The migratory birds of the East Coast are about to get back a piece of habitat they lost to Hurricane Sandy — a freshwater pond in Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in New York City.
How to make thinking about death less somber? Hold a festival! Indianapolis did. Through art, film and book talks, residents explored everything from bucket lists to advance directives and cremation.
Scientists are turning to big data to try to save California's state amphibian. They're using software to comb through hours of recordings to find the red-legged frogs that remain.
It’s 40 years since Richard Dawkins suggested, in the opening words of The Selfish Gene, that, were an alien to visit Earth, the question it would pose to judge our intellectual maturity was: “Have they discovered evolution yet?” We had, of course, by the grace of Charles Darwin and a century of evolutionary biologists who had been trying to figure out how natural selection actually worked. In 1976, The Selfish Gene became the first real blockbuster popular science book, a poetic mark in the sand to the public and scientists alike: this idea had to enter our thinking, our research and our culture.
Previous attempts to explain evolution had been academic and rooted in maths. Dawkins walked us through it in proseContinue reading...
Netflix customers affected by the crackdown on virtual border hoppers believe they have a right to complain. That's because for years they were able to freely sneak across borders with no repercussions.
It’s a drizzly summer morning down here on planet Earth. Soft is-it-or-isn’t-it rain is falling from the sky. The hedgerows are bursting with nettles and cowslips. And the earth is damp and smells of… I take a deep noseful and think about this. It smells of earth. If you were a long, long way away in a cold and alien place, this spot here, Ottery St Mary, near the folded east Devon hills, is the kind of landscape that might come to you in a hallucinatory dream.
It’s the essence of the English countryside on a cool early summer morning. And somewhere, high above, in a tin capsule circling planet Earth, is Major Tim. The urge to quote David Bowie lyrics is almost irresistible – is irresistible – because at the King’s School in Ottery St Mary, there’s a massive antenna in the playground, a temporary space station in the school hall and a small crowd of children and parents waiting patiently. Ground control is literally about to call Major Tim: Tim Peake – our man in space. The first Briton in space for a long time and the first of the modern social-media age, a role that has led to other firsts, including being the first astronaut to appear at the Brit awards and “run” the London marathon and, for one morning only, the first to speak to the students at the King’s School, live, from the International Space Station.Continue reading...
The Gene is subtitled An Intimate History, and a very personal story runs through it. Can you explain what that is
The book gets intimate from the first page. I have two uncles who have schizophrenia and bipolar disease and then one of my cousins, also from my father’s side, was also diagnosed with schizophrenia and institutionalised. So that story hung over my childhood and raised questions that were very urgent. Would I be affected? Was there a genetic predisposition? What was happening in my family? We’re often tempted to think about genes in terms of laboratories or universities, but of course it’s personal: it’s your story, it’s my story, it’s a story of how hereditary factors influence our lives. It’s the question that we’ve all wondered about. Why do we look like this? Why do we behave like this? Why are we like this?
Did you uncover things about yourself?
Absolutely. I had blocked out anything to do with mental illness. I didn’t want to understand partly because I was too fearful of understanding, but then this book allowed me to answer that with a clarity I would have otherwise lacked. When you have a history like this, amazing forces of denial rise inside you. Much of my childhood and my family was organised around the idea that it wasn’t there.
Exploring contrived extremes isn’t pointless, but it’s best done as a thought experiment
It is lunchtime. England face Sri Lanka in the second test, and the radio commentary is on as we eat. The cricketers are also at lunch, but the commentary from BBC Test Match Special continues with an ‘Ask the Umpire’ session, in which bizarre and unlikely cricket scenarios are postulated,
A batsman hits the ball in the air towards the stumps, it grazes the bowler’s fingers, hits the stumps (with the non-striker out of his ground) and loops up into the air and is caught at mid-on. Who’s out?Continue reading...
Being by themselves in an empty room can feel so unbearable to some people that they willingly self-harm
To be left alone with our thoughts can be torture. Insomniacs who suffer agonies as they lie awake night after night soon learn that it is far better to get up and do something – anything – rather than thrash about with only their restless mind for company. Negative emotions such as guilt, self-doubt and anxiety run amok at night. Daylight, with its promise of mundane tasks and social interaction, usually sends these monsters of our imagination scurrying back to their caves, but they can re-emerge whenever there are no external distractions to occupy the mind.
Some people will go to extraordinary lengths to prevent this from happening, as a series of experiments carried out in 2014 by psychologists at Harvard and the University of Virginia demonstrated. College students were instructed to sit by themselves for up to 15 minutes in a sparsely furnished, unadorned room and “entertain themselves with their thoughts”. They were allowed to think about whatever they liked, the only rules being they should remain in their seats and stay awake. Unsurprisingly, a majority reported afterwards that they found it difficult to concentrate and their minds had wandered, with around half saying they didn’t enjoy the experience.Continue reading...
Remarkable footage shows the rocket returning to Earth from space and successfully landing on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. It is the third time in a row the Falcon 9 rocket has delivered its payload into the upper atmosphere and returned safelyContinue reading...