How Yellowstone Revolutionized Biotechnology

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Life is capable of thriving in the most inhospitable places. The photograph above, which I took on my recent trip to Yellowstone National Park, shows Morning Glory Pool, a hot spring that is a short hike from Old Faithful. It’s named after the purplish-blue morning glory flower, but the pool no longer has that color, which was due to a particular type of thermophilic (heat-loving) microbe. That is because ignoramuses threw coins and other debris into the pool, blocking the vents and lowering its temperature, which allowed microbes of other colors to grow.

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When a Dam Break Killed 2,209 Americans

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

One of America’s greatest tragedies is curiously absent from most U.S. history textbooks. On May 31, 1889, the South Fork Dam failed, and the ensuing flood killed 2,209 people living in and around Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Continue reading