Writing in the New York Times, Edward Rothstein examines the array of alternative models competing for the paradigm of “science museum” in The Thrill of Science, Tamed By Agendas. Some are exciting, some are appalling, and, like Rothstein, “I have my preferences.” I imagine you will, too.
Earlier studies had suggested that flowering plants – angiosperms – first arose 140 million to 190 million years ago: a result which seemed paradoxical in light of the evidence that many of the modern insect species such as bees and wasps, which rely upon flowering plants for pollen and nectar, appeared much earlier in the fossil record.
But a new study appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences moves the age of flowering plants back to 215 million years ago, much more commensurate with the evidence for interdependent insect species. EurekAlert! has more in Molecular Study Could Push Back Angiosperm Origins.
Update: Here’s the abstract for the original article appearing in the Proceedings.
A fascinating and provocative slideshow from Seed Magazine explores the intriguing art of Chris Jordan in The Age of Impossible Numbers.
Here’s how writer Greg Boustead explains it:
“The human brain is poorly equipped for comprehending massive quantities. This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective; large numbers are relatively new features of our mental landscapes. Thousands, millions, billions, and recently trillions—once reserved for describing cosmic distances of faraway galaxies—have been brought down to Earth in terms of the national deficits we accrue, the bytes of information we clock, and critically, the stuff we consume. But how to wrap one’s head around such unfathomable figures in a meaningful way? In Running the Numbers, photographer Chris Jordan attempts to convey the vastness of modern consumption by breaking down annual statistics into more graspable quantities depicted by clever visualizations made of individual objects or groups of objects that he photographs. The 106,000 aluminum cans consumed in the US every 30 seconds, for instance, become the individual dots of Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. ‘There’s a disconnect that happens when we assume we know what we’re talking about when we talk about hundreds of millions of plastic bottles,’ Jordan says. ‘I’m trying to translate these numbers from the deadening language of statistics into a visual language that allows some kind of comprehension.’”
Jordan’s work recently completed a showing (Running the Numbers) at the Pacific Science Center in January.
If you’re as captivated as we are by these images forged from contemporary life, see more of Chris Jordan’s work on his website for current work.
You might also wish to see this brief interview which appeared last December in Seattle Metropolitan Magazine.
“Over their working lives, the average high school dropout will have a negative net fiscal contribution to society of nearly -$5,200 while the average high school graduate generates a positive lifetime net fiscal contribution of $287,000. The average high school dropout will cost taxpayers over $292,000 in lower tax revenues, higher cash and in-kind transfer costs, and imposed incarceration costs relative to an average high school graduate.”
– Center for Labor Market Studies, Northeastern University
As we approach the end of another school year, anyone with a child, relative or friend who is thinking about dropping out should familiarize themselves with a sixteen page study from the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, The Consequences of Dropping Out of High School.
In Consequences, the CLMS identifies “a series of employment, earnings, income, and social difficulties faced by the nation’s young adults lacking regular high school diplomas or their equivalent. These social and incarceration problems of young dropouts are quite severe among all gender and race-ethnic groups but are frequently more severe among men and Blacks. For many dropouts, these labor market and earnings problems will persist over their entire working lives, and for men they have intensified over the past few decades, with steep declines in their lifetime earnings and incomes and attendant adverse consequences on their marriage behavior.” The evidence is clear, substantial and convincing.
One hundred years ago the 1910 Census counted 92.2 million Americans. It was the first census in which urban enumerators distributed advance questionnaires to city-dwellers, a day or two prior to the count, to familiarize them with the forms.
For the first time, respondents were asked about their native language. They were also asked whether they were a Union or Confederate Civil War veteran.
The 1910 Census was the first in which enumerators were hired through the Civil Service (pursuant to the edict of President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907). It was also the first census in which Puerto Rico was canvassed (population 1,118,012).
Two hundred years ago, in the 1810 Census, assistant marshals were required to visit each household to verify the count. They counted 7.2 million Americans, nearly double that of the first census of twenty years before.
Discover Magazine offers a quick, fun slideshow presentation of 10 Bizarre-Looking Tricks of the Weather, from fire whirls and circumzenithal arcs, through horseshoe vortex clouds, massive hailstones, and nacreous clouds, to red rain and ball lightning.
“Cats have become the most popular pet in the United States, yet statistics about veterinary care for cats remain troubling. Although most owners consider their cats to be family members, cats are substantially underserved, compared with dogs.
“In 2006, owners took their dogs to veterinarians more than twice as often as cats, averaging 2.3 times/year, compared with 1.1 times/year for cats, and significantly more dogs (58%) than cats (28%) were seen by a veterinarian one or more times/year. Cat owners often express a belief that cats ‘do not need medical care’. Two reasons for this misconception are that signs of illness are often difficult to detect, and cats are perceived
to be self-sufficient.”
– Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association, January/February 2010
The American Association of Feline Practitioners and the American Animal Hospital Association have jointly produced a set of Feline Life Stage Guidelines, printed in the January/February issue of the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association. These guidelines, are, of course, primarily intended for doctors of veterinary medicine and other specialists in veterinary care. They are, nevertheless, of considerable utility and interest to cat owners who wish to be well-informed about issues related to their pet’s welfare.
Complete with a life stage chart, a directory of web resources for feline health care and an extensive bibliography, the Feline Life Stage Guidelines can be an excellent supplemental resource for conscientious cat owners.
It’s not too soon to sign up for the Haysville Community Library’s 29th Annual Read-a-Thon, from 8 am to Midnight on Friday April 23rd.
Just drop by the library circulation desk and claim your very own 15 minute block of time.
The Haysville Community Library’s Summer Reading Program “Make A Splash — Read!” is approaching faster than you think. Thanks to assistance from the Kansas Arts Commission, the South Central Kansas Library System, the Haysville Lions Club and the Levand Trust, this summer’s program will be even more spectacular than in years past.
Performers are already scheduled for every Wednesday in June, as well as for Friday July 9th and Tuesday July 13th. We’re still scheduling workshops, with dates soon to be announced.
For more information, or for a schedule of specific events and programs, drop by the library circulation desk soon.
In 2008, Kansans checked out 26,892,695 items from their libraries — 11.4 items per person — up from 26,073,318 items in 2007. In 2007, Kansas’ circulation rate was 7th in the nation.