Thursday, April 3, 2014

Here are three things I learned in the past month (fun facts, not life advice)

Below are three things that recently piqued my interest.

Backronyms:
A backronym is a "reverse acronym," formed from an existing word or name. Examples include APGAR (a series of tests used to determine the health of newborn babies, named after the physician who developed it) and the USA PATRIOT Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001).

Also of linguistic note: facetious and abstemious contain all of the vowels in alphabetical order.

Alison Jolly, primatologist:
I get the New York Times morning digest. Anecdotally, the NYT features a lot more dead men than women, so it’s something to get excited about when there are multiple women eulogized. I learned about Alison Jolly in February.

In short, Alison Jolly was a primatologist who focused on lemurs. She helped refute the theory that males are dominant in all primate species, including humans, a fundamental part of evolutionary biology at the time. Through her studies of the ring-tailed lemur, she presented an example of female leadership in primates, which at the time went against the accepted scientific canon. She had a new species of mouse lemur named in her honor in 2006.

Ghost ships and the Lyubov Orlova:
With the disappearance of the Malaysian Airlines flight, there has been a lot of uproar over the fact that in this hyperconnected day and age, we can lose something so large. However, there are “ghost ships,” adrift in the ocean. For example, the former cruise ship Lyubov Orlova was drifting in international waters for most of 2013. A 730ft ship, it was more than three times the length of a Boeing 777. It hit headlines with rumors that it was drifting towards the UK with cannibal rats aboard, but it is now believed to have sunk off the coast of Ireland (though still in international waters).
What are you curious about? What is something that you were enthused that you learned about lately? What do you read to find interesting articles? Drop me a line – I’d love to hear about it.

Thanks to Morgan for introducing me to the Listserve!


Suze Morris
suzeandthelistserve[AT]gmail.com
Cambridge, MA (via London and Philadelphia)

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