Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 1:05 pm
Credit Avie Schneider / NPR
Xiao Liwu made his public debut Thursday at the San Diego Zoo. Fans crowded around the exhibit, their camera lenses extended, hoping to catch a glimpse of the 5-month-old giant panda cub. If they're lucky and actually do see the 16-pound panda (his Chinese name means "Little Gift"), there'll be much oooing and aaahing.
You'd have to be heartless not to agree that pandas, especially the youngest of them, are as cute as all get-out. Right? But why?
Some years ago, Jared Diamond, the Pulitzer-Prize winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel, was sitting around a campfire in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. He'd recently had a conversation with a New Guinea friend who spoke a total of eight languages: five were local to the friend's village and the friend had just picked them up as a child, the other three he learned in school.
Originally published on Thu January 10, 2013 4:48 pm
Credit Jamey Stillings
According to photographer Jamey Stillings, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) will be the "world's largest concentrated solar thermal power plant" when complete at the end of this year. That's if we want to get all technical.
In plain terms: There's a huge solar plant under construction in the middle of the Mojave Desert, and Stillings has been documenting the process since the very beginning. Did you know this was happening? I didn't.
He's off at the lower left, waiting for filmmaker Bryan Smith to say go. Then Dean Potter starts to climb, moving with no pack, no ropes, nothing, up the side of Cathedral Peak in Yosemite until he reaches the highline that will take him straight to the moon. He steps out, arms stretched, no pole; you can watch the line sag a little as it takes his weight, and he's off ...
Credit Z. Levay/R. van der Marel/T. Hallas/A. Mellinger / NASA/ESA
Maybe some readers recall Immanuel Velikovsky's 1950 mega bestseller Worlds in Collision. The book, which caused a real sensation at the time, was an attempt to "explain" many of the big cataclysms and "miracles" recorded in mythic and folkloric narratives of ancient cultures as real astrophysical events. Velikovsky's thesis was that narratives of floods and mass destructions were not just allegorical or metaphorical but records of events that did take place.
Across the United States, college administrators are poring over student essays, recommendation letters and SAT scores as they select a freshman class for the fall.
If this is like most years, administrators at top schools such as Harvard and Stanford will try hard to find talented high school students from poor families in a push to increase the socioeconomic diversity on campus and to counter the growing concern that highly selective colleges cater mainly to students from privileged backgrounds.
Harry Dent, a financial newsletter writer, has been looking at the Census data, and he's uncovered something odd about American adults. When we turn 50, we dramatically change our clothes-buying habits. It's not gradual; gradual is what we'd expect. Instead, the change is drastic.
You can see it with men's shirts. In our early 50s, American men are at the top of our shirt buying game (either buying more shirts than at any other time in our lives, or maybe we're buying more expensively). Then watch what happens: