James F. Holland, Trailblazing Cancer Researcher, Dies at 92

James F. Holland, Trailblazing Cancer Researcher, Dies at 92 Photo Dr. James F. Holland in an undated photograph. In the 1950s, he and his colleagues were considered research “cowboys” by some colleagues, he said. Credit National Library of Medicine James F. Holland, a founding father of chemotherapy who helped pioneer a lifesaving drug treatment for pediatric leukemia patients, died on Thursday at his home in Scarsdale, N.Y. He was 92.
The cause was respiratory failure, his son Steven said.
Dr. Holland and his medical collaborators in the 1950s were scorned by some colleagues as research “cowboys,” as he put it, because they audaciously tackled what was considered an incurable disease and tried to treat it with several chemicals simultaneously, instead of sequentially.
When their research began, fewer than one in three children who were found to have acute lymphoblastic leukemia lived as long as a year. Today, as many as nine in 10 survive the disease, in which the bone marrow makes t..

The Getaway: Greening Your Summer Vacation

Greening Your Summer Vacation Photo Credit Ojima Abalaka The United Nations has proclaimed 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development with a goal of promoting positive change in travel with regard to social inclusion, environmental protection and economic equality.
But what does that mean for the everyday traveler planning a summer vacation? Homework. While the United Nations has a roster of forums, talks and conferences on sustainable tourism this year, travelers themselves are left to sort the good practices from the bad, the indifferent or the downright cynical.
“The problem with doing responsible travel trips is that it does take a little bit of work,” said Martha Honey, the executive director of the Center for Responsible Travel (Crest), a nonprofit in Washington. “There’s not one definitive, dependable website where everything is covered. It takes a little investigation, but that can help enrich a trip because you’re learning about the destination as you’r..

A Creationist Wants Rocks to Study. The Grand Canyon Says No.

A Creationist Wants Rocks to Study. The Grand Canyon Says No. Photo Officials at the Grand Canyon are in a dispute with a geologist who is a creationist and wants rocks from the canyon to study. Credit Richard Perry/The New York Times PHOENIX — Did Noah’s flood create the Grand Canyon? Not a chance, say mainstream scientists, who maintain that the canyon’s layers of rocks were carved and chiseled by a persistent flow of water beginning some five million years ago. But Andrew A. Snelling — a geologist by training, a creationist by conviction — has a minority view, and he hoped to prove himself right.
In November 2013, Dr. Snelling — he has a doctorate in geology from the University of Sydney, in Australia, where he was born — asked administrators of Grand Canyon National Park for permission to remove some 60 half-pound rocks from certain areas along the edges of the Colorado River, which snakes through the canyon.
Last July, the administrators denied his request. This month, Dr. Snellin..

Your Cute Rubber Duck May Be a Haven for Bacteria

Your Cute Rubber Duck May Be a Haven for Bacteria Photo A study that tested 19 different bath toys found that the murky water released by rubber ducks can contain “potentially pathogenic bacteria” that can cause eye, ear and stomach infections. Credit Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images LONDON — There’s an ugly truth about the rubber duck, the popular bathroom toy that children put in their mouths and use to squeeze bath water into their siblings’ faces.
Something yucky is likely to be inside, scientists say: “potentially pathogenic bacteria” that can cause eye, ear and stomach infections.
A study by American and Swiss researchers found that toy ducks appeared to be a breeding ground for microbes. The murky water released from four out of every five ducks tested included Legionella along with Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria, often associated with infections acquired in hospitals, the authors of the study said.
The study, conducted by the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Te..

China’s Space Station May Crash to Earth on April Fools’ Day

China’s Space Station May Crash to Earth on April Fools’ Day Photo A rocket carrying China’s first space station, Tiangong-1, lifted off on Sept. 29, 2011. China lost control of the station about two years ago. Credit Lintao Zhang/Getty Images The sky is falling. Again.
China’s first space station, Tiangong-1, abandoned and out of control, is expected to drop out of orbit around this weekend, with pieces of it likely to survive the fiery re-entry and crash somewhere on Earth.
Don’t worry.
According to space debris experts, the chances that you personally will be hit by of a chunk of space metal are essentially zero — less than one in a trillion.
“It’s really very, very, very tiny odds,” said Andrew Abraham, an analyst leading efforts to track and predict the demise of the space station at the Aerospace Corporation, a nonprofit that performs research and analysis for the United States Air Force. “I certainly would worry about things like crossing the street far more than debris from Tia..

We Might Soon Resurrect Extinct Species. Is It Worth the Cost?

We Might Soon Resurrect Extinct Species. Is It Worth the Cost? Photo An illustration of an extinct rat kangaroo, published in 1825. Researchers recently analyzed the costs and benefits of re-establishing and maintaining 16 species in Australia and New Zealand that went extinct in the last millennium. Credit Florilegius, via Getty Images With enough determination, money and smarts, scientists just might revive the woolly mammoth, or some version of it, by splicing genes from ancient mammoths into Asian elephant DNA. The ultimate dream is to generate a sustainable population of mammoths that can once again roam the tundra.
But here’s a sad irony to ponder: What if that dream came at the expense of today’s Asian and African elephants, whose numbers are quickly dwindling because of habitat loss and poaching?
“In 50 years, we might not have those elephants,” said Joseph Bennett, an assistant professor and conservation researcher at Carleton University in Ontario. Dr. Bennett has spent his c..

Matter: Antarctic Ice Reveals Earth’s Accelerating Plant Growth

Antarctic Ice Reveals Earth’s Accelerating Plant Growth Photo A boreal forest in Quebec. A new study suggests the world’s plants capture an extra 28 billion tons of carbon each year. Credit De Agostini/Getty Images For decades, scientists have been trying to figure out what all the carbon dioxide we have been putting into the atmosphere has been doing to plants. It turns out that the best place to find an answer is where no plants can survive: the icy wastes of Antarctica.
As ice forms in Antarctica, it traps air bubbles. For thousands of years, they have preserved samples of the atmosphere. The levels of one chemical in that mix reveal the global growth of plants at any point in that history.
“It’s the whole Earth — it’s every plant,” said J. Elliott Campbell of the University of California, Merced.
Analyzing the ice, Dr. Campbell and his colleagues have discovered that in the last century, plants have been growing at a rate far faster than at any other time in the last 54,000 years. ..

Climate Change Reroutes a Yukon River in a Geological Instant

Climate Change Reroutes a Yukon River in a Geological Instant In the blink of a geological eye, climate change has helped reverse the flow of water melting from a glacier in Canada’s Yukon, a hijacking that scientists call “river piracy.”
This engaging term refers to one river capturing and diverting the flow of another. It occurred last spring at the Kaskawulsh Glacier, one of Canada’s largest, with a suddenness that startled scientists.
A process that would ordinarily take thousands of years — or more — happened in just a few months in 2016.
Much of the meltwater from the glacier normally flows to the north into the Bering Sea via the Slims and Yukon Rivers. A rapidly retreating and thinning glacier — accelerated by global warming — caused the water to redirect to the south, and into the Pacific Ocean.
Continue reading the main story Last year’s unusually warm spring produced melting waters that cut a canyon through the ice, diverting more water into the Alsek River, ..

Trillions of Plastic Bits, Swept Up by Current, Are Littering Arctic Waters

Trillions of Plastic Bits, Swept Up by Current, Are Littering Arctic Waters
The world’s oceans are littered with trillions of pieces of plastic — bottles, bags, toys, fishing nets and more, mostly in tiny particles — and now this seaborne junk is making its way into the Arctic.
In a study published Wednesday in Science Advances, a group of researchers from the University of Cádiz in Spain and several other institutions show that a major ocean current is carrying bits of plastic, mainly from the North Atlantic, to the Greenland and Barents seas, and leaving them there — in surface waters, in sea ice and possibly on the ocean floor.
Because climate change is already shrinking the Arctic sea ice cover, more human activity in this still-isolated part of the world is increasingly likely as navigation becomes easier. As a result, plastic pollution, which has grown significantly around the world since 1980, could spread more widely in the Arctic in decades to come, the researchers say.