What We Are Really Swimming In
Week of September 22

SwimmersI was a lifeguard as a teenager and we used to tell kids that a chemical in the water would turn purple if they peed in the pool. Of course, there was no chemical and they probably called my bluff. Now, fast forward five decades and scientists finally found a way to tell just how much urine is in a pool.

Pools are treated with chemicals such as chlorine to kill microbes that swimmers bring in, because contrary to popular belief, urine is not sterile. And these chemicals can interact with organic materials such as dirt, insects, and swimmers' hair, and skin to form DBPs, disinfection byproducts. These byproducts are toxic... More »

Science Under Attack
Week of September 15

Practice critical thinkingSince you're reading this, we'd guess you're a fan of science and its exciting discoveries. Yet the challenges to scientific evidence have rarely been more ominous. When we trained to be scientists, we were taught the scientific method, which tests a theory through experimentation. But before about 1600, nature was viewed as a product of something supernatural.

After 1600, people began to observe nature and develop hypotheses and experiments to test those ideas, leading to the scientific method. Thinkers of the time questioned traditional authority and sought truth, which led to an explosion of scientific advances... More »

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