Science Storiented

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The purpose of Science Storiented is to disseminate scientific knowledge in an educational and entertaining manner. As such, while reading through this blog you will encounter an eclectic mix of serious science, funny and/or educational science videos, the occasional infographic, and general geekology references that we scientists find poignantly true.

Melissa Chernick
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  • September 30, 2014
  • 08:10 PM

A Warm Winter Legacy: Leaf Flushing and Senescence Long-Term

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

Fall is in the air. Here in North Carolina that means drastic temperature swings that cause me to dress incorrectly on any given day. It also means the arrival of fall colors. Indeed, fall colors are incredibly beautiful, but biologically speaking, you are watching death happen. This autumn splendor got me to thinking about these colors a little closer, specifically the phenology of trees.Phenology is the study of the annual timing of recurring life cycle events. The timing of these events is t........ Read more »

Fu, Y., Campioli, M., Vitasse, Y., De Boeck, H., Van den Berge, J., AbdElgawad, H., Asard, H., Piao, S., Deckmyn, G., & Janssens, I. (2014) Variation in leaf flushing date influences autumnal senescence and next year's flushing date in two temperate tree species. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(20), 7355-7360. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1321727111  

  • September 17, 2014
  • 01:48 PM

Live Fast, Die Young: Evolutionary Outcomes of an Asteroid Impact

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

A new semester has started and with it an influx of new students into the lab has begun. Busy has become my middle name. So when I was looking around for a paper to write about I wanted something different and cool. Not exactly hard to find in science. The asteroid known as 2012 DA14 will narrowly miss Earth this Friday, the closest known asteroid flyby on record. And by close we’re talking within the orbits of many communications satellites. This got me thinking about and looking for recent p........ Read more »

  • August 25, 2014
  • 01:02 PM

Spoiler Alert!: Are You Wasting Your Time Avoiding Spoilers?

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

Lately I have been cranking though a lot of media – TV, movies, books, podcasts, etc. To the point that I start to wonder how I have time for actual life. During this mass consumption of media, I've been thinking about, and discussing with friends, the topic of spoilers. Bring up this topic with just about anyone and you’ll find that it’s actually a pretty controversial one. As for me, I fall in the no spoilers category. Spoil one of my beloved TV shows and you will go from friend to “fr........ Read more »

Leavitt, J., & Christenfeld, N. (2011) Story Spoilers Don't Spoil Stories. Psychological Science, 22(9), 1152-1154. DOI: 10.1177/0956797611417007  

  • July 25, 2014
  • 06:39 PM

Small Things, Big Problem: Microplastics Uptake in Shore Crabs

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

Lately I've been gearing up for some nano-particle research, and so I've been doing a lot of reading about very small things. While perusing the literature, I came across a paper published online in Environmental Science and Technology that takes a look at microplastics.Let’s start with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a very good example of this type of marine pollution. This huge collection of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean is created by an ocean gyre, a stable circular ocean curre........ Read more »

Watts AJ, Lewis C, Goodhead RM, Beckett SJ, Moger J, Tyler CR, & Galloway TS. (2014) Uptake and Retention of Microplastics by the Shore Crab Carcinus maenas. Environmental science . PMID: 24972075  

  • July 15, 2014
  • 12:50 PM

Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Photosynthesis, Water-Splitting, and the OEC

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

A very very cool paper was recently published online. The paper details a study that shows the first images of water splitting apart during photosynthesis. So pick you jaw up off the table and we’ll get into the nitty-gritty details. Let’s start by accessing your long-term memory, dragging out some of that basic biology information you buried after high school and grabbing on to that dusty file about photosynthesis. If you remember, plants have little green, bean-shaped energy factories in t........ Read more »

Kupitz, C., Basu, S., Grotjohann, I., Fromme, R., Zatsepin, N., Rendek, K., Hunter, M., Shoeman, R., White, T., Wang, D.... (2014) Serial time-resolved crystallography of photosystem II using a femtosecond X-ray laser. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature13453  

  • July 4, 2014
  • 09:44 PM

The Bigfoot Question: A Genetic Analysis of Yeti Hair

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

It’s been a while since I’ve written about Bigfoot, and that’s a shame because he’s pretty fun to write about. As with many things, I like to keep it in a scientific context. That’s why I was pretty stoked to see a recent Sasquatch paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. A paper that takes an interesting approach: genetics. Right off the bat the paper does not assume non-existence, both pointing out that there are numerous reports and sightings yet no bodies or recent fossils. The........ Read more »

Sykes, B., Mullis, R., Hagenmuller, C., Melton, T., & Sartori, M. (2014) Genetic analysis of hair samples attributed to yeti, bigfoot and other anomalous primates. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 281(1789), 20140161-20140161. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.0161  

  • June 11, 2014
  • 12:56 PM

Engage Warp Drive, Mr. Sulu!

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

A warp drive may actually become a real thing. Permission to get a little excited.A couple of years ago, several stories hit the internet when physicist Harold White announced that his NASA team at the Johnson Space Center had begun work on the development of  a warp drive. You can probably see how news of potential faster-than-light-speed travel might throw geeks into a Star Trek-fueled frenzy. White proposed a design that would solve the problems of the Alcubierre Drive concept. Most peop........ Read more »

  • May 1, 2014
  • 02:19 PM

Deadbeat Dads: Hatching Plasticity in Glassfrog Embryos

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

I have recently emerged from the all-enveloping cocoon that is data analysis and presentation writing. Powerpoint, Photoshop, and JMP have been in charge of my waking hours for the past couple of weeks. But now I am free! Is that daylight and springtime I see? If you’ve been following the Facebook page then you will still have received the occasional sciency goodness, but now it’s time for me to get back to blogging.This week a new paper published in Proceedings of The Royal Society B about ........ Read more »

Delia, J., Ramirez-Bautista, A., & Summers, K. (2014) Glassfrog embryos hatch early after parental desertion. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 281(1785), 20133237-20133237. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2013.3237  

  • March 14, 2014
  • 04:32 PM

The Charge of the Crazy Ant: Chemical Warfare Between Invading Species

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

I’ll be the first to admit that I've been a little blog-negligent lately. Even when all of the ice and snow we've gotten here on the East Coast forced me to stay inside I just binge watched shows on Netflix instead. I’m not sure what brought me out of my procrastination funk and compelled me to do a little reading and writing. If you've been following the Facebook page then you've been getting a lot of yummy sciency tidbits, but it’s time for me to get back on the hard science wagon. I thi........ Read more »

  • February 12, 2014
  • 10:54 PM

Fun with Fundulus: The Evolution of Pollution Resistance in Killifish

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

In honor of Mr. Charlie Darwin’s birthday I thought I would read an evolution paper. Put that together with the turn my career has taken into ecotoxicology (and the associated steep learning curve), I was steered towards a study about adapting to pollution.Let me start by introducing you to today’s study organism: The mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus) is a species of non-migratory killifish found along the Atlantic coast of North America. They can be found in the brackish waters of tidal cre........ Read more »

  • January 27, 2014
  • 01:04 PM

Pinpointing the Pollen: Honeybees and a Host Jumping Virus

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

Lately I've been revisiting some of my past topics and continuing the story with new research. Such is the case today. A relatively popular post of mine from 2010 called The Buzz on the Bees described a study from that year by Jerry Bromenshenk et al. investigating Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). CCD describes the mysterious, sudden and serious die-off seen honeybee (Apis mellifera) colonies across the U.S. It is characterized by sudden colony death with a lack of adult bees in front of the........ Read more »

  • January 15, 2014
  • 01:26 PM

You've Got Red On You: Improving Z-Day Models

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

Yesterday I updated and expanded a long-ago post of mine called "Mmmm...Brains!: Using Mathematics To Save Us On Z-Day."This post summarized a book chapter in 2009 by Philip Munz, Ioan Hudea, Jo Imad, and Robert Smith? called "When Zombies Attack!: Mathematical Modeling of an Outbreak of Zombie Infection." This work was interesting because it combined basic biological assumptions and epidemic modeling with the rise and spread of zombies. Now, Caitlyn Witkowski of Bryant University and Brian........ Read more »

Caitlyn Witkowski, & Brian Blais. (2013) Bayesian Analysis of Epidemics - Zombies, Infuenza, and other Diseases., 1-16. info:other/

  • December 26, 2013
  • 01:17 PM

What's Vitamin D, Precious?

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

The latest installment of The Hobbit trilogy has come to theaters. In honor of Bilbo's return to the screen I thought I would do a post about some Middle Earth science.A new article by Joseph and Nicholas Hopkinson, published in The Medical Journal of Australia, asks an interesting question: Why do bad guys always lose? The villain might score some small victories in the beginning, the good guys will stumble along the way, but ultimately the hero will achieve victory in the end. It is a striking........ Read more »

Joseph A Hopkinson, & Nicholas S Hopkinson. (2013) The hobbit — an unexpected deficiency. The Medical Journal of Australia, 805-806. DOI: 10.5694/mja13.10218  

Rathish Nair, & Arun Maseeh. (2012) Vitamin D: The “sunshine” vitamin. J Pharmacol Pharmacother, 3(2), 118-126. DOI: 10.4103/0976-500X.95506  

  • November 25, 2013
  • 01:23 PM

Going to the Movies: The Seat Choice Dilemma (Part 3)

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

Welcome to Part 3, the final step in our science-tastic trip to the movie theater. I’d suggest checking out Part 1 and Part 2 as so far, you've purchased your expensive ticket, wondered at high concession prices, agonized over which size popcorn to buy, and learned how that choice will ultimately determine how much you will eat. Now you are ready to go find a seat for the show! You pick up your concessions from the counter, figure out how to carry them in such a way as to not spill anything a........ Read more »

  • November 13, 2013
  • 11:26 AM

Going to the Movies: The Story of a Popcorn Pit (Part 2)

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

Welcome to Part 2 of my journey to the movie theater. This will make sense if you haven’t read Part 1, but to enjoy the full impact of this visite du cinéma, I suggest you read both. If ya just don’t wanna then here’s a summary: (1) movie tickets are expensive, (2) as far as I can tell, nobody has really done a direct study of why, (3) economists try to explain why all movies cost the same through their “uniform pricing for differentiated goods” theory, (4) as it turns out, variable o........ Read more »

  • November 3, 2013
  • 03:17 PM

Going to the Movies: The Story of a Money Pit (Part 1)

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

I love movies. Love to sit and watch them at home. Love to have movie nights with my friends. Love going to see them at the theater. On that last one, I think we can all agree on one thing: movie theaters are money pits. Essentially you just walk up to their front door and start throwing all of your money at them. You bitch and moan but you accept it. You knew before you ever left your house that you were going to spend an exorbitant amount of cash for a load of calories and an unknown experienc........ Read more »

Sherwin Rosen, & Andrew M. Rosenfield. (1997) Ticket Pricing. The Journal of Law and Economics, 351-376. info:/

Barak Y. Orbach, & Liran Einav. (2001) Uniform prices for differentiated goods: The case of the movie-theater industry. Harvard Law , Olin Discussion Paper 337(Harvard University, Cambridge, MA). DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.290813  

Pascal Courty. (2011) Unpriced quality. Economics Letters, 111(1), 13-15. DOI: 10.1016/j.econlet.2010.12.009  

  • October 14, 2013
  • 11:17 AM

Socialite in the Dark: Do Eyes Really Matter When It Comes To Schooling?

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

It has been a while since I've visited the topic of blind fish. I know, I know! What took me so long, right? Well, I was browsing for fish papers, ‘cause I take care of lab fish now (I’m working my way up to Fish Whisperer status), and I came across a paper in Current Biology about the schooling behavior of cavefish, specifically the effects of eyesight loss on this behavior.There are two main types of social “collective behavior” in fish: shoaling and schooling. Shoals are defined exclu........ Read more »

Johanna E. Kowalko, Nicolas Rohner, Santiago B. Rompani, Brant K. Peterson, Tess A. Linden, Masato Yoshizawa, Emily H. Kay, Jesse Weber, Hopi E. Hoekstra, William R. Jeffery.... (2013) Loss of Schooling Behavior in Cavefish through Sight-Dependent and Sight-Independent Mechanisms. Current Biology, 1874-1883. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.07.056  

Alison M. Bell. (2013) Evolution: Skipping School. Current Biology, 23(19). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.08.022  

  • September 30, 2013
  • 02:47 PM

Larks vs. Night-Owls: What Your Sleep Patterns Say About You

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

Ugh, Monday morning really kicked my butt. Even my strong coffee failed to wake me up completely. Of course, I drag-ass most mornings, being almost useless before 10 a.m. On the flip side, I have always been wonderfully alert and productive after 7 p.m. A night owl I am, and this seems like a good topic for discussion. What determines your circadian rhythms and what does that mean for your personality?A circadian rhythm is an endogenous, near 24 hour cycle in the process of living organisms (pl........ Read more »

  • September 12, 2013
  • 03:23 PM

Dealing with Drought: How Do Plants Cope?

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

Have you noticed how often drought has been in the news lately? You don’t have to be a scientist to know that drought is bad. But, if you’re a plant, how bad is bad? I mean, you’re a plant; it isn't like you can pick up your roots and go looking for the nearest water source. You must have ways to cope, strategies that will let you survive until water arrives. A new paper in Tree Physiology caught my eye today that examines how plants handle drought in our changing climate.We know that drou........ Read more »

  • August 19, 2013
  • 10:23 PM

Eating and Evolution: Are Prey Preferences Causing the Evolution of Killer Whales?

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

When I was an undergrad, a lowly freshman who just knew she wanted to study biology, I took an internship at SeaWorld Orlando. I was excited that I got to participate in a real research project doing actual sciency stuff. The project was on the nursing behaviors of captive baby killer whales. Really cool right? Little did I know that actual science is composed of hours upon hours of tedious observation and documentation (2:00pm – melon bumping, 3:00pm – melon bumping, 4:00pm – melon bumpin........ Read more »

Foote, Andrew D., Newton, Jason Newton, Ávila-Arcos, María C., Kampmann, Marie-Louise, Samaniego, Jose A., Post, Klaas, Rosing-Asvid, Aqqalu, Sinding, Mikkel-Holger S., & Gilbert, M. Thomas P. (2013) Tracking niche variation over millennial timescales in sympatric killer whale lineages. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Biological Sciences, 280(1768), 20131481. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2013.1481  

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