Humanities

The ride-hailing mobile app Uber is desperate to prove it’s nothing more than a technology platform that connects drivers and passengers. As long as it can classify its workers as independent contractors, it can sidestep a whole host of labor and wage laws. But a court ruling issued earlier this week could open the door to change all that.

003/366: The Mountains, the Mountains

Last weekend, while the kids were at my parents’, Kate and I decided to go over to Williamstown and look at some art. We originally intended to go to the Clark Art Institute, but it was mobbed, so we drove on to MassMoCA instead. I told several different people about that, all of whom said…

The hummingbird micropump

A new study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences provides evidence that hummingbird tongues act like micropumps when drinking nectar. This finding is in contrast to the long-held belief that their tongues use capillary action to pull in fluids. A team of researchers from the University of Connecticut used high-speed film to…

It’s perhaps not surprising that single parents face a higher risk of living in poverty. However, a new study finds that such risk is much higher for single mothers than for single fathers, even when they both have similar jobs and education levels and work the same number of hours.

002/366: Boids

I spent a while this morning typing on my laptop on the deck, and brought the new camera out with me for occasional procrastination. The shady spot at that hour has a nice view of the bird feeder, and I snapped a few shots of these guys feeding (using a telephoto lens): (I cropped and…

Tales of the Ex-Apes

Jonathan Marks’ new book is called “Tales of the Ex-Apes: How We Think about Human Evolution.” I’ve got to tell you that when I first saw the title of this book, the letters played in my head a bit. Tails of the Ex-Apes. That would be funny because apes don’t have tails. Or Tales of…

On Advising Students to Fail

Slate’s been doing a series about college classes everyone should take, and one of the most heavily promoted of these has been a piece by Dan Check urging students to take something they’re terrible at. This is built around an amusing anecdote about an acting class he took back in the day, but as much…

Answer: pregnancy. Unlike most animals, it is the male seahorses that give birth to live young. A new study conducted at the University of Sydney and published in Molecular Biology and Evolution, found that the male seahorses not only carry out the pregnancy, they also supply nutrients to the developing embryos, including fats and calcium. The researchers suspect…

Danish Castle Road Trip

I spent last week in Denmark at a friendly, informative and rather unusual conference. The thirteenth Castella Maris Baltici conference (“castles of the Baltic Sea”) was a moveable feast. In five days we slept in three different towns on Zealand and Funen and spent a sum of only two days presenting our research indoors. The…

“When he came home, I could see a change. He was quieter and he was a man and a hero to me. I watched him and listened to him. I’d never had an opportunity to do a superhero, and when that came, [that voice] just came right out of me and I sounded like Optimus.”…