Yes. But this does not invalidate the presence of human-caused climate change.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash

The arguments of climate-change deniers are many and varied, but one of the refrains that I hear most often is: “The Earth’s temperature has always been in flux because of natural warming and cooling cycles. Therefore, temperature changes are natural and are not caused by human activity.” Like many arguments against anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change, this one is based in truth, but applies that truth incorrectly to yield a falsehood. …


Exploring and debunking common grammar myths

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

The Double Space

In my ninth-grade English class, my teacher proclaimed herself to be a stickler for grammatical rules. One particular rule of hers that stands out to me even now — a decade later — is her insistence on a double space at the end of each sentence. I distinctly remember the way my good friend cried when her first essay was returned to her with a large red “D” at the top. …


The world of science news can be murky, but there are tools you can use to evaluate what is worth reading (and what isn’t).

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Science in HD on Unsplash

America has a problem with scientific literacy. America lags behind other developed countries in academics, and most adults lack a foundational knowledge of science. But with subpar school curriculum and sensationalized scientific stories in the news, this is rarely the fault of those adults. It is not necessarily a lack of knowledge that is harming scientific literacy — it isn’t imperative for every adult to understand Maxwell’s Equations, the construction of the periodic table, or cellular respiration. Unfortunately, American curriculum at all grade levels focuses on preparing students to regurgitate these scientific facts on exams rather than giving them the tools to understand the scientific process, evaluate scientific claims, and search for relevant scientific information when necessary. We are taught (and often promptly forget) definitions and equations without ever learning how to find answers for ourselves. …


The Cognitive Abilities That Make Us Uniquely Human

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

What makes us human? If you tend to think more literally, you may give the (valid) response that specific characteristics of our genomes are what define some organisms as human and others as not. But this isn’t generally what we mean when we ask this question. Why is it that when we talk about organisms, we often refer separately to humans and animals, even though most of us know that humans are animals? We refer to humans as men and women, but to animals as male and female. We frequently use the word “it” to identify animals, but such a word choice would be repugnant when applied to a human. We readily view nature documentaries that feature footage of animals performing bodily functions that are taboo when performed by people. Some characteristic or characteristics, then, must exist that allow us to consider humans to be a separate class of beings. What are those characteristics? …


While the fact that ice floats on water may not seem important, it is absolutely crucial to life as we know it.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Carly Jayne on Unsplash

It may never have struck you as unusual that ice floats on water, but this phenomenon is rather unusual (though certainly not unheard of) among chemical compounds. Other common chemicals that we use on a regular basis like ethanol and acetone are denser in their solid forms, so they sink in their respective liquids. You may never have seen these organic compounds as solids, but as a chemist, I have quite a bit of experience with using liquid nitrogen to freeze organic compounds at temperatures well below 0°. The takeaway? It’s super cool!

While there are many types of ice, the rest of this article will use “ice” to mean water ice and “water” to mean liquid water, unless otherwise specified. …


The Curious Etymology of a Problematic Word

I want you to picture a person crying on a street corner. They are completely hysterical, tears streaming down their face and hair disheveled. They are sobbing loudly, with their hands to their face in anguish, shaking their head and desperately trying to pull themself together. I’d now like to ask you a question: what gender is the woman you’re picturing?

Maybe some of you imagined a person other than a woman, but I’d be willing to wager that the majority of you did picture a woman crying on the street corner. There are many factors contributing to this, especially the societal expectation that it’s okay for women to cry, but not men. While this is incredibly important, it’s not the topic of this article. …


A young girl’s journey toward scientific enlightenment, and her realization of the importance of wonder.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Jaredd Craig on Unsplash

I can vividly remember the first time I experienced awe. I was probably about six years old and my dad had taken me to the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City. At some point during the afternoon, we attended a show at their planetarium — the largest in the Western Hemisphere. Seated halfway toward the back and near the left side, I began to feel excitement bubble through me as the lights dimmed. I don’t remember much after this point until The Moment arrived, about ten minutes later. As a scientist, I am frequently asked where my interest in science came from, and without hesitation, I describe to them The Moment. It is a core element of my identity. …


Growing up, I always thought that joeys — baby kangaroos residing in the pouches of their mothers — were born fully developed, then placed in the pouch for ease of transport like a marsupial BabyBjörn. When I got older, I thought that joeys existed in their mothers’ pouches for the entirety of their development — from eggs all the way through the time that they are old enough to emerge. It turns out that both of these assumptions are entirely wrong, and that kangaroo gestation and development is far more interesting than I had ever believed.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Yujia Tang on Unsplash

Kangaroo pregnancy begins in the way that most of us are familiar with. An egg is released from an ovary and travels through the fallopian tube, and if it becomes fertilized, will implant on the uterine wall. However, unlike humans, kangaroo fetuses do not obtain nutrition through a placenta. Instead, developing kangaroos are nourished by a yolk sac, which is able to provide nutrition for only about twenty-eight days. At this point, the kangaroo must be born. …


I spent the summer of 2019 working in a research program at a large university, far away from home. After work, about two weeks into the program, I walked across campus to the health center to schedule weekly therapy appointment — something I had been without for the first time in years. Along the way, I passed at least three bearded twenty-somethings named Lennon, five craft breweries, four dispensaries, and a vegan, gluten free pizza joint. Unfortunately, I was told when I got to the health center that despite living in a dorm, having a student mailbox, possessing a University of (State) email address, carrying an (aquatic animal mascot) ID in my pocket, and being paid slightly above minimum wage by the institution, I wasn’t closely enough associated with it to qualify for therapy sessions. They told me I could take an Uber every week to one of the few in-network behavioral health specialists in the area. …


The Milky Way. It’s the incredible galaxy that we call home, although in terms of galaxies in general, it’s rather ordinary. But currently, the Milky Way is engaged in a precarious dance with its star-crossed lover — one that is billions of years in the making.

Currently, the Milky Way is on a direct collision course with its sister galaxy, Andromeda, and while this spectacular event won’t take place for at least another four billion years, I thought we would take a look at what might happen when this collision eventually occurs.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Bryan Goff on Unsplash

First, let’s take a look at how we know that we’re on a collision course with Andromeda, a galaxy much like our own in shape but roughly twice the size. In physics, there exists something called the Doppler effect. While you may not know it by name, you’ve likely noticed it when a police car rushes past you and you hear the siren decrease in pitch as the car moves farther away. When an object is moving toward us, both sound and light waves become compressed, and essentially bunch up. As a result, these waves are shifted to a higher frequency. In our everyday lives, we hear this as an increase in pitch as a noisy object approaches us, and in astronomy, we observe this shift in the frequency of light waves. We call this a blue shift — a reference to the fact that blue light is of a higher frequency than red and yellow light, so objects that are blue shifted may quite literally appear bluer. The opposite is true for objects moving away from us. Light waves emitted by receding objects become spaced out and therefore are shifted to a lower frequency, something we call red shift. …

About

Taylor Knoble

A burgeoning writer with a passion for science, mental health, social justice, and all the places these topics intersect.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store