California Academy of Sciences
The California Academy of Sciences is a leading scientific and cultural institution based in San Francisco. It is home to an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum and research and education programs, which engage people of all ages and backgrounds on two of the most important topics of our time: life and its sustainability. Founded in 1853, the Academy’s mission is to explore, explain and sustain life. Visit www.calacademy.org for more information.
California Academy of Sciences's Latest Posts
Science has identified two major influences which affect the person you grow to be: nature (your innate qualities and genetics) and nurture (your personal experiences and environment). These two factors play a major role in the upbringing of a human, but to what extent does each contribute to how a person behaves?
Florida is a state that prides itself on its oranges, producing more than 80% of our country’s orange juice. However, that status has been under serious threat. Do you think genetic modification of citrus trees is a good step towards a solution?
Recently China successfully launched their first moon rover, Chang’e-3, into orbit. Unfortunately later that day pieces from the launch rocket fell off and destroyed the homes of two citizens. Although nobody was harmed, the falling spacecraft still worried many people.
Each year, tens of thousands of elephants are being slaughtered due to illegal poaching. Poachers kill elephants for their precious ivory tusks, which are now valued even higher than gold. This past March, over 60 scientists from around the world published a paper titled Devastating Decline of Forest Elephants in Central Africa, which portrays a bleak future for African elephants as a result of this poaching. According to the study, in just nine years the African elephant population has decreased by 62 percent, and African elephants have lost 30 percent of their geographical range. If the current rate of poaching continues, elephants could face extinction in as early as 10 years.
In recent years, scientists have discovered carcasses of frozen woolly mammoths with intact tissues and preserved DNA. With this DNA, and that from other extinct animals, researchers are trying to actually clone the extinct animals and bring them back to life. Current technologies are on the verge of making this possible. So far, the closest we’ve come is to de-extincting the passenger pigeon, thanks to frozen DNA samples and the DNA of its closest relative, the band tailed pigeon.
Wildfires play an important role in a healthy ecosystem. They maintain the ecological integrity by replenishing and rejuvenating the landscape while helping to return nutrients to the soil. At the same time, wildfires can become unwieldy and pose a severe threat to the stability of our communities. After the nation faced massive devastations from unwieldy fires such as the Peshtigo Fire and the Great Fire of 1910, the forest service began implementing strict policies stating that all wildfires were to be quickly suppressed.
Humans have been using artificial light since the invention of the light bulb in the late 1800s. Artificial illumination allows us to stay active after the sun goes down. It helps us drive more safely at night. And some argue that it keeps crime-ridden areas safer. But artificial light also causes its own kind of pollution.
Since 2006, honey bees have been dying at an alarming rate. The event, called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has killed about one third of all honey bees within the US. We depend on honey bees to pollinate crops that we eat every day—apples, cucumbers, blueberries, broccoli, onions, pumpkins, carrots, avocados, almonds, strawberries, soybeans, watermelon, and more. The bees’ services are estimated to be worth $20-30 billion in agricultural production annually in the US alone.