10 interesting facts about bees

8-7 Bee BookWhen I was asked to write a post about bees, I felt a lump the size of a honeycomb rise in my throat. I thought to myself,  “Bees? Like the things that ruined my 8th birthday party or every trip I’ve ever taken to Rita’s Ices? Those things?!” Yes, those things, but amazingly enough, after reading through Noah Wilson-Rich’s new book The Bee: A Natural History, I can honestly say my opinion of bees has changed, for the better. Here are 10 interesting facts about bees that will hopefully either solidify your love of these insects or foster a new appreciation for them.

1. Thousands of years ago, bees evolved from carnivores to herbivores. Maybe this explains my initial irrational fear of them!

2. There are over 20,000 species of bees who are classified in nine families and further divided by short, medium, and long tongues.

The Bee: A Natural History, Pg. 67

3. Bees can see ultra violet rays. They see the world primarily in purples and blues.

4. Bees have just ten receptors for taste, but 163 receptors for smell.

5. Honey bees communicate via dancing. The Round dance communicates the nearby presence of food. The Waggle dance is used to communicate the location of a food source more than 165ft away from the hive. The direction, distance, and quality of the food is made known through the Waggle. If a threat is detected near the food, another bee will interrupt the dancing bee with a head-butt.

6. In 2000, honey bees provided an estimated $14.6 billion to the US economy.

Pg. 49

7. Only female bees sting.

8. Queen bees and worker bees share the same genes, the only difference is future queen bees are given extra rations of royal jelly.

9. Bees pollinate over 130 fruits and vegetables.

10. Flowering plants developed attractive, scented, and brightly colored flowers once bees changed their foraging preference from animal protein to a vegetarian lifestyle.

A tale of three cities…or the There Goes the Neighborhood? book tour so far

As anyone who works in publishing or who has authored a book can tell you–book tours are hit or miss. Fortunately, for one recently published author–Amin Ghaziani, author of There Goes the Gayborhood?–his book tour has landed firmly at the hit end of the spectrum. Here are some photos from the road and a list of forthcoming tour stops.

San Francisco! Where it all began with a standing-room only event at The Green Arcade.

san francisco

Chicago! Much of the research for There Goes the Gayborhood? was conducted in Chicago, so it was fitting for Amin to have an event at Unabridged Bookstore. The homecoming feel of this event was cemented by the appearance of a special guest of honor for the evening–Amin’s mother!

ghaziani 1

Vancouver! University of British Columbia and the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies launched the Ideas Lunch & Wine Bar with a tip-toe standing-room only event for Amin.

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Amin has several more events planned in the coming months, so make sure you get these dates in your calendar:

  • October 2: New York (Special Event at the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies)
  • October 23: Vancouver (Little Sisters bookstore, Vancouver)
  • December 12: Seattle (Eliott Bay Book Company, Seattle)

 


bookjacket

There Goes the Gayborhood?
Amin Ghaziani

Throwback Thursday #TBT: Gary Marker’s Publishing, Printing, and the Origins of Intellectual Life in Russia, 1700-1800 (1985)

 

Welcome to another edition of Throwback Thursday! On today’s #TBT, we’re taking a look at Gary Marker’s Publishing, Printing, and the Origins of Intellectual Life in Russia, 1700-1800Originally published in 1985, this book is just one of the many classics recently resurrected by the Princeton Legacy Library. Here’s a little more information about it:

Gary Marker describes the pursuit of an effective public voice by political, Church, and literary elites in Russia as synonymous with the struggle to control the printed media, showing that Russian publishing and printing evolved in a way that sharply diverged from Western experiences but that proved to be highly significant for Russian society.

We’ve hope you’ve enjoyed this installment of Throwback Thursday. See you next week!

“The numbers are so great the sky itself begins to darken,” an excerpt from The Passenger Pigeon by Errol Fuller

LBP Passenger Pigeon Flock Overhead from Lost Bird Project on Vimeo.

This video puts me in mind of the following excerpt from The Passenger Pigeon by Errol Fuller.

Imagine it is some time early in the nineteenth century. We can pick out any year, it really doesn’t matter. So let us make it 1810. And let us suppose that you, the reader, have hewn from the wilderness a small area of land. Gradually, you have tamed and cultivated it, and now you are enjoying the fruits of season after season of hard work. You grow enough food, and rear enough livestock, to feed your growing family. There is even a surplus with which you can supply the fast-increasing local community.

The scene could be anywhere in the eastern parts of North America, but let us chose a state, just at random. Let us say that you are somewhere in Pennsylvania. It is an afternoon in May, and things are looking good. Perhaps it is too early to say for certain, but the year’s harvest promises to be a splendid one.

You stand in the center of one of your fields recalling with some satisfaction, and not a little pride, the back-breaking effort that you and your family have put in during the bitter winter months and the spring that followed them. As you lean back on your spade you grow conscious of a strange, far-off, almost imperceptible sound, a sound entirely unfamiliar. Unable to decide whether it is a rustle or a buzz, you peer in the direction from which it seems to come. Your gaze passes over the fields to your small orchards, which at last begin to show signs of bearing a decent crop. Then it moves to the forests that surround the farm on all sides, but there is nothing to see; at least there is nothing out of the ordinary. So you turn your attention back to the afternoon’s work, but only for a moment. The noise continues, and it begins to distract you from the job at hand. Although still far off, it is surely getting louder, and now it seems more like a drumming than a buzzing. Louder and louder it becomes, until all your attempts to ignore it and get back to work come to a complete halt. The sound is certainly coming your way and coming fast. No longer does it sound like drumming; now it is more akin to distant thunder, but with this difference: It is a continuous wall of sound rather than something lasting for just a few seconds.

Suddenly, a few birds, pigeons, appear overhead. Your first thought is that they are fleeing before the ever-increasing racket, and you start to feel some alarm. What catastrophe could cause birds to fly so fast in a frantic attempt to escape? Then you realize that this first thought was wrong. More and more pigeons are passing overhead, and you find it is the pigeons themselves that are responsible for the noise. It becomes truly deafening. As more and more and more of them come pouring in, the numbers are so great the sky itself begins to darken. Within a minute or two it is no longer possible to pick out individual birds; the multitude forms one dark, solid block. The sun is blotted out.

The black mass wheels about. It seems to turn as one unit, not as millions of individual creatures. You have never contemplated numbers of this magnitude before. It is a numerical concept beyond your experience or imagination. And the sound! Your eardrums seem ready to burst. Perhaps the ocean roars like this during a hard storm at sea, but you don’t know. You’ve never been aboard an oceangoing vessel. Now something else happens. The great flock has circled and the pigeons are landing on trees in the forest. Those nearer are coming to rest in your orchards. There seems no end to them. More and more are coming in and landing on the overloaded branches, already packed black with squabbling birds. Droppings fall from the sky like big melting snowflakes. Some are falling on your head! A new sound trumpets across the fields, the sound of splitting timber. The weight of the massed pigeons is so great that here and there it is too much for the trees; their branches can no longer take the strain and they crash to the ground.

There is nothing to do now but retreat in despair to the shelter of the house. Fortunately, the roof holds little attraction for the pigeons, and largely speaking they avoid it. After a brief period of inaction you venture out, taking your gun with you. After all, a dozen or so cooked pigeons will provide for the family. The gunshots do nothing to scare off any birds, but at least you have a good evening meal.

Three or four days pass. Then, as suddenly as they came, the pigeons are gone. Vanished. Did they return from whence they came, or have they passed on to new pastures? You don’t know, and you don’t really care.

There are far more important things to worry about. The growing crops are destroyed, the buds are eaten or trampled, the orchards wrecked. It is too late in the year to plant again, and the harvest that promised so much will now be a disaster. There will be little to feed the family and nothing to sell to local people. Nor will there be anything left for the livestock. The well is fouled, and this will mean a long walk to the river to fetch fresh water. The damage the birds have wrought can hardly be measured. An entirely new start will be needed—if, that is, you can survive the next few months and the winter that will follow.


Excerpted from:

bookjacket The Passenger Pigeon
Errol Fuller

Princeton University Press’s best-selling books for the past week

These are the best-selling books for the past week.

1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed by Eric H. Cline
4-10 Drezner_TheoriesZombies_cvr Theories of International Politics and Zombies by Daniel W. Drezner
Tambora: The Eruption That Changed the World by Gillen D’Arcy Wood
The Homeric Hymn to Demeter: Translation, Commentary, and Interpretive Essays edited by Helene P. Foley
The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking by Edward B. Burger & Michael Starbird
OnBullshit On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt
The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup by Noam Wasserman
A Brief History of the Late Ottoman Empire by M. Şükrü Hanioğlu
Mostly Harmless Econometrics: An Empiricist’s Companion by Joshua D. Angrist & Jörn-Steffen Pischke
Murder at the Margin: A Henry Spearman Mystery by Marshall Jevons

The Future Library Project 2114

Yes, you read that right, the year is 2114 and perhaps one of our authors will be invited to participate–who knows?

The Future Library intends to gather 100 major writings from 100 influential writers over the next 100 years to create a “library” of books. Margaret Atwood is the first of 100 writers who will each contribute a text, and she has already begun writing. She plans to complete the book in May 2015, but then the manuscript will be held unread for 100 years, until the final publication of the anthology of texts in 2114. The coordinators of the Future Library also intend to grow the trees upon which the anthology will eventually be printed (good to know they are optimistic about the prospect of print and paper books in the 22nd century!).

The first writer to contribute to Katie Paterson’s Future Library – a new public artwork that will unfold in the city of Oslo, Norway over the next 100 years – is prizewinning author, poet, essayist and environmentalist Margaret Atwood.

Atwood is the first of 100 writers who will each contribute a text to Future Library over the next 100 years. The Canadian author has begun to write her text, which she will gift to Future Library in May 2015, whereupon it will be held unread for 100 years, until the final publication of the anthology of texts in 2114. A thousand trees have been planted in Nordmarka, a forest just outside Oslo. In 2114, the trees will be cut down to provide the paper for the anthology of books. Visitors to the forest can experience the slow growth of the trees, inch-by-inch, year-by-year.

Conceived by Katie Paterson, Future Library is produced by Situations as part of Slow Space, a public art programme for Bjørvika, commissioned by Bjørvika Utvikling and managed by the Future Library Trust. Supported by the City of Oslo, Agency for Cultural Affairs and Agency for Urban Environment.

Details here: http://www.situations.org.uk/margaret-atwood-first-writer-contribute-future-library/

 

In this video, Future Library visionary Katie Paterson speaks with Margaret Atwood:

Margaret Atwood – the first writer for Future Library from Katie Paterson on Vimeo.

I hope my great (or is that great-great?) grandchildren are as appreciative upon the completion of this innovative publishing project as I am at the start.

Two new exhibits about Albert Einstein on Google Cultural Institute

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Two new, expertly written and illustrated exhibits about Albert Einstein are now available for free on Google Cultural Institute. These archives feature information from the Einstein Papers Project and the Hebrew University archives.

Einstein’s Trip to the Far East and Palestine

In late 1922 and early 1923, Albert Einstein embarked on a five-and-a-half-month trip to the Far East, Palestine, and Spain. In September 1921, Einstein had been invited by the progressive Japanese journal Kaizo to embark on a lecture tour of Japan.   The tour would include a scientific lecture series to be delivered in Tokyo, and six popular lectures to be delivered in several other Japanese cities. An honorarium of 2,000 pounds sterling was offered and accepted.

Einstein’s motivation for accepting the invitation to Japan was threefold: to fulfil his long-term desire to visit the Far East, to enjoy two long sea voyages “far from the madding crowds” and to escape from Berlin for several months in the wake of the recent assassination of Germany’s Foreign Minister Walther Rathenau, who had belonged to Einstein’s circle of friends. Rathenau had been gunned down by anti-Semitic right-wing extremists in June 1922 and there was reason to believe that Einstein’s life was also at risk.

Credit: Einstein’s Trip to the Far East and Palestine

Albert Einstein German, Swiss and American?

In a letter to his superiors, the German ambassador, Constantin von Neurath, quotes from a Copenhagen newspaper: „Although a Swiss subject by birth and supposedly of Jewish origin, Einstein’s work is nevertheless an integral part of German research“.

Von Neurath uses this flawed statement with good reason: The  Swiss Jew whom he would rather disregard, unfortunately proves to be one of the few “Germans” welcome abroad.

On April 26, 1920, for example, Albert Einstein was nominated member of the  Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters.

The more appreciated Einstein becomes abroad, the greater Germany’s desire to claim him as one of their own.

Credit: Albert Einstein German, Swiss and American?

On the occasion of these exhibits, Diana K. Buchwald of the Einstein Papers Project at California Institute of Technology said, “The Einstein cultural exhibit gives us a splendid glimpse into rare documents and images that tell not only the story of Einstein’s extraordinary voyage to publicize relativity in Japan in 1922, and to lay the cornerstone of the Hebrew University in Palestine in 1923, but also the dramatic trajectory of his entire life, illustrated by his colorful passports that bear testimony to the vagaries of his personal life.”

Prof. Hanoch Gutfreund, Former President, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Chair of the Albert Einstein Archives echoed her Buchwald’s enthusiasm noting, “The cooperation between the Google Cultural Institute, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Einstein Papers Project in Caltech has produced two exhibitions exploring two specific topics on Einstein’s life and personality. Thus, Google has provided an arena, accessible to all mankind, which allows the Hebrew University to share with the general public the highlights of one of its most important cultural assets–the Albert Einstein Archives, which shed light on Einstein’s scientific work, public activities and personal life.

Learn more about Princeton University Press’s Einstein-related books, including the print editions of the Einstein Papers Project, here.

 

 

We’re not the only ones obsessed with Zombies

imagesSure, we might not completely understand neuroscience, but knowing it has to do with the scientific study of the nervous system is good enough for most of us. We’re all also familiar with zombies, and I mean, how could we not be? AMC’s hit TV-show “The Walking Dead” has over 13 million viewers and countless zombie-based box office hits such as “Zombieland,” “I Am Legend,” and “World War Z,” suggest that while zombies are not taking over the world just yet, they are capturing our imagination. So what happens when we combine the field of neuroscience with the phenomenon that is “zombies?”

Enter Bradley Voytek, a UC San Diego neuroscientist whose “mutual love of zombies and brains has lead him to formalize the theoretical neuroanatomy of the zombie brain,”  according to the Zombie Research Society.

Wait a minute — zombies have a research society? Yes, it turns out the Zombie Research Society (ZRS) is an organization, founded by Matt Mogk, that dedicates itself to the “historic, cultural, and scientific study of the living dead.” On its website you will find zombie survival strategies, theories on historical outbreaks, and scientific articles on various subjects such as vaccines and Ebola. There’s even a list of the top 10 safest countries to live in during a world-wide zombie outbreak. (The US ranks 3rd just behind Canada and Australia)

Keen-eyed readers will also discover that Bradley Voytek is on the advisory board of the ZRS and that he will soon publish Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?: A Neuroscientific View of the Zombie Brain, a popular science book that references zombie popular culture to help answer neuroscientific questions regarding brain function during sleep, the nature of sensory perception, and much more. You can sample some of this unique book here.

This is not the first zombie book we have published, nor will it be the last. You may wish to check out our other undead titles below.


 

bookjacket Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?
A Neuroscientific View of the Zombie Brain
Timothy Verstynen & Bradley Voytek
bookjacket Zombies and Calculus
Colin Adams
bookjacket Zombie Economics:
How Dead Ideas Still Walk among Us
John Quiggin
bookjacket Theories of International Politics and Zombies
Daniel W. Drezner

A new free download from the authors of The Warbler Guide helps age and sex West Coast warblers

We’ve now given away close to 60,000 free downloads of the Quick Finders from The Warbler Guide by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle. Last fall we surprised everyone with a sheet with advice on aging and sexing Eastern Fall warblers. This year, we are delighted to present Tom and Scott’s tips on identifying, aging and sexing Western Fall warblers.

Make the most out of the remaining weeks of fall birding by downloading this free tip sheet today.

Simply click the image or PDF link below and download to your device or computer.

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Aging and Sexing Warbler Tip Sheet, credit: Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle, authors of The Warbler Guide.

Click here to view PDF [right click and save if you wish]

#StoryTime with Bill T. Jones — #176

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j10299[1]Click the image above to read Story #176 from Bill T. Jones’s Story/Time: The Life of an Idea.