Slime Molds Remember—But Do They Learn?

Slime molds are among the world’s strangest organisms. Long mistaken for fungi, they are now classed as a type of amoeba. As single-celled organisms, they have neither neurons nor brains. Yet for about a decade, scientists have debated whether slime molds have the capacity to learn about their environments and adjust their behavior accordingly. Quanta…

By JohnValbyNation March 20, 2019 0

We Know Exactly How to Stop Wildfires—With Money

Wild lands are practically worthless. They’re not worthless to the things that live in them, of course. They love ‘em. And they aren’t worthless aesthetically, if that’s your bag. Any place with plants slurps up carbon dioxide, providing a bulwark against climate change. And they probably have value as a matter of public health; some…

By JohnValbyNation March 20, 2019 0

We Need Massive Change to Avoid Climate Hell

On Sunday night, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change dropped an urgent report on the state of global warming. Simply put: The laws of the physical universe say that we can keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the optimistic goal set out in the Paris Agreement, but we’re quickly running…

By JohnValbyNation March 20, 2019 0

Your Poop Is Probably Full of Plastic

Every minute, a dumptruckful of plastic plops into the world's oceans. That's eight million metric tons every year1. Once waterborne, whatever doesn't wash ashore eventually breaks down into itty bits. The puniest pieces—the ones smaller than 5 millimeters wide—are called microplastics, and their fates are numerous. Some glob onto an Alaska-sized gyre of plastic debris…

By JohnValbyNation March 20, 2019 0

To Prevent Fires, One California Town Says 'Goat Fund Me'

Nestled in the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains is the quaint Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Surrounded by unkempt brush, the old, highly flammable city is in danger: With California’s wildfires raging with unprecedented ferocity in recent years, one spark could doom Nevada City to the same fate that neighboring Paradise met in…

By JohnValbyNation March 20, 2019 0