Summary of “A Different Kind of Theory of Everything”

A table is really a collection of atoms; atoms, upon closer inspection, reveal themselves to be clusters of protons and neutrons; each of these is, more microscopically, a trio of quarks; and quarks, in turn, are presumed to consist of something yet more fundamental.
An even stranger fact is that, when there are competing descriptions, one often turns out to be more true than the others, because it extends to a deeper or more general description of reality.
Of the three ways of describing objects’ motion the approach that turns out to be more true is the underdog: the principle of least action.
It happens again and again that, when there are many possible descriptions of a physical situation-all making equivalent predictions, yet all wildly different in premise-one will turn out to be preferable, because it extends to an underlying reality, seeming to account for more of the universe at once.
The languages describe different scales or domains of the same reality but aren’t always related etymologically.
Some researchers are attempting to wean physics off of space-time in order to pave the way toward this deeper theory.
To Arkani-Hamed, the multifariousness of the laws suggests a different conception of what physics is all about.
“The ascension to the tenth level of intellectual heaven,” he told me, “Would be if we find the question to which the universe is the answer, and the nature of that question in and of itself explains why it was possible to describe it in so many different ways.” It’s as though physics has been turned inside out.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Four-day week trial: study finds lower stress but no cut in output”

Analysis of one of the biggest trials yet of the four-day working week has revealed no fall in output, decreases in stress and increased staff engagement, fuelling hopes that a better work-life-balance for millions could finally be in sight.
Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand financial services company, switched its 240 staff from a five-day week to a four-day week last November and maintained their pay.
Productivity increased in the four days they worked so there was no drop in the total amount of work done, a study of the trial released on Tuesday has revealed.
Staff stress levels were down from 45% to 38%. Work-life balance scores increased from 54% to 78%. “We’ve been treated like adults and I think as a result everyone is behaving like adults,” said Tammy Barker, a branch manager who was part of the trial that cut the working week from from 37.5 hours to 30.
The Labour party has commissioned a study of the possibilities of a four-day week.
In the UK, average working hours have been increasing since the financial crisis, and questions have been raised about how far people working in frontline occupations such as nursing or the police could cut their hours without reducing the public service they provide.
“I did find that my productivity increased purely by being more aware of my work processes and thinking about how I was doing things and why I was doing them. At the same time, I didn’t feel any more stressed at work probably because I was really focussing on the tasks at hand and because I had the extra day off to compensate for the increased work rate.”
“It involved them finding solutions to doing their work in four days, so this reflected well. Importantly, they rated their teams as giving better customer service – they were more engaging and focussed when clients and customers called.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “Rare L.A. mega-storm could overwhelm dam and flood dozens of cities, experts say”

Rare L.A. mega-storm could overwhelm dam and flood dozens of cities, experts say – Los Angeles Times.
In heavily populated areas of the Los Angeles Basin, epic runoff from the San Gabriel Mountains could rapidly overwhelm a flood control dam on the San Gabriel river and unleash floodwaters from Pico Rivera to Long Beach, says a recent analysis by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
In a series of recent public hearings, corps officials told residents that the 60-year-old Whittier Narrows Dam no longer met the agency’s tolerable-risk guidelines and could fail in the event of a very large, very rare storm, such as the one that devastated California more than 150 years ago.
The dam – which stretches from Montebello to Pico Rivera and crosses both the San Gabriel and Rio Hondo rivers – is one of a number of flood control facilities overseen by the corps.
Among the communities hardest hit in a dam failure would be Pico Rivera, a city of about 63,000 people immediately below the dam.
After examining 13 California reservoirs – most of them over 50 years old – the authors argued that the risk of dam failure was likely to increase in a warming climate.
The study cited the 2017 crisis at Oroville Dam, when extreme water flows caused the dam spillway to disintegrate and triggered the evacuation of more than 180,000 people.
In the case of Whittier Narrows Dam, Travis Longcore, a spatial scientist at USC, suggested people had grown complacent about the effectiveness of the area’s flood control system.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Is the Insect Apocalypse Really Upon Us?”

They say that 41 percent of insect species are declining and that global numbers are falling by 2.5 percent a year, but “They’re trying to quantify things that we really can’t quantify at this point,” says Michelle Trautwein from the California Academy of Sciences.
“I don’t see real danger in overstating the possible severity of insect decline, but there is real danger in underestimating how bad things really are. These studies aren’t perfect, but we’d be wise to heed this warning now instead of waiting for cleaner studies.”
The factors that are probably killing off insects in Europe and North America, such as the transformation of wild spaces into agricultural land, are global problems.
Insects, though diverse, are also particularly vulnerable to such changes because many of them are so specialized, says May Berenbaum from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“So what happens if the island goes, or the crab goes? That’s the kind of danger that insects face. Very few of them can opportunistically exploit a broad diversity of habitats and supplies.”
The loss of even a small percent of insects might also be disproportionately consequential.
Doing something is hard because insect declines have so many factors, and most studies struggle to tease them apart.
In their review, Sánchez-Bayo and Wyckhuys point the finger at habitat loss above all else, followed by pesticides and other pollutants, introduced species, and climate change, in that order.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How sexist will the media’s treatment of female candidates be? Rule out ‘not at all.'”

If you think the media treatment of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign was not seriously marred by sexism, please proceed directly to social media, Fox News, my email or wherever trolls gather.
“There is a narrow universe of acceptable behavior for women,” explained Heidi Moore, a media consultant who is a former Wall Street Journal reporter and former business editor of the Guardian U.S. In politics – as in so many other spheres – women get bashed far more than their male counterparts for personality quirks, vulnerabilities and actions of all sorts.
Think of how far a female candidate would get if she came off like the rumpled and ranting Bernie Sanders.
New York Times politics editor Patrick Healy wrote this month that he regrets once describing Clinton’s laugh as a “Cackle,” and the Times published an enlightening story by Maggie Astor about how female candidates start off at a disadvantage.
Yes, we’re a sexist society, and the media reflect and amplify this.
In some cases, female voters aren’t immune – 39 percent of them preferred Trump to 54 percent for Clinton, according to Pew Research.
Still, some see hope: The sheer number of women running for president will make it easier for female candidates to succeed.
For voters of any age, it’s harder – theoretically, at least – to say, “Sure, I’d love to vote for a woman, just not THAT woman,” when there are a half dozen female candidates to choose from.

The orginal article.

Summary of “‘The Slim Shady LP’ at 20: The Birth of Eminem As America’s Nightmare”

The Slim Shady EP, released in December 1997, was a massive, disquieting improvement, deep and dark and concussive, a horrorcore funhouse ride to Actual Hell, from the Black Flag-style mirror-smash cover art to the song called “Just Don’t Give a Fuck” to the other song, then called “Just the Two of Us,” in which Em and a cooing baby girl hit the beach to dispose of the murdered corpse of that baby’s mother.
The Slim Shady LP, executive produced by Dr. Dre and released by Interscope and Dre’s own Aftermath Entertainment, came out 20 years ago this weekend, on February 23, 1999.
The Slim Shady LP was never designed to age gracefully; the guy who made it, even less so.
That tune is also one of the reasons Billboard greeted the runaway success of The Slim Shady LP with an alarmingly furious editorial, written by then-editor-in-chief Timothy White, accusing Em of “Making money by exploiting the world’s misery.” White loosely tied the album to a recent spree of violent crimes committed against teenage girls in Los Angeles, describing at appalled length the song “Guilty Conscience,” a flippant back-and-forth between Dre and Em wherein they debate the pros and cons of armed robbery, assault, the rape of a passed-out 15-year-old girl, and murder, complete with a Dee Barnes shout-out.
Eminem responded with the sneering dismissiveness you’d expect from a guy whose debut album includes an EP-holdover song called “Just Don’t Give a Fuck,” which is followed five tracks later by another, new song called “Still Don’t Give a Fuck.” What is still striking about The Slim Shady LP now is how attractive music this gleefully repellent can still be, how even the tune called “Cum on Everybody” has an irresistible house-party bounce, how even a sordid tale with the apparent autobiographical weight of “Brain Damage” has a nursery-rhyme lilt to it.
“Role Model” is a song about how he sure as hell isn’t one; the closest he gets to explaining himself at all on The Slim Shady LP are the quite striking songs about poverty and desperation, bracing reminders of where both his hunger and his anger came from.
This bygone era of Marshall Mathers is itself awfully tough to imagine now: The Slim Shady LP is also the last album he made when he wasn’t rich and famous and vilified by seemingly everyone, from industry critics to his own horrified loved ones.
“There’s no message, no concept. I’ll record a song and play it in the car and be like, ‘This ain’t about nothing.’ That obviously means it’s not good enough.” It’s not that he watered down his technical ability to make The Slim Shady LP and the best of what came after, but that he sharpened every word to a lethal point.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Human Life on Tidally Locked Planets Could Thrive”

One possible scenario for a tidally locked planet is what’s known as the “Eyeball Earth” model, in which a planet starts out entirely covered with ice-which then melts on the side facing the sun.
That’s what happens on a tidally locked planet called WASP-103b, a “Hot Jupiter”-type world.
Read: Astronomers have found planets in the habitable zone of a nearby star.
These flare-ups could heat the atmosphere of a planet in the habitable zone, while the star could also eject material that strips away the atmosphere.
On a tidally locked world, a violent-enough solar disruption could get rid of a second atmosphere, too.
Any humans living on the planet would also need to eat and breathe, and the physicists Joseph Gale and Amri Wandel of Hebrew University have been studying whether plant life could survive the flares and radiation exposure.
If the star became less violent, the planet could develop an atmosphere thick enough to allow plants to grow on land.
With an atmosphere that could sustain life there would also be air currents strong enough to cool the planet’s dayside.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Emotional Intelligence: The Social Skills You Weren’t Taught in School”

Most of us aren’t taught how to identify or deal with our own emotions, or the emotions of others.
Emotional intelligence is a shorthand that psychological researchers use to describe how well individuals can manage their own emotions and react to the emotions of others.
People who exhibit emotional intelligence have the less obvious skills necessary to get ahead in life, such as managing conflict resolution, reading and responding to the needs of others, and keeping their own emotions from overflowing and disrupting their lives.
Measuring emotional intelligence is relatively new in the field of psychology, only first being explored in the mid-80s. Several models are currently being developed, but for our purposes, we’ll examine what’s known as the “Mixed model,” developed by psychologist Daniel Goleman.
The order of these emotional competencies isn’t all that relevant, as we all learn many of these skills simultaneously as we grow.
Emotional intelligence isn’t an area that most people receive formal training in.
My struggle with depression taught me that some emotions persist long after the overflow.
Resolving conflict can be one of the best ways to learn how to apply your emotional skills.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Self-help author Marianne Williamson wants to be your healer in chief”

In a friend’s dining room in central Los Angeles, 27 hours before she will announce she’s running for president of the United States, I ask self-help author and motivational speaker Marianne Williamson to perform a miracle.
I didn’t know Williamson has advised Oprah Winfrey since the mid-’90s, when Winfrey reached out to Williamson for help getting over a “Betrayal,” the specifics of which, Winfrey admitted on a 2018 episode of her podcast “Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations,” she no longer recalls.
Lo, Marianne Williamson has delivered a surprisingly harsh miracle: For the first time since November 2016, I’m embarrassed enough to stop feeling sorry for myself about the state of America.
Like Trump, Williamson chafes at a traditional campaign strategy and relies on her daughter, whom she brought on as an “Executive team member,” Williamson says.
As Williamson sees it, if Kamala Harris or Cory Booker or Elizabeth Warren is elected, or any of the “1,736 people who are running so far” – a joke Williamson makes approximately 1,736 times during our week together – you’re not treating the cause of our country’s disease.
So why can’t Williamson act as physician in a more modest office than president of the United States? “Any lower office than the presidency is primarily a management function,” Williamson tells me.
Friedman says, “Her spirituality is actually not a liability. [It’s] a significant opportunity for Marianne to connect with people on a plane that’s different than the political. [And] there is no knowledge gap whatsoever between Marianne and the candidates.” In office, Friedman says, Williamson would mitigate a lack of government experience the same way the similarly unproven Bloomberg did when he was elected mayor of New York in 2001, by hiring “Smart people with experience in government.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly quoted Marianne Williamson.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Do We Write Differently on a Screen?”

I noticed at once that the time passed differently when writing a story.
You sent the story, by post, to a magazine, and it came back, months later, with a rejection and perhaps some suggestions how to improve it.
Now you could write an article for The Guardian or the New York Times as easily as you could write it for L’Arena di Verona.
You write the first chapter of a book and send it at once to four or five friends.
It’s impossible to exaggerate how exciting this was, at first, and how harmful to the spirit.
Hours after publication, you could know how many people were reading the piece.
So should you change the way you write accordingly? Have you already changed, unwittingly?
You have learned how compulsive you are, how fragile your identity, how important it is to cultivate a little distance.

The orginal article.