How Identity Politics Is Harming the Sciences

Heather MacDonald in City Journal: Identity politics has engulfed the humanities and social sciences on American campuses; now it is taking over the hard sciences. The STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and math—are under attack for being insufficiently “diverse.” The pressure to increase the representation of females, blacks, and Hispanics comes from the federal government, university administrators,…

Left Bank – existentialism, jazz and the miracle of Paris in the 1940s

Stuart Jeffries in The Guardian: On August 1943, the sales team at Gallimard noticed something odd. The publisher’s new 700-page philosophical tome was selling unexpectedly well. Was it because Jean-Paul Sartre’s thoughts on freedom and responsibility in Being and Nothingness resonated with Parisians enduring Nazi occupation? Not quite. It was because the book weighed exactly one kilogram and so was a…

Ant soldiers don’t need big brains

From Phys.Org: Army ant (Eciton) soldiers are bigger but do not have larger brains than other workers within the same colony that fulfill more complex tasks, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Zoology. A collaborative team of researchers led by Drexel University in Philadelphia, US and German colleagues suggests that because…

Is This Man the Elon Musk of E-Waste?

Yogi Hendlin in Nautilus: Eric Lundgren, the 33-year-old, fedora-wearing CEO of a major electronic waste recycling plant in Los Angeles, could be called both the Elon Musk and the Edward Snowden of e-waste. Elon Musk because in 2017 he built an electric car out of recycled batteries that broke the world record for electric vehicle range.…

Will Science Ever Solve the Mysteries of Consciousness, Free Will and God?

Michael Shermer in Scientific American: In 1967 British biologist and Nobel laureate Sir Peter Medawar famously characterized science as, in book title form, The Art of the Soluble. “Good scientists study the most important problems they think they can solve. It is, after all, their professional business to solve problems, not merely to grapple with them,” he…

Women’s anger is not to be ignored

Melanie McFarland in Salon: Some nightmares, the worst ones, move so slowly that you don’t wake up from them right away. The terror feels normal, even though you may know something’s not right. It’s a usual sort of bad feeling, typical enough to fool the mind into believing that you may be awake. That is,…

Moorfield Storey

Geoffrey Austrian in Harvard Magazine: ON JUNE 15, 1898, when Moorfield Storey, A.B. 1866, stood up to speak in Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall, the United States had just invaded the Philippines, promising the inhabitants their freedom—only to quickly renege on its word. Storey was incensed. “A war begun to win the Cubans the right to govern themselves,”…

Flawed, Fragile, Hungry Human Bodies

Ramona Ausubel in The New York Times: In the 12 wide-ranging stories of her latest collection, “Days of Awe,” A. M. Homes skillfully circles and tugs at the question of what it means to live in flawed, fragile, hungry human bodies. One character embeds rose thorns in her feet; several have very disordered eating habits; people…

Speciation far from the madding crowd

Mooers and Greenberg in Nature: The tropics are, like many cities, hot, busy and crowded. It was previously thought1 that these conditions in the tropics generate a hotbed for the formation of new species (speciation). Species diversity is remarkably high in the tropics and declines toward the poles. However, newly developed tools to measure speciation rates, coupled…

Tomorrow’s Earth

Jeremy Berg in Science: Our planet is in a perilous state. The combined effects of climate change, pollution, and loss of biodiversity are putting our health and well-being at risk. Given that human actions are largely responsible for these global problems, humanity must now nudge Earth onto a trajectory toward a more stable, harmonious state. Many…

The amazing life and reign of Nur Jahan

Randy Dotinga in The Christian Science Monitor: If you grew up in South Asia, the lush 17th-century romance of a captivating young widow and a Moghul emperor is likely as familiar to you as Romeo & Juliet are in the West. They meet, and she wows the ruler of tens of millions of people with her beauty,…

What Did the Founding Fathers Eat and Drink as They Started a Revolution?

Amanda Cargill in Smithsonian: As we commence celebrating July 4th with the time-honored traditions of beer, block parties and cookouts, it’s fun to imagine a cookout where the Founding Fathers gathered around a grill discussing the details of the Declaration of Independence. Did George Washington prefer dogs or burgers? Was Benjamin Franklin a ketchup or mustard…