Thursday, December 17, 2015

An Aggie and a Longhorn launch a satellite...

All part of an investigation to get us closer to the ability to have two spacecraft rendezvous and dock in space without help from humans -- which will help advance future space exploration. Students at Texas A&M University and The University of Texas designed the two cooperating satellites, which will demonstrate autonomous navigation and communication in space. Read more on the NASA website.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Giant Telescope Under Construction

Construction on the Giant Magellan Telescope at Las Campanas, Chile broke ground last month. The project involves institutions from Australia, Brazil, and Korea, plus the Carnegie Institution for Science, Harvard University, Smithsonian Institution, Texas A&M University, the University of Arizona, and the University of Chicago, and The University of Texas. Read more on The Alcalde website.

Monday, November 2, 2015

5 of the world's best stargazing spots

Dark skies, clear air and elevation make for incredible views of the night sky. Here are five places around the world to find them.

Photo: Jaco Powell,

Monday, October 19, 2015

3 Days in Paint Rock

This tiny Texas town has incredible rock art and, nearby, craft beer, great food, kayaking, historic forts and more. Read about it in my story for Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine.

Fall in the Hill Country

Lost Maples deserves its reputation for fall splendor, but nearby Hill Country State Natural Area also sports color, without the crowds. Read more in the latest Texas Highways.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Saving the vaquita

The population of the Gulf of California harbor porpoise, or vaquita, has plummeted in recent years and an illegal trade in the bladders of totoaba fish, also endangered, bears much of the blame. Conservationists and scientists hope efforts to save both aren't too little, too late. Read more in my piece for Newsweek.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Space fog

It's a real thing, just not what you think. Astronauts coined the term to refer to the difficulty concentrating and mental fatigue sometimes experienced in space. Researchers are trying to figure out exactly what causes it and what to do about it. Read more here

Monday, October 12, 2015

Your brain in space

An investigation on the International Space Station is looking at how microgravity affects the human brain and what that in turn does to our cognitive and physical abilities. Read more on the NASA website.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

World's best places to shore dive

Ten destinations where great diving is just a walk off the shore, making it easy to pack in lots of diving along with taking it easy on the beach and other fun. Read about them in my piece for Men's Journal.

Diving at Storms River mouth, South Africa.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Your cells in microgravity

An experiment aboard the International Space Station looks at how cells change shape in microgravity and the ways those changes affect cell function. This results will help scientists determine ways to counteract the negative effects of microgravity on the human body, and to treat diseases here on Earth. Read more on the NASA website.

How do our cells sense gravity?

Research underway on the International Space Station seeks to determine whether and how our cells sense gravity. This knowledge could help prevent the muscle loss experienced by those who spend time in space. Learn more from my article on the NASA website.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Blanco River's iconic trees

The Memorial Day flood on the Blanco River near Wimberley killed more than 13,000 trees, a drastic change to the landscape. Experts weigh in on how best to help it recover, in this piece for Newsweek.
Credit: Rachel Ranft, TNC

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Marine Mug Shots

Scientists working with sea turtles on the remote Guanahacabibes Peninsula in Cuba use a low-tech tool to keep track of individual animals: photographs. Read more in my piece for Sport Diver.

Credit: Julia Azanza

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Marine Protected Areas that Work

Not all marine protected areas work. Those that do have five characteristics. Read more in my article for Sport Diver.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Fighting invasive plants by eating them

Invasivory - the practice of eating invasive plants - is a movement fueled by growing interest in more environmentally friendly consumer choices and sustainable, local eating as well as the significant environmental problem of these plants. Find out more in my piece for The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Oceans of plastic

According to a study by a group at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, more than 10 billion pounds of plastic enter our oceans every year. We can do something about it. Read more in my story for the summer issue of Alert Diver. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Handwoven souvenirs in Paint Rock

Ingrid's Custom Handwoven Rugs in Paint Rock sells rugs, saddle blankets and placemats woven from goat, alpaca, llama, yak, and even bison hair. The creations are sold all over the country, or you can buy one right in the shop. Read more about Ingrid's and Paint Rock in my Souvenir column for Texas Highways.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Trophy hunting's contribution to loss of African wildlife

Poaching and habitat loss may be worse, but trophy hunting plays a role in the drastic decline in iconic African animals such as lions and elephants. The killing of Cecil, a popular wild lion in Zimbabwe, has put a spotlight on this issue. Read more on Men's Journal online.

The Lure of Open Space

Spending even a short amount of time outdoors provides such benefits as stress reduction, creative inspiration, and better health. Texas cities offer unique open spaces where you can enjoy these benefits. Read about some of the best in my piece for Texas Highways.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Wine in a can

Putting wine in a can makes it lightweight, unbreakable, and crushable (nice when backpacking out your empties). Even better if it is good wine. Here is a review of the current crop of canned wines according to Devon Broglie, MS, associate global beverage buyer for Whole Foods, for Men's Journal.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Ready for your close-up, Mr. Butterfly?

Alex Wild, curator of the entomology collection at The University of Texas, is on a mission: to photograph as many of the world's ten million or so species of insects as possible and make them publicly available. We're not talking snapshots, either - these are professional portraits. Wild is also training students to follow in his footsteps, and you can help support his efforts. Read more in The Alcalde.
Eastern tiger swallowtail, Papilio glaucus, by Insectsunlocked.

Tony's ARK

Since 1976, Tony Amos has been rescuing injured marine wildlife at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas. The creatures are cared for at the Animal Rehabilitation Keep, or, aptly, the ARK. Read more in this piece for The Alcalde.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Noise versus Nature

Manmade noise increasingly intrudes upon natural places, and that is bad news for the creatures that live in those places and the people who want to enjoy them. Read more in this piece for Texas Co-op Power Magazine.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Sargassum Invades Beaches

Sargassum, an important part of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic marine ecosystems, has been showing up in unprecedented amounts and in places it hasn't been before. The most likely culprit: climate change. Read more about the problem in this piece for Newsweek.

Image courtesy Jim Gower, Institute of Ocean Sciences, Canada.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Right Way to Dolphin Watch

Scarlet Colley is known as the dolphin whisperer in Port Isabel, Texas. She and George Colley run dolphin watch boats, but what they don't do is run the boats up on the animals. Read more about their dolphin-friendly approach in this piece for Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Talking diving with the CEO of PADI

Drew Richardson, president and CEO of the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, on diving and divers. Read it on the Men's Journal website.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Three Days in Brownsville

This South Texas city may be less well-known than its famous island neighbor, but offers outdoor adventure, wildlife, history, and plenty of other diversions. Read more in the latest issue of Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine.

Three Countries Collaborate on Gulf of Mexico Science, Conservation

Three countries bound the Gulf of Mexico - the U.S., Mexico, and Cuba. Scientists from all three have been working together for years to study and protect this important body of water. Read about the Trinational Initiative in my piece for Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Worms in Space

The humble C. elegans may help us better understand aging. Astronauts on the International Space Station are performing the investigation from the Japanese Space Agency. Read more in my piece for the NASA website.

Sea Turtles in Texas

Five species of endangered sea turtles can be seen along the Texas coast. Learn where to see them -- and help protect them -- in my piece for the latest issue of Texas Highways.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Uncertain Future for Kemp's ridley Sea Turtles

Scientists, managers, conservationists and others gathered in November 2014 in Brownsville, Texas, to discuss drastic declines in the number of Kemp's ridley nests and how to save (again) this highly endangered species. Read my report in the latest issue of Alert Diver.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Tagging Wildlife for Science

Scientists use a variety of tagging methods to track wild animals and learn more about them. Read more in my piece for Mental Floss, 10 Animals We Tag - and What we Learn From It.

Monday, April 20, 2015

When it's summertime...

...go out and see what you can find. Ten must-try activities for a best-ever Texas summer, my latest piece for Texas Highways.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Year in Space

Astronaut Scott Kelly recently started his one-year mission in space, part of NASA's efforts to send humans to Mars. Read about it in this piece I wrote for Newsweek.

Five Years after Deepwater Horizon

A brief look at some of the continuing effects on wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico five years after the BP oil spill, for National Wildlife Magazine. Read it here.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Wildflowers 2015

The wildflowers have arrived in Texas! My piece for Texas Highways offers up four great routes for enjoying them, and other pursuits.

Cross-border Conservation in the Big Bend.

Nature knows no borders, and in the Big Bend region, conservation and management don't either. Read more about the 3 million-plus wild acres on both sides of the Rio Grande.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Peace and quiet in our National Parks.

Man-made light and noise grow ever more prevalent, even in remote areas. The National Park Service Natural Sounds & Night Skies Division mapped noise and light in parks and here are there findings on the quietest and darkest ones.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Junction, Texas

This town at the meeting of the North and South Llano Rivers makes for a great weekend destination. Camping, hiking, kayaking, bat caves, history, good eating and dark skies. Read more in Texas Co-op Power Magazine. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Show sargassum some love

That "seaweed" washing up on Texas beaches every spring and summer is Sargassum, and it is an important part of the marine and shoreline ecosystems. Learn more in this Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine article. 

Photo: Chase Fountain, TPWD

Monday, February 23, 2015

10 things smartphones can do

From tracking your mental health to creating an eyeglasses prescription, helping folks stay sober, and testing your cholesterol, smartphones have an ever-growing number of amazing uses. I list ten in this piece for Mental Floss.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Kayaking San Antonio's Mission Reach

The stretch of San Antonio River south of downtown -- and the famous Riverwalk -- has a hike and bike trail and canoe and kayak access points. The Mission Reach, as it's known, makes for a very nice paddle through areas under restoration to their former natural state and offers a new way to explore the historic missions. Read about my experience in the latest issue of Texas Highways.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Camp like a local in Mexico's Big Bend area

La Posada Milagro Guesthouse in Terlingua offers camping trips into the mountains and desert across the Rio Grande from Big Bend National Park. Beautiful scenery, swimming holes, campfire meals, and more. Read about it here. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Giant frogs and an enormous iguana

The wild and wacky creations of Bob 'Daddy-O' Wade, and how they came to be. This one for Texas Co-op Power was a lot of fun to write. Read it here.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Eat more lamb

Texas produces a lot of lamb - more than any other state in the US, in fact. So the American Lamb Board's chef competition, Lamb Jam, is coming to Austin for the first time this year. Read more about it in on CultureMap.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Writer of "Born to be Wild" gets serious about hiking

Mars Bonfire, writer and performer of the epic song "Born to be Wild," spent the past 20 years hiking the Sierra Club 100 Peaks Section list of peaks -- 25 times! Read my interview with him on the Men's Journal website.
Photo courtesy of Mars Bonfire.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

10 Citizen Science Projects to Try

Scientists need your help - citizen science projects add many hands to the workload. Here are ten projects involving a variety of activities from sticking a gps on your cat to cataloging photos of penguins and the Earth at  night, tagging fish, reading old ship logs, and listening to whale calls. Find out more in this piece for Mental Floss.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Student research lost on Antares gets a second flight

Student experiments chosen for launch to the space station through the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program were lost when the Antares rocket exploded in October. The program and its partners went above and beyond to get those experiments onto the next supply rocket headed to the station, as reported in this piece for the NASA website.