Science

The Voyages of Joseph Banks

Toby Musgrave— As a young man Joseph Banks (he was knighted at the age of thirty-eight on 23 March 1781) undertook three voyages of scientific discovery. With his first, to Newfoundland and Labrador in 1776, he established a paradigm for the study of natural history as an integral component of

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Racial Health Disparities in America

Michelle A. Gourdine— In 2012, Trayvon Martin, a seventeen-year-old boy dressed in a hoodie, carrying a bag of Skittles and iced tea while walking through a neighborhood where he “didn’t belong,” was approached and eventually shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a resident on “neighborhood watch.” Like so many African

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Do We Need More Google Cities?

Carlo Ratti— One of the lesser-known casualties of COVID-19 has been a new, large-scale urban development in Toronto, led by Google sibling company Sidewalk Labs. Several years in the making, the “Google City”—as it was sometimes dubbed in the media—ultimately came to a halt because of the ongoing recession, but

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Five Ways to Protect Democracy from Misinformation Online

Philip N. Howard— We need mandatory reporting on the ultimate beneficiaries of data. Citizens should easily be able to see which organizations are receiving and manipulating personal data. Social media companies should be able to report back to users on which advertisers, data-mining firms, and political consulting firms have made

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Pandemics and Farming Practices

John M. Marzluff— Charles Darwin started his treatise on natural selection by reminding readers of how human action has transformed domestic animals. Domestication occurs because artificial selection imposed by humans causes exceptionally rapid evolution. The domestic animals we house in agricultural settings also provide a new theater for the development

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Bird Migration and the Pandemic

Mike Unwin— It’s late May 2020, and I’m sitting in my small back garden on the south coast of England. As I write, Common Swifts are screaming overhead in breakneck flypasts around the neighborhood. These supremely aerial birds are among the last of some fifty Afro-Palearctic migrant species to reach

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Turning Hardship into Healthier Eating

John M. Marzluff— Crises that we face have the power to bring good from evil. As dust storms ravaged the Midwest in the 1930s, farmers embraced the new science of soil conservation. In the aftermath of 9/11, nations enhanced their airport security. How living through the COVID-19 pandemic might forever

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Birding from Home

John M. Marzluff— I’ve been birding daily since entering quarantine at my home in western Washington. My bird feeder is full-frame from my office window, my wooded backyard offers a bit of solace and place to stretch out, and my deck commands a view of the open sky. From these

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Can Engineering Ethics Be Taught?

Deborah G. Johnson— In 2010, after a two-year inquiry, a judge concluded that Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney had acted inappropriately when he accepted large amounts of cash from a German Canadian arms lobbyist. The judge suggested that all public servants should get ethics training. Peter Worthington, a columnist for

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Racism and Malaria

Frank M. Snowden— Perhaps the most sinister aspect of the Fascist antimalarial campaign in the Pontine Marshes was its integration into an overarching scheme to transform Italy into a racial utopia as well as a sanitary one. The newly reclaimed Pontine Marshes became the testing ground for a program to

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