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Under a Microscope – May 24, 2013

In Review: The Leafcutter Ants: Civilization by Instinct

There are few spectacles of nature as fascinating as a long line of leafcutter arts marching along a well-beaten trail, each of them carrying a piece of a leaf many times their own size, making a tight and well ordered column of flashing green. As you would guess, there’s more happening in that scene that mere foraging. What you’re seeing is a highly choreographed common endeavor, one of the more complex biological organizations on the planet.

The subtitle of Bert Hölldobler and EO Wilson’s latest book on ants says it all: “civilization by instinct.” These two well known authorities on ants tell the story of the leafcutters in exacting detail, and… more

by: Mark J. Palmer

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US Fisheries Service to Expand Dolphin Safe Tuna Certification Requirements – April 9, 2013

Proposed rule seeks better verification of dolphin safety during tuna fishing, addresses WTO’s concerns about uniform standards

The US National Marine Fisheries Service proposed a new rule last Friday that would extend current protections for dolphins to tuna fisheries around the world. By doing so, the rule would improve reporting on dolphin safety and help resolve a bitter World Trade Organization dispute between the United States and Mexico over Dolphin Safe tuna labels.

dolpins in the ocean Photo by Steve JurvetsonDolphins in the ocean near Kona, Hawaii. Schools of tuna regularly swim with dolphins in the
Eastern TropicalPacific Ocean.

Earth Island’s International Marine Mammal Project (IMMP) developed the Dolphin Safe label in 1990 after a campaign against the… more

by: Mark J. Palmer

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Counterculture Scientists Who Dared to Explore Areas Where Physics and Philosophy Converge – October 5, 2012

Book Review: How the Hippies Saved Physics

Book cover

That “long strange trip” of the 1960’s was even stranger than you thought.  For many, it was a time of frivolity, protest against war, free love, and trying a galaxy of new drugs. But David Kaiser, in his entertaining and enlightening book How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival, shows that it was also a time of expanded thinking about the theories of physics. Particularly, the strange world of quantum physics, and of what happens to atoms, electrons, and their constituent parts at microscopic levels.

Kaiser discusses the free-ranging speculation and thought-experiments that physicists used to develop and hone the… more

by: Mark J. Palmer

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Cove Monitors Arrive in Taiji, Japan to Document Dolphin Hunting – September 7, 2012

Days are long for the team committed to protecting dolphins

Last weekend Ric O’Barry, star of the Oscar-winning documentary film The Cove, arrived in Taiji, Japan to help with monitoring the annual dolphin hunt that takes place there.

photonameAll photos by Mark PalmerMasako Maxwell (in purple shirt) translates for our Japanese Dolphin Project Team members on

Ric flew in from Miami after being stuck in court all of last week. (For more on this, see below.) He was greeted by Maskao Maxwell, a member of our Dolphin Project team who maintains our Japanese website, and other Japanese volunteers who are determined to help educate the Japanese people about the dolphin hunts and… more

by: Mark J. Palmer

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Uncertainty About Our Climate’s Future is No Excuse for Inaction in Dealing with Global Warming – August 31, 2012

Book Review: Climate Matters: Ethics in a Warming World

In dealing with the dangers of global warming of our planet, what is the best way to consider our responses, both as individuals and as a society?

book cover

Ethicist John Broome walks us through this process in his new book Climate Matters, a review of our human responsibilities toward our fellow people and Earth. Broome is a lead author on Working Group III of the United Nation’s International Panel on Climate Change, the scientific body addressing the science of global warming, and White’s Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Oxford. He is thus well placed to explain, in great detail, the process of… more

by: Mark J. Palmer

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