Science

We May Be Living in the Matrix, Says Engineer

(Shutterstock*)
(Shutterstock*)

Jim Elvidge will discuss his observations on how our world is like a computer program at the Follow the Truth: The Conspiracy Show Summit in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada,...


Most recent Science blogs and columns

  • Boyd Bushman holding up a photo purportedly showing an extraterrestrial being. (Screenshot/Mark Q. Patterson)

    Former Government Contractor Boyd Bushman Shows Photos of Aliens? (Video)

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  • inside several scientists by carcass

    Woolly Mammoth Gave Birth to 9 Babies: Can She Have Another 28,000 Years Later?

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  • Community leader in Aceh, Indonesia. Photo by Rhett Butler.

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    A few weeks ago, a remote aboriginal community in western Australia made headlines when it completed the establishment of an Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) containing over 4.2... Read more

  • This image taken from video provided by NASA TV shows Orbital Sciences Corp.'s unmanned rocket blowing up over the launch complex at Wallops Island, Va., just six seconds after liftoff. The company says no one was believed to be hurt and the damage appeared to be limited to the facilities. (AP Photo/NASA TV)

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  • Small forest ponds are most at risk of being poisoned if they have dumped ammunition in them. (Susanne W Lamm/Epoch Times)

    TNT Contamination May Produce Carcinogenic Substances in Fish

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  • Researchers from the United States Bureau of Reclamation have found a Columbian mammoth skull and tusk that they think might be part of a complete mammoth skeleton dating back from between 70 to 120 thousand years old. (AOL Screenshot)

    Scientists Might Have Found a Complete Mammoth Skeleton (Video)

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  • The oldest wooden statue in the world. (Ekaterina Osintseva/The Siberian Times)

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    From The Siberian Times: Scientists are close to precise dating of the Shigir Idol, thought to be twice as ancient as the Egyptian Pyramids. The... Read more

  • This image taken from video provided by NASA TV shows Orbital Sciences Corp.'s unmanned rocket blowing up over the launch complex at Wallops Island, Va., just six seconds after liftoff. The company says no one was believed to be hurt and the damage appeared to be limited to the facilities. (AP Photo/NASA TV)

    Russian Space Agency Delivers ISS Cargo After US Attempt Explodes

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  • Left: A model of how the Ukok “princess” mummy may have looked in life. (Wikimedia Commons) Right: Cannabis. (Kaca Studio/iStock/Thinkstock) Background: The mummy’s gravesite. (Tatyana Penn/Wikimedia Commons)

    2,500-Year-Old Siberian Mummy: Ancient Princess Used Cannabis to Treat Breast Cancer?

    From The Siberian Times: Preserved by ice, the ancient woman, who died at the age of 25 and is covered in tattoos, used cannabis to... Read more

  • (Lior Shamir/Night Sky Project)

    Taurids Meteor Shower 2014: Peak Dates and Times, Where to Look

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  • Clonycavan Man, who lived around the 4th or 3rd century B.C., now a “bog body,” on display at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin. (Mark Healey/Wikimedia Commons) Background: A file photo of a bog. (Shutterstock*)

    Clonycavan Man: A 2,300-Year-Old Murder Mystery

    In March 2003, the body of a man who lived during the Iron Age was discovered in a peat bog in Ireland. Known as the... Read more

  • Cleared forest in Indonesia.  (news.mongabay.com)

    Indonesia Merges Environment and Forest

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  • Landsat image showing deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.

    Conservation Networking with Technology

       With scientists rapidly adopting and using a range of remote sensing tools for monitoring environmental change, tracking wildlife and measuring biological processes, conservation needs... Read more

  • How and why a study about when the giant prehistoric shark Megalodon went extinct got picked up as "proof" that it is. (AOL Screenshot)

    Study Doesn’t Prove Megalodons Are Extinct, Never Needed to (Video)

    There’s a new study out trying to pinpoint exactly when the world’s biggest shark, Megalodon, went extinct, and some outlets are kind of missing the... Read more

  • A Lightening electric motorcycle displayed at an Air Quality Resources Board event in San Dimas, Calif. on Oct. 23 gets up to 170 miles on a single charge. (Sarah Le/Epoch Times)

    California May Cut Electric Vehicle Requirements for Some Manufactuers

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  • The Chocó Biogeographical Region runs along the coasts of Ecuador and Colombia. Ecuador's Chocó is especially threatened, with only 10 percent of forests remaining intact and 5 percent of tree cover over lost from 2001 through 2013. The portion spaning the Ecuador/Colombia border near the proposed Dracula Reserve (yellow dot) has been especially affected, with 12 percent tree cover loss in some areas in just over a decade. Map courtesy of Global Forest Watch.

    Ecuador–Dracula Reserve Proposed

    Deep in the dark, cool forests of Ecuador live strange and mysterious organisms. Some inhabit the trees and others stay to the ground, and many... Read more

  • inside several scientists by carcass

    Woolly Mammoth Gave Birth to 9 Babies: Can She Have Another 28,000 Years Later?

    From The Siberian Times: New blood samples have been discovered in the remains of a woolly mammoth; experts began the hunt for live cells this month. The remains of... Read more

  • Small forest ponds are most at risk of being poisoned if they have dumped ammunition in them. (Susanne W Lamm/Epoch Times)

    TNT Contamination May Produce Carcinogenic Substances in Fish

    STOCKHOLM—TNT, leaking from old ammunition dumped in Swedish lakes, may deposit carcinogenic substances in fish, according to a recent study by Swedish Defence Research Agency... Read more

  • How and why a study about when the giant prehistoric shark Megalodon went extinct got picked up as "proof" that it is. (AOL Screenshot)

    Study Doesn’t Prove Megalodons Are Extinct, Never Needed to (Video)

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  • The dream of the researchers is to one day apply the technology to shed light on the spatial structure of biomolecules, such as proteins. (ETH Zurich)

    Super High-Resolution Magnetic Resonance Imaging Detects Single Atom

    For the first time, researchers have detected a single hydrogen atom using high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Conventional MRI technology, widely used in hospitals, can... Read more

  • "Normally, loss is considered bad, but we actually take advantage of this and reverse the bad effect. We used the laser to show it," says Lan Yang. (Shutterstock*)

    How Energy Loss Can Make Lasers More Intense

    Energy loss in optical systems, such as lasers, is a chief hindrance to their performance and efficiency and it occurs on an ongoing, frustrating basis... Read more

  • (Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Thinkstock)

    ‘Starfish’ Crystals Could Lead to 3-D-Printed Pills

    Engineers have figured out how to make rounded crystals with no facets, a design that mimics the hard-to-duplicate texture of starfish shells. The discovery could... Read more

  • (Vladislav Mitic/iStock/Thinkstock)

    Inside the Blood Factory: What Happens to Your Donated Blood?

    The ‘grey area’ looks more blue, thanks to the rows of blue lab coats standing guard. Its name refers to its function as a purgatory... Read more

  • (Shutterstock*)

    Can Subliminal Messages Improve Old Age?

    Subliminal messages containing positive stereotypes about aging can improve older adults’ physical functioning for several weeks, according to a new study. Researchers used a new... Read more

  • "This is important because we think melanopsin could be involved in clinical conditions," says Geoffrey K. Aguirre. "For example, it seems that too much stimulation of melanopsin produces the feeling of pain from light that is too bright, and not having enough melanopsin stimulation may be part of seasonal affective disorder, in which people become depressed when they don't have enough light exposure." (Credit: Andy Rennie/Flickr)

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  • (Shutterstock*)

    The Perfect Gap Turns Nanoparticles Into Sensors

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  • (Yuong-Nam Lee)

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      Everywhere scientists look it seems like they are finding dinosaurs. A new species is emerging at the astounding pace of one per week. And... Read more

  • Naxi script. (Mulligan Stu/Flickr)

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  • (Remko van Dokkum, CC BY 2.0)

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    A new online tool for scientists and doctors called Golgi makes it easy to explore the brain of a rat. The web app, unveiled today,... Read more

  • The Lycurgus Cup, at the British Museum. (Wikimedia Commons) Background: A concept image of nanotechnology (Kentoh/iStock/Thinkstock)

    Ancient Roman Nanotechnology Inspires Next-Generation Holograms for Information Storage

    The Lycurgus Cup, as it is known due to its depiction of a scene involving King Lycurgus of Thrace, is a 1,600-year-old jade green Roman... Read more

  • A sample of the atomically thin material molybdenum disulfide. (Rob Felt)

    Atomically Thin Material Generates Electricity

    Engineers have demonstrated that a single atomic layer of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) can generate an electrical voltage when it’s stretched or compressed. The effect is... Read more

  • The current prototype is the size of the head of a ballpoint pen. Researchers hope to design a next-generation implant one-tenth that size. The goal is to produce smaller devices that could be used to create a network of electrodes to study the brains of experimental animals in ways not currently possible. (Arbabian Lab/Stanford School of Engineering)

    Ultrasound Powers Devices Deep Inside the Body

    Researchers would like to place very small implants deep inside our bodies to monitor health or treat pain. But providing electric power to implants without... Read more

  • An illustration of the ebola virus. (Bumbasor/iStock/Thinkstock)

    Are Some People Immune to Ebola?

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  • "We're not surprised delay discounting appears in the realm of parental decision-making," says Nathan Call. "Clinicians know this is a problem. But I think if we can measure it, we can possibly predict it or change it." (Jonny Hughes/Flickr)

    Why Parents Give Up on Changing Kids’ Behavior

    People tend to focus on the short term, and care more about potential benefits that are available immediately. Psychologists and economists call this tendency for... Read more

  • (Dimitar_hr/iStock/Thinkstock)

    Scientists Find 18 New Viruses on NYC Rats

    The rats scurrying around New York City are carrying a number of pathogens that could be dangerous to humans, including life-threatening gastroenteritis. “New Yorkers are... Read more

  • Compact Fusion Reactor

    Lockheed Breakthrough: Nuclear-Fusion Reactors Tiny Enough to Power Aircraft

    Lockheed Martin announced Wednesday that it has made a breakthrough in developing a nuclear fusion reactor that measures only about 7 feet by 10 feet, that’s... Read more

  • Boyd Bushman holding up a photo purportedly showing an extraterrestrial being. (Screenshot/Mark Q. Patterson)

    Former Government Contractor Boyd Bushman Shows Photos of Aliens? (Video)

    Boyd Bushman, who died Aug. 7, revealed in a filmed interview before his death what he says is information about, and photos of, aliens and alien... Read more

  • Clonycavan Man, who lived around the 4th or 3rd century B.C., now a “bog body,” on display at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin. (Mark Healey/Wikimedia Commons) Background: A file photo of a bog. (Shutterstock*)

    Clonycavan Man: A 2,300-Year-Old Murder Mystery

    In March 2003, the body of a man who lived during the Iron Age was discovered in a peat bog in Ireland. Known as the... Read more

  • Participants in Dr. Donald Yates’s Cherokee Native American DNA testing. Top Left: Karen Worstell’s grandmother Odessa Shields Cox is shown with her husband William M. Cox and Worstell’s mother, Ethel, as a baby, ca. 1922. Bottom Left: Karen Worstell. Right: Jan Franz. (Courtesy of Dr. Donald Yates)

    Anomalous Native American DNA: New Tests Show Middle East Origins?

    Geneticist Dr. Donald Yates has been studying Cherokee DNA, particularly genetic markers passed on only from a mother to her children, not passed on along paternal... Read more

  • The Sun Stone (Stone of Axayacatl). It depicts the 20 days around the Sun God.(Anagoria/Wikimedia Commons) Background: Mayan calendar (Nikiac/iStock/Thinkstock)

    The Aztec Calendar Wheel and the Philosophy of Time

    The Aztec calendar wheels have been a source of fascination for centuries.  It was not just a way to keep time – it was a... Read more

  • Coyame resident Leandro Valeriano examines debris from the crash of a small plane in the Chihuahuan Desert just north of Coyame, Mexico. The debris may been part of the air plane that allegedly collided with a UFO at high speeds in 1974. The allegations continue that the U.S. government destroyed all remaining evidence with high yield explosives. (Wikimedia Commons)

    Mid-Air Crash Leads to Legendary Mexican UFO Encounter

    In Coyame, Mexico, 1974, in the State of Chihuahua, an unidentified flying object (UFO) collided with a small plane. Both the U.S. government and the... Read more

  • An aerial view of Marree Man and an outline illustrated by Lisa Thurston. (Wikimedia Commons)

    The Mysterious Marree Man of Outback Australia

    Etched into the dry sand of Australia’s barren outback is the world’s largest geoglyph, known as “Marree Man,” an enormous figure of an Aboriginal man... Read more

  • (Courtesy of Patty Greer)

    One Woman’s 9-Year Arduous Journey to Unlock the Secrets of Crop Circles

    Patty Greer will present new information from her dedicated studies of crop circles at the Follow the Truth: The Conspiracy Show Summit in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, on... Read more

  • Dr. Ron Mallett, who has mathematically shown binary messages could be sent to the future. (Courtesy of Dr. Ron Mallett)

    Time Travel Is Possible: How to Send a Message to the Past

    At the Follow the Truth: The Conspiracy Show Summit in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, on Nov. 16, Dr. Ron Mallett will talk about his work on sending information... Read more

  • (Associated Press file photo)

    Bigfoot Should be on Endangered Species List, New York County Legislators Hear

    Claiming about 17 different alleged sightings of Bigfoot, one New York man told county legislators that the legendary creature should be placed on the endangered... Read more

  • Bill Cannon, archaeologist with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), walks by the Paisley Caves in Oregon. The human remains in these caves suggest an ancient human population reached what is now the United States at the end of the last Ice Age. (BLM/Wikimedia Commons) Background: A file photo of a glacier lake. (Shutterstock*)

    Ancient Oregon Caves May Change Understanding of Human Habitation in Americas

    A network of caves in rural Oregon, known as the Paisley caves, may contain archaeological evidence of the oldest definitively-dated human presence in North America,... Read more

  • A file photo of an Egyptian mummy. (Shutterstock*)

    Archaeologists Find Egyptian Mummy With Peculiar Skull Containing Brain Imprint

    Archaeologists are trying to unravel a mystery surrounding the discovery of a 2,000-year-old Egyptian mummy whose skull contains imprints left by the brain, according to a... Read more

  • (Shutterstock*, effects added by Epoch Times)

    Visions of Dead Loved Ones Not Yet Known to Have Died

    These cases go beyond premonition or a vague intuitive feeling—the people involved reported having a clear vision of a loved one and thus learning of... Read more

  • Yamal crater in Siberia. (The Siberian Times)

    Siberian Exploding Holes Could Be Key to Bermuda Triangle: Scientists

    From The Siberian Times: The craters—two in Yamal and one on the Taymyr peninsula—were revealed during the summer, leading to urgent analysis by scientists as... Read more

  • A view of Bedford County, Va., where the supposed treasure of “The Beale Papers” is said to be buried. (Wikimedia Commons) Bottom right: Cover of “The Beale Papers” (Wikimedia Commons)

    The Lost Treasure of the Beale Ciphers

    More than a century ago, a small pamphlet was published titled “The Beale Papers,” which contained three cipher texts. The mysterious codes supposedly gave directions... Read more

  • File photo of a wooden bird  (Shutterstock*, effects added by Epoch Times)

    First Robotic Drone Created in 350 BC?

    In 350 B.C., mathematician and founding father of mechanics Archytas of Tarentum invented a wooden mechanical dove. “Archytas’ invention is often cited as the first... Read more

  • Srivatsa Geoglyphs

    Over 50 Ancient Geoglyphs, Including Swastika, Discovered in Kazakhstan

    Archaeologists are calling them the Nazca lines of Kazakhstan – more than 50 giant geoglyphs formed with earthen mounds and timber found stretched across the... Read more

  • A file photo of a Sanskrit text (Maxim Krasnov/Hemera/Thinkstock, effects added by Epoch Times); Rice (Shutterstock*); Conceptual image of the "flower of life" (Tschitscherin/iStock/Thinkstock)

    The Indian Sage Who Developed Atomic Theory 2,600 Years Ago

    John Dalton (1766 – 1844), an English chemist and physicist, is the man credited today with the development of atomic theory.  However, a theory of... Read more

  • (Lixuyao/iStock/Thinkstock)

    You Have a ‘GPS’ in Your Brain, Could It Help You Find Love? Your Lost Dog?

    A Nobel Prize in medicine was awarded Monday for the discovery of “an inner GPS in the brain.” While this function of the brain affects... Read more

  • Stencils of hands in a cave in Indonesia. Ancient cave drawings in Indonesia are as old as famous prehistoric art in Europe, according to a new study that shows our ancestors were drawing all over the world 40,000 years ago. And it hints at an even earlier dawn of creativity in modern humans than scientists had thought. (AP Photo/Kinez Riza, Nature Magazine)

    40,000-Year-Old Asian Cave Paintings Shock Archaeologists: Reconsidering History

    WASHINGTON—Ancient cave drawings in Indonesia are as old as famous prehistoric art in Europe, according to a new study that shows our ancestors were drawing all over the world 40,000 years ago. And it... Read more

  • Right: Playwright and screenwriter Sidney Coe Howard (1891–1939), writer of “Gone With the Wind.” (Wikimedia Commons) Center: Film poster for “Gone With the Wind.” (Wikimedia Commons) Left: A file photo of a baby. (Photodisc/Photodisc/Thinkstock) Background: (Craig Aurness/Fuse/Thinkstock)

    Screenwriter of ‘Gone With the Wind’ Reincarnated in the Midwest?

    When Lee was 2 ½ years old, he started talking about his “other mommy.” When he was 3 ½, he started becoming upset because he... Read more

  • This image taken from video provided by NASA TV shows Orbital Sciences Corp.'s unmanned rocket blowing up over the launch complex at Wallops Island, Va., just six seconds after liftoff. The company says no one was believed to be hurt and the damage appeared to be limited to the facilities. (AP Photo/NASA TV)

    Rocket Explosion Setback for Commercial Space

    CHINCOTEAGUE, Va.—Crews searched for scorched wreckage along the Virginia coast Wednesday in hopes of figuring out why an unmanned commercial rocket exploded in a blow... Read more

  • This image taken from video provided by NASA TV shows Orbital Sciences Corp.'s unmanned rocket blowing up over the launch complex at Wallops Island, Va., just six seconds after liftoff. The company says no one was believed to be hurt and the damage appeared to be limited to the facilities. (AP Photo/NASA TV)

    Russian Space Agency Delivers ISS Cargo After US Attempt Explodes

    ATLANTIC, Va.—The company behind the dramatic launch explosion of a space station supply mission promises to find the cause of the failure and is warning... Read more

  • (Lior Shamir/Night Sky Project)

    Taurids Meteor Shower 2014: Peak Dates and Times, Where to Look

    The Taurids Meteor Shower has kicked off but isn’t very visible outside of the peak dates and times. The South Taurid meteors will peak on Tuesday,... Read more

  • Ring of light in outback Australia, May 2013. (Noeleen Lowndes)

    What Is a Solar Eclipse?

    A couple of weeks ago, we were treated to a total lunar eclipse – and on Thursday afternoon, North America will see a partial solar... Read more

  • This image shows elliptical galaxy NGC 1132, as seen by NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory. The blue/purple in the image is the X-ray glow from hot, diffuse gas that is not forming into stars. (NASA, ESA, M. West [ESO, Chile], and CXC/Penn State University/G. Garmire, et al.)

    How Black Holes Stop Galaxies From Making Stars

    New evidence could help explain how some massive black holes shut down a galaxy’s ability to make new stars. Astronomers say jets of “radio-frequency feedback”... Read more

  • File image of an astronaut in outer space. (Shutterstock*)

    10 Weird Space Experiments—You Won’t Believe What NASA’s Tried Out There

      From brewing whiskey to mixing perfume, turns out there’s a whole lot more to space travel than you thought. Discover the incredible experiments going... Read more

  • "Nature is essentially allowing us to do the same thing that a child does when she shakes a wrapped gift in hopes of figuring out what's hidden inside," says Radwan Tajeddine. (NASA/JPL/SSI via Jason Major/Flickr)

    Weird Interior of Saturn’s Moon Makes It Wobble

    A slight wobble detected in Saturn’s moon Mimas suggests its icy surface is covering either an odd-shaped rocky core or a sloshing ocean. Researchers used... Read more

  • NASA’s Operation IceBridge carried out a ground-based GPS survey of the El Mirage lake bed in California’s Mojave Desert, on on Oct. 2, 2014. (John Sonntag/NASA)

    The Great World Wide Star Count

    How many stars can you see at night? Right now people all over the world are being asked to go out and count them! It’s... Read more

  • A partial Solar eclipse is seen just after sunrise over the Queens borough of New York across the East River on November 3, 2013 in New York. (/AFP/Getty Images)

    Solar Eclipse 2014 Dates and Time: United States Schedule and Where to Look in Sky

    A partial solar eclipse is set for Thursday, October 23. The celestial event is of particular interest because it will be widely visible in the... Read more

  • An artist's concept of Comet Siding Spring (2013 A1) and Mars. Closest approach to Mars is on October 19, 2014. (NASA, CC BY)

    Attention All Martian Satellites and Rovers – a Comet Is Coming

    As every good marketing manager knows, value for money is a major driver for the success of a product. Being a bargain is not usually... Read more

  • The Earth's shadow begins to fall on the moon during a total lunar eclipse, as seen above Miami, Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

    Who Owns the Moon?

    Whether you’re into mining, energy or tourism, there are lots of reasons to explore space. Some “pioneers” even believe humanity’s survival depends on colonising celestial... Read more

  • An artist’s concept of Comet Siding Spring (2013 A1) and Mars. (NASA)

    Comet Siding Spring’s Close Encounter With Mars Draws Near

    Astronomers world-wide are gearing up for what NASA calls a “once in a lifetime” event: the Comet Siding Spring will swing past Mars on its... Read more

  • Meteors streak outwards from the top of Orion’s head as seen in 2012 from central Victoria. (Phil Hart)

    WATCH: One of the Year’s Best Meteor Showers, Thanks to Halley’s Comet

    As Earth orbits the sun, it continually ploughs through dust and debris left behind by passing comets and asteroids. On any night of the year,... Read more

  • A depiction of the Messenger spacecraft is shown viewing the Rachmaninoff basin. Both the monochrome and enhanced color views of Mercury were obtained during Messenger's third Mercury flyby. (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington)

    NASA’s Messenger Spacecraft Snaps Pics of Ice on Planet Mercury

    NASA’s Messenger spacecraft has taken the first pictures of ice frozen in dark spots on Mercury, the planet closest to the sun. The probe, which... Read more

  • "Super-Earths are at the edge of what we can study right now," says Heather Knutson. "But super-Earths are a good consolation prize—they're interesting in their own right, and they give us a chance to explore new kinds of worlds with no analog in our own solar system." (NASA Blueshift/Flickr)

    We Still Have No Clue What Super-Earths Are Made Of

    Despite discovering hundreds of exoplanets known as “super-Earths,” astronomers still don’t know what they’re made of. They’re larger than Earth but smaller than Nepture, and... Read more

  • An astronomer observes the night sky for Orionid Meteors as uses a laser pointer to show a radiate at an observatory near the village of Avren east of the Bulgarian capital Sofia, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2009. The annual Orionid meteor shower is promising to put on a dazzling sky show. The Orionid meteor shower occur each year as a result of Earth passing through dust released by Halley's Comet. The point from where the Orionid meteors appear to radiate is located within the constellation Orion. (AP Photo/Petar Petrov)

    Orionids Meteor Shower 2014: Peak Dates, Times, Where to Look

    The Orionids Meteor Shower is set to peak soon after starting last month. The shower, which has meteors from Halley’s comet, is slated to peak on... Read more

  • Comet Sliding Spring, also known as comet C/2013 A1, as captured by Wide Field Camera 3 on NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. (NASA, ESA, and J.-Y. Li (Planetary Science Institute))

    Comet Siding Spring 2014 Update: Mars Encounter Coming This Week

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.—The heavens are hosting an event this weekend that occurs once in a million years or so. A comet as hefty as a... Read more

  • In this Aug. 3, 2014 file photo taken by Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is pictured from a distance of 285 kms. Scientists at the European Space Agency on Monday, Sept. 15, 2014, announced the spot where they will attempt the first landing on a comet hurtling through space at 55,000 kph (34,000 mph). The maneuver is one of the key moments in the decade-long mission to examine the comet and learn more about the origins and evolution of objects in the universe. (AP Photo/ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team, File)

    European Space Agency Confirms Time and Place of Comet Probe Landing

    BERLIN—The European Space Agency has confirmed the time and place it will attempt to land the first spacecraft on a comet. The agency said Wednesday... Read more

  • This artist’s impression of the Milky Way galaxy. The blue halo of material surrounding the galaxy indicates the expected distribution of the mysterious dark matter. (L. Calçada/ESO)

    Dark Matter and the Milky Way: More Little Than Large

    While invisible, dark matter completely dominates our Milky Way. But recent measurements of just how much dark matter there is have revealed a bit of... Read more

  • High-energy X-rays streaming from a rare and mighty pulsar (magenta), the brightest found to date, can be seen in this new image combining multi-wavelength data from three telescopes. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SAO/NOAO)

    Pulsar as Bright as 10 Million Suns Baffles Astronomers

    An object scientists thought was a black hole is actually the brightest and weirdest pulsar ever detected. “This compact little stellar remnant is a real... Read more

  • Community leader in Aceh, Indonesia. Photo by Rhett Butler.

    Locals Leading Global Conservation

    A few weeks ago, a remote aboriginal community in western Australia made headlines when it completed the establishment of an Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) containing over 4.2... Read more

  • Small forest ponds are most at risk of being poisoned if they have dumped ammunition in them. (Susanne W Lamm/Epoch Times)

    TNT Contamination May Produce Carcinogenic Substances in Fish

    STOCKHOLM—TNT, leaking from old ammunition dumped in Swedish lakes, may deposit carcinogenic substances in fish, according to a recent study by Swedish Defence Research Agency... Read more

  • Cleared forest in Indonesia.  (news.mongabay.com)

    Indonesia Merges Environment and Forest

    Indonesia’s newly elected president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has merged the country’s ministries of forestry and environment into a single entity and installed a woman at... Read more

  • Landsat image showing deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.

    Conservation Networking with Technology

       With scientists rapidly adopting and using a range of remote sensing tools for monitoring environmental change, tracking wildlife and measuring biological processes, conservation needs... Read more

  • A Lightening electric motorcycle displayed at an Air Quality Resources Board event in San Dimas, Calif. on Oct. 23 gets up to 170 miles on a single charge. (Sarah Le/Epoch Times)

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Ariel Lugo overlooking an urban watershed in Puerto Rico. Photo courtesy of Ariel Lugo. 

Think first before you eradicate non-native species says Dr. Ariel E. Lugo, the current director of the International Institute of Tropical Forestry within the USDA Forest Service, based in Puerto Rico. Lugo, an accomplished ecologist, supports the idea that both native and non-native plants have important roles to play in conservation efforts. 

“Many conservationists object to the presence of non-native species and pursue instead a natives-only strategy of conservation. In Puerto Rico, such a traditional conservation approach would require us to deforest 75 percent of our forest cover, which is the proportion of the island's forests dominated by non-native trees," Lugo told mongabay.com in a recent interview. "Recognizing that all lands and all species have conservation value is a key breakthrough for effective forest conservation.” 

Because of the depth of his experience, Lugo is frequently called on to appear as an expert witness for federal environmental court cases. He has over 300 publications in books and scientific journals, is a Member-at-Large of the Board of the Ecological Society of America, and a founding member of the Society for Ecological Restoration. In addition, he serves as the editor of Acta Cientifica and on the editorial boards of numerous other journals. 

 Ariel Lugo. Photo by: USFS.
Ariel Lugo. Photo by: USFS. "The unprecedented and directional environmental change that is defining the era of the Anthropocene makes obsolete many of our beliefs and paradigms developed during the Holocene; an era where we thought conditions were cyclical," explained Lugo. "If conditions were cyclical, we can look at the past to learn about the future. However, if they are not cyclical but follow an ever changing and unpredictable trajectory (as expected from climate change), then the past becomes less relevant and anticipating the future more relevant." 

By studying "novel forests" on his native Puerto Rico, Lugo has discovered that even though these forests are largely dominated by non-native species, and are vastly different than past forests, they provide essential ecosystem services. Perhaps even more importantly, these ecosystems "shows how natural processes lead to tropical forests that can function normally on degraded landscapes where human activity has previously deforested the land and caused high levels of soil erosion and compaction," according to Lugo. 

He added that "knowing when to intervene with natural process and when to allow these processes to unfold is probably the single-most challenge to conservation and thus the most important break thought that is ahead of us." 

An Interview with Dr. Ariel Lugo 

Novel forest in Puerto Rico. Photo by: Ariel Lugo.
Novel forest in Puerto Rico. Photo by: Ariel Lugo. 

Mongabay: What is your background? How long have you worked in tropical forest conservation and in what geographies? What is your area of focus? 

Ariel Lugo: I am a native of tropical Puerto Rico, have been studying or working in tropical forests for about 50 years. I am an ecologist and have studied mangroves and tropical dry, moist, wet, and rain forests throughout the world and intensively in the Caribbean. My interest in these systems has always been their structure, species composition, and functioning as ecosystems. The functional aspects of my research involve speed and direction of succession, forest productivity and nutrient cycling, and the roles forests play in supporting human activity. 

Mongabay: Are you personally involved in any projects or research that you feel represents emerging innovation in tropical forest conservation? 

Ariel Lugo: I am concentrating my research on novel forests, which are forests whose species composition is different from the species composition of historical forests at the location where they develop. In Puerto Rico, novel forests include native species but are dominated by non-native species. They dominate the landscape of the island and provide vital services to people. The conservation relevance of this research is that it shows how natural processes lead to tropical forests that can function normally on degraded landscapes where human activity has previously deforested the land and caused high levels of soil erosion and compaction. Our research has shown that native tree species cannot colonize these abandoned and degraded lands but luckily non-native trees have the capacity to colonize and re-establish forest conditions where native species, including endemic ones, can grow. Many conservationists object to the presence of non-native species and pursue instead a natives-only strategy of conservation. In Puerto Rico, such a traditional conservation approach would require us to deforest 75 percent of our forest cover, which is the proportion of the island's forests dominated by non-native trees. Recognizing the ecological value of non-native species is a conservation innovation that all conservationists should consider before they undertake species eradication programs. The solutions to forest conservation problems require ecological understanding and scientific knowledge so that conservation programs can be more effective and sustainable. 

Mongabay: What's the next big thing in forest conservation? What approaches or ideas are emerging or have recently emerged? What will be the catalyst for the next big breakthrough? 

The non-native gold dust day gecko in Hawaii. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
The non-native gold dust day gecko in Hawaii. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler. 

Ariel Lugo: Recognizing that all lands and all species have conservation value is a key breakthrough for effective forest conservation. This breakthrough is made imperative by the rapid and unpredictable rate of environmental change that humans are imposing on Planet Earth. The unprecedented and directional environmental change that is defining the era of the Anthropocene makes obsolete many of our beliefs and paradigms developed during the Holocene; an era where we thought conditions were cyclical. If conditions were cyclical, we can look at the past to learn about the future. However, if they are not cyclical but follow an ever changing and unpredictable trajectory (as expected from climate change), then the past becomes less relevant and anticipating the future more relevant. Because natural processes are fine-tuned by natural selection, we must be ready to work in harmony with natural processes to assure our adaptability to a changing world. Working against natural processes is costly and not sustainable. In the Caribbean, tropical forests are adapting to change by the remixing of forest species, regardless of their geographic origins. This is an emerging lesson for conservation and does not support the single-focus notion of eradication of non-native species. Knowing when to intervene with natural process and when to allow these processes to unfold is probably the single-most challenge to conservation and thus the most important break thought that is ahead of us. 

Mongabay: What do you see as the biggest development or developments over the past decade in tropical forest conservation? 

Ariel Lugo: Tropical forests attracted the attention of early explorers because of their luxuriance and diversity. Scientists were challenged by this complexity and dedicated decades of study to unravel its meaning and try to understand its causes. To do so, scientists focused on mature forests or forests they thought were pristine and not affected by humans. This focus on mature forests shaped the development of tropical ecology and ecosystem science. Over the last two decades we have realized that there is a human imprint in forest stands that we deemed pristine. Moreover, the global area of secondary tropical forests (forests in different stages of recovery after human or natural disturbances) is now larger than the area of tropical mature forests and ecologists have now began to pay attention to these secondary forests. The shift in attention towards secondary forests is a positive development in the science of tropical ecology because it places the scientific community closer to the point where human activity intersects with forest ecology. Ultimately scientists will have to take another step towards novel forests, which are even more closely related to people, but for now, focusing on secondary forests is huge. 

Mongabay: What isn't working in conservation but is still receiving unwarranted levels of support? 

Primary forest and secondary forest among cassava fields in the Amazon. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Primary forest and secondary forest among cassava fields in the Amazon. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler. 

Ariel Lugo: Conservation benefits from the passion for the preservation of species and this is fundamental for the success of conservation activities. However, conservation must also be anchored in science, particularly in light of the complexity of nature and the unpredictable conditions of the Anthropocene. Conservation does not work when emotions take over and scientific realities are ignored. So, the current war on non-native species, which is justified under some but not under all conditions, leads to ineffective, counterproductive, and anti-scientific attitudes, which are captured by the notion of "shoot first and ask questions later." Blindly ignoring non-native species and non-protected lands in terms of their conservation value, limit conservation approaches to an increasingly smaller fraction of the biota and the Earth's forests areas. Many sectors of the conservation movement are not understanding that conservation must be adaptive, i.e., be a learning activity that adjusts to emerging conditions, which is why the activities of those sectors of the movement are not working.

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