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When Jon Snow and his wildling partner Ygritte needed a place to break his vows, they ducked into a cave next to Lake Myvatn in northern Iceland – a stand in for the frozen wastes north of The Wall. And when the Game of Thrones film crew left, they forgot […]

Science north of The Wall


Dressed in personal protective equipment (PPE) with an integrated breathing system, a researcher demonstrates proper biosafety practices in the lab for a group of media representatives touring the Influenza Research Institute (IRI) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Feb. 28, 2017. The high-security research facility was closed down for annual decontamination, cleaning and maintenance. (Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison)
You never quite stop flinching when you’re inside the airlock and the scientist cuts off your protective equipment. But by the third time, you get pretty good at being an unconscious medical victim in the high-containment suite of the influenza lab, figuring out the most comfortable pose to adopt and […]

Life as a professional medical victim


One of the oldest known fossils, the Trendall Locality stromatiolite, on display at the UW Geology Museum in Madison, WI. 2
Yesterday, a study in the journal Nature described fossils found in the Nuvvuagittuq belt in northeastern Canada that may just be the oldest known fossils in the world, formed between 3.77 and 4.28 billion years ago. However, as a story in the Washington Post on March 1, 2017 put it: ‘Findings like these […]

Oldest fossils? Maybe, or maybe not, but the oldest known ...



A rusty-patched bumblebee on Culver’s root in the UW–Madison Arboretum. The Arboretum’s insecticide-free prairies, woodlands and gardens are a paradise for the rusty-patched and at least a dozen other bumblebee species. PHOTO: SUSAN DAY/UW-MADISON ARBORETUM
This winter may now feel a shade lonelier for a handful of bumble bee princesses tucked away underground in the University of Wisconsin–Madison Arboretum, but they will probably wake up in the spring to a larger group of human admirers. This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared rusty-patched […]

Happy in the Arb, endangered in the world


Yellow origami bird on a string
Children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, often are significantly delayed in expanding their vocabularies and other language skills compared to typically developing children. Yet, “we know very little about [language] processing in [children with ASD] or the mechanisms underlying it,” says Susan Ellis Weismer, a professor of communication sciences […]

Children with autism often have language delays but not for ...


A photomicrograph of Neisseria meningitidis//Photo: CDC
As UW–Madison undergraduate students prepare to take their finals and head home for winter break, public health officials are urging them to make plans to get their second dose of meningococcal disease B vaccine. Three students were hospitalized with the disease in October. At that time, few students ware vaccinated against it but, working […]

For complete immunity, UW students should get second dose of ...



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At the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters’ James Watrous Gallery, local artist Leslie Iwai’s exhibit, Daughter Cells, is on display now through January 22. Iwai’s work was largely inspired through a collaboration with UW Carbone Cancer Center professor Mark Burkard and his research on cell division. I sat down with Iwai and Burkard recently to […]

When science becomes art


Two cyclists on Madison's Capital City Loop, November 2016
This post comes courtesy of Jenny Seifert, science writer and outreach coordinator for the Water Sustainability and Climate Project at UW–Madison. A version of this story first appeared last month on WSC’s blog, Yahara in situ: Staying cool may not be a concern to Madisonians at this time of the year, […]

Biking, for science


A fall supermoon, which appears 14 percent bigger than normal, as seen from Madison, Wisconsin on November 14, 2016
The following is a guest post from resident supermoon skeptic, Jim Lattis, a science historian and director of the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s astronomy outpost, Space Place who says that, despite the hype behind a recent slew of “supermoons”: “I encourage people to go out and take a look. It’s always good […]

Supermoon skeptic says the moon is still pretty great