Forest defense and threats, robotic Barbie, and the world's heaviest insect: Your weekend reading list

Backfire set to stop fast-moving wildfire
Firefighters with the Marin County Fire Department's Tamalpais Fire Crew monitor a backfire as they battle the Valley Fire near Middletown, Calif.
Stephen Lam | Getty Images

A convergence of drought, weather conditions, and insect infestations caused massive wildfires in the western U.S., but that's not the only place burning this week.

Fires of Central Aftrica
An image collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Aqua satellite detected dozens of fires burning in Central Africa last week. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS's thermal bands, are outlined in red.
Courtesy of NASA | Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team

In Central Africa, fires were set intentionally for land management purposes. Each red dot represents a fire detected by the MODIS sensor on the Aqua NASA satellite.

This weekend explore how the Ka'apor people fight to save their forest when government efforts fail to stop illegal logging; the human history of a robotic Barbie; and meet the world's heaviest insect, the tree weta.

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The Amazon tribe protecting the forest with bows, arrows, GPS and camera traps

Members of the Ka'apor indigenous trib
A member of the Ka'apor indigenous tribe (R) carries a rifle confiscated from a man suspected of setting an illegal fire for logging on protected tribal land.
Mario Tama | Getty Images 2014

Taking the fight to illegal loggers with technology and confrontation, the 2,200-strong Ka'apor, in the Brazilian state of Maranhão, are working to protect their forest. via the Guardian

The great quake and the great drowning

First nations stories preserve pan-generational memories of earthquakes and tsunamis and how to survive those disasters. via Hakai Magazine

Meet the insect that helped fuel Northern California's Valley fire destruction

Drought and beetles join forces to compound forest fire risks. via LA Times

Plants That Are Predators

Some plants feed on animals for their vitamin fix, while others develop symbiotic relationships with their fauna neighbors. via New York Times

Climate change is bringing more mosquitoes to the Arctic

The mosquitoes march north as the cold retreats, exposing caribou to new threats as the arctic climate changes. via The Verge

Bathysphere 'Trieste'
The bathyscaphe 'Trieste' submersible research craft designed by Swiss physicist Auguste Piccard and his son Jacques.
Central Press | Getty Images file

Barbie Wants to Get to Know Your Child

Take a familiar doll, add a bit of artificial intelligence, let a couple ex-Pixar engineers mix it up. A simple robot to be a manufactured friend. via New York Times

Do Humans Have a Future in Deep Sea Exploration?

Humans on the bottom of the sea? Squeezed between diminishing budgets and robot exploration, the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory, home to the Pisces submersibles, faces the possible mothballing of their submersible fleet. The value of direct human observation, interaction and experience is in the balance. via New York Times

Try your hand at the Pew Science Quiz

Just 6% of the polled respondents ended up with a perfect score, how will you fare? The Pew Research Center's report offers a snapshot of scientific literacy. via Pew Research Center

Watch this

Meet the tree weta, the heaviest confirmed insect on earth

via Wired

Earth and moon photobomb the sun

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory keeps a constant watchful gaze upon the sun, studying the energy it creates, observing the solar atmosphere, and monitoring space weather. There are regular obstructions of observatory view of the sun, but this was the first time both Earth and moon came into view at the same time. via NASA