Wow. I would recommend this excellent talk by Pat Brown, scientist and founder of Impossible Foods (of the plant-based Impossible Burger fame), to anyone interested in science, in food, in business, in agriculture, in ecology, or in the not-too-distant future. It is part of the American Society for Microbiology's "Meet the Microbiologist" series: www.asm.org/Podcasts/MTM/Episodes/Microbes,-Heme,-and-Impossible-Burgers-with-Pat-Br
Russia has the largest population of Eurasian brown bears, but a surprising number of other European countries also have brown bear populations, mostly in remote and/or mountainous regions. (Since this map was created by a Reddit user a couple of weeks ago, there has been a confirmed bear sighting in Portugal for the first time in more than a decade.)
"For anyone working to end poverty, fragile states call for the ultimate juggling act. Countries in conflict seldom control their territories, and even when most areas are at peace, others may still be engulfed by violence for decades to come. The intensity of civil wars can ebb and flow, while forcibly displaced people cross borders in search of shelter. Politicians and warlords can shift alliances abruptly and neighboring states often interfere militarily to prop up local proteges. When geopolitics is not at play, internal disputes over land, water, or other scarce resources can ignite fighting between local populations. To make sense of all these moving parts, even the most knowledgeable experts must look for new ways to comprehend the world. ... About 50 percent of people affected by extreme poverty will likely live in fragile states by 2030. Conflicts today drive 80 percent of all humanitarian needs. In 2017, 150 major violent incidents in 22 countries harmed about 300 aid workers, killing 30 percent more than in 2016. ... To better manage the unknown, development professionals might want to take a leaf from the intelligence community book and draw inspiration from how spies try to predict the future." www.brookings.edu/blog/future-development/2019/03/11/to-end-poverty-think-like-a-spy
Why does a Saudi company own land in California, Arizona, and other places around the world? The answer lies in advantageous local water rights and the need to provide fodder for a dairy industry in a desert. www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/mar/25/california-water-drought-scarce-saudi-arabia
This GIF tracks U.S. population density from 1790 to 2010: www.reddit.com/r/MapPorn/comments/aji8zx/us_population_changes/
What color is a tennis ball? Answering this seemingly trivial question draws on two areas of philosophical inquiry: philosophy of mind (Can we ever really know how someone else experiences color? Does an image in our mind's eye -- in this case an ideation of a tennis ball -- accurately reflect the properties of a physical object?) and philosophy of language (What does it mean when we say "yellow" or "green" anyhow? Within the same language, can my "green" mean the same thing as your "yellow"?).
This article from The Atlantic looks at this issue and concludes, "Here at The Atlantic, the great tennis-ball debate eventually tapered off. ... But there would be no consensus. Yes, we would move on, continue working alongside each other, but we would hold onto our allegiances, team green and team yellow, like coats of armor. The color of a tennis ball is, and would remain, in the eye of the beholder. My colleague Julie Beck summed up the ordeal with a sentiment we could all agree with. 'It is truly horrifying every time it gets pointed out that we’re all walking around thinking we share the same reality,' she said. 'And we just are not.'" www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/02/what-color-tennis-ball-green-yellow/523521/
This map highlights where Arabic is spoken as the primary or secondary language: www.reddit.com/r/MapPorn/comments/bhim2x/the_arabic_speaking_world_1280772/
This cool website allows users to listen to live radio around the world: radio.garden
Understanding the geographic range of vectors helps scientists and public health officials forecast disease outbreaks. These maps were developed by analyzing the ranges of not only the mosquitoes and ticks that spread the arboviruses being studied but also potential mammalian and avian hosts. Among other things, the model turned up high risks for potential outbreaks of Zika in South Asia and of Japanese encephalitis in Europe. geographical.co.uk/people/development/item/3106-zika-dengue-and-yellow-fever
The spread of political and economic nationalism around the world has raised a question in some circles: what happens when World War II, arguably the consequence of the political and economic nationalism of the 1930s, fades from living memory? This graphic, which also ties in to Memorial Day next Monday, looks at the shrinking population of WWII veterans in the United States. www.statista.com/chart/13989/when-the-us-will-lose-its-wwii-veterans/
Looking for that just-right combination of physical geography blending altitude and vistas? This article provides advice on the best hiking trails in each of the 50 states: www.outsideonline.com/2393036/50-best-hikes-us
The U.S. government's fight against China's Huawei Technologies, the world's #2 seller of smartphones and #1 provider of telecommunications supplies, has been in the news of late. Among other things, the U.S. Commerce Department is seeking to restricting U.S. technology exports to Huawei. This map, from Caixin (China's major financial news outlet), shows Huawei's biggest U.S. suppliers. img.caixin.com/2018-12-06/1544096729145193.jpg
How far should we go to commune with deceased loved ones? Looking at photos, talking to them, and, in some cultures, visiting their burial sites is considered quite normal and even expected. More recently, listening to old voicemail messages or looking at old social media posts has also become quite normal. But what about expecting them to talk back?
Chatbots trained on human speech patterns are "being considered as a way to facilitate bereavement, allowing us to communicate with loved ones through text messages. Using personal data and old messages, the bots can respond like your father, grandmother or sister. They can use your loved ones’ favorite phrases and dialectic habits." Welcome advance? Encouraging the bereaved to deny reality? Invasion of the deceased's privacy, image, or intellectual property? Who decides? (Quote from www.nytimes.com/2019/05/03/style/modern-love-sister-vanished.html)
As the summer vacation season approaches, this map, based on Google search data in multiple languages, looks at where people in various countries have thought about spending their holidays. (It is relevant to note that the map is based on data drawn from searches conducted in November and December 2018. Summer travel preferences may be substantially different.) www.travelsupermarket.com/en-gb/travel-insurance/where-the-world-wants-to-go-on-holiday/
Listening to authors talk about their books is a great way to learn about the newest research and make a subject come alive. On Sunday (5/19), for example, author Sarah Rose will be at the independent bookstore Politics & Prose (in NW DC) to talk about her new book D-Day Girls: The Spies Who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II. The program, which begins at 3 pm, is free and open to the public. www.politics-prose.com/event/book/sarah-rose-d-day-girls-spies-who-armed-resistance-sabotaged-nazis-and-helped-win-world (For those who might be interested in the talk but can't make it to Politics & Prose Sunday afternoon, check out the bookstore's YouTube channel in about a week to watch a recording of the talk: www.youtube.com/user/politicsprose/)
Although the National Hockey League started as a wholly Canadian league, today the preponderance of teams play in the U.S. The league continues to draw players from many countries, though. This interactive map looks at the birth places of the players on the four teams currently vying for hockey's Stanley Cup: the Boston Bruins (the first U.S. team in the NHL), the St. Louis Blues, the San Jose Sharks, and the (Raleigh, North) Carolina Hurricanes. www.mapotic.com/stanley-cup-2019
Automation is an increasingly important supplement to the workforce. Yet few countries have grappled with the funding consequences of the accelerating use of robots, especially when those robots replace human workers. To the extent Social Security and unemployment insurance continue to be funded via payroll deductions, for example, how does trimming payrolls through automation affect the viability of these programs? This chart looks at the penetration of industrial robots by country: www.statista.com/chart/13645/the-countries-with-the-highest-density-of-robot-workers/
I'll be out exploring a corner of the world for the next few days and do not expect to be posting to my blog or Facebook page much, if at all, during that time.
A cartogram is a map that has been weighted for a particular variable. This cartogram is weighted to show countries' artificial CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions since 1850. Additionally, this cartogram labels the 100 companies that, according to the 2017 Carbon Majors Report, account for 71% of global greenhouse gas emissions and names their CEOs. bigthink.com/strange-maps/climate-change
The surfacing, literally, off the coast of Norway of a beluga whale allegedly trained for reconnaissance by the Russian military created a stir, some of it comedic, last week. This article looks at why, where, and who uses marine mammals for military purposes and considers situations in which a marine mammal may make a better spy than a drone (or, rather, "an unmanned undersea vehicle"). slate.com/technology/2019/05/beluga-whale-spy-marine-life-russia-navy-dolphins.html
As students in my high school geography class "Your Future World" learn, Indonesia's capital of Jakarta is sinking. We may have to amend that information. Jakarta will continue to sink, but Indonesia announced plans last week to move the capital out of Jakarta and off the densely populated island of Java. Jakarta is not the only city to be sinking, but it may be the world's fastest-sinking city, with about 95% of the megacity expected to be below sea level by 2050. (Indonesia is also not the only country we study that is in the process of moving its capital in whole or in part: China and Egypt are also building new capitals.) www.npr.org/2019/04/29/718234878/indonesia-plans-to-move-its-capital-out-of-jakarta-a-city-thats-sinking
This map, published in the New York Times last week, shows every confirmed measles case in the U.S. through April 29. The U.S. is currently experiencing the largest measles outbreak in a quarter century. (A measles vaccine was first licensed for use in the U.S. in 1963; the current version of the vaccine has been given since 1968.) www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/04/30/health/measles-outbreak-by-state-map.html
I am sharing a short thought experiment in moral philosophy that I originally created for a local home school fair. You and/or your teen are welcome to test drive it (pun intended) any time before next Sunday (May 12). If there are enough responses, I will share the results here in two weeks.
After the recent visit of Egyptian President Sisi, the Trump Administration is looking into declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. However, in addition to having been the best-organized political opposition in Egypt prior to being banned by Sisi's government in 2013, the Muslim Brotherhood is a diverse organization operating in many countries and having a variety of political and social goals. This map, from Al Monitor, shows the status of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East. www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/05/trump-allies-push-back-muslim-brotherhood-terror.html
The National Math Festival is tomorrow (Saturday) from 10am-4pm at the Washington Convention Center. The National Math Festival is free and open to the public, but advance registration is requested: www.nationalmathfestival.org/ For those not in the DC area, the festival's website includes information about affiliated activities around the country tomorrow.
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