The Current: The Franklin Institute Blog

Hookworm (Necator americanus) attached to host.

Game of Parasites: A Competition for Blood

The Houses of Westeros may have captured our attention with their epic battle for the Iron Throne, but there’s another competition taking place in nature that's fascinating in its own right. Ecologists often study species that are competing for the same food, habitat, or other resources to understand how their interaction affects the structure of an ecosystem. These same principles apply within animal hosts, at a microscopic level, when multiple species of parasites fight over red blood cells.

jet stream map

The Fingerprints of Anthropogenic Climate Change are Emerging in Extreme Weather Events

Winter cold spells are often mistakenly pointed to as evidence against global warming. A common remark I’ve encountered this winter season is, “It’s so darn cold, how can the globe be warming?” It may seem counterintuitive, but while the globe continues to warm, erratic cold snaps at the middle latitudes may actually become more frequent.

redback spider

The Wild World of Spider Mating

For humans, navigating the dating scene to find a mate is tricky enough. It’s even tougher for a male Australian redback spider—80% of males never find a mate. Dr. Maydianne Andrade at the University of Toronto Scarborough has studied these spiders for decades, discovering that desperate times call for desperate measures. During mating, male redbacks somersault onto the fangs of females, often getting cannibalized. But this self-sacrifice is worth it, as it significantly improves their odds of reproduction.

groundhog meme

Groundhog Day Science

As Environmental Scientist at The Franklin Institute, part of my job is to find ways to help the public separate fact from fiction when it comes to climate science. The task is not always easy: the study of our changing climate is complicated, and is constantly evolving as we learn more and more about our remarkable planet.

Man in anti-gravity

5 Foods Astronauts Cannot Eat in Space

Manned spaceflight began in 1961 when the Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin took man’s first flight beyond Earth’s atmosphere. Humans have, ever since, been exploring space through a variety of missions including the International Space Station, which has housed individual Astronauts and Cosmonauts for periods of up to a year. Nevertheless, life in space would not be possible with the often specialized foods that consumed in orbit and beyond. In a microgravity environment, however, certain foods are impractical.