Scientists scramble as a fatal fungus finally reaches a major bat sanctuary

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Credit: Purestock/Getty Images

Everyone is worried about the bats. There are so many species with so many characteristics, and yet one disease is killing so many of them. It’s called white-nose syndrome, so named because it leads to the appearance of a white fungus — Pseudogymnoascus destructans (PD) — around a bat’s little nostrils. North American bats are dying in droves — so many, in fact, that scientists don’t have an exact number. In 2012, an estimated 6.7 million bats had died from white-nose syndrome. It’s undoubtedly much worse than that now.

Across the country, scientists decontaminate their gear in an attempt to…


Why the blue meditation app works so well

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Like any true Texan, I got hooked by Matthew McConaughey.

“How often do we really feel what’s happening within and around us?” he asks in that all too familiar drawl, his words spaced a little too far apart. The story he tells is called “Wonder,” and it’s one you aren’t supposed to finish. This is a story meant to put you to sleep, a bedtime story for adults. It’s featured on the homepage of the first billion-dollar wellness app: Calm.

My therapist recommended the app to me in early December during a particularly stressful work experience. For weeks, I ignored…


Love/Hate

Inside one of the most stubbornly dangerous sports in the world

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Cannon Cravens rides his first bull ever at the professional bull-riding level. All photos: Jack Sorokin

A cowboy is made in eight seconds. That’s how long you have to stay on a bull for it to count as a “ride.” Any less than that is a failure. On the best rides, eight seconds doesn’t feel like long enough; on the worst, it’s an eternity. But to get to that feeling, that adrenaline rush of power and success and terror, you first have to make it out of the gates, and Koal Livingston didn’t.

It was an overcast September evening in Fairfax, Virginia, the 22nd stop of the Professional Bull Rider’s (PBR) annual world tour. The world’s…


It’s never really an accident when two different movies have the exact same plot

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Photo by Krists Luhaers on Unsplash

The Great Depression was dragging on, World War II was appearing on the horizon, and American theaters were showing the second movie about the Grand Old South in less than two years. Gone with the Wind was much more popular than its predecessor, the less iconic antebellum romantic drama Jezebel, but U.S. audiences decidedly loved them both. They each starred the day’s most beloved starlets: Bette Davis in Jezebel, Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind. Both are self-destructive heroines with a sharp wit and who are hopelessly in love with proper Southern gentleman; both have national disasters at their…


Natural deduction proves that our brains do work in a logical, traceable pattern

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Credit: iStock/Getty

Not everything is logical, but before the 1920s, most mathematicians and philosophers believed that it was. When a mathematician began to construct a proof (be it to prove that π is irrational or that arithmetic is modular), the method used to reach the final conclusions was assumed to be done systematically and rationally. But as anyone who has ever tried to solve a too-difficult problem knows, sometimes the best way to reach a solution is just to guess your way there.

But this guessing, coined as “arbitrary assumptions” in 1926 by a professor named Jan Lukasiewicz, presented a big problem…


The story of Effie Anderson Smith, a forgotten impressionist from the American frontier

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“Yuccas Blooming above Valley” by Effie Anderson Smith, part of a private collection — New York. All photos courtesy of Steven C/EffieAndersonSmith.com unless otherwise noted.

Effie Anderson Smith lived about as far from Paris as you can get. She did not study brushstrokes in sunlit studios overlooking the Seine River, and she did not smoke on cobblestone sidewalks outside cafés. Smith was born in 1869, west of the Mississippi River, and stayed there for almost the entirety of her life. A frontier painter, Smith was hailed as a local talent, supported by the paintings she sold to members of her community throughout the 1890s and 1900s. …


History books may credit him as the sole inventor of the modern device, but Alexander Graham Bell was only part of the story

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Credit: GraphicaArtis/Hulton Archiva via Getty Images

Alexander Graham Bell may have his face plastered in every elementary school history book, but in 1876, at 27 years old, he hadn’t done much. At that time, he was a speech therapist who lived with his parents and was still trying to find direction in life. History books would remember him as curious about the world and one of the most innovative American thinkers of the 19th century. He was the kind of guy who at one point stole a full human ear off a cadaver so he could understand how vibration worked. …


Two men discovered natural selection at the same time, but why do we only remember one of them?

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Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

Charles Darwin was distraught. Here he was, that famed white-bearded scientist, reading a letter from his young mentee. The letter had traveled across the globe, from Malaysia to Darwin’s home in England, where he was in the process of writing the book that would become his crowning glory. By that July day in 1858, Darwin was already a well-established scientist.

For two decades, he had been slowly writing On the Origin of the Species, the book that made Darwin one of the most famous scientists of the 19th century and a photo-worthy historical figure in every middle school science textbook…


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here’s me!

This is a list of books read in 2018 because I still do not understand Goodreads and have a terrible memory:

  • The Half That Was Never Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward E. Baptist
  • Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser
  • Winter by Karl Ove Knausgaard
  • The Modern Library: Writer’s Workshop by Stephen Koch
  • Daybook by Anne Truitt
  • The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas
  • The Self Unstable by Elisa Gabbert
  • A River of Stars by Vanessa Hua
  • Down Below by Leonora Carrington
  • Counting Descent by Clint Smith
  • Lonesome Dove


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The lathe spins clockwise faster than the eye can track. The bandsaw spreads apart a piece of walnut. The belt sander smooths a dowel. Sometimes there’s only a single piece of olive to see, its desaturated grayness traced with veins that look like a watercolor mountain range. But there’s almost always a chair, desk, bench or rocker somewhere nearby.

Welcome to Carpentry Instagram, a small, sacred universe of furniture makers who post real-time shots of their work for the online world to see. The comments are typically filled with other woodworkers asking where they can get an apron like…

Kelsey McKinney

Kelsey McKinney is a freelance writer who lives in Washington, D.C. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, GQ, Vanity Fair, and many others.

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