How nature documentaries try to get you interested

Nature documentaries are not easy to make, involving patiently watching for hours, days, and weeks on end in very difficult conditions to get the footage they need. But they cannot simply show the footage. To get people to watch, they need to create some kind of story arc with animal characters and protagonists who seem to play roles within it that the audience can identify with.
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Changing the rhythms of life

The ‘natural’ daily rhythm of our bodies is said to be close to 25 hours. But since our lives require a daily routine that corresponds to the clock and not our bodies, we are thus slightly out of sync with the rotation of the Earth, with each passing day increasing the disparity, resulting in things like sleeping extra on our days off from work or school in an effort to make up for it.
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Reflections on the March for Science

UPDATE: Here are some signs from the marches around the world. This sign describes me and a lot of the people for whom this may be one of the few or only rally they ever attended.

I just returned from the Cleveland March for Science. I spent my time at the pre-march events in Public Square and waited for the talks but came home when the march proper started. I have little experience with marches and rallies so have no means of comparison and estimating numbers. All I can say is that it exceeded my own expectations. It took quite a long time once the rally ended for the crowd to leave the square on the march, which is a sign of how big the crowd was.
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False memories and the many worlds of Hugh Everett

Anyone who has taken a course on quantum mechanics and learned the dominant Copenhagen interpretation of it has encountered the so-called measurement problem that says that systems can exist simultaneously in a superposition of mutually exclusive states until an actual measurement is made, at which point the superposition collapses in ways that are unknown to the observer and the system is found in just one of the possible states. What happened to all the other states? No one knows. They are assumed to just cease to exist. The most famous example of this is Schrodinger’s cat which, while still in the unopened box is both alive and dead, but when the box is opened is found either alive or dead.
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California vaccination rates soar

Mississippi usually ranks low in terms of public health measures while California ranks high. But when it comes to childhood vaccinations, that was reversed with resistance to childhood vaccination being high in California while vaccination rates have been highest in Mississippi. 99.7% of Mississippi kindergartners have had their shots, compared to a national average of 94.5% and the anti-vaxxers had taken aim at that state. The reason for the high rates is simple. Mississippi was enlightened enough to take a strong line over a long time when it comes to confronting the spread of infectious diseases, while California had a large number of well-to-do, educated people who bought into the anti-vaccinations scare stories and had the clout to exempt their children. The state had allowed parents to opt out under the most generous terms, such as having religious or philosophical objections
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Why was Gödel denied a job in Austria in 1938?

Mathematical logician Kurt Gödel was a prodigy who by 1931 at the age of just 25 had already published his landmark incompleteness theorems. Many people are familiar with Gödel’s name but have only a vague idea of why he is such an important figure. This brief biography gives a summary account of it.

In 1931, Gödel published results in formal logic that are considered landmarks of 20th-century mathematics. Gödel demonstrated, in effect, that hopes of reducing mathematics to an axiomatic system, as envisioned by mathematicians and philosophers at the turn of the 20th century, were in vain. His findings put an end to logicist efforts such as those of Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead and demonstrated the severe limitations of David Hilbert’s formalist program for arithmetic.
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Manipulating yellow traffic light times for profit

I have been a supporter of cameras at traffic lights to catch people who run red lights. It seemed like an impartial way to catch offenders who indulged in this dangerous practice because the camera did not care about your gender, age, ethnicity, class, type of car, or other factors that might cause a traffic police officer to decide whether to issue a ticket or not. Furthermore, it seems like a waste of time to have police hanging around at intersections doing something that a machine could do better when they could be doing more important things like preventing crime or catching criminals.
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Cycling around the world in 80 days

Ever since the Jules Verne classic novel Around the World in 80 Days and subsequent film celebrated the achievement of circling the globe, the idea has appealed to people trying to recreate a similar challenge in different forms. Mark Beaumont is planning to cycle around the globe in 80 days, which would be 43 days less than the current record. This requires him to cycle 240 miles a day, which he plans to do in four four-hour shifts per day.
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Fact and folklore about the deflection of light by the Sun

Most people are familiar with the dramatic story of how Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity made a surprising prediction that was spectacularly confirmed and thus enabled his counter-intuitive idea to become the accepted view. The story goes that he predicted that the path of light would be bent by the presence of a strong gravitational field. Arthur Eddington then measured that bending during a solar eclipse and got a result that agreed with Einstein’s prediction, thus providing strong support for the revolutionary idea that space was curved by matter and that light followed that curved path. Part of the dramatic appeal of this story, as recounted in the folklore, is that Einstein’s prediction that light would be bent by the Sun seemed to be utterly novel and thus its confirmation carried much greater impact than it would have otherwise.
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