EagleHasLanded writes: Fifty years ago tomorrow, “38 respectable, law-abiding citizens in Queens [NY] watched a killer stalk and stab a woman in three separate attacks.” That woman was Kitty Genovese, whose very name now conjures up an image of “urban indifference”—and whose story opened up three fields of psychology that barely existed beforehand: urban psychology, social psychology, and the study of prosocial behavior. Yet the case would have been a mere footnote to history, if not for a misleading and erroneous front-page story in The New York Times (quoted above), which suggested that dozens of people willfully ignored Genovese’s cries for help. The truth is something far more nuanced and complex, as author Kevin Cook argues in his recent book, Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, and the Crime That Changed America.
EagleHasLanded writes: The U.S. Metric Association has been advocating for metrication since 1916 – without much success. In the mid-1970s, the U.S. government passed the Metric Conversion Act, but now it seems the time for complete conversion has come and gone. Or could U.S. educators and health & safety advocates put this issue back on Congress’ radar screen?
EagleHasLanded writes: Lost in the discussion of the pros and cons of nuclear power (“clean energy,” or a disaster waiting to happen?) are the impacts – both positive and negative – on the people and communities responsible for producing nuclear energy and the fuels it requires. In southwestern Colorado, a controversial proposal to build a new uranium processing mill, predictably, pits environmentalists against industry. Yet some find it strange that the towns in the surrounding area are strongly pro-mill, especially when one considers that lung cancer has taken the lives of countless local miners, and another uranium mining town in the same county, Uravan, Colorado, had to be completely buried in a Superfund cleanup. But those things get overlooked when people desperately need jobs.
EagleHasLanded writes: The Berkeley Pit, an abandoned open pit copper mine in Butte, Montana—part of the largest Superfund site in the U.S.—is filled with 40 billion gallons of acidic, metal-contaminated water. For years the water was believed to be too toxic to support life, until Andrea and Donald Stierle, a pair of organic chemists at the Univ. of Montana discovered that the Pit is a rich source of unusual extremophiles, “many of which have shown great promise as producers of potential anti-cancer agents and anti-inflammatories.” In the course of their ongoing investigation, the two self-described “bioprospectors” have also discovered an uncommon yeast, which might play a significant role in cleaning up the site. In the meantime, the Pit has become a tourist attraction in Butte, which charges $2 for the opportunity to take in the view from the Viewing Stand.
EagleHasLanded writes: Did scientists “predict” the Jan. 12 Haiti earthquake? Not exactly. How close are researchers to being able to predict big earthquakes? Not very. Will we ever be able to predict earthquakes? Not likely. Southern California Earthquake Center seismologist Susan Hough interviewed about the science of earthquake prediction. Includes link to the U.S. Geological Survey's 'Did You Feel It?' page — a must-visit for seismologists in the wake of a quake.
EagleHasLanded writes: Russian mathematician Grigory Perelman doesn't talk to journalists. Actually, he doesn't talk to anyone anymore. So we'll have to settle for insights via his biographer, Masha Gessen, who, strangely enough, has never talked to him either. But she has spoken with just about everyone who has ever had any significant interaction with Perelman, and the result is the book 'Perfect Rigor,' which more than adequately explains why Perelman has gone into self-imposed exile, and why he hasn't collected the million dollars owed him for solving the Poincare Conjecture.
EagleHasLanded writes: In the recent book “Most Evil: Avenger, Zodiac, and the Further Serial Murders of Dr. George Hill Hodel,” author Steve Hodel advises that in 1990 his father registered a star in his own name (using International Star Registry) in Zodiacal constellation Aquila. Why is this compelling? Because in the book, Steve claims that his dad was the Zodiac killer, and that his father would have gotten a kick out of creating a "heavenly memorial to his crimes," not to mention that he would have enjoyed leaving behind this clue that he was responsible for the Zodiac murders. But the book's claims are so far-reaching (not only was George Hill the Zodiac, but also the Lipstick Killer and the Jigsaw Murderer) that it seems almost inconceivable that it's all true.
EagleHasLanded writes: "Everything from cell phone towers to genetically modified crops have been suggested to play a role in Colony Collapse disorder, the "bee AIDS" that is killing billions of bees worlwide. But Rowan Jacobsen, author of the recent book Fruitless Fall, seems to suggest that pesticides (perhaps neonicotinoids in particular) and the 'lifestyle issues' of so-called managed honeybees probably play a very significant role, certainly more than that of Israeli acute paralysis virus. At any rate, sounds like beekeepers really need a bailout."