Tag Archives: The Atlantic

When Will the Gender Gap in Science Disappear?

Sixteen years.

That’s how long it will take before the number of women on scientific papers is equal to the number of men.

Luke Holman from the University of Melbourne got that estimate by working out the number of female and male authors on almost 10 million academic papers, published over the last 15 years. With help from Melbourne colleagues Cindy Hauser and Devi Stuart-Fox, he then used the data to estimate the size of the well-documented gender gap in science, and more importantly, how long it might take to close.

At the current rate of change, women will catch up to men in 16 years—but that overall estimate masks a huge amount of variation. For example, out of the 115 disciplines represented in the data, … Read the rest

In a Few Centuries, Cows Could Be the Largest Land Animals Left

There used to be a type of elephant called Palaeoloxodon that could have rested its chin on the head of a modern African elephant. There was a hornless rhino called Paraceratherium, which was at least 10 times heavier than living rhinos. There was once a giant wombat that could have looked you level in the eye, a ground sloth the size of an elephant, a short-faced bear that would have loomed over a grizzly, and car-sized armadillos with maces on their tails. After most of the dinosaurs went extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period, 66 million years ago, mammals took over as the largest creatures on land—and they became really big.

But during the late Pleistocene, from around 125,000 years ago, these megafauna … Read the rest

Scientists Genetically Engineered Flies to Ejaculate Under Red Light

Humans have spent a lot of time figuring out ways to get animals to ejaculate. They have fashioned artificial vaginas, inserted electric probes, and donned helmets that encourage birds to hump their heads. Now, Shir Zer-Krispil, from Bar-Ilan University in Israel, has developed perhaps the greatest technique of all: She genetically engineered flies to automatically ejaculate whenever they walk under red light.

The male insects have specific abdominal neurons that trigger the release of sperm by producing a chemical called corazonin (so named because it also makes insect hearts beat). Usually, corazonin-making neurons only fire after a complicated courtship ritual that involves chasing, stroking, singing, and eventually mating. But Zer-Krispil dispensed with all that lead-up by putting those neurons under the control of … Read the rest

Since 2016, Half of All Coral in the Great Barrier Reef Has Died

Once upon a time, there was a city so dazzling and kaleidoscopic, so braided and water-rimmed, that it was often compared to a single living body. It clustered around a glimmering emerald spine, which astronauts could glimpse from orbit. It hid warm nooks and crannies, each a nursery for new life. It opened into radiant, iris-colored avenues, which tourists crossed oceans to see. The city was, the experts declared, the planet’s largest living structure.

Then, all at once, a kind of invisible wildfire overran the city. It consumed its avenues and neighborhoods, swallowed its canyons and branches. It expelled an uncountable number of dwellers from their homes. It was merciless: Even those who escaped the initial ravishment perished in the famine that followed.

Many people had … Read the rest

Europe Was Once Obsessed With Fake Dilapidated Buildings

If you walk through Belvedere House Gardens and Park in Westmeath, Ireland, a dramatic sight rises through the trees: an enormous, shattered abbey, a staircase of broken stones climbing to the sky. Visitors often wonder what imposing building once stood here, but the whole thing is a deception. The ruin, which is called the Jealous Wall, was constructed in this dilapidated state in the 18th century by Robert Rochfort, a man known to history as “the wicked earl.” On either side of the ruin stands a country house: One is beautiful and well maintained, the other a ruin in its own right, overgrown with ivy.

The story of how this strange situation came to be offers a glimpse into the tortured mind of a real-life Gothic … Read the rest

How to Sway a Baboon Despot

Early LAST year, more than 70 years after its publication, George Orwell’s Animal Farm appeared on The Washington Post’s best-seller list. A writer for the New York Observer declared the novel—an allegory involving a government run by pigs—a “guidepost” for politics in the age of Donald Trump. A growing body of research, however, suggests that animals may offer political lessons that are more than allegorical: Many make decisions using familiar political systems, from autocracy to democracy. How these systems function, and when they falter, may be telling for Homo sapiens.

As in human democracies, the types of votes in animal democracies vary. When deciding where to forage, for instance, Tonkean macaques line up behind their preferred leader; the one with the most followers … Read the rest

Suspiciously Black in Starbucks

Over the weekend, a video circulated on the Internet of police handcuffing and removing two black men from a Starbucks in Philadelphia last Thursday, April 12. The incident is illustrative of what pains many African Americans about the threats of gentrification: The men were reportedly charged with trespassing, and for a neighborhood like Philly’s Rittenhouse Square, where the trespassed Starbucks is located, that may have been true in the eyes of a cafe manager trying to interpret the motives of two black people sitting in the establishment without ordering something.

On VisitPhilly.com, Rittenhouse Square is promoted as “the heart of Center City’s most expensive and exclusive neighborhood.”

Even though Philadelphia has a large African-American population, Rittenhouse Square is one of its whitest neighborhoods. The charges of … Read the rest

Can Connecticut Cities Avoid a Property Tax Death Spiral?

Wall Street is warning Connecticut that its cities and towns could be in danger. An analysis released by Moody’s last week says that recent changes to federal tax law may wreck municipal finances across the state. From Stamford to Hartford, that’s not exactly a surprise to Connecticut residents.

Back in December, when Congress passed a major revision of the tax code, the bill included a cap on the state and local tax deduction. Wealthy households in high-tax states especially benefited from this provision, making the state and local tax (or SALT) deduction an easy target for a unified GOP government.

In states with high local and state taxes—due today, don’t forget!—the new dispensation could lead to stagnant property values. That, in turn, affects property tax receipts. … Read the rest

Peter Calthorpe Is Still Fighting Sprawl—With Software

The architect and urban designer Peter Calthorpe was an advocate of transit-oriented development (TOD) and smart growth long before those concepts were buzzwords. In fact, as one of the founders of the Congress for the New Urbanism and the author of the first TOD guidelines (as well as numerous influential books), Calthorpe has done as much as anyone to re-focus American urbanism on walkable, dense, sustainable, transit-rich environments.

Now, in an attempt to spread this knowledge even more widely, Calthorpe has released a new urban-planning software, UrbanFootprint, which will soon be available to virtually every city and government agency in California. (The company behind the software, which is co-led by Calthorpe and Joe DiStefano, is separate from the planning firm Calthorpe Associates.) Calthorpe compares UrbanFootprint … Read the rest

CityLab Daily: Your Building Code Won’t Save You

What We’re Following

Waiting for the Big One: As San Francisco rethinks its seismic regulations, the message from experts is clear: The building code won’t save you from the earthquakes. The New York Times maps where the biggest risk exists today and looks back to the last time an earthquake devastated the city, on April 18, 1906. The big unknown is that modern skyscrapers have yet to be tested by the unpredictable power of earthquakes. “It’s kind of like getting in a new airplane that’s only been designed on paper but nobody has ever flown in it,” one skeptic told the Times.

Cleaning up: A toxic waste … Read the rest