Stories by Alex Ruppenthal

Preckwinkle, Other Officials to Jump In Chicago River on Saturday

Ping Tom Memorial Park at the Chicago River (Courtesy Metropolitan Planning Council)

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and about a dozen other elected officials will take part in a fundraiser aimed at boosting efforts to improve the quality of the river’s water.

Meet the Women Behind Chicago’s New Women in Science Conference

From left: Marie Curie, Christina Ciecierski and Julie Des Jardins (Courtesy Northeastern Illinois University)

Honoring the 150th anniversary of the birth of physicist Marie Curie and its own 150th anniversary, Northeastern Illinois University this month hosts a conference celebrating women’s contributions to science. Find out what’s on tap.

Crossbow Hunting Allowed in Illinois Under New Law

(Kansas Tourism / Flickr)

Starting Oct. 1, crossbows can be used to hunt deer and turkey in Illinois thanks to a state law signed last week.

Honeybees Could Produce the Next New Antibiotics, Study Says

A compound made by honeybees could become the basis for the first new antibiotics in more than 30 years, according to UIC researchers. 

Illinois OKs Ameren Plan to Lower Energy Savings Target

(Ameren Illinois / Facebook)

State regulators signed off Monday on an energy savings plan that consumer advocates say could cost downstate residents nearly 30 percent in savings on utility bills.

2-Toed Sloth Luigi Joins Mario, a Monkey, at Lincoln Park Zoo

(Jill Wagner / Lincoln Park Zoo)

Luigi, a 1-year-old Hoffman’s two-toed sloth, is getting settled alongside his new primate neighbors in a mixed-species exhibit.

Chicago Park District Gets $900K for Big Marsh Upgrades

(Friends of Big Marsh / Facebook)

Grant funding will be used to restore wetlands and improve water flow at a 278-acre park that opened last year at a former industrial site on Chicago’s Southeast Side.

Company Approved for Fracking Has Recent Violations in Illinois

(Tim Evanson / Flickr)

A Kansas company that last week won approval of Illinois’ first horizontal fracking permit has been cited with more than two dozen violations in multiple states, records show.

S.H. Bell Gets Deadline Extension for Manganese Dust-Control Plan

(Google Maps)

Chicago public health officials have given the Southeast Side company an additional week to come up with an improved plan for reducing emissions of manganese dust.

Turning Trash into Fuel Reduces Need for Landfills, Study Finds

(Alex Ruppenthal / Chicago Tonight)

Instead of dumping it in landfills, organic waste could be used to power cars, heat homes and potentially reduce the need for new landfills in the U.S., according to research by Argonne National Laboratory.

Fracking Permit is First to Be Approved in Illinois

Despite more than 5,000 public comments opposing the permit, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources this week approved an application for the controversial oil-drilling practice.

Argonne Teams to Compete in ‘Shark Tank’ for Scientists

(Mark Lopez / Argonne National Laboratory)

New technologies that could change the way we live and work will be on display this month during a reality TV-inspired competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. 

Photos: World’s Largest Dinosaur Coming to Field Museum

(Courtesy of The Field Museum)

Chicago’s iconic T. rex Sue will get a makeover when the largest dinosaur ever discovered comes to town. Stretching 122 feet from snout to tail, the titanosaur is longer than two accordion CTA buses end to end.

Solar House Built in Chicago Heads to Energy Competition in Denver

(Monika Wnuk / Northwestern  University)

Northwestern University students spent more than a year designing and building a fully solar-powered home that will soon be part of an international competition organized by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Judge: Illinois Should Deny Ameren Bid to Trim Energy Savings Target

(Ameren Illinois / Facebook)

The Illinois Commerce Commission has until mid-September to rule on a downstate utility provider’s energy efficiency plan, which consumer advocates say would cost residents nearly 30 percent in savings on utility bills and jeopardize 7,000 jobs.

PETA Activist From Chicago Wears Lettuce Bikini on Streets of Europe

(Dmitry Korotkov / PETA)

As part of PETA’s eye-catching “Lettuce Ladies” campaign, South Elgin native Mysti Lee travels the globe promoting animal rights. 

Shedd’s New Alligator Snapping Turtle Debuts After Passing Physical

(Heidi Zeiger / © Shedd Aquarium)

Dante, a 30-pound alligator snapping turtle, made his public debut after passing a routine physical exam, which was actually quite similar to a human checkup.

3 Singing Red-and-Yellow Barbets Debut at Lincoln Park Zoo

(Courtesy of Lincoln Park Zoo)

A trio of newly arrived birds is making noise – lots of it – inside Lincoln Park Zoo’s Dry Thorn Forest exhibit.

Bacterial Disease Kills 50 Ducks in Chicago River

A duck found dead in the Chicago River. (Courtesy of Friends of the Chicago River)

Dozens of mallards have been found dead over the past month in multiple locations along the Chicago River, marking what one expert says is the largest occurrence of birds dying in the river in decades.

UChicago Scientists Track First X-Rays From Mysterious Supernovas

Vikram Dwarkadas, research associate professor in UChicago's Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics (Jean Lachat / University of Chicago)

A discovery by Chicago scientists could lead to new understanding about the largest explosions in outer space. 

Chicago Group Opposing Neo-Nazis Planned to Target Jihadists, Too

(Mark Dixon / Flickr)

A group cited for its efforts to thwart white supremacists has plans to counter Islamist extremists. But after the Trump administration revoked a $400,000 grant to Life After Hate, those plans may be on hold.

Solar Eclipse 2017: ‘Business as Usual’ for Animals at Lincoln Park Zoo

(Courtesy Lincoln Park Zoo)

About a dozen different species were under close watch during the event as scientists looked for any changes in behavior. 

Photos: Visitors (and Animals) Take in Solar Eclipse at Lincoln Park Zoo

(Alex Ruppenthal / Chicago Tonight)

Animal behavior experts noticed the biggest change in one particular species during Monday’s eclipse: humans. 

Solar Eclipse Offers Unique Lens for Studying Animal Behavior

(Peter Roome / Flickr)

Like scientists across the country, Lincoln Park Zoo’s animal experts will spend Monday’s solar eclipse carefully observing the zoo’s residents for changes in behavior.

S.H. Bell Must ‘Reduce or Eliminate’ Manganese Emissions, Says City

A Chicago company has until Sept. 6 to submit a plan for reducing brain-damaging manganese dust that has been found nearby in a primarily low-income, minority neighborhood on the Southeast Side.