NASA’s JPL appoints its first female director | Engadget

By J. Fingas@jonfingas, January 29th, 2022

New JPL director Dr. Laurie Leshin. Worcester Polytechnic Institute

NASA isn’t just interested in putting more women in space.

The agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has appointed Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Dr. Laurie Leshin as its first female director.

She’ll assume the role on May 16th, replacing former director Michael Watkins (who retired in August 2021) and interim director Lt. Gen Larry James. She’ll also serve as vice president of Caltech, which manages the JPL.

Leshin has extensive experience, both in science and in breaking new ground. She has held senior positions in NASA, including a key director role at the Goddard Space Flight Center. As deputy associate administrator for NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, she laid some of the groundwork for both commercial spaceflight and Artemis. She was Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s science dean, and has served as WPI’s first female president since 2014.

Source: NASA’s JPL appoints its first female director | Engadget

Origin review: A genetic history of the Americas | New Scientist

By Michael Marshall, 26 January 2022

Art and arrowheads from the Americas before European colonisation
William Scott/Alamy Stock Photo

WHO were the first people to reach the Americas?

When did they get there, and how?

These are among the most mysterious questions in prehistory, and have long been studied using traditional archaeology: bones, artefacts and so on.

In recent years, however, the field has been revolutionised by genetic data. DNA from living people and preserved remains has both enhanced and transformed our understanding of the continents’ First Peoples (those who were on the continent before Europeans arrived) and how they got there.

Jennifer Raff is a genetic anthropologist at the University of Kansas who has been involved in many studies of ancient American DNA, so she is an ideal guide to the subject. Her book Origin bills itself as “a genetic history of the Americas”, and it largely delivers on that promise. The final third of the book, in particular, draws on genetic and archaeological evidence to tell the story as we see it now.

This section is a model of clear and nuanced explanation: Raff highlights the uncertainties and caveats, but doesn’t allow them to overwhelm the story.

Source: Origin review: A genetic history of the Americas | New Scientist

PRIOR – Our Favorite Luxury Hotels in Paris

From the sparkling palaces to the broodingly sensual these opulent hotels always deliver decadence.

By PRIOR Team, January 27, 2022

Room interior courtesy of Le Bristol

More than in any other city in the world, opulent hotels in Paris are part of the culture and indeed identity of the place.

They are the distillation of a singular type of decadence and glamor that gives the city that gilded quality of extravagance.

However with the sheer number of options, changing ownerships and openings (and closings) hotels in Paris can be hard to navigate. When they are superb, then the prices they command is money well spent but when they lack that particular Parisian lustre, then the experience of the city becomes a fantasy unfulfilled.

From polish to a patina, sensual to sparkling, here are glamorous addresses that are always a pure indulgence whether it is your first or fifteenth time visiting the City of Lights.

Editor’s Note: Read more, see link below for original item…

Source: PRIOR – Our Favorite Luxury Hotels in Paris

‘Jeopardy!’: James Holzhauer Posts Hilarious Tweet – and Jab at Ken Jennings – After Amy Schneider’s Winning Streak Ends | Showbiz CheatSheet

By Melissa Mitas, Published on January 27, 2022

James Holzhauer of ‘Jeopardy!’ | David Becker/Getty Images

Amy Schneider’s record-breaking run on Jeopardy! finally came to an end on Jan. 26.

Rhone Talsma nailed the Final Jeopardy round and beat Schneider by $10,000.

During her 40-game streak, Schneider bumped former champs Matt Amodio and James Holzhauer down a notch in the consecutive wins category, where she holds the number two spot all to herself.

Holzhauer recently commented on a strong similarity between his loss and Schneider’s, while roasting Jeopardy! GOAT Ken Jennings.

Source: ‘Jeopardy!’: James Holzhauer Posts Hilarious Tweet – and Jab at Ken Jennings – After Amy Schneider’s Winning Streak Ends

Yes, those tiny dogs descended from wolves | NBC News

Domestic dogs come in more sizes than any other mammal species. Now, researchers say a genetic mutation that emerged in wolves before they were domesticated is responsible.

While humans have several hundred genes that regulate body size, domestic dogs have just 20 body-size genes.Surapol Manee / Getty Images/ EyeEm

On appearances alone, it may be hard to believe dogs like fluffy Pomeranians or spritely Chihuahuas really are descended from wolves.

But new research both illuminates and solidifies this relationship, while providing a new explanation as to why owners are even able to pick teacup poodles and short-snouted Shih Tzus out of the pack.

Domestic dogs come in more sizes than any other mammal species on Earth. This is a result of human preference and selective breeding — but this wide range of sizes is foundationally possible because of a newly discovered genetic mutation.

This mutation corresponds to small body size and it emerged in wolves before they were domesticated.

Source: Yes, those tiny dogs descended from wolves

‘Storytelling is your best weapon for convincing people’ | The Psychologist

By British Psychological Society, UK, February 2022

From article…

There’s the science of storytelling, stories about science, and storytelling in science – bringing elements of storytelling to traditional forms like the journal article. Is that a distinction you’ve considered?

Definitely. I’ve done lots of writing about science and had to wrestle with some of the inherent tensions around with that: one of the main ones being that mass market storytelling tends towards simplification and good science tends towards nuance and complexity.

For example, there’s often a pressure to identify the hero of the story – this amazing person who discovered this amazing thing – and of course the reality is usually a team of amazing people.

Some scientists seem to think storytelling goes beyond simplification, to handwaving and fabrication, a means of obscuring and misdirecting…

Yes, and for good reason… if you want to mislead people or sell them your one-eyed view of the world, then storytelling is the best way to do it. It’s as dangerous as it is helpful. But there are ways around that. You don’t have to use storytelling for its most egregious purposes.

There are some basic understandings in the science of storytelling that are separate from this – especially things around structure, cause and effect, and simplicity. For my work I have to read a lot of books written by scientists, and even though I’m fascinated by them, they’re often a real struggle for a layperson like me to get through. They don’t understand some of these basic storytelling ideas. They’re often very discursive, over-complex, tend towards jargon… even the ones that are written for the mass market are sometimes like this. All scientists, but especially ones that are interested in engaging with the public, would be well advised to take some of these basic ideas seriously.

Source: ‘Storytelling is your best weapon for convincing people’ | The Psychologist