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This strange vine can mimic other plants. How?

Vox

Scientists have long known that plants have photoreceptors and can detect the presence of light, often in highly sophisticated ways. They can, for example, sense the color and direction of a beam, according to Simon Gilroy, a professor of botany at the University of Wisconsin Madison. That’s what the telegraph plant is doing when it swivels its leaves toward the light.

2022 was the ‘keep things as they are’ election

Washington Post

There’s another aspect of the midterm elections that reinforces the point that it didn’t involve much change. As University of Wisconsin Madison political scientist Barry Burden pointed out on Twitter, a victory in Georgia’s upcoming Senate runoff election by Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D) would mean that, for the first time since senators were popularly elected by voters, no incumbent will have lost his or her seat.

‘Avatar’ and the Mystery of the Vanishing Blockbuster

The New York Times

According to Derek Johnson, a professor of media studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of “Media Franchising,” one major feature of a franchise versus a movie is not just its multiple sites of production — the theme park, the toy, the television show — but also its orientation toward the future. In order to survive, it must maintain a careful balance between novelty and familiarity, courting the next generation of fans without driving away too many of the old ones.

How to Manage Credit Card Debt When Holiday Shopping

The New York Times

Regardless of your age, if your finances are tight, it’s best to say so. “There are years when we can be more generous, and years when we can’t,” said J. Michael Collins, faculty director at the Center for Financial Security at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “We make money a taboo, but it’s OK to be transparent.”

How the Great Depression shaped people’s DNA

Nature

The work, published on 8 November in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1, adds to a cache of studies indicating that exposure to hardship such as stress and starvation during the earliest stages of development can shape human health for decades. The findings highlight how social programmes designed to help pregnant people could be a tool for fighting health disparities in children, says co-author Lauren Schmitz, an economist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

RSV surge raises questions about repeat cases: Can you or child get it again?

Fox News

But these patients only account for a third of hospitalizations, said Dr. James H. Conway, pediatric infectious disease physician and medical director of the immunization program at UW Health Kids in Madison, Wisconsin.”About two-thirds of the kids who get admitted with RSV are actually healthy, normal kids,” said Conway, who’s also a professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Fact-checking 19 claims from Trump’s speech announcing his 2024 run

The Washington Post

Trump is exaggerating how many people illegally cross the border. Moreover, most independent research contradicts the idea that illegal immigrants bring more crime. A 2018 study published in the peer-reviewed journal Criminology, led by Michael Light, a criminologist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, examined whether places with higher percentages of undocumented immigrants have higher rates of violent crime such as murder or rape. The answer: States with larger shares of undocumented immigrants tended to have lower crime rates than states with smaller shares in the years 1990 through 2014.

Tyson Says Its Nurses Help Workers. Critics Charge They Stymie OSHA.

Civil Eats

Alexia Kulwiec, associate professor of law at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, teaches labor and employment law and is an expert in national labor policy and workers’ compensation. She said of the on-site health clinics at Tyson, “Their whole goal is not to find serious health problems and to keep costs down. . . .  It is really circumventing the whole purpose of worker’s compensation to start with.”

Rising food costs take a bite out of Thanksgiving dinner

Washington Post

The good news? Not every item on holiday shopping lists is significantly more expensive. Cranberries had a good harvest and prices were up less than 5% between the end of September and the beginning of November, said Paul Mitchell, an agricultural economist and professor at the University of Wisconsin. Green beans cost just 2 cents more per pound in the second week of November, according to the USDA.

How the global donkey skin trade risks spreading deadly diseases

National Geographic

“The report draws attention to a form of international trade and movement that most people don’t know about,” says Tony Goldberg, an epidemiologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who was not involved in the research. “It’s becoming increasingly apparent that globalization is not only a problem for human diseases but also animal diseases.”

Republicans tout benefits of fossil fuels at climate talks

AP

Andrea Dutton, a professor of geoscience and MacArthur Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said that’s not possible.“Burning fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases that are causing temperatures to rise rapidly, and this is the major contributor to the global warming we are experiencing,” she said in an email. “This is not a matter of belief but rather a matter of scientific evidence.”

From Ian to Nicole: The Five Worst Hurricanes of 2022 So Far, Ranked

Newsweek

“The season is not yet over, which means 2 things: 1) there might yet be additional damaging storms (see Hurricane Nicole right now!) and 2) it takes time for the full economic and noneconomic losses for big storms to become apparent,” Daniel B. Wright, a civil and environmental engineer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Hydroclimate Extremes Research Group, told Newsweek in written comments.

Wisconsin Democrats Appear to Have Prevented a GOP Supermajority in State Legislature

Wall Street Journal

The Wisconsin legislature has been controlled by Republicans for several election cycles, after they were able to redraw legislative maps that put them firmly in control of legislative districts, even though Democrats tend to hold their own in statewide races, said Michael W. Wagner, a professor in the University of Wisconsin Madison’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

A Day in the Life Used to Be 17 Hours

Eos

To determine the distance of the Moon, scientists studied rhythmic patterns in Earth’s orbit and axis called Milankovitch cycles, explained Margriet Lantink, a geologist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and lead author of the new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Midterm elections 2022: 3 factors driving the return of ticket-splitting 

Vox

“It reached its height in the mid to late ’80s, especially at the federal level, [with] people voting [differently] for president and Congress,” Barry C. Burden, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told Vox. But as political polarization, the decline of local news, and the nationalization of local politics have increased in the past two decades, split-ticket voting has been dying a slow death.

“Very few states [have] senators of different parties, and they’re even elected in different years,” Burden, who co-wrote a book on this history, said. “Even the number of split Senate delegations, where senators are from different parties, is now at a relative low.”

U.S. democracy slides toward ‘competitive authoritarianism’

The Washington Post

Seeing all this, Democrats, including President Biden, have made desperate appeals to voters to take to the electoral ramparts and protect the nation’s democracy. But these entreaties may prove insufficient, suggested Mark Copelovitch, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, at a time when Republican messaging about gas prices and economic pressures have consumed the conversation. “There’s an ‘in your face’ aspect to this that is much more tangible than ‘democracy is about to collapse’ or ‘Wisconsin’s electoral and legislative institutions no longer meet basic criteria of democracy,’” he wrote to me in an email.

How the Traditions of Childhood Get Passed Down

The Atlantic

If you ask a kid where a particular game or rhyme came from, they’ll likely tell you they invented it, Rebekah Willett, a professor at the Information School at the University of Wisconsin at Madison who has studied childlore, told me: “They cannot trace it, and they have no investment in tracing it.”

Ghostly Neutrino Particles Provide a Peek at Heart of Nearby Galaxy

Wall Street Journal

Dr. Taboada said he thinks IceCube will continue to get more neutrinos originating from this galaxy. Those future detections could not only help parse out additional details about Messier 77’s supermassive black hole, but could help answer the “oldest question in astronomy,” according to Francis Halzen, a University of Wisconsin-Madison physicist and principal investigator of IceCube.

Underground Antarctic Observatory Unlocks New Era of Ghost Particle Astronomy

CNET

These ghosts, as Justin Vandenbroucke of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an IceCube team member put it, are fit to solve two major mysteries in astronomy. First off, a wealth of galaxies in our universe boast gravitationally monstrous voids at their centers, black holes reaching masses millions to billions of times greater than our sun’s. And these black holes, when active, blast jets of light from their guts — emitting enough illumination to outshine every single star in the galaxy itself. “We don’t understand how that happens,” Vandenbrouke simply summarizes.

Whatever happened to the common cold vaccine?

Popular Science

“Considering there are more than 100 types of A and B rhinoviruses,” notes Yury Bochkov, a respiratory virus specialist at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, “you would have to put all 100 types in one vial of vaccine in order to enable protection” against just A and B rhinoviruses. Add in all the C rhinovirus types (more than 50), then cram in RSV’s virus types (more than 40), and that same vaccine would have to be packed with more than 200 strains. Even then, it would only offer protection against about two-thirds of all common colds. “That was considered the major obstacle in development of those vaccines,” Bochkov says.

Save Countless Human Lives. Vaccinate Birds.

Rolling Stone

The trick is to develop a bird vaccine that works for a long time even as the virus mutates. Adel Talaat, a professor of pathobiological sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is developing a so-called “nanovaccine” that blends tiny particles of several different bird flu strains.

Fox Host Larry Kudlow Keeps Shamelessly Promoting His Own MAGA ‘White House in Waiting’

The Daily Beast

However, Kathleen Culver, director of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said that while “this would clearly be a conflict of interest for a business or financial reporter, I doubt Kudlow’s audience views him as that and I don’t recall his laying claim to being a journalist.” She added that Kudlow is clearly a “commentator and is being transparent with his audience about an entanglement that could be seen as a conflict.”

What happens if a ballot is damaged or improperly marked?

The Washington Post

In many cases, it’s done by bipartisan teams of poll workers, said Barry Burden, a political science professor and director of the Elections Research Center at University of Wisconsin-Madison. That’s not the case everywhere, though it’s common that it’s performed by at least two people — even two staff members — said Jennifer Morrell, a partner at The Elections Group, which works with election officials to improve processes.

Here’s How You Would Die on Each Planet of the Solar System

Newsweek

As an added bonus, humans would also die on all the moons of the Solar System. Betül Kaçar, a professor and lead scientist at the NASA Center for Early Life and Evolution at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, told Newsweek that, aside from not being able to breathe, people could experience being “bathed in irradiation as you pass through Jupiter’s magnetic field lines” on Europa, being “flash-frozen in a lake of methane and ethane” on Titan, or being “blasted out into space in an icy geyser” on Enceladus.

The flaw in ranked-choice voting: rewarding extremists

The Hill

When there are more than two candidates, it is not just about counting votes accurately. How you determine a winner from the tallied votes matters too. Given our current polarized political environment, Alaska and the other states that have adopted ranked-choice voting are doing it wrong.

-Nathan Atkinson is an assistant professor at University of Wisconsin Law School. Scott C. Ganz is an associate teaching professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and a research fellow in economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

Progressive Democrats retract Biden Ukraine letter after furious debate

The Guardian

Russia specialists warned that the intervention could embolden Putin and loosen US commitment to lead the international coalition in support of Ukraine. Yoshiko Herrera, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said, “The biggest problem in the letter is that it may weaken US support for Ukraine by fostering the appearance of divisions among those who support Ukraine.”

Midterm elections 2022: 3 factors driving the return of ticket-splitting 

Vox

“It reached its height in the mid to late ’80s, especially at the federal level, [with] people voting [differently] for president and Congress,” Barry C. Burden, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told Vox. But as political polarization, the decline of local news, and the nationalization of local politics have increased in the past two decades, split-ticket voting has been dying a slow death.

The Jan. 6 committee is fueling unwarranted distrust of the Fifth Amendment

The Hill

But the committee gains nothing by highlighting the advisors’ decision to plead the Fifth, and it risks further eroding one of the most important rights in the American criminal justice system.

-Steven Wright teaches criminal constitutional law at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School. He is also the former co-director of the Wisconsin Innocence Project.

Helium shortage: Doctors are worried that running out of the element could threaten MRIs

NBC News

“You get these sharp images, and you can distinguish soft tissues,” said Dr. Scott Reeder, chief of MRI at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. “It’s central to many things we do in modern medicine.” MRIs help doctors diagnose brain tumors, strokes, spinal cord injuries, liver diseases and cancer. The 3D images, experts say, are irreplaceable.

World’s largest ocean reserve off Hawaii has spillover benefits nearby, study finds

The Guardian

The findings, published in the journal Science, by researchers from the University of Hawaii and the University of Wisconsin-Madison may strengthen support for a target, agreed by more than 100 countries, to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030.“This research is important because it helps us understand that a large, carefully placed no-fishing zone can create benefits for these large iconic species,” said Jennifer Raynor, an environmental economist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and one of the paper’s three co-authors.

Marine protection areas are a win-win for fish and humans | Popular Science

Popular Science

Both the size of the no-fishing zone (about four times the size of California) and apparent homing behaviors of some tuna species possibly played a role in these positive effects. The Hawaiian islands appear to be a nursery for baby yellowfin tuna and many of the fish stay in the region, according to study co-author Jennifer Raynor, a professor in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Retirees who want to ease the burden of inflation just need to get a little creative: Here’s how

MarketWatch

If you think being thrifty is the opposite of fun, you’re not alone, according to Christine Whelan, professor of consumer science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

“When you say ‘thrift,’ people think of thrift stores right away,” she said, “and after that, it’s things that are old or broken, or maybe people who are stingy. But this is not about hoarding or buying only cheap things. It’s about being conscious of how you spend your resources and whether that’s in keeping with your values.”

For Bad Bunny’s fans, he’s more than a global superstar. He’s a political icon.

The Washington Post

Jorell Meléndez-Badillo, an assistant professor of Latin American and Caribbean history at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, said he is glad Bad Bunny has taken a stand on a range of social issues. “But I think that we cannot expect him to lead any sort of movement. He is, like us, a person that learns new things every day.”

“Dirty” cows are destroying the Amazon rainforest

Vox

There’s nothing inherent about the Amazon that makes it a good place to raise cows, though it’s an easy way to make money, said Amintas Brandão Jr., a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin Madison. Often, farmers or companies will first cut down high-value trees and sell them as timber and then clear the remaining vegetation with fire. Then, they bring cattle in and sell the property, or raise the cows for slaughter.

15 best skin care products for rosacea and redness

NBC News

The location of the bumps on your face can also help you figure out whether they’re the result of rosacea. “Hormonal acne or other forms of adult acne tend to involve more of the lower face, whereas with rosacea we see the involvement of the nose, the central part of the cheeks and the center of the forehead,” said Dr. Apple Bodemer, a board-certified dermatologist and associate professor of dermatology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

UW-Madison prof Monica Kim wins coveted MacArthur fellowship

The Capital Times

The MacArthur Foundation selected UW-Madison professor, historian and author Monica Kim for one of this year’s 25 fellowship spots, the organization announced Wednesday. The so-called “genius grant” is perhaps the most competitive and sought-after award in the arts, sciences, humanities and academia.

Forget Weed, Wine and Xanax: Science Has Better Ways to Treat Anxiety

Newsweek

Dr. Ned Kalin, chair of the department of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Psychiatry, has been studying the genetics and neurobiology of stress and anxiety for decades. One of the big surprises he’s uncovered is that the amygdala, the brain structure long thought to be the seat of fear, is not genetically associated with anxiety.

UW Odyssey Project turns 20: Grads recount how it’s changed their lives

Wisconsin State Journal

Around 30 people are accepted into the Odyssey Project each year and are registered as a special class of part-time UW-Madison students. It includes a six-credit course in the humanities, split over two semesters, for people who are low-income or facing other barriers to education. Approximately 95% of students are people of color.

Taught on Wednesday nights on Madison’s South Side, the program provides child care (dubbed Odyssey Junior), and students are fed a full meal before the start of class.

More evidence that COVID lockdowns harmed children more than the virus

Washington Examiner

The latest data point to add to the pandemic blunder of punishing children during COVID comes from a study promoted by the American Academy of Pediatrics. According to the study by Dr. Drew Watson, a team physician for the University of Wisconsin Athletics, the cancellation of youth sports during the pandemic “was accompanied by decreased physical activity and quality of life, as well as startlingly high levels of anxiety and depression.”

The Memo: Biden faced with growing gulf between warring Russia, Ukraine

The Hill

“If Russia pulls its troops out, the war is over — so, conceptually, it’s not like this is so complicated,” said Yoshiko Herrera, a professor of political science and a Russia expert at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “But, practically speaking in terms of what is likely to happen, Ukraine seems quite dedicated to preserving their sovereignty and nation, because it looks like they’re winning. And Russia seems committed to continuing the fight.”

UW-Madison freshman enrollment sets record

Wisconsin State Journal

For the second consecutive year, UW-Madison’s freshman class is the largest in the school’s history, despite the university sending acceptance letters to fewer students than in previous years.

This year’s freshman class stands at 8,628, up nearly 2% from last year’s class, UW-Madison announced Monday. Of those, 3,787 — 44% — are in-state students.

Overall enrollment is up nearly 2,000 students over the prior year, with another record enrollment of 49,886.

The real source of Puerto Rico’s woes

Vox

That’s all intentional, said Jorell Meléndez-Badillo, a professor of Latin American and Caribbean history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “You will see that the reason why Puerto Ricans were not granted statehood [at the time] was precisely because the United States — including the president, congressmen, and academics as well — did not think that Puerto Ricans were fit to govern themselves.”

What Can Zircons Tell Us About the Evolution of Plants?

Eos

In particular, as rocks erode, they disintegrate into sands and eventually muds made from clays. Clays tend to incorporate more heavy oxygen, explained Annie Bauer, an assistant professor and geochronologist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison who was also not involved in this study. Subducting mud and mixing it into the mantle would result in melt—and likely zircon—featuring heavier oxygen than a melt that incorporates no crustal material or crust that experienced less weathering.

9 ways to debunk political misinformation from family and friends

The Washington Post

Mike Wagner, a professor and political scientist at the University of Wisconsin, said it’s important to remember that “the facts don’t matter” for many people who share misinformation. They often don’t trust mainstream news sources or political institutions. Find the shared experiences that bring you together and demonstrate you’re not on the attack or calling them stupid.

“Aim for the heart, not the head,” he said. “If facts worked, there would be no need to have the conversation.