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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Why Americans love a royal wedding


Editor's note

Today an American actress marries into British royalty. With some 5,000 journalists attending, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's wedding is a global event. Small wonder, says Middlebury College's Laurie Essig. Even though most Americans are not married they still pay attention to royal weddings. "Since the wedding of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert on Feb. 10, 1840," she writes, "they've shaped the expectations Americans have about their own nuptials."

This weekend is also, alas, a tragic one for Americans. Yesterday, another high school shooting - this time in Santa Fe, Texas - killed 10 people and wounded 10. And this is only three months after the even deadlier shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. "We should not have this in common," tweeted one of the teenage survivors of the Florida massacre. As the debate over what to do about gun violence hits the headlines once again, criminologist Frederic Lemieux disproves some of the common misconceptions about mass shootings.

Maria Balinska

Editor and Co-CEO

Top stories

A tour guide holds up a flag with the faces of Britain's Prince Harry and his fiancee, Meghan Markle. AP Photo/Alastair Grant

In the US, fairy-tale royal weddings clash with reality

Laurie Essig, Middlebury College

Royal weddings have shaped how Americans imagine their own dream weddings. Unfortunately, they don't come cheap – which might explain why fewer and fewer are tying the knot.

Outside Santa Fe High School in Texas on May 18, 2018. AP Photo/David J. Phillip

5 things to know about mass shootings in America

Frederic Lemieux, Georgetown University

A criminologist reviews recent research to dispel common misconceptions about mass shootings.

Politics + Society

I teach refugees to map their world

Brian Tomaszewski, Rochester Institute of Technology

Maps can be an invaluable tool in a natural disaster or humanitarian crisis. A pilot project trained Syrian refugees at a Jordan camp to create their own.

Venezuelans are boycotting their presidential election

Marco Aponte-Moreno, St Mary's College of California

The Venezuelan opposition is asking people not to vote in the country's May 20 election, which they call a 'farce.' President Maduro regime has jailed or blacklisted most of his competitors.


Economics + Business

Tax law's 'opportunity zones' won't create opportunities for the people who need it most

Timothy Weaver, University at Albany, State University of New York

A new program uses tax incentives to encourage investors to help revitalize low-income communities. Research on similar programs from the past suggest it doesn't work to reduce poverty.

War on fake news could be won with the help of behavioral science

Gleb Tsipursky, The Ohio State University

Many are wondering what Facebook, Twitter and even the government can do to stop the spread of fake news. Behavioral science has an answer: the Pro-Truth Pledge.

Health + Medicine

The orgasm gap: Picking up where the sexual revolution left off

Laurie Mintz, University of Florida

The sexual revolution made it acceptable for women to have premarital sex. Yet, an orgasm gap remains. Addressing the cultural forces driving this gap has social implications beyond pleasure itself.

Studying poop samples, scientists find clues on health and disease

Daniel McDonald, University of California San Diego

In the largest citizen science experiment to date, 11,336 people sent poop samples to this San Diego lab so that microbiologists could figure out how the microbes in our guts make us healthy or sick.

Science + Technology

The next big discovery in astronomy? Scientists probably found it years ago – but they don't know it yet

Eileen Meyer, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Astronomers are gathering an exponentially greater amount of data every day – so much that it will take years to uncover all the hidden signals buried in the archives.

Gender is personal – not computational

Foad Hamidi, University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Morgan Scheuerman, University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Stacy Branham, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

It can be unpleasant to be mistaken for someone of a different gender. When an algorithm does it secretly, it's even more concerning – especially for transgender and gender-nonconforming people.

Ethics + Religion

What are halal foods?

Myriam Renaud, University of Chicago

Food plays an integral role during the 30-day period of Ramadan. This Speed Read explains how Muslims determine what foods are 'halal,' an Arabic word that means 'permissible.'

Is bigger really better?

Alexandra Staub, Pennsylvania State University

Middle-class houses in the US have grown ever larger. The average single-family home is almost twice the size of a home in the 1960s. It's time to consider the downsides of sizing up.

Environment + Energy

Some tropical frogs may be developing resistance to a deadly fungal disease – but now salamanders are at risk

Louise Rollins-Smith, Vanderbilt University

Chytrid fungus has caused a global "amphibian apocalypse," killing frogs worldwide. Now some appear to be evolving resistance – but a closely related fungus threatens newts and salamanders.

Why the offshore wind industry is about to take off

Matthew Lackner, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Erin Baker, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Several states, including Massachusetts, have developed ambitious renewable energy targets that hinge in large part on getting their power from turbines stationed in the water.


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