Monthly Archives: May 2015

Were You There?

A 10th-grader perches on the edge of her chair as her biology teacher lectures on evolution. She listens intently. The years she’s spent in Sunday school and church services have prepared her for this very moment. Her hand shoots up, and the teacher calls her name. Breathless, she asks a question.

“How do you know evolution really happened? Were you there?”I was that student, and I remember the knot that formed in my stomach whenever my high school science teacher directed class discussion toward that dreaded E-word. I remember the day I asked him if he was there when an ape evolved into a human. Some of my classmates rolled their eyes. I wasn’t even trying to make a joke about his age. For me it was a serious question, almost sacred.

Terry Wortman was my science teacher from my sophomore through senior years, and he is still teaching in my hometown, at Hayes Center Public High School in Hayes Center, Nebraska. He still occasionally hears the question I asked 16 years ago, and he has a standard response. “I don’t want to interfere with a kid’s belief system,” he says. “But I tell them, ‘I’m going to teach you the science. I’m going to tell you what all respected science says.’ ” Read more at Slate.


Be Careful What You Flush: Common Meds Could Ruin Your Summer Clambake

The drugs we take daily—Advil, Innopran, Prozac and the Pill—harm the marine life that forms the base of the aquatic food chain, and those effects could move right up the chain to us.

Luciane Alves Maranho of the Universidade Estadual Paulista in Sao Paulo, Brazil, exposed bristle worms—segmented critters that live in the oozy sediment on the bottom of a lake or ocean—to trace amounts of drugs prescribed for seizures, pain relief, heart conditions, depression and birth control. Maranho found that our common medicines changed enzymes in the worms’ central nervous systems and adjusted their cellular energy. The study appears in the August 2015 issue of Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety.

Read more at Modern Notion.