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This week's staff picks

ASBMB Today Staff
By ASBMB Today Staff
August 15, 2020

Every other week, the ASBMB staff shares what we’ve been reading, listening to, watching and doing. As our pandemic summer winds down, we've found a few distractions.


Ave Verum Corpus (William Byrd) 

Last weekend I met up with friends to do some choral singing for the first time in about seven months (with masks, and social distancing, not to worry). I forgot how beautiful it is to sing together. This song was my favorite of the afternoon. 

— Catherine Goodman, scientific editor at the Journal of Biological Chemistry

 
Mehdi Sepehri/Unsplash

Why Do Solar Farms Kill Birds? Call in the AI Bird Watcher (Daniel Oberhaus/Wired) 

Wind farms get a lot of unwarranted heat for killing birds, but, strangely, solar farms also manage to rack up a disconcerting avian death toll — around 160,000 birds annually, which is one-tenth of 1% of the estimated number of birds killed by fossil-fuel power plants. To figure out why these deaths occur, researchers at Argonne National Laboratory developed a machine learning–powered system that uses resource-efficient technology to count bird deaths — a technical feat that required deconstructing the features of "birdness" so that a computer could reliably recognize them.

— John Arnst, science writer

Knives Out (Rian Johnson, Amazon Prime video)

A friend recommended this movie, and when I started watching it, my first thought was: someone brought a Clue board game to life. At the risk of giving anything away, I’ll leave the synopsis to the trailer. When you watch it, I do suggest silencing your cell phones, as the movie theaters would advise. I don’t think you’ll want to miss a beat. 

— Allison Frick, multimedia and social media content manager

 

The Crossword Revolution is Upon Us (Katy Steinmetz, Time) 

Is a crossword puzzle an instrument of culture? This Time article makes a compelling case that it is — and that the culture of crosswords is beginning to reflect the diversity of America. I especially enjoyed perusing some of the clues and guessing at whether I could solve them in the wild. 

— Laurel Oldach, science communicator

The Splendid and the Vile (Erik Larson, Random House)

The subtitle says it all here: “A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz.” My sister sent me this book of history-that-reads-like-a-novel when I was laid up for a couple of weeks in July. As we slog through months of mask-wearing, social-distancing unpleasantness, it’s therapeutic to be reminded that, for those of us who haven’t gotten deathly ill with COVID-19, things could be worse than the current pandemic. And in London in 1940-41, they were much worse. Think about planes dropping bombs on your city night after night. For many months. This book evokes the stoic British response to that horror and offers a portrait of idiosyncratic (but very effective) leadership in a time of crisis.

— Comfort Dorn, managing editor of ASBMB Today

ASBMB Today Staff
ASBMB Today Staff

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