Author Archives: Bob Welbaum

Who Are the Master Builders?

If you think humans are the most efficient at building cities and other intricate structures, you may have overlooked another species — ants. An abandoned colony of grass-cutter ants was located, and scientists decided to study it in depth. First they filled the empty chambers and passageways with concrete. Then they excavated around the concrete

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Does English have Enough Words?

How many words are there in the English language? I’ve seen estimates ranging from 400,000 to as many as a million if you count all the scientific and technical terms, although a quick Google search says the Second Edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use (https://wordcounter.io/blog/how-many-words-are-in-the-english-language/). No matter who is counting, a

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Games To Play With Your Pet Rat

If you are looking for a new game to play with your pet rat, may I suggest hide-and-seek? Neuroscientist Juan Ignacio Sanguinetti of the Humboldt University of Berlin does just that. Drawing inspiration from YouTube animal videos (really!) he has taught rats to play hide-and-seek. His work was recently published in the journal Science. The

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Orange is the New Pink & Green

I spent a nice weekend visiting my niece who started her post-high school education this fall at Syracuse University. While visiting, I began to wonder why SU’s nickname is “The Orange”. Syracuse University was founded in 1870. The first official colors in 1872 were pea green and rose pink.  In 1873 the student consensus was

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Following Politics Through Words

One way to keep up with what’s happening is to follow word trends, According to Merriam-Webster, here are some of the words people have been looking up recently. Kangaroo Court — Inquiries jumped 11,000% on October 8 after President Trump described the congressional impeachment hearings as “a totally compromised kangaroo court.” Merriam-Webster’s definition is either “a

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