Beneficial bird deaths? Clap for the man. No wait for weight. Disco astronomy.

This week’s Feedback column (that I write) in New Scientist magazine has four segments. Here are bits of each of them: Best interests at heart? — Feedback is fascinated by the final eight words in this statement: “Disadvantages include the competitive element associated with racing, which creates a strong incentive to kill birds where this is not in […]

Can you hear the strains of an imaginary Bing Crosby?

This week’s Feedback column (that I write) in New Scientist magazine has three segments. Here’s how each of them begins: May your daze be merry — A recent study builds on more than half a century of experiments to see whether people think they hear Bing Crosby crooning White Christmas. Crosby’s recording of the song, released in […]

Estimated Insect Deaths Due to Collisions with Motor Vehicles

Building indirectly on Ig Nobel Prize-winning research, a 2015 study warns about the number of insects killed in collisions with cars, trucks, and other motor vehicles. The study is: “Road mortality potentially responsible for billions of pollinating insect deaths annually,” James H. Baxter-Gilbert, Julia L. Riley, Christopher J. H. Neufeld, Jacqueline D. Litzgus, and David […]

Totting up the deaths by this and that in Shakespeare’s plays

This pie chart shows the relative numbers of deaths — due to different causes — that happen on stage in William Shakespeare’s plays. In this tallying, death by being-baked-into-pie is as frequent as death-by-hanging. (The pie death occurs in Titus Andronicus.) The chart was, reportedly, assembled in connection with a new play in which all […]

The puzzle of rising diagnosis rates of certain nasty diseases

Marya Zilberberg [pictured here] discusses the whats and wherefores of a modern medical puzzle-that-may-not-be-all-that-much-of-a-puzzle. Certain diseases seem to be occurring more commonly — yet the percentage of the population that die from those diseases remains pretty constant. Zilberberg writes in her Health Care, Etc. blog (referring to a recent BMJ article and to her new book, both […]