Blog Post

Tunes for Tots: Birds Sing to their Incubating Eggs

By Summer Seligmann, C2ST Intern, Loyola University

Before baby birds even begin to observe the world around them, they are already able to learn certain behaviors. Over the last decade, studies on early development of bird communication have shown that learning can begin much earlier than previously thought. In some bird species, song learning starts with an unhatched egg.

Diane Colombelli-Negrel, a behavioral ecologist from Flinders University, did not intend to make this discovery. She was recording bird calls and noticed that mother superb fairy-wrens, a type of small bird from Australia, were singing to their unhatched eggs. After studying this peculiar behavior, researchers found that mother wrens sing to their eggs to teach them a song, and surprisingly, the unhatched birds learn it. The sounds they learn are crucial to their survival after they hatch, especially when dealing with pesky cuckoo birds. 

Continue reading “Tunes for Tots: Birds Sing to their Incubating Eggs”

Blog Post

How do Scientists Model the Climate?

By Buduka Ogonor, C2ST Volunteer

Earth’s climate system is complex. The system comprises interactions between Earth’s landmasses, the oceans, the ecosystems, the atmosphere, and even the sun. Despite those complexities, one alarming fact remains clear: the climate is changing, and is projected to continue changing. Projections suggest the melting of the polar ice caps, rising sea levels, and extremes in rainfall patterns. But how are scientists able to make these projections? How do scientists even begin to approach the daunting task of modeling and making predictions about such a large, complex system like Earth’s climate? 

alt text
Two climate scientists, Klaus Hasslemann (left) and Syukuro Manabe (right) were recently awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physics for their pioneering work on climate modeling.

Continue reading “How do Scientists Model the Climate?”

Blog Post

Bats of a Feather Stick Together

By Laura Tran, C2ST Intern, Rush University

The animal kingdom can be cut-throat, as friendship is not found in all animal species generally speaking. Animals of the same species can have acquaintances and animals of different species have also been observed to form bonds. But is this friendship? For a long time, scientists shied away from even using the term “friendship” in the context of animal bonds. It was believed that animals mainly had short-term, goal-oriented relations to satisfy their current needs (e.g., access to food or mates). This is similar to a business transaction, and begs the question, “Is there a benefit to investing time and energy into making friends?” In short, the answer is yes! Continue reading “Bats of a Feather Stick Together”

Blog Post

Kelp Needs our Help: Ocean Warming and the Threat to Ocean Flora

By Rowan Obach, C2ST Intern, Loyola University

In Illinois we’re used to seeing lush green forests rooted in grassy soils, however, in other parts of the world, forests take different forms. Deep beneath the surface of the ocean, lush kelp forests are home to thousands of species of fish, marine animals, and crustaceans. These forests exist all across the world, usually around coastal regions like Northern California, Central Chile, and South Australia to name a few. Kelp forests are typically located 49-131 feet beneath the surface and need very specific conditions to thrive. They need cold water with a lot of nutrients. Changes to the environment, like extreme weather events, can uproot the kelp and diminish an important source of food and shelter for many species. 

Continue reading “Kelp Needs our Help: Ocean Warming and the Threat to Ocean Flora”

Blog Post

Women in Space: The Story of Wally Funk

By Elizabeth Hallissey, C2ST Intern, Loyola University

This week marks the 22nd annual World Space Week. The event was created in 1999 by the United Nations as a way to celebrate, “science and technology, and their contribution to the betterment of the human condition”. This year, the week-long event celebrates the achievements of women in space. In honor of this year’s theme, I will be telling the story of one woman who was not granted the same fame, notoriety, and opportunities as her male counterparts. 

In July of this year, as many remember, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos launched himself into space. While there was some public debate regarding the ethics of this excursion, one key thing happened that that is worthy of unequivocal celebration. His crew, though small and relatively unqualified, had one outstanding pilot and trained astronaut on board: Wally Funk.


Continue reading “Women in Space: The Story of Wally Funk”

Blog Post

The Science Behind the “Twisties”

By Mya Whitton, C2ST Intern, DePaul University

The dramatic Olympic exit from popular American gymnast Simone Biles has reignited the conversation around mental health and athletes. During the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, Simone Biles became the latest athlete to share her mental health struggles as she decided not to participate in two competitions. Her decision to leave these competitions during the Olympic Games was hard for many U.S fans to accept, but her decision to prioritize her mental health over the games was supported by many all over the world. Biles admitted to the world that she was suffering from the perilous “twisties”, a phenomenon foreign to most athletes, but known too well by fellow gymnasts. As athletes fight for a balance between their mental and physical health, Biles’ case of the “twisties” highlights the dangers associated with lacking this balance. Continue reading “The Science Behind the “Twisties””