From medieval bestiaries to Borges’s Book of Imaginary Beings, we’ve long been enchanted by extraordinary animals, be they terrifying three-headed dogs or asps impervious to a snake charmer’s song. But bestiaries are more than just zany zoology—they are artful attempts to convey broader beliefs about human beings and the natural order. Today, we no longer fear sea monsters or banshees. But from the infamous honey badger to the giant squid, animals continue to captivate us with the things they can do and the things they cannot, what we know about them and what we don’t. [more inside]
Humans and their immediate ancestors were successful hunter-gatherers for hundreds of thousands of years, but in the last fifteen thousand years humans have gone from finding food to farming it, from seasonal camps to sprawling cities, from a few people to hordes. Drawing on her own fieldwork in the Mediterranean, Africa, Asia, and beyond, archeologist Brenna Hassett explores the long history of urbanization through revolutionary changes written into the bones of the people who lived it. For every major new lifestyle, another way of dying appeared. From the "cradle of civilization" in the ancient Near East to the dawn of agriculture on the American plains, skeletal remains and fossils show evidence of shorter lives, rotten teeth, and growth interrupted. The scarring on human skeletons reveals that getting too close to animals had some terrible consequences, but so did getting too close to too many other people. Each chapter of Built on Bones moves forward in time, discussing in depth humanity's great urban experiment. Hassett explains the diseases, plagues, epidemics, and physical dangers we have unwittingly unleashed upon ourselves throughout the urban past--and, as the world becomes increasingly urbanized, what the future holds for us. In a time when "Paleo" lifestyles are trendy and so many of us feel the pain of the city daily grind, this book asks the critical question: Was it worth it?
Even when the floors are sparkling clean and the house seems silent, our domestic domain is wild beyond imagination. In Never Home Alone, biologist Rob Dunn introduces us to the nearly 200,000 species living with us in our own homes, from the Egyptian meal moths in our cupboards and camel crickets in our basements to the lactobacillus lounging on our kitchen counters. You are not alone. Yet, as we obsess over sterilizing our homes and separating our spaces from nature, we are unwittingly cultivating an entirely new playground for evolution. These changes are reshaping the organisms that live with us--prompting some to become more dangerous, while undermining those species that benefit our bodies or help us keep more threatening organisms at bay. No one who reads this engrossing, revelatory book will look at their homes in the same way again.
Sixteen years after René Descartes' death in Stockholm in 1650, a pious French ambassador exhumed the remains of the controversial philosopher to transport them back to Paris. Thus began a 350-year saga that saw Descartes' bones traverse a continent, passing between kings, philosophers, poets, and painters. But as Russell Shorto shows in this deeply engaging book, Descartes' bones also played a role in some of the most momentous episodes in history, which are also part of the philosopher's metaphorical remains: the birth of science, the rise of democracy, and the earliest debates between reason and faith. Descartes' Bones is a flesh-and-blood story about the battle between religion and rationalism that rages to this day.
Strange Angel: Aeon Season 2, Ep 7
Susan and Patty's relationship reaches a breaking point when Susan learns of her sister's indiscretions - nevertheless, they must join forces to use Virgil as a means to an end. After Marisol receives devastating news, she gains a new perspective on her relationship with Richard. Jack has a chance to get back into the military's good graces, but the conditions may be too tough to swallow. Jack's power within the Agape rises to new heights; however, the arrival of a new prospective tenant at the Parsonage threatens to change all that. [Season finale] [more inside]
Strange Angel: The Tower Season 2, Ep 6
Following the party at the Parsonage, Jack must strike a dangerous bargain, while the police investigate the Agape. Meanwhile, Richard, Chiang and Mesulam are sent to London for a military research project, where Richard goes to great lengths to clear Jack's name. Devastating truths come to light, putting Jack and Susan's future in doubt, and relationships continue to change. [more inside]
Strange Angel: The Hanged Man Season 2, Ep 5
Facing increasing suspicions from the federal government, Jack tries to clear the air with a summer dinner party and everyone is invited! Ernest pushes Jack to find his true path. "A man of fire should not be bowing before a man of clay."
Strange Angel: The Wheel of Fortune Season 2, Ep 4
Jack's earns Ernest's loyalty but divides the rest of the devout. Marisol confronts her father about the secret that destroyed their family as Richard deals with his broken heart by diving deeper into the rocketry project. Meanwhile, when Susan's attempt to use bureaucracy to the group's benefit hits a roadblock, she turns to Ernest in hopes of putting a stop to Virgil's harassment once and for all.
Strange Angel: The Lovers Season 2, Ep 3
When Jack's secret notebook goes missing, he looks for guidance, and seeks out Ernest's help to deal with the situation, while Susan attempts to mollify their conservative, upper crust neighbors. Virgil turns the screws to his confidant. "I do love a good propaganda film. Everything is so black and white. If only life were so simple."
Strange Angel: The Fool Season 2, Ep 1
Two years since the events in season one of Strange Angel, the U.S. Military offers Jack, Richard and their team a classified mission that could turn the tide of World War II, but which comes with increased scrutiny of Jack's personal life. As Jack strives to straddle the worlds of mysticism and science, Virgil Byrne's crusade against the beliefs of Jack and Susan, they offer the religious family safe haven, and find a familiar face returns.
Strange Angel: The Magus Season 2, Ep 2
Ernest's intentions are questioned, and alliances shift with new revelations. Richard seeks Marison's family, and finds more than he anticipated, and has more questions. Patty works to become a valued participant in the war effort, and at home. Jack finds help from an unlikely source.
Strange Angel: The Sacrificial Dance Season 1, Ep 10
When Jack receives an invitation to ascend to the next degree, the Parsons must decide if this is what they both want for their future. After uncovering the truth about her own past, Susan is forced to deal with the chilling revelation back in the real world. Richard and Jack finally find common ground, rallying the Suicide Club for a dangerous final demonstration. Jack has all he needs except for one crucial element.
Strange Angel: Sacrament of the Ancestors Season 1, Ep 9
Susan turns to the religion that seemed to hold so much for Jack, while he becomes increasingly disenchanted it, with so much promised yet so little delivered. Richard and his rocket team hit a massive stumbling block, forcing Richard to invite Jack and Susan out to a lavish dinner in an attempt to gain Jack's help. But Jack has been offered a promotion at Pueblo Powder and must decide between providing Susan with the life she always wanted or burying the hatchet...
Strange Angel: Evocation of the Elders Season 1, Ep 8
Richard goes alone to present the team's proposal at the Department of War. But without Jack there to do the talking, Richard looks elsewhere to find the confidence he needs. Meanwhile, Jack continues to drift away from Susan, skipping work to go on a spontaneous road trip with a troubled Ernest. Meanwhile, Susan searches for answers behind Jack's behavior by confronting Jack's mother Ruth and the potential source of all Jack's troubles.
Strange Angel: Glorification of The Chosen One Season 1, Ep 7
While Richard and the rocketry team leave's Jack and his work for more conventional pursuits, Jack turns to other means to convince General Braxton that reaching the moon isn't just comic book fantasy. Susan's concerns about Jack grow after she researches Aleister Crowley and confronts Maggie with the mysterious truths behind this cult religion. Susan's questions leave Maggie at a breaking point, forcing Ernest to confront his inner demons.
Strange Angel: The Mystic Circle of Young Girls Season 1, Ep 6
Recent experiences have Jack wanting more, inspiring him to push boundaries at home with Susan, despite her misgivings. Ernest's sudden presence at the Rocketry Team's new testing facility has Richard questioning the whole endeavor, until he meets a mysterious woman who helps restore his faith. Meanwhile, Maggie has doubts about Ernest's fidelity.
Strange Angel: Dance of the Earth Season 1, Ep 5
The team finalizes their prototype but, in a role reversal, Richard has confidence in the design while Jack doubts it will work. Jack leaves the team to test fire without him as he and Susan accept Ernest and Maggie's invitation to go camping in Joshua Tree. While Susan gets better acquainted with Maggie, Ernest expands Jacks' mind, showing him a way forward. "We just have 51 more prototypes to go."
Strange Angel: The Sage Season 1, Ep 4
Jack's expert witness testimony at a high profile trial thrusts the rocketry team into the spotlight and helps land them a coveted invitation to The Athenaeum. Meanwhile, Virgil drops off Patty, Susan's rebellious teenage sister, for a trying weekend stay, and Ernest's wife, Maggie, makes a surprise return. When Jack's evening at The Athenaeum doesn't go as planned, Jack seeks out Ernest to blow off some steam and ends up on a detour into a darker part of Los Angeles on Hallween.
Strange Angel: Ritual of the Rival Tribes Season 1, Ep 3
Feeling the pressure to succeed and provide Susan with the life he promised, Jack urges the rocketry team to take a risk and start testing their experiments at full volume. Sensing the Parsons' mounting frustrations, Ernest offers a way to make all their dreams come true. "I promise you, our life will never be boring."
Strange Angel: Ritual of Abduction Season 1, Ep 2
Jack and Richard set off to create the first ever rocketry university-sponsored team. But with uncertain acceptance, coupled with Ernest's looming presence, Jack and Susan are feeling more on edge than ever before, desperate to figure out Ernest's intentions. “Can I get there by candlelight?”
Strange Angel: Augurs of Spring Season 1, Ep 1
In 1930s Los Angeles. Jack Parsons (Jack Reynor) works as a janitor at a chemical factory by day, but, by night, he nurses a secret ambition: to build rockets that will take mankind to the moon. The pressures of his double life are further complicated when Jack and his wife Susan (Bella Heathcote) are confronted by a mysterious new neighbor, Ernest Donovan (Rupert Friend), who appears to be leading a double life of his own. [more inside]
In First Bite, award-winning food writer Bee Wilson draws on the latest research from food psychologists and neuroscientists to reveal that our food habits are shaped by a host of factors: family and culture, memory and gender, hunger and love. Taking the reader on a journey across the globe, Wilson introduces us to people who can only eat foods of a certain color, an anosmia sufferer who has no memory of the flavor of her mother's cooking, and researchers who have pioneered new ways to persuade children to try new vegetables. An exploration of the surprising origins of our tastes, First Bite shows us how we can change our palates to lead healthier, happier lives.
In Eager, environmental journalist Ben Goldfarb reveals that our modern idea of what a healthy landscape looks like and how it functions is wrong, distorted by the fur trade that once trapped out millions of beavers from North America’s lakes and rivers. The consequences of losing beavers were profound: streams eroded, wetlands dried up, and species from salmon to swans lost vital habitat. Today, a growing coalition of “Beaver Believers”―including scientists, ranchers, and passionate citizens―recognizes that ecosystems with beavers are far healthier, for humans and non-humans alike, than those without them. From the Nevada deserts to the Scottish highlands, Believers are now hard at work restoring these industrious rodents to their former haunts. [more inside]
In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose startup “unicorn” promised to revolutionize the medical industry with a machine that would make blood testing significantly faster and easier. Backed by investors such as Larry Ellison and Tim Draper, Theranos sold shares in a fundraising round that valued the company at more than $9 billion, putting Holmes’s worth at an estimated $4.7 billion. There was just one problem: The technology didn’t work. [more inside]
From one of the world’s leading natural scientists and the acclaimed author of Trilobite!, Life: A Natural History of Four Billion Years of Life on Earth and Dry Storeroom No. 1 comes a fascinating chronicle of life’s history told not through the fossil record but through the stories of organisms that have survived, almost unchanged, throughout time. Evolution, it seems, has not completely obliterated its tracks as more advanced organisms have evolved; the history of life on earth is far older—and odder—than many of us realize. [more inside]
The story of Theranos, a multi-billion dollar tech company, its founder Elizabeth Holmes, the youngest self-made female billionaire, and the massive fraud that collapsed the company. Directed and written by Alex Gibney (Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room).
A sweeping new history of how climate change and disease helped bring down the Roman Empire Here is the monumental retelling of one of the most consequential chapters of human history: the fall of the Roman Empire. The Fate of Rome is the first book to examine the catastrophic role that climate change and infectious diseases played in the collapse of Rome's power, a story of nature's triumph over human ambition. Interweaving a grand historical narrative with cutting-edge climate science and genetic discoveries, Kyle Harper traces how the fate of Rome was decided not just by emperors, soldiers, and barbarians but also by volcanic eruptions, solar cycles, climate instability, and devastating viruses and bacteria. [more inside]
First patented in 1856, baking powder sparked a classic American struggle for business supremacy. For nearly a century, brands battled to win loyal consumers for the new leavening miracle, transforming American commerce and advertising even as they touched off a chemical revolution in the world's kitchens. Linda Civitello chronicles the titanic struggle that reshaped America's diet and rewrote its recipes. [more inside]
A fascinating Jazz Age tale of chemistry and detection, poison and murder, The Poisoner's Handbook is a page-turning account of a forgotten era. In early twentieth-century New York, poisons offered an easy path to the perfect crime. Science had no place in the Tammany Hall-controlled coroner's office, and corruption ran rampant. However, with the appointment of chief medical examiner Charles Norris in 1918, the poison game changed forever. Together with toxicologist Alexander Gettler, the duo set the justice system on fire with their trailblazing scientific detective work, triumphing over seemingly unbeatable odds to become the pioneers of forensic chemistry and the gatekeepers of justice. [more inside]
High adventure fraught with cliffhanger twists marks this runaway-slave narrative, which leaps, sails, and soars from Caribbean cane fields to the fringes of the frozen Arctic and across a whole ocean. (Opening line from Kirkus Review, one of many publications to list Esi Edugyan's novel among the best fiction of 2018). Booker Prize shortlisted nominee. [more inside]
Brainchild: Brainchild - a science show for tweens Season 1, Ep 0
Now on Netflix, Brainchild, is a 13 episode series for tweens and teens. [more inside]
The agents travel to Spain and France in 1943 to ensure the success of Britain's "Operation Mincemeat" during WWII. A Spanish spy captured in Nazi-occupied France is revealed to be an important figure in the Ministry's past and its present. [more inside]
The Department of Time: Con el tiempo en los talones (With Time on His Heels) First Watch Season 3, Ep 1
Amelia and Alonso are sent to the premiere of "Vertigo" at the 1958 San Sebastián Film Festival, to foil a plan by Russia to kidnap Alfred Hitchcock and force him to produce propaganda films. While the Ministry is under construction, a wheelchair-bound Salvador becomes suspicious of a Sony Walkman-wearing construction worker he observes through his office window. [more inside]
It's 1977 in the London suburb of Croydon. Young Enn and his punk-loving best friends stumble upon a bizarre gathering on the way to a party. Enn falls in love with a beautiful and mysterious stranger, who in turn is weirdly fascinated by him. Together, they embark on a delirious adventure through the kinetic, punk rock world of 1970s London that ends in a crazy and unusual showdown. [more inside]
The Department of Time: Un virus de otro tiempo (A Virus from Another Time) First Watch Season 2, Ep 5
During a mission in 1918 to attend the birth of Carmen Amaya, Irene falls ill with the Spanish flu. New undersecretary Susana orders (against regulations)) that Irene be retrieved and returned to the Ministry, risking widespread exposure to a highly contagious disease that once killed millions and for which there is no vaccine. Soon, more personnel begin to show flu symptoms and the Ministry is forced to close its doors to prevent the disease from being spread through time. [more inside]
Season Premiere: Lola Mendieta is in prison. Julián is back after some rest and psychiatric therapy. A new case awaits: the discovery of dated remains that could belong to El Cid, who was thought to be buried in the Burgos cathedral. Alonso and Amelia are sent with Ambrogio Spinola to the eleventh century to lead the investigation... which means pulling Julián from the team. [more inside]
SGU Stargate Universe: Subversion Season 1, Ep 18
Dr. Rush and Homeworld Command investigate when Colonel Telford is suspected of spying for the Lucian Alliance. [more inside]
The Expanse: Here There Be Dragons Season 2, Ep 11
Bobbie makes a decision that changes her life forever. [more inside]
In 1996, two teenagers stumbled across some very old human remains. The struggle to identify them and determine who owns them kicked off a fight that has lasted 20 years -- and is finally about to be resolved. [more inside]
Forests feel like a place of great stillness but dig deeper and there's a hidden world beneath your feet as busy and complicated as a city. [more inside]
Mystery Science Theater 3000: THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE Season 5, Ep 13
"Fantastic! Weird! Horrifying!" "Alive...Without A Body... Fed By An Unspeakable Horror From Hell!" How gifted does a doctor have to be that, when his GF is decapitated in a crash, his thought is, "I can fix this!" Two-for-two on a bad idea streak, he goes out and tries to kill attractive women so he can get her a new chassis. This movie teaches us that not only are free-standing heads capable of speech, they can communicate with horrible monsters. It's Mike Nelson's first episode as host, and boy, they change a lot of things with this episode, including updating the set and changing the door sequence! It's a pretty good episode riffing-wise, too. YouTube (1h31m) Premiered October 30, 1993. Did you know there is a stage musical based on the film, "Head: The Musical!" (Vimeo 1h40m) [more inside]
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Science Season 3, Ep 11
- Ted Cruz drops out of the race for the Republication Nomination, leaving Donald Trump as presumptive nominee. (YT 4m, via Fortune!)
- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un calls the first meeting of their Worker's Party since 1980. (YT 4m)
- And Now: The Next President of the United States
- Main story: Science (YT 19m), and how good, and not-so-good, studies get trumpeted by the media as saying things that they don't all the fucking time. LWT presents a parody of TED talks, "TODD," to make their point.
Houdini & Doyle (and Constable Adelaide Stratton) have started up on ITV, and will be coming to the US on Fox in early May. Should we chat now, or wait until it hits state-side? [more inside]
The Infinite Monkeys return for a new series, the first of which will see them head to the USA for their first live tour. This week [physicist] Brian Cox and [comedian] Robin Ince can be found on stage in New York asking the question, Is Science a Force for Good Or Evil? They are joined on stage by Bill Nye the Science Guy, cosmologist Janna Levin, actor Tim Daly and comedian Lisa Lampanelli.
How a tiny group of social engineers are making our online relationships kindler and gentler, whether we like it or not. [more inside]
Jupiter Jones, an undocumented immigrant working as a maid in Chicago, finds out she's the heir to an interstellar fortune including the ownership of Earth. This is the latest film by the Wachowski siblings.
Helix: Densho Season 2, Ep 4
The CDC team continues to not get off the island of Brother Michael and his scary disciples, insisting that they have to find the source of the virus that turns people stabby. Alan, the team's former leader, doesn't care much as he has own reasons for pretending to be a member of the cult. In the future, Hatake tries to bond with his daughter Julia, but she'd prefer her mummy. This continues to anger her dead brother. Sadly, Doreen from season 1 remains dead.
Helix: Scion Season 2, Ep 3
As the CDC team continues to investigate the mystery viral breakout on the island of the culty people, the creepiness factor gets upped with fraternizations, confrontations, beautifully large ornate windows, drugs, a very unBrady Bunch like gang of children in the woods and a family reunion with the world's greatest dad.
Helix: San Jose Season 2, Ep 1
There's a pandemic on an island with virtually no communications. Let's go there right now! And wander around! Oh, there's a cult there, that's going to go well.
Radiolab brings a preview of Invisibilia . The lines between boy and girl can be blurry but NPR's Invisibilia introduces us to someone with a very new idea of how blurry they can be. [more inside]
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