Top Science Stories Of 2022, Beavers, Christmas Tree Care. Dec 23, 2022, Part 1

Dec 23, 2022, 05:00 PM

A Look Back At The Top Science Stories of 2022

2022 was chock full of big science news. Scientists announced an important milestone toward the feasibility of nuclear fusion. Doctors transplanted a pig heart into a human for the very first time. And NASA returned to the moon with the successful launch of the Artemis I mission.

Ira recaps the year in science news with Tim Revell, deputy United States editor of New Scientist, including what the James Webb Space telescope has taught us about our universe, the significance of ChatGPT on the future of artificial intelligence, the spread of Mpox, and more.


How The Humble Beaver Shaped A Continent

The American beaver, Castor canadensis, nearly didn’t survive European colonialism in the United States. Prized for its dense, lustrous fur, and also sought after for the oil from its tail glands, the species was killed by the tens of thousands, year after year, until conservation efforts in the late 19th century turned the tide.

In her new book, Beaverland: How One Weird Rodent Made America, author Leila Philipp tells that tale—and the ecological cost of this near-extermination. But she also has good news: beavers, and their skillful engineering of waterways, have the potential to ease the fire, drought and floods of a changing climate. She talks to Ira about the powerful footprint of the humble beaver.

This book is the SciFri Book Club’s January 2023 pick. Find out more about our book club on this month’s main page.


In A New Hampshire Town, It’s Snowmobilers Vs. Beavers

On a Saturday afternoon walk, Kelly Schofield and her husband turned a corner onto a road near their house in Bow. They sensed something was wrong with the beaver pond before they saw it. “You could smell it. It was pretty strong. And then when we got down to the pond where you could really see the pond, you could see it was gone,” she said.The pond was drained. Left behind was a huge tract of mud, and creatures trying to survive. Neighbors took videos of fish floundering as the water receded.

Beavers are beloved by some and considered a nuisance by many. But Schofield and others who lived on the pond agreed: nature’s engineers made their property more valuable, and made their lives better. They took their kids down to the water to learn about frogs and turtles; watched ducks stop by as they migrated south.

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How Science Can Keep Your Christmas Tree Merry And Bright

Nothing beats the smell of a live Christmas tree in your home, but how can you keep the needles on your tree and off your carpet? Rick Bates, professor of horticulture at Penn State University, offers tips for how to properly care for your Christmas tree this holiday season.