Karla Lant is an experienced freelance writer, journalist, editor, and adjunct professor. She focuses on science, technology, politics, education, and technical writing. Browse by publication below.
Friday morning 140 residents of the small Japanese island of Kuchinoerabujima fled by boat as Mount Shindake erupted. 30,000 feet worth of dark volcanic ash shot into the sky about 600 miles south of Tokyo. Astonishingly, no deaths and a single minor injury have been reported, and air travel has not been affected in a serious way.
When it comes to high-speed collisions, nobody here on Earth has anything on black holes. Astronomers have witnessed a new first: two high-speed knots of matter colliding in a sort of rear-end impact. They saw this after creating a time-lapse video of a super-speed jet of plasma as it shot out of a supermassive black hole. The knots of matter were inside the black hole until it blasted them out-and into each other.
Retired experimental physicist Leon Lederman is now 92 years old and facing serious health problems and memory loss. So he took to an online auction and sold his 1988 Nobel prize for his co-discovery of subatomic particle called the muon neutrino to cover his costs. The price of Nobel fame online? $765,002.
In central Kazakhstan entire herds of saiga antelope lay dead-more than 120,000, or nearly half of the species worldwide. These animals died off within two or three weeks, a shocking pace. This is an unprecedented mass mortality events for saiga antelopes relative to the total population size, and the last case in 2010 saw only 12,000 dead saiga.
This stunning nebula, called RCW 34 and visualized by the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT), is home to young stars that heat gases, causing them to expand outward. In this brightest area of the nebula heated hydrogen bursts into the vacuum outside the gas cloud, "uncorking" the nebula. This kind of process is called a champagne flow, and the entire area provides rich fodder for astronomers as it continuously produces new, brilliant stars.
In what can only be described as a colossal blunder, 26 Department of Defense (DOD) employees were exposed to live anthrax after the US military shipped samples of the live microbe by accident. Thought in error to be dead samples, they were simply shipped via FedEx.
A team of scientists from the University of Sheffield and University of Copenhagen have discovered an enzyme which helps breast cancer spread, and in the process, have found a possible way to prevent the spread of breast cancer-secondary or metastatic cancer-in patients. Bones are the most common routes breast cancer takes as it spreads, involved in about 85 percent of secondary breast cancer cases.
Researchers at Paris's Pierre and Marie Curie University have created robots that can use experiences from simulated lives to "heal" themselves. This makes robots more autonomous, effective, and robust-and more capable of disaster relief work.
Scientists from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) are hoping to help 18 terminally ill patients relieve their anxiety, depression, and fear in the next year during extended psychotherapy sessions enhanced by MDMA (ecstasy). The Marin County-based double-blind trial will see subjects test either full doses of MDMA (125 milligrams) or active placebo doses (30 milligrams).
University of Virginia School of Medicine scientists have unraveled the mystery of a strange virus in the hopes of creating more effective tools in the war against human disease. The secret weapon this virus may offer? "Armor" for disease-fighting DNA courtesy of the SIRV2 virus, who calls acid at almost boiling temperatures home.
You may think a wasp that can zombify its prey with venom in order to eat it alive sounds like the stuff of nightmares, but it's actually the stuff of biodiversity. Called the dementor wasp, this terrifying insect was just discovered last year-along with 138 other new species-in the Greater Mekong Region of Asia, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reports today.
Upon request of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network's (OWCN) Unified Command, SeaWorld deployed two members of the Animal Rescue Team early Sunday morning to assist with efforts at the Refugio Beach oil spill off the Santa Barbara coast. At 3:45am today SeaWorld deployed a third member of the Animal Rescue Team. All three have specialized training through the OWCN and experience with oiled wildlife.
If the battle of the sexes was fought by mosquitoes, it would already be over. Researchers from Virginia Tech's Fralin Life Science Institute has discovered that male mosquitoes aren't relevant at all, at least in the realm of transmissible diseases.
Ceres' mysterious bright spots are clearer and sharper than ever, thanks to NASA's Dawn mission. The mission will need to get much closer to answer all of our questions and provide all of the details, but these recent views provide some interesting insights.
Robots that can learn? Yes they can, at least with these new algorithms. A UC Berkeley research team has created algorithms that allow robots to use trial and error to learn motor tasks. This is a process that is much closer to the ways that humans think and learn, making it a major artificial intelligence milestone.