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Author Archive

What was the biggest empire in history?

by Michael Garfield - Twitter: @michaelgarfield on November 17th, 02020

What was the biggest empire in history? The answer, writes Benjamin Plackett in Live Science, depends on whether you think in terms of fraction of living humans or number of living humans, revealing the challenges inherent in attempting to compare time periods: That’s without getting into the pros and cons of the . . .   Read More

The Role of Geology in US Presidential Elections

by Michael Garfield - Twitter: @michaelgarfield on November 6th, 02020

In an article in Forbes, David Bressan writes that the giant rift in the USA’s political voting blocs is in part a consequence of collisions between continental plates, the literal giant rift that used to separate the two halves of North America, and recent glacial activity: The same region that had once . . .   Read More

Explorers Discover Pinnacle of Coral Taller Than Empire State Building in Great Barrier Reef

by Michael Garfield - Twitter: @michaelgarfield on November 3rd, 02020

Even now, even in shallow waters, the sea continues to surprise us with new wonders . . .   Read More

How “Forest Floors” in Finland’s Daycares Changed Children’s Immune Systems

by Michael Garfield - Twitter: @michaelgarfield on October 27th, 02020

Once again on the theme of how the technological/cultural pace layer’s accelerating decoupling from the ecological pace layer in which we evolved poses serious risks to the integrity of both the human body and biosphere: When daycare workers in Finland rolled out a lawn, planted forest undergrowth such as dwarf heather . . .   Read More

Charting Earth’s (Many) Mass Extinctions

by Michael Garfield - Twitter: @michaelgarfield on September 28th, 02020

How many mass extinctions has the Earth had, really? Most people talk today as if it’s five, but where one draws the line determines everything, and some say over twenty. However many it might be, new mass extinctions seem to reveal themselves with shocking frequency. Just last year researchers argued for another . . .   Read More

The Language Keepers Podcast

by Michael Garfield - Twitter: @michaelgarfield on September 26th, 02020

A six-part podcast from Emergence Magazine explores the plight of four Indigenous languages spoken in California—Tolowa Dee-ni’, Karuk, Wukchumni, and Kawaiisu—among the most vulnerable in the world: “Two centuries ago, as many as ninety languages and three hundred dialects were spoken in California; today, only half of these languages . . .   Read More

Five New Discoveries Offer an Opportunity to Contemplate the Difference Between the Dead and Merely Dormant

by Michael Garfield - Twitter: @michaelgarfield on September 22nd, 02020

Although the sensitive can feel it in all seasons, Autumn seems to thin the veil between the living and the dead. Writing from the dying cusp of summer and the longer bardo marking humankind’s uneasy passage into a new world age (. . .   Read More

Time’s Arrow Flies through 500 Years of Classical Music, Physicists Say

by Michael Garfield - Twitter: @michaelgarfield on September 16th, 02020

A new statistical study of 8,000 musical compositions suggests that there really is a difference between music and noise: time-irreversibility. From The Smithsonian: Noise can sound the same played forwards or backward in time, but composed music sounds dramatically different in those two time directions.Compared with systems made of millions of . . .   Read More

Stunning New Universe Fly-Through Really Puts Things Into Perspective

by Michael Garfield - Twitter: @michaelgarfield on September 11th, 02020

This animated flight through the universe was made by Miguel Aragon of Johns Hopkins University with Mark Subbarao of the Adler Planetarium and Alex Szalay of Johns Hopkins. There are close to 400,000 galaxies in the animation, with images of the actual galaxies in these positions (or in some cases their near cousins . . .   Read More

Time-Binding and The Music History Survey

by Michael Garfield - Twitter: @michaelgarfield on September 8th, 02020

Musicologist Phil Ford, co-host of the Weird Studies podcast, makes an eloquent argument for the preservation of the “Chants to Minimalism” Western Music History survey—the standard academic curriculum for musicology students, akin to the “fish, frogs, lizards, birds” evolutionary spiral taught in bio classes—in an age of . . .   Read More