students an immersive, interactive take a look at Earth and local weather science from the security of their residence.

Regardless of the rising physique of proof exhibiting the causes and present impacts of local weather change and the scientific consensus on how human exercise contributes to current world warming, local weather change denialism continues to be an issue throughout the nation. In case you are a science educator who teaches Earth and local weather science, you’re certain to listen to your college students tout misconceptions that they’ve picked up from politicians, information media, and, in some circumstances, different science lecture rooms.

To extend pupil understanding of local weather science and Earth’s local weather historical past, NOVA has created the Polar Lab — a web-based sport that makes use of 360 movies, interviews with scientists, and mini-games to ship gamers on an immersive quest to grasp how the poles are key to understanding Earth’s local weather.

The Polar Lab combines mini-games, clickable 360 landscapes, movies, and animations to take gamers onto the ice and into the laboratory seeking proof to reply large questions on Earth’s local weather—previous, current, and future. The Polar Lab places college students within the driver’s seat as they work with host Caitlin at “Polar Lab HQ” to gather knowledge from the sector, reply questions on Earth’s local weather previous, and play mini-games, shifting by the story in three missions that occur throughout the globe.

Past the sport, NOVA has developed the Polar Lab assortment on PBS LearningMedia, a group that features assets for integrating the Polar Lab into your local weather change classes. On this assortment, you’ll discover a lesson plan with ideas for growing a instructing unit utilizing the Polar Lab, a number of extension actions for extra evaluation of pupil data and expertise, and a technical information for navigating by the sport. As well as, there are additionally a number of video assets that deal with the educational targets of the Polar Lab and embody assist supplies for facilitating class discussions in regards to the analysis findings featured all through the sport.

NOVA Polar Lab

Launch the Polar Lab to get began:

NOVA Polar Lab Assortment

Earlier than you utilize the Polar Lab along with your college students, assessment our lesson plan for an summary of the disciplinary content material and practices lined within the sport, together with NGSS efficiency expectations. You’ll additionally discover instructing suggestions with dialogue questions that deal with studying targets all through the sport:

NOVA Antarctic Extremes

Comply with NOVA’s Caitlin and Arlo as they discover how science is finished on the seventh continent, Antarctica! Watch as Caitlin and Arlo uncover what it’s wish to reside within the coldest place on the planet, meet child seals (additionally featured within the Polar Lab!), and discover out the place all of the poop in Antarctica goes. The ten-episode digital sequence is offered on Youtube:

NOVA Polar Extremes

Complement the content material of the Polar Lab with NOVA’s movie on the local weather science of Earth’s poles. Kirk Johnson, the Sant Director of the Smithsonian Pure Historical past Museum, takes you on a journey from deep time to the current, from Antarctica to Greenland, as he uncovers clues that inform us in regards to the dynamic historical past—and future—of Earth’s local weather:

Have questions on these assets or ideas for extra assets we must always add to the gathering? Tell us at

Covid-19 patients sharing ventilators is possible but not ideal | NOVA

Tech + EngineeringTech & Engineering

The science of coventilation for coronavirus instances illustrates an advanced dilemma.

Much less-invasive ventilators use a masks reasonably than a tube inserted into the affected person’s throat. Picture Credit score: Juanmonino, iStock

On March 20, as extreme instances of COVID-19 spiked in northern Italy, emergency drugs physician Marco Garrone paused throughout a chaotic shift to tweet a photograph: two sufferers, subsequent to one another in hospital beds, with arcs of tubing connecting them to the identical ventilator. “That is what we’re right down to,” he wrote. “Splitting ventilators, and going through severe dilemmas like selecting who can be really ventilated when all people ought to. #TakeThisSeriously

A month later, as caseloads skyrocketed throughout the pond in New York Metropolis, Columbia Presbyterian Hospital hurried to draft protocols for ventilator sharing. And across the similar time, an emergency drugs physician in Michigan named Charlene Babcock posted a YouTube tutorial that includes step-by-step instructions on tips on how to modify a ventilator so it will possibly accommodate a number of sufferers. That video racked up practically one million views within the ensuing weeks.

“Right here’s my disclaimer,” Babcock says to the digital camera. “That is off-label use of the ventilator.” However, she provides, excessive circumstances could name for measures that in any other case could be deemed too dangerous. “If it was me, and I had 4 sufferers—they usually all wanted intubation, and I solely had one ventilator—I might merely have a shared dialogue with all 4 households and say: ‘I can choose one to stay, or we will attempt to have all 4 stay.’”

The looks of ventilator sharing (or “coventilating”) this spring in locations the place the novel coronavirus has hit essentially the most severely prompts plenty of questions: How does a ventilator work? Why is it attainable for a couple of affected person to make use of a ventilator without delay? And if it’s attainable, why aren’t extra medical doctors in hard-hit areas doing it? Excellent news: That is the primary in a NOVA collection answering burning coronavirus questions similar to these.

Have a COVID-related query for us? Comply with the #CovidQs hashtag on Fb and Twitter to submit your inquiry or ask us on Reddit @novapbs.

How do ventilators work? 

Treating a affected person in excessive respiratory misery is “like staring out the window and seeing folks free fall,” says Albert Kwon, an anesthesiologist at New York Medical Faculty. Docs don’t understand how lengthy their sufferers have been “falling” or how lengthy they’ll proceed to fall with out intervention; they need to make an on-the-spot evaluation about whether or not a parachute is important.

In that case, they will select from a number of choices, starting from much less to extra invasive. All ventilators present oxygen and promote its absorption within the bloodstream whereas additionally serving to rid the physique of the ensuing carbon dioxide. Those you’ve in all probability heard essentially the most about throughout the COVID-19 pandemic present a stream of air into the lungs through a tube inserted right into a affected person’s throat.

This stream of air exerts optimistic strain, which is the alternative of how respiratory normally works. After we breathe in on our personal, our diaphragm muscle tissue transfer down in our chests, rising accessible area and creating an space of destructive strain that causes air to hurry in. (There may be one ventilator that works on destructive strain, which you’ve in all probability heard of: the iron lung.) 

Excessive-magnification pictures present the floor of alveoli in wholesome mouse lungs (left) and lungs with ventilator-induced harm (proper). Picture Credit score: Kate Hamlington Smith, College of Colorado Faculty of Drugs

One purpose COVID-19 sufferers want to make use of ventilators is as a result of their lungs change into so stiff that the diaphragm isn’t robust sufficient to finish its regular motion, inflicting respiratory to sluggish or cease. Air flow additionally retains the lungs inflated whereas they heal. That’s vital as a result of infected capillaries in sick lungs can leak a protein-rich fluid, rising floor pressure within the liquid that usually coats the lungs and making them susceptible to break down. 

However even wholesome lungs are in danger throughout this course of, as a result of their tissues usually are not normally topic to optimistic strain. That signifies that getting strain ranges flawed throughout air flow could be harmful. Too low, and a affected person doesn’t get sufficient oxygen. Too excessive, and the lungs can change into overinflated, inflicting their tissue to tear.

At first look, the ventilator utilized in essentially the most extreme COVID-19 instances seems pretty easy: a tube that goes down the affected person’s throat, two hoses that join the tube to the machine itself (one for pushing air into the lungs and one for bringing carbon dioxide again out of the physique); seals, valves, and filters to maintain gases transferring in the fitting course; and a central case. However inside that case lives a way more sophisticated gadget, replete with strain, move, and oxygen sensors, and units of circuitry and alarms related to every factor. A normal hospital ventilator has 1,500 components, options a number of layers of fail-safes, and may price round $30,000. 

“The variety of safeties that need to be on a medical gadget like that is wonderful,” says Nevan Hanumara, a analysis scientist in MIT’s Precision Engineering Analysis Group. “That is second solely to aerospace.”

A medical ventilator. Picture Credit score: Nenov, iStock

Why isn’t ventilator sharing extra widespread? 

Ventilators have such sophisticated internal workings partly as a result of air flow is way more concerned than simply turning on a hose. The method requires medical doctors to think about myriad illness elements and affected person measurements, making it virtually an artwork reasonably than a science. “Tidal quantity,” for instance, refers back to the quantity of air in every breath, “resistance” to the convenience with which air strikes by the lungs, and “compliance” to how stiff or versatile the lung tissue itself is. Clinicians may also regulate how briskly sufferers breathe and regulate air strain at every stage of these breaths.

All because of this whereas establishing coventilation is comparatively easy—in her YouTube video, Babcock merely makes use of an affordable plastic adaptor to create space for extra hoses—that doesn’t essentially imply it’s secure. The primary drawback, Hanumara factors out, is that coventilating requires utilizing the identical strain with two very completely different units of lungs. The more healthy lungs obtain extra air as a result of they inflate extra simply, whereas the sicker, much less versatile lungs gained’t get as a lot.

Secondly, he provides, sensors calibrated for one particular person’s measurements could not work for 2, that means the suitable alarms may not be triggered if there may be an emergency. Some COVID-19 sufferers, for instance, expertise sudden, catastrophic adjustments of their lung well being; with out alarms, it’s way more troublesome to catch these adjustments in time. And eventually there’s the matter of cross-contamination. Though two coronavirus sufferers sharing a ventilator can’t give one another their infections, they may nonetheless swap pneumonia microbes, and even tuberculosis.

Given these dangers, analysis on coventilation has divided the respiratory care neighborhood. Among the many newer research, Assistant Director of Analysis at SUNY Downstate Division of Emergency Drugs Lorenzo Paladino efficiently coventilated 4 sheep for 12 hours in 2008. (Garrone, the Italian physician, seemed to that research when establishing his coventilated sufferers in March.) Paladino and his coauthors selected sheep for his or her research as a result of adults have comparable respiratory physiology and weight as people, and aimed for 12 hours as a result of emergency protocols permit for supply of kit from the Strategic Nationwide Stockpile anyplace within the continental US inside that point.

The research was prompted by the 2001 anthrax assaults and 2003 SARS outbreak, Paladino says, and was meant to offer a stopgap “bridge” measure for emergency physicians with insufficient provides ready for backup in a catastrophe state of affairs—to not substitute single air flow in the long run. Earlier than COVID-19, the method was most famously used after the 2017 Las Vegas live performance taking pictures, when a single ER noticed an enormous surge of gunshot sufferers and coventilated them to maintain them alive whereas they waited for surgical procedure.

Paladino compares the method to a life vest. “We don’t condone crossing the Atlantic in a life vest,” he says. “But when I’m in the midst of the Atlantic, I might reasonably have a life vest than not. And I might hope {that a} boat is coming to choose me up quickly.”

The way forward for coventilation

Not each affected person is an efficient candidate for coventilating, Paladino stresses. Sufferers with lively bronchial asthma needs to be excluded, as ought to those that are inclined to “struggle” the ventilator, attempting to attract a breath when the machine is expelling air, or vice versa. However even with these caveats in place, within the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, six main organizations—together with heavyweights just like the Society of Vital Care Drugs and the American Society of Anesthesiologists—have made statements towards coventilating, judging it too dangerous and ethically questionable to be price contemplating. “There’s a really reliable concern that as a substitute of saving two folks, you simply extremely elevated the chance of mortality for 2 folks,” says Bradford Smith, a biomedical engineer on the College of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. 

These severe dangers level to the urgency of the latest conditions in Italy and New York which have led medical doctors to strive coventilation. Smith, who lately revealed a “preprint” (a not-yet-peer-reviewed preliminary research) suggesting an algorithm to match sufferers for safer coventilation, runs down the checklist of choices he would strive earlier than resorting to the method: fixing previous, damaged ventilators; utilizing accessible machines usually used for surgical anesthesia; attaching endotracheal tubes to comparable however less-invasive machines used for sleep apnea. “That is so rife with issues that the primary time I heard about it, I assumed, ‘That is the stupidest factor I’ve ever heard,’” Smith says. “However individuals are taking steps to mitigate all these points.”

Coventilating practitioners can use filters between sufferers to assist stop cross-contamination, for instance. And protocols drawn up by Columbia Presbyterian and the Division of Well being and Human Providers (HHS) this spring recommend workarounds to permit for some adjustment of ventilator settings, higher monitoring of each sufferers, and use of some built-in alarms.

As in Paladino’s case, most analysis on coventilation stems from a drive to organize for the worst. Smith says he was initially impressed to work on his algorithms as a result of he was afraid he must use them. (“With the information popping out of Italy, I used to be on these chain emails of essential care physicians, and issues sounded fairly dire,” he says.) And the truth that HHS thought it essential to convene a taskforce in Washington D.C.—which included Paladino and Babcock—to supply coventilation pointers for future use speaks to the severity of each the pandemic and predictions for international well being over the following two years.

Smith hasn’t had to make use of his algorithms, however he fears fall flu season could present one other alternative. He additionally wonders if they could be of use in different places all over the world the place ventilator provides are meager, to provide physicians and respiratory therapists helpful context about how several types of sufferers could react to coventilation.

“This isn’t how nations, and even states, cope with a ventilator drawback,” Paladino says. As an alternative, he sees coventilation taking part in an vital position for communities which are rural or remoted, or lack entry to medical care. Think about a small hospital that owns simply three ventilators after which receives six desperately sick COVID-19 sufferers in a single night time. Then what? “One night time you see a spike, and also you ask for assist from the neighbors,” he says. Within the meantime, coventilating simply may maintain these sufferers alive.

Stream Decoding COVID-19 beginning on Wednesday, Could 13 at 7/6c on the PBS Video app or on-line to study extra:

A Native American eagle feather’s unlikely journey | NOVA


When an eagle dies in America, it might find yourself at one in every of our eagle repositories—distinctive establishments working to guard each birds of prey and Native American traditions.

A bald eagle in flight over Colorado. Picture Credit score: Matt Dirksen, iStock

When one in every of his eagles dies, Waha Thuweeka begins by portray the highest of its head with a conventional dry ochre paint typically utilized in Comanche ceremony, then traces the paths of its main arteries and the pads of its ft in pink. Subsequent, he removes the bones that kind the crux of its highly effective wings, for use for eagle bone whistles. He positions the ft as if the hen have been at relaxation, its head tucked on its breast, then binds it in pink material and buckskin. 

All of the whereas, Waha Thuweeka (who additionally makes use of the English title William Voelker) burns fragrant juniper and pinyon pine resin over scorching coals. The resin is supposed to represent tears, he says; “Once we put it on scorching coals, we let the tree cry for us.” After the ceremony is finished, he leaves the eagle’s wrapped physique in a excessive crevasse specifically chosen by his group for that function.

Waha Thuweeka and his co-director, Kweeni Mahquetsoi Okweetuni (who additionally goes just by Troy) look after 144 grownup eagles and their offspring at a sprawling compound exterior of Oklahoma Metropolis often called Sia, which implies “feather” within the Comanche language. His love of the birds runs deep. He started serving to his grandmother, who practiced conventional Comanche eagle drugs, at age 8. His father, who labored within the West again when golden eagles have been being slaughtered by ranchers, collected eagle feathers and elements from the useless creatures he discovered—some 2,200 in all.

Within the Comanche custom he follows, the eagle is “holy past phrases,” Waha Thuweeka says, a “connector between we earthbound creatures and the almighty.” Rituals might require feathers in key elements of prayer, and a few conventional drugs requires the vitality of a stay eagle. Many different American tribes honor eagles equally. The Hopi Tribe of Arizona has for hundreds of years sacrificed eaglets as a method to talk with the divine. In Wisconsin, many Potawatomi individuals use eagle feathers in naming ceremonies. And eagle feathers have grow to be sought-after gadgets as elements of regalia utilized in ritual and at powwows.

However for the reason that passing of the Migratory Chicken Treaty Act, the Bald Eagle Safety Act, and its subsequent golden eagle modification throughout the twentieth century, that reverence has been in battle with conservation coverage—since these legal guidelines make it unlawful for People to own any eagle feathers, elements, eggs, or nests. “Traditionally, if eagle feathers have been used [in ritual] they typically got here from a hen that had misplaced its life,” Waha Thuweeka says. “Most often a life that was intentionally taken.”

Apart from being an eagle cultural heart and an intensive archive for Comanche historic data, Sia is one in every of seven tribal-run eagle repositories in the US. That signifies that enrolled members of federally acknowledged tribes can apply to obtain molted feathers and different elements that come from Sia eagles to be used in non secular ceremonies, freed from cost. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service additionally runs an eagle repository in Colorado, distributing feathers and elements from useless eagles discovered on federal lands.

Collectively, these repositories work to satisfy two typically competing wants: the safety of our nationwide hen and the suitable of People to apply their faith freely. In doing so, they showcase the distinctive relationship between our nation and an animal that’s not simply an ecologically invaluable predator but in addition a cultural image. “We really feel strongly that with each eagle feather request and want that we meet, it saves the lifetime of an eagle within the wild,” Waha Thuweeka says.

A Husi Numukahni (Comanche Peyote Tipi) surrounded by 4 Comanche eagles positioned on the 4 instructions. The eagles typically sing in accompaniment to the boys singing within the tipi. Picture courtesy of Sia: The Comanche Nation Ethno-Ornithological Initiative.

Again from the brink

Greater than 60 eagle species take to the skies worldwide, however solely two stay in North America. And for many of U.S. historical past, these eagles have been in some type of bother. Till the 1800s, that bother was principally on account of deforestation, says Bryan Watts, director of the Middle for Conservation Biology on the School of William and Mary. It was within the mid-Nineteenth century, although, with firearms more and more accessible, that the issues actually began.  

Fur trappers and fishermen shot bald eagles, viewing them as rivals; farmers shot them for stealing sheep and piglets and to maintain them from nesting close by. Between 1917 and 1952 Alaska ran a bounty program that paid out for the killing of 128,000 bald eagles. Throughout that point ranchers within the West carried out large-scale killings of tens of hundreds of golden eagles, even searching them from airplanes within the Nineteen Thirties. And trophy hunters additionally started stalking eagles, buying and selling birds and eggs like stamps or cash. “Again within the Nineteen Twenties you’ve gotten catalogues with lists of bald eagle eggs available on the market for about $15,” Watts says. “That was fairly a bit of cash.”

Then, throughout post-World Conflict II industrialization, got here the air pollution—with essentially the most vital injury coming from the insecticide DDT. Contaminants within the meals chain ended up in eagle eggs, making them too brittle and lowering chick survival charges. (This affected bald eagles greater than goldens, Watts notes, due to their differing prey.) The Bald Eagle Safety Act was handed in 1940, with an modification added for golden eagles in 1962. However eagle populations continued to lower.

“Right here within the [Chesapeake] Bay, reproductive charges have been right down to horrifying ranges all through the Sixties,” he says. “At that time, we as a tradition confronted a choice. Are we going to let this species go?”

Watts attributes the next rebound of the eagle inhabitants to developments in public opinion and cultural strain. The U.S. banned DDT in 1972. The Audubon Society, then in its infancy, rallied the general public to cross the Endangered Species Act in 1973, and lobbied to get bald eagles listed as endangered. Eagles appeared too culturally invaluable to lose. “We as society contemplate eagles to be an emblem of freedom and American virtues,” Watts says. “Once you look globally, a handful of species transcend their biologies—bald eagles are one.” (Pandas and elephants are two others, he provides.)

With bald eagle eggs returning to viability, “our inhabitants has been growing about 8% per yr and now has reached ranges nobody ever dreamed of,” Watts says. On the species’ nadir in 1962, Audubon counted 416 breeding pairs within the decrease 48 states. At the moment, Watts estimates there are 30,000. 

Strict restrictions on eagle trafficking helped us get up to now. The varied conservation insurance policies enacted within the Nineteen Seventies made it unlawful for anybody to own eagles, both alive or useless; residents who discovered useless eagles have been prohibited from gathering any a part of them, together with feathers. However that prohibition included these tribes whose non secular lives require contact with stay eagles or entry to their elements and feathers. 

The federal authorities established the Nationwide Eagle Repository within the Nineteen Seventies, trying to create a centralized vacation spot for the nation’s eagle stays and a brand new pipeline for these communities to obtain eagle elements for ritual. The repository labored along side the so-called “Morton Coverage” (named for a Secretary of the Inside), meant to reassure Native American communities that, via the repository, they might maintain eagle elements and feathers “with out worry of Federal prosecution, harassment, or different interference”—however that safety didn’t lengthen to killing of the birds.

However, “legislation enforcement had a heyday,” Waha Thuweeka remembers. “It was a tragic time.” So-called “feather busts” turned commonplace on reservations within the Nineteen Seventies and ’80s, with federal brokers raiding tribal gatherings and confiscating something adorned with feathers, claiming they have been performing on tips on birds being killed illegally. 

“Typically they have been proper, however too many instances there have been harmless bystanders,” he says. Even right now, many elders maintain their most treasured possessions hidden away for worry of feather busts. Within the Nineteen Nineties, Waha Thuweeka developed protocols utilizing pet microchips to determine particular person feathers as they have been distributed, thus making a mechanism for recipients to substantiate their provenance if questioned by authorities. “Now we’re seeing previous historic gadgets coming into again into the general public realm,” he says. “The sensation of all that energy is wonderful.”

When an eagle dies

On particularly productive days on the Nationwide Eagle Repository in Colorado, Laura Mallory and three of her colleagues would possibly course of 15 eagles every, harvesting tail plumage, talons, beaks, and particular person feathers to be used in ritual. The repository has advanced significantly over the past 45 years, via a lot of authorized battles with Native American teams. It re-formed in its current location exterior Denver after an particularly rocky interval within the Nineteen Nineties, with the purpose of serving alongside seven tribal-run repositories because the federal authorities’s finest try to bridge the hole between eagle conservation and tradition. Its eagles now come from a mixture of federal companies, that are required at hand over eagles discovered useless of their jurisdictions, and state wildlife and raptor rehab representatives who ship them in voluntarily. 

A useless bald eagle is processed on the Nationwide Eagle Repository in Colorado. Picture Credit score: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Processing an eagle on this context is each strenuous and time consuming, which signifies that with some 3,200 useless eagles coming into the repository per yr—double bagged, frozen, shipped to the power in a single day in a cooler—there’s nearly all the time a backlog. When Mallory begins analyzing an eagle, she first scrutinizes the wing bones, searching for fractures. Subsequent, she examines the animal’s ft, checking that the talons have retained their sharpness and the scales aren’t too worn. She pays particular consideration to the pinnacle, as a result of it’s typically the primary half to decompose, and makes certain the beak isn’t cracked. She feels below the thick torso feathers for the hen’s flight muscular tissues, which is able to inform her how wholesome it was in life. And lastly, she checks for proof of electrocution or probably harmful viruses, which may trigger injury or put individuals in danger, excluding an eagle from subsequent use. 

As she does this, Mallory enters data from the eagle’s paperwork right into a database, together with its age and knowledge about how and the place it died. (“Typically we’ll get in a well-known hen, and the paperwork will record what motion pictures it was in,” she says.) Birds, or elements of birds, which are in ok situation for redistribution are then stashed in one of many repository’s 4 deep freezers—and the remaining are put right into a pile for cremation.

Plumage from juvenile eagles is in particularly excessive demand for powwow regalia, together with feathers with significantly high-quality quill for ceremony. Any enrolled member of a federally acknowledged tribe can apply for elements via the repository, with ready durations starting from as little as a number of weeks for feathers from an grownup bald eagle to eight years for an entire juvenile golden eagle.

It’s not a simple job. Working with so many stunning, useless animals—performing as a “mortician for eagles” as Mallory places it—could be each bodily and emotionally draining. “These birds are large and frozen; they weigh rather a lot; their talons nonetheless scratch you,” she says. However even in circumstances the place eagle rehabbers are mourning birds they raised for 3 a long time, she feels grateful to have the ability to remind them: “this hen goes to stay one other life.” 

The system stays removed from excellent. Because the repository has restricted workers and solely federal companies are required to submit their eagles, a fraction of eagles that die throughout the U.S. are despatched there—and a fraction of these attain the communities that want them. The federal authorities continues to tinker with eagle retention coverage and, in August 2019, the Trump administration eased rules that restricted tribes from retaining eagles discovered on their very own land. However stress stays between federal companies and the tribal communities counting on them for entry to eagle elements and whose historical past of mistreatment retains them cautious.

Even so, the repository continues to work towards its twin function of supporting eagle conservation and sustaining tribal non secular tradition. Researchers at each Fish and Wildlife and the US Geological Survey can entry the repository’s eagle database, to be used in analysis on nationwide populations and mortality developments. And on the cultural aspect, Sarah Metzer, an schooling specialist on the repository, notes that on calls to substantiate an applicant’s data earlier than sending out requested feathers and elements, recipients are sometimes so moved by the thought of receiving them that “you typically need to pause as a result of they’re weeping on the opposite finish of the cellphone.”

Till lately, any unused stays on the Nationwide Eagle Repository—these eagle elements that weren’t in ok situation to be despatched out to be used in ritual—have been incinerated and disposed of together with the power’s mainstream waste. That disposal technique turned a subject of debate throughout a 2017 tribal session on the repository, and the Fish and Wildlife Service made efforts to discover a extra respectful method. “It was a small change we may make,” Mallory says. At the moment, she drives the eagle ashes a brief approach exterior the repository into the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Nationwide Wildlife Refuge, to a quiet stretch of restored prairie, and buries them.

Sia Co-Director Kweeni Mahquetsoi Okweetuni (Troy) with a golden eagle throughout dawn prayer following an all-night Native American Church ceremonial. Troy wears histroic 1870s garb and behind him is Jeff Indeck, previously of the Panhandle-Plains Historic Museum. Picture courtesy of Sia: The Comanche Nation Ethno-Ornithological Initiative

Hatching a brand new technology 

Regardless that Sia is at the moment closed to guests as a result of COVID-19 pandemic, Waha Thuweeka and Kweeni Mahquetsoi Okweetuni nonetheless begin their mornings earlier than daybreak. It’s, in any case, hatching season, and the eaglets want care it doesn’t matter what’s occurring on this planet. They begin the day with a prayer to welcome the dawn, a tune that was “gifted” in a gesture of conventional honor to one of many beloved elder eagles, often called Delight, some 40 years in the past.

Waha Thuweeka takes satisfaction in doing work “past simply doling out eagle feathers.” He attends tutorial conferences to maintain up on scientific literature. Eagle researchers sometimes go to Sia, together with one group that lately got here to check among the birds’ skill to listen to completely different frequencies as a part of a research on eagle listening to. And in answering an applicant’s eagle request, “we attempt to reconnect that particular person with the cultural and religious lifeways,” he says. Which means, partially, offering eagles to be used in therapeutic and different ceremonies by the local people. “Traditionally an individual that was ailing was taken to an eagle nesting space,” he explains. “Now we take the eagles to them. We’re on name 24 hours.”

It additionally means elevating eagles that may tolerate that position in ceremony, with a cautious eye towards every little thing that caring for an eagle in captivity entails. Waha Thuweeka discovered a lot of his eagle husbandry from his grandmother and father—in addition to what he jokingly calls a three-year “Comanche raid” on Cornell College’s ornithology and genetics choices as a scholar—together with strategies hardly ever practiced elsewhere. He was the primary to efficiently hatch artificially inseminated bald eagles and raises a portion of each new technology of chicks imprinted on him as a guardian, finally transitioning to enjoying the position of a bonded companion. (That permits him to let the eagles fly free, he says, with out retaining them hungry to make sure they’ll come again for meals, as falconers typically do.)

An grownup golden eagle strikes to cowl a bald eagle chick with a ceremonial blanket at Sia. Picture courtesy of Sia: The Comanche Nation Ethno-Ornithological Initiative

Golden eagles which were imprinted to people “depend on us to do every little thing a wild mate would do,” he says. “Low-key speaking, singing, bringing nest materials.” Golden eagle tune modifications relying on the person, he says. Some sing in a low throaty squawk, some in a higher-pitched yodel, so he alters his voice to match his companion.

After the dawn prayer, he and Kweeni Mahquetsoi Okweetuni go concerning the morning chores, refreshing water and beginning eaglet feedings. After a long time within the discipline, Sia is within the means of hatching soon-to-be fourth-generation golden eagle offspring. These are the progeny of birds that “supplied feathers and vitality for our ancestors going again over 60 years in the past. To have the present technology of birds producing feathers for what are typically the great-great-grandchildren of those ancestors” is a particular honor, he says, and one which additionally works towards a bigger objective of conservation. “These poachers will exit and kill an eagle for one set of feathers. By nurturing an eagle, we will have over 50 years of feathers.”

The eaglets—little greater than cheeping heaps of feathers mendacity in specialised dishes lined with felt—eat their first meal at 18 hours previous, a mixture of quail meat from breast, coronary heart, and lung. Waha Thuweeka mixes the meat himself, feeding the eaglets as much as six meals a day, served in minuscule bites utilizing forceps. (“You don’t need them to affiliate your fingers with meals,” he says.)

After which, there’s maybe an important process of the morning: gathering feathers which were misplaced in a single day. “Eagles are very playful,” he says. “If the feather lays on the bottom too lengthy, they’ll pounce on it and play with it,” rendering it unusable for ritual.

By Might, the yearly molt is effectively underway. One current day, the eagles had misplaced greater than 20 feathers in a single day. He collected all of them, shortly and punctiliously, to be saved and sorted at a later date, then despatched out to make their approach into rituals throughout the nation.

“Every time a feather is collected, it’s accomplished so in prayer,” he says. “We’re taught to be grateful, whether or not it’s a feather within the wild or one which birds dropped right here.

We are saying, ‘Nu tsutai.’ Bless us.” 

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Interview: Tropical paleontology and being #BlackInNature | NOVA


Paleobiologist Melissa Kemp says people have been introducing species to the Caribbean since lengthy earlier than Columbus arrived—and she or he’s serving to piece that historical past collectively.

Melissa Kemp with a Puerto Rican crown-giant anole (Anolis cuvieri). Picture courtesy of Melissa Kemp

Paleobiologist Melissa Kemp spends loads of time overturning assumptions. Her excavations don’t contain digging bleached bones out of windswept deserts, however in search of partially preserved lizard fossils in darkish, dank jungle caves. Final month, she printed a examine monitoring human-driven species introduction within the Caribbean by the area’s 7,000 years of human habitation—difficult the concept that “restoring” Caribbean biodiversity means taking it again to the place it was earlier than Christopher Columbus arrived within the so-called New World round 530 years in the past. 

Kemp, who runs a lab and teaches integrative biology on the College of Texas at Austin, opened up on Twitter final week about her expertise as a Black scientist and outdoorswoman, beneath the hashtag #BlackInNature—as a part of persevering with conversations about race in America following the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, and the harassment of Black birder Christian Cooper. She spoke with NOVA about decolonizing environmental restoration, tropical fossil quirks, and the thrill of time outdoors.

Alissa Greenberg: Let’s begin with the hashtag #BlackInNature, which you’ve utilized in tweeting about your love of spending time outdoors. What’s vital about that point in nature for you? What do you’re feeling prefer it does for you bodily and emotionally?

Melissa Kemp: I really like spending time in nature. I reside in Austin now, in a way more city atmosphere than I used to be raised in. However it’s nonetheless very rejuvenating simply to go outdoors and have a look at the sky, have a look at the vegetation, discover animals on the property and simply see that there is life there. Even once I’m doing my subject analysis, there’s bursts of lively work the place we’re climbing by the rainforest attempting to get to our web site. However then once we get there, it may be very sluggish. The work that we’re doing could be very meditative. So nature could be very therapeutic for me. It’s performed a vital function for me personally and professionally.

Notably fascinated about the COVID disaster, so many individuals are looking for solace in nature throughout this time. And I feel, now greater than ever, it actually must be accessible to everybody, with the whole lot that is happening—not solely to make discoveries in and study, however simply to get pleasure from and to really feel snug having fun with it.

The hashtag #BlackInNature was used to have a good time Black nature fans on Might 31, the primary day of #BlackBirdersWeek.

AG: You mentioned in a tweet that you just grew up exploring outdoors on land your great-great-great-grandfather purchased after emancipation. So your loved ones has been there ever since?

MK: Sure. I grew up in Maryland, outdoors of Baltimore. Probably not that removed from any metropolis, however very, very rural and located close to a state park. And due to that, I had loads of nature at my disposal. I grew up listening to tales. My mother and my aunts and uncles would inform tales about how they’d exit within the woods and discover. So I at all times had a connection to nature. I by no means questioned that connection as a result of I felt like I lived in it—even simply realizing that my household had been there for thus lengthy. The church cemetery was throughout the street, so I may go within the woods and see the graves of my ancestors.

AG: You additionally talked about in that very same tweet that your grandmother taught you to mark recapture, the biology method to assist estimate animal populations.

MK: Particularly throughout the summers when my cousins can be there, and my grandmother had all these youngsters to take care of, we might go round in search of animals. We at all times discovered turtles, japanese field turtles. We’d write our initials on them in nail polish, which we actually most likely should not have been doing, and deal with them for an evening, then launch them. She would at all times inform us, “Search for your turtles,” and we might discover them once more. Generally years later, we might discover a turtle and be like, “Wait, that is MK, that’s my turtle!” She actually inspired us to only go on the market and discover. I feel it actually rubbed off on me.

A portray by Melissa Kemp of a part of her household’s property. Picture courtesy of Melissa Kemp

AG: How did you find yourself working in integrative biology? And why did you select to give attention to islands?

MK: I did not come into science in probably the most conventional manner. After I was rising up, I at all times thought I used to be going to be an artist. I went to artwork magnet colleges as a child and educated at a very excessive degree, largely portray and drawing. I nonetheless strategy science in a manner that’s much like how I strategy artwork. This diligence of engaged on one thing for a really very long time and likewise being open to suggestions from others to make the work higher. Artwork is a really iterative course of. It might take years earlier than a chunk is completed, and it is not a dash, it is a marathon. I feel loads of the identical ideas apply to science as properly. And my eye for element perhaps helps me discover nuances in supplies I have a look at. After I’m working with fossils I am always completely different shapes and in search of variations in constructions of the completely different fossils I am dealing with.

I examine how biodiversity in tropical areas originates each by processes of extinction and diversification, in addition to colonization. Notably, I am concerned about how modifications within the atmosphere then affect the completely different communities of organisms that we now have. I am concerned about these previous cases of change that we are able to see by the fossil report, as a result of it is the important thing to essentially understanding the biodiversity that we now have immediately, but in addition helps us perceive how biodiversity may change sooner or later.

Islands particularly are actually attention-grabbing biologically, and there’s been a wealth of examine of various life-forms of islands, significantly lizards. However we do not actually have as a lot literature on fossil occurrences of lizards. That is why I began specializing in islands, as a result of we actually haven’t got a radical understanding of how we bought to current day biodiversity.

Human-driven biodiversity change within the Caribbean didn’t begin in 1492. There’s a 7,000-year legacy of change.

AG: You lately printed a paper that delves fairly deeply into that matter. Are you able to summarize what you had been in search of and what you discovered?

MK: We had been actually concerned about investigating how people have modified the biota of the Caribbean, significantly by which species they’ve launched. This paper is admittedly fascinated about what we’re including to the islands—and what are the impacts of what we’re including? How do these introductions scale throughout time? We developed a database of species introductions by going by the archaeological literature, in addition to the paleontological literature, to get a way of what we find out about species introductions, after which additionally what we do not know.

I feel one of many largest takeaways is the truth that people have been engineering the panorama for millennia, significantly these locations that we consider as just lately perturbed. Human-driven biodiversity change within the Caribbean didn’t begin in 1492. There’s a 7,000-year legacy of change. We’ve got these phrases that I don’t assume are consultant of the biodiversity of the Caribbean, like “New World.” They’re actually phrases steeped in European colonization, referring again to the Caribbean as one thing being “new” to Europeans, when individuals had been dwelling there for a really, very very long time.

Once we take into consideration what the Caribbean used to appear like, should you ask any person on the road that query, they’re most likely going to consider earlier than Columbus and Europeans got here. And we’re undoubtedly concerned about that interval, very a lot so. However we’re additionally concerned about what it seemed like earlier than any people arrived. And we actually wish to acknowledge how Indigenous teams within the Caribbean moved round, what species they had been bringing, how they had been utilizing species, and the way their manipulation of the panorama modified biodiversity within the Caribbean.

AG: Why is it vital to ask these questions? Not simply culturally but in addition scientifically?

MK: We’ve got to be reasonable about what’s truly possible. The perfect restoration goal most likely within the head of lots of people within the public can be what the atmosphere was like earlier than we got here and messed all of it up. However it’s not a sensible goal, partially as a result of we have misplaced so many species that had been within the panorama earlier than people arrived.

What we see in loads of methods after an extinction of 1 animal is that you’ve an extinction cascade the place different issues go extinct as a result of organisms are interconnected with each other. They do not exist in silos within the panorama. So, if we take away a pollinator, the vegetation that had been pollinated by it may additionally endure decline. They may additionally go extinct. And that may have an effect on soil erosion, for instance. Possibly their roots supplied vital construction for soil. And should you’re eroding soil, perhaps you’re interrupting one thing else’s habitat. So we might wish to restore this method in order that that plant is there, and in order that that plant is pollinated by an organism within the system—nevertheless it won’t be doable to do all of these issues. So, we now have to consider, what’s it that we hope to perform by restoration? 

Melissa Kemp excavating a cave web site on the island of Marie-Galante, Guadeloupe. Picture courtesty of Melissa Kemp 

Possibly one other takeaway from our analysis can be fascinated about introductions of species and what they imply biologically. There’s loads of completely different terminologies that we use for launched species—I feel one of the vital widespread one is “invasive,” as a result of we frequently take into consideration the unfavorable impacts of species introductions. Actually there have been cases the place species had very, very unfavorable impacts, however then there are additionally cases the place species aren’t having a unfavorable affect on the atmosphere and perhaps are literally doing good issues for these ecosystems.

The Caribbean had loads of endemic mammals previous to human colonization. There have been monkeys and loads of actually distinctive mammals—like these animals known as Nesophontes, that are these shrewlike insectivores which might be not there. We predict that loads of them had been actually vital pollinators within the ecosystem that had been then misplaced. However with the introduction of recent birds to the Caribbean, for instance, it is doable that a few of that lack of pollinators, that ecological service, could have been restored.

AG: I’ve learn that paleontology within the tropics is especially troublesome. What makes it so laborious?

MK: The atmosphere of the tropics will not be actually conducive to fossilization processes. You want secure temperatures, ideally, chilly temperatures and dry climate, to get good fossilization—and issues lined up actually rapidly. The tropics are highly regarded and really humid. It is simply so sizzling, it is so moist, that it’ll erode away in a short time in comparison with one thing that is within the Arctic, for instance. There’s way more speedy disintegration when it is sizzling and humid. Microbes breaking issues down is definitely a part of it. Additionally publicity to UV mild—there’s bodily harm being performed to the fabric in addition to organic harm.

So we do not have loads of fossilization within the tropics, however we do have some, significantly in environments the place the fabric is considerably shielded. Nearly the entire work that I conduct is completed in caves. We’re going by typically closely forested areas, in limestone landscapes the place the humidity and precipitation cuts by the limestone and creates cavities. Often supplies get in there by water move—when, to illustrate, there is a hurricane.

Loads of it is extremely fragmented bones. We’re not getting a full lizard, with the pores and skin eliminated and the bones in good place. A few of them have options which might be identifiable, a few of them don’t. I feel that is one of many causes individuals have been turned off finding out them prior to now. So much you possibly can have a look at with the bare eye and work out what a part of the skeleton it’s, however a few of them you have to have a look at beneath a microscope.

A fossilized piece of the higher jaw of a lizard, retrieved from cave sediments on the island of Marie-Galante, Guadeloupe. Picture courtesy of Melissa Kemp

AG: So what strategies have you ever used to type of get round these challenges?

MK: The largest factor is simply to not disregard the information that do exist and brush it apart. If you wish to get materials from the tropics, it’s not essentially going to be very, very flashy in the identical manner that perhaps a T. rex cranium can be, however there are invaluable knowledge on the market. One other factor that we do to get round a number of the challenges is we simply carry on trying. It requires us to interface with individuals in that space, speaking to individuals about the place caves are, in the event that they’ve ever seen fossils.

So it’s totally a lot a neighborhood effort, when it comes to the work that we do. Discovering websites with the assistance of native individuals. So native people who find themselves on the market exploring the caves for enjoyable typically have been an actual godsend for us, very useful in orienting us on the land. They’re nearly at all times glad to point out us after which work together with us once we inform them extra about what we’re doing. And that is at all times actually enjoyable.

I feel it is a perform of the place I do fieldwork that I’ve at all times felt secure within the subject. I work in areas the place there are very various cultures that aren’t my very own, typically cultures the place Black persons are dominant or brown persons are dominant. After I labored in Guadeloupe, for instance—a French-speaking island within the Lesser Antilles the place the vast majority of persons are Black and Creole—if I stored my mouth shut, individuals simply assumed I used to be from Guadeloupe. Being an outsider hasn’t been a supply of concern in these landscapes.

Simply seeing my grandmother as a Black property proprietor in a small city the place there weren’t many different Black property homeowners was very inspiring. I do not know if it is the proper phrase for it, however I felt that the outside belonged to me and that it was my proper to be there. 

AG: To that finish, what’s vital in regards to the conversations we’re having now, across the incident with Christian Cooper and the #BlackInNature and #BlackBirdersWeek hashtags? What would you hope may come out of them?

MK: It is vital as a result of it reinforces, significantly for us as Black individuals, that we belong right here, that this nation is ours. We had a really, very instrumental half in creating what we now have immediately on this nation, whilst we proceed to be oppressed. I feel it is also vital for non-Black individuals to listen to that as properly, that they acknowledge these contributions. I really feel very privileged to have had a really constructive affiliation with the outside all my life. Simply seeing my grandmother as a Black property proprietor in a small city the place there weren’t many different Black property homeowners was very inspiring. I do not know if it is the proper phrase for it, however I felt that the outside belonged to me and that it was my proper to be there. 

I heard messages going by faculty from different individuals like, “Oh, nature is extra of a white house.” However I actually rejected these messages as a result of I had this pleasure in my household historical past, and my connection to the land, and my household’s connection to the land. I simply felt like everybody else had all of it unsuitable, that they only did not know the historical past of this nation properly sufficient—how tied, for higher or for worse, African Individuals are to the land. It is a very painful historical past, generally, to consider what number of Black Individuals bought to this nation, why we had been dropped at this nation within the first place, to work the land that white individuals didn’t wish to work.

For me, at the very least, studying that historical past has actually made me really feel extra grounded within the house that I occupy. I’ve at all times felt grounded due to my very sturdy household historical past. However I do know loads of Black Individuals haven’t got that. Speaking to distant cousins that I share lineage with additional again, serving to them study in regards to the historical past of enslavement of our household, has actually helped floor them as properly.

At any time when individuals could have made snide feedback—“I am afraid of the woods,” or, “The woods is a white house”—I’m very snug with my story and being like, “Properly, I am right here. My household’s right here. They have been on this land for six generations. You’ll be able to’t inform me it does not belong to me.”

This interview has been edited for size and readability.