Sat, 03/24/2018 - 5:54am


Seven Ideas for a Sciencey Holiday

I am the first to admit that I have never gotten the holidays quite right. Whether I’m late shopping for gifts, mess up my contribution to dinner, do something embarrassing at a holiday party or hang all the decorations crooked, something always seems to go wrong.

Thankfully, there are a few sciencey tricks people like me can bust out around the holidays as a last ditch effort to spread a little holiday cheer... And promptly gather it up again when explaining exactly how it works.

Mystery Dino

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences researchers discovered fossils of an unknown dinosaur while working in Utah. Using only a few bones, they'll learn the creature's size, diet, age and other features, and this mystery dinosaur could become the museum's first holotype, the example with which other species are described.


Aquaponics is a system for farming fish and plants together in a mutually beneficial cycle. Fish produce waste that is a fertilizer for plants while plants suck up the nutrients as they purify the water. The system is efficient and environmentally friendly. A farm in Norwood, NC is pioneering the technique.

Acorns Count

The acorn is not only a symbol of fall, but the nuts are a baseline indicator of the current and future health of the forest ecosystem. U.S. Forest Service researchers studying acorns find a bounty of acorns indicates healthy trees and a plentiful food supply for the creatures that form the base of the forest food chain.

Switching Heart Cells

A heart attack does serious damage to the cells that drive the heart. Cells that would normally create new blood vessels and heal the heart often become useless scar-forming cells. UNC School of Medicine's Eric Ubil discovered a way to reverse this process, turning scar cells into blood-vessel builders and healing the heart in mice. Listen in as UNC-TV's Daniel Lane and Eric Ubil discuss this research, its significance and the next steps toward practical application for patients.

Dinosaur GPS

Paleontologists working in the field looking for fossils have always faced a painstaking process that required a lot of luck to be successful. But using Landsat satellite imagery, a UNC Greensboro scientist is replacing luck with educated efficiency in the quest for fossils.