I think we, as readers, are able to sense the shape of a particular Branch Library of Babel built around a particular story, with its particular set of images and themes. Even though this Branch Library is an abstract thing, to say the least, I think we, as readers, can trace its perimeter with surprising accuracy. Collectively—and maybe only collectively—we can determine which elements a work of fiction depends on, and which it doesn’t.
This horrifying parasitic fig wasp is no new discovery—in fact, it’s commonly found in many regions across India. But a research team at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore has just published the first scientific breakdown of the wasp’s strange tool. As they report today in The Journal of Experimental Biology, the insect’s strange ovipositor—its egg-laying syringe—is partially metal-plated with zinc.
An ultra-thin fault zone packed with slippery clay was behind the massive seismic slip during Japan’s devastating Tohoku earthquake of 2011. The quake was so great that it permanently changed the region’s gravitational field, and was “heard” from space.
The modern aircraft-seating industry is highly specialized. The number of manufacturers is small, in part because creating new seats is so complex that moving from conception to installation takes years and entails large financial risks. It also poses unique design challenges, since a premium-class seat has to create an impression of opulence in what is actually a noisy and potentially nausea-inducing metal tube filled with strangers.
My not-so-fluent French “self” is most comfortable talking about classroom supplies. It’s surprising, though, that people who are actually fluent in two languages also feel their personality shifting as they switch between languages. Yet researchers have confirmed this: Between 2001 and 2003, linguists Jean-Marc Dewaele and Aneta Pavlenko asked over a thousand bilinguals whether they “feel like a different person” when they speak different langauges. Nearly two-thirds said they did.