Candelabra Trees

(October 13, 2016) Ten miles south of the Humboldt County line, the insanely steep cliffs of the coastal range mellow into Shady Dell, a half-mile-wide oasis set back from Usal Beach. Unless you're...

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Language: Innate or Invented?

(September 29, 2016) Is language innate to humans? Are we born "pre-wired" to spontaneously speak whichever language we hear in the first months of our lives? That is, are our brains equipped —...

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The Cooking Ape, Part 2

(September 15, 2016) Last week, I discussed how cooking morphed us from ape to human by increasing the amount of energy we obtain from food, according to anthropologist and primatologist Richard Wrangham. Before...

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The Cooking Ape, Part 1

(September 8, 2016) Ape. That's what you'd have thought if you met one of our ancestors two million years ago: short stature, low brow, massive jaw and mouth housing huge teeth, small brain,...

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Shots, Shots, Shots

The birth of vaccines

(August 25, 2016) "Every year, thousands undergo this operation, and the French Ambassador says pleasantly, that they take the small-pox here by way of diversion, as they take the waters in other countries."...

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A No-Win GMO Label Law

(August 11, 2016) An unprecedented flurry of bipartisan activity followed the July 1 implementation of Vermont's genetically modified (GM) food labeling law. Superseding individual state laws (which would have brought chaos to the...

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The Real Wheel

(July 28, 2016) Imagine a time machine has transported you back about 5,000 years to ancient Egypt, and you're watching a crew of workers wrestle with a big block of stone. They're building...

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Non-random Random Primes

(July 14, 2016) This is the story of how a curious coin-tossing paradox led a pair of Stanford University mathematicians to find an unexpected property of prime numbers, a quirk in full...

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Sunk Cost Fallacy

(June 30, 2016) "Every garage sale is a funeral for someone's sunk costs." — David McRaney How do I deceive me? Let me count the ways ... number one would be my belief...

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Lassic Peaks, Lassik Band

(June 16, 2016) Straddling Humboldt's eastern border with Trinity County, the three peaks known collectively as the Lassics on the edge of the Mount Lassic Wilderness make for some fine nearby hiking. First,...

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E-Cigarettes vs. Tobacco

(June 2, 2016) In the time it takes to read this sentence, seven seconds after inhaling either a regular or an electronic cigarette, molecules of nicotine link up with receptor molecules in the...

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The Good Old Days?

(May 19, 2016) Writing about 700 BC, the Greek poet Hesiod waxed nostalgic for "the good old days" as he imagined them: "They lived as if they were gods, their hearts free...

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Cash, Plastic or Bitcoin?

(May 5, 2016) When he encountered the Great Khan's paper money in China around 1260, explorer Marco Polo was astonished at the ready acceptance of what we now call "fiat money," i.e. currency...

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Hydro Power: Clean, Green — and Mean?

(April 21, 2016) Electricity generated by hydroelectric plants is frequently said to be the cleanest, greenest form of power. By far the largest source of renewable energy, hydro accounts for 16 percent of...

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Bayes, Mammograms and False Positives

(April 7, 2016) Bayes' Theorem is, apparently, the new sexy. Everyone's quoting it, from psychologists to ecologists to cosmologists, even TV show The Big Bang Theory. Named after an 18th century English minister...

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Recent Comments

  • Re: Candelabra Trees

    • Hi Rosanna, best person to ask would be Louisa Morris of the Mendocino Land Trust…

    • on October 17, 2016
  • Re: Candelabra Trees

    • How many candelabra trees are there? Are they all approximately the same age?

    • on October 15, 2016
  • Re: Myth of the Invisible Ships

    • visible, or invisible, recognized or unrecognized, interesting or not, one thing was true. They could…

    • on October 5, 2016
  • Re: Language: Innate or Invented?

    • Dan Everett deals with the merge/recursion confusion--also whether a single counter-example of a language lacking…

    • on October 4, 2016
  • Re: Language: Innate or Invented?

    • One in every three secondary school leavers failed in English, year after year, decade after…

    • on September 29, 2016
  • More »


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