Walking in nature is good for ya. Duh.

A new study tries to put a bit of scientific oomph behind the thing that we all know: spending time in nature makes ya feel better.

Mr. Bratman and his colleagues first gathered 38 healthy, adult city dwellers and asked them to complete a questionnaire to determine their normal level of morbid rumination.

The researchers also checked for brain activity in each volunteer’s subgenual prefrontal cortex, using scans that track blood flow through the brain. Greater blood flow to parts of the brain usually signals more activity in those areas.

Then the scientists randomly assigned half of the volunteers to walk for 90 minutes through a leafy, quiet, parklike portion of the Stanford campus or next to a loud, hectic, multi-lane highway in Palo Alto. The volunteers were not allowed to have companions or listen to music. They were allowed to walk at their own pace.

I wonder how my morning commute via bicycle on the Schuykill River Trail affects my brain? There’s a lot of idyllic nature scenes on the west side, a highway on the east.

Philly’s Underground Global Warming Contribution

Eye-opening report from NPR’s State Impact:

In fact, a methane leak’s warming impact over the next 20 years could be 84 times that of carbon dioxide, according to several estimates. And methane, which makes up the main component of natural gas, has been pouring out of cracks in our sidewalks and streets from those leaky pipes for decades.

But nobody knows how much. Pennsylvania’s Climate Impacts Assessment, published in October 2013, never mentions methane emissions from distribution lines. And there are no state, federal or local regulations on methane emissions.

Visualizing the Climate Crisis

Global Warming at Mount Everest

This gigapixel image of the Khumbu glacier was captured by David Breashears during the spring of 2012, from the Pumori viewpoint near Mount Everest. The Khumbu Icefall is clearly visible here, and one can easily see the hustle and bustle of Everest Base Camp below.

Hint: It’s easier no navigate with the Shift, Command and arrow keys on your keyboard {via npr}.

why saying “global warming caused hurricane sandy” is correct but not used by scientists

Linguist George Lakoff on the global warming politics of Hurricane Sandy {huffpo}:

There is a difference between systemic and direct causation. Punching someone in the nose is direct causation. …Any application of force to something or someone that always produces an immediate change to that thing or person is direct causation. When causation is direct, the word cause is unproblematic.

This no small matter because the fate of the earth is at stake. The science is excellent. The scientists’ ability to communicate is lacking. Without the words, the idea cannot even be expressed. And without an understanding of systemic causation, we cannot understand what is hitting us.

UPDATE: Just found a related article, Watching Sandy, Ignoring Climate Change {new yorker}.

Recreating lost memories

A super-interesting, albeit super-technical, conversation about a new study that might help people who suffer from different kinds of memory loss, such as Alzheimer’s {talk of the nation/science friday}.

A recent study has pinpointed key molecules involved in the formation of long-term memories. Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania studied patterns of gene expression in mice to determine how the brain stores information that can be recalled months or even years later.

And the results of the study […] are part of a growing body of research that looks at how so-called epigenetic mechanisms where the body’s way of regulating genes may influence our ability to form memories.