Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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Are we ready for an epidemic this summer?

Ronald A. Klain writes: Summer is coming. And if you think a warm-weather surge of mosquitoes and ticks is not as frightening as the fictional winter’s White Walkers from “Game of Thrones,” you haven’t read this week’s report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the rapidly escalating danger of infectious diseases spread by insects. The CDC’s key findings: The number of Americans infected with such diseases, including

Alaskan sea ice just took a steep, unprecedented dive

Scientific American reports: April should be prime walrus hunting season for the native villages that dot Alaska’s remote western coast. In years past the winter sea ice where the animals rest would still be abundant, providing prime targets for subsistence hunters. But this year sea-ice coverage as of late April was more like what would be expected for mid-June, well into the melt season. These conditions are the continuation of

Donald Trump’s pursuit of an Oval Office meeting with Vladimir Putin

Susan B Glasser writes: Late on Monday evening, the Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, started making calls to European allies. A few hours earlier, they had got word from sources inside the Trump Administration that the President was poised to impose costly steel and aluminum tariffs by the midnight deadline. No one knew for sure (“The decision lies with the President,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel had said on Friday, standing

Anti-war protests 50 years ago helped mold the modern Christian right

William Sloane Coffin Jr., followed by his sister, arrives at federal building in Boston on May 20, 1968. AP Photo By David Mislin, Temple University In May of 1968, a high-profile trial began in Boston that dramatically illustrated a larger phenomenon fueling the rise of conservative Christianity in the United States. Five men had been charged with conspiracy for encouraging Americans to evade the draft. One of the prominent defendants

Why do so many people feel their work is completely unnecessary?

David Graeber writes: One day, the wall shelves in my office collapsed. This left books scattered all over the floor and a jagged, half-dislocated metal frame that once held the shelves in place dangling over my desk. I’m a professor of anthropology at a university. A carpenter appeared an hour later to inspect the damage, and announced gravely that, as there were books all over the floor, safety rules prevented

How a Eurasian steppe empire coped with decades of drought

By Diana Crow The bitterly cold, dry air of the Central Asian steppe is a boon to researchers who study the region. The frigid climate “freeze-dries” everything, including centuries-old trees that once grew on lava flows in Mongolia’s Orkhon Valley. A recent study of the tree-ring record, published in March, from some of these archaic logs reveals a drought that lasted nearly seven decades—one of the longest in a 1,700-year

Ancient humans settled the Philippines 700,000 years ago

Science reports: In what some scientists are calling a “one-in-a-million find,” archaeologists have discovered a cache of butchered rhino bones and dozens of stone tools on the Philippines’s largest island, Luzon. The find pushes back the earliest evidence for human occupation of the Philippines by more than 600,000 years, and it has archaeologists wondering who exactly these ancient humans were—and how they crossed the deep seas that surrounded that island

We reconstructed the genome of the ‘first animal’

Shutterstock By Jordi Paps, University of Essex The first animals emerged on Earth at least 541m years ago, according to the fossil record. What they looked like is the subject of an ongoing debate, but they’re traditionally thought to have been similar to sponges. Like today’s animals, they were made up of many, many different cells doing different jobs, programmed by thousands of different genes. But where did all these

Music: Jaspects ft. Chantae Cann — ‘Find My Way to Love’

 

Kim Jong Un’s charm offensive is working

Robin Wright writes: Since the historic Korean summit last week, Seoul has been consumed with hot gossip—not whether North Korea will abandon the bomb or end a sixty-eight-year-old war but over the quirks of Kim Jong Un, the world’s most mysterious leader. In interviews and conversations, everyone I’ve talked to in the South Korean capital has had a favorite anecdote: the North Korean did not smoke during meetings, despite having

How American Jews enable Bibi’s never-ending cycle of abuse

Anshel Pfeffer writes: Nowhere was Netanyahu’s erasure of American Jews more obvious than in his relationship with President Barack Obama. At least three million American Jews are estimated to have voted for Barack Obama in 2008. That is twice the number of Israelis who voted for Netanyahu for prime minister in the only direct elections Israel ever had, in 1996. Likud under Netanyahu has never surpassed the million-voters mark. No

The Chinese Communist Party is setting up cells at universities across America

Foreign Policy reports: In July 2017, a group of nine Chinese students and faculty from Huazhong University of Science and Technology participating in a summer program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) formed a Chinese Communist Party branch on the third floor of Hopkins Hall, a campus dormitory. The group held meetings to discuss party ideology, taking a group photo in front of a red flag emblazoned with

William Morris’ vision of a world free from wage slavery is finally within reach

Vasilis Kostakis and Wolfgang Drechsler write: At the beginning of the 21st century, a new world is emerging. Not since Marx identified the manufacturing plants of Manchester as the blueprint for the new capitalist society has there been a deeper transformation of the fundamentals of our socioeconomic life. A new commons-based mode of production, enabled by information and communication technology (ICT), what we now call digitisation, redefines how we (can)

The Dreamtime, science and narratives of Indigenous Australia

Lake Mungo and the surrounding Willandra Lakes of NSW were established around 150,000 years ago. from www.shutterstock.com David Lambert, Griffith University This article is an extract from an essay Owning the science: the power of partnerships in First Things First, the 60th edition of Griffith Review. We’re publishing it as part of our occasional series Zoom Out, where authors explore key ideas in science and technology in the broader context

Taming the multiverse: Stephen Hawking’s final theory about the big bang

University of Cambridge, April 27, 2018 Professor Stephen Hawking’s final theory on the origin of the universe, which he worked on in collaboration with Professor Thomas Hertog from KU Leuven, has been published today in the Journal of High Energy Physics. The theory, which was submitted for publication before Hawking’s death earlier this year, is based on string theory and predicts the universe is finite and far simpler than many

The real villain behind our new Gilded Age

Eric Posner and Glen Weyl write: The comedian Chris Rock once said, “If poor people knew how rich rich people are, there would be riots in the streets.” Populist revolts throughout the world may not count as street riots, but they do reflect disenchantment with not just our government but also liberal democracy itself. In the past two decades, growth rates in the United States have fallen to half of