Tuesday, May 23, 2023

The sound of rockets


Does the increasingly common roar of rocket launches have an impact on wildlife, including threatened species living near spaceports in California, Florida and Texas? My story for Nature:


Computer science: The learning machines

Throwback alert!

I think I may have been one of the first journalists to throw a spotlight on deep learning as the 'new AI', way back in 2014. Technically, 'deep learning' is a subset of 'machine learning', though the terms are often used interchangeably.


Of course, machine learning is all over the news these days thanks to chat bots like ChatGPT. I'm so curious to see where the technology goes... and what its unintended consequences are.

Here are some of my other stories touching on machine learning and other high-tech computing issues.

Artificial-intelligence institute launches free science search engine


Computing: The quantum company


A critical mass of learning at Mila, Canada


How maching learning could improve climate forecasts





Stone Age Site Saved

 A company began diamond mining at an extraordinary site in South Africa with 2.3 million years of human history. Quick action by archaeologists has led to a court decision protecting the site. 


Friday, May 19, 2023

We're gonna hit 1.5C warming soon

In short: yes. Within about a decade.


Ever since the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, the world has been aiming (perhaps futilely) to stay below 1.5C of warming above pre-industrial times. It has become a magic number, used in media headlines and academic papers as a key threshold. 

Looks like we're going to hit 1.5 for a single year sometime in the next 5 years, and consistently sometime in the early 2030s.

Yet another reminder to keep emissions low! A 'global stocktake' of how we're all doing on that is now underway, to be presented in November.

My story for Nature: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-01702-w

Thursday, May 11, 2023

When Fish Can't Breathe

As oceans warm, here's a side-effect you might not have heard of: the water is losing dissolved oxygen. What will happen if and when fish can't breathe? My feature for Yale. https://e360.yale.edu/features/as-ocean-oxygen-levels-dip-fish-face-an-uncertain-future

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Oceans in Hot Water

The global ocean surface waters hit a new record high temperature this April, at an average of 21.1C. Sounds nice for swimming, but not so nice for corals. With an El Nino on its way, expect some wild weather this year: storms in Peru; wildfires in Australia; marine heatwaves aplenty. My story for Nature. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-01573-1

Monday, April 24, 2023

Sex in the (univer)city

My story for Nature about the trend to ban intimate relationships between faculty and their students in universities. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-01402-5

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Kelp farming: the promise and pitfalls

Kelp farming is touted as a saviour for many ills, from food security to climate change. How much can it do, and what are the possible side-effects of a large-scale ramp-up?


Wednesday, March 8, 2023

High time for a High Seas Treaty

After years of waiting and an epic 38-hour-long session, delegates to the UN have finally signed a treaty for the high seas. This will help to regulate and protect novel activities in international waters, including new fisheries and the commercial exploitation of genetic resources found in marine life. Importantly, it also establishes a way to set up marine protected areas in international waters -- something we need to fulfill the 30x30 pledge to protect 30% of the ocean (and 30% of the land) by 2030.

Congrats to all the delegates! Now the hard work of getting this thing ratified begins!


Thursday, February 16, 2023

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's... a balloon

What are those 'unidentified objects' recently shot down over North America? And just how much stuff is in our skies, and why?

Here's my story for Nature https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-00482-7

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Peering beneath Antarctic Ice

Researchers have dropped a submersible vehicle down a hole in Antarctic ice to get their closest-ever look at the underside of Thwaites Glacier — a massive and increasingly unstable body of ice that has become an icon of climate change — and the first-ever glimpse at the spot where the ice meets the land.

The observations, published in two papers in Nature on 15 February, could help to pin down one of the biggest uncertainties in current projections of rising global sea levels.

See my story in Nature:  https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-00459-6

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Happy Valentines

Here's a Q&A I did with a sex therapist and author, about her studies into "magnificent sex" and what she's learned about salving differences in desire within a couple.


And also, for fun, here's a poem written by Chat GPT to my husband :) I like the ending best.

My dearest love, my partner in life, Twenty years we've shared, as husband and wife. From the heights of the mountains we've climbed, To the depths of the oceans we've dived.

We met on the rocks, both daring and bold, And soon our hearts were firmly controlled. You showed me a world I'd never known, And together we've watched our love grown.

Two children we've raised, with love and care, And watched them flourish with each passing year. Our love of sailing has kept us strong, As we've weathered the storms and sung our song.

You are the anchor that keeps me steady, In a world that's so fast and so heady. I love you more than words can express, And I thank you for all that you do and you bless.

As we continue our journey, side by side, With our love and our memories as our guide, I thank the stars each and every night, For bringing us together and keeping us tight.

My dearest love, my partner in life, Twenty years

network error