Even ants smell better than we do

A recently published study has announced that ants can be trained to detect the presence of cancer in humans (“An ant’s sense of smell is so strong, it can sniff out cancer”, Dino Grandoni, 1/24/2023) . Their thin antennae detect chemicals in a very specific way: Stretching out their pair of thin sensory appendages atop…

Another kind of AI: Alternative Intelligence

We’re starting the new year with daily news feeds and timelines auguring the centrality of ChatGPT and AI to human life. The venerable New York Times publishes opinion pieces ranging from the threat to democracy posed by ChatGPT to extolling the greatest film never made . Whether opinion makers seek to make us fearful of…

Of Memory and Madeleines

Listening to the River Café Table 4 podcast interview with the director Alfonso Cuarón, I paused to take in something he said that spoke directly to me. “I think it’s the same with any creative endeavor, [whether] this is a technical endeavor or an artistic endeavor. I think that everything comes from the concept. You…

Banana Crème Pie with Salted Caramel

I saved this recipe during the bleak days of winter. Appearing in my Instragram feed, luscious with its light and bright colors, it called to me, promising better days ahead. I try not to let Pi Day slip away without making a pie, and with the temperature rising (and falling, and rising…) lately, I thought…

Cancer doesn’t wait

In the past two weeks, my family has been rocked by news of two friends with cancer – one diagnosis, one death. After two years of grim front-page Covid statistics, bumped now from headlines by the carnage of war, it’s understandable that quotidian nightmares draw less attention. Last month, the CDC noted that screening rates…

A critical point of view

Failure to scale a promising idea is often the result of failing to evaluate the idea critically: interrogate both what’s wrong with the idea, and what could go wrong in expanding it. Let’s spend some time doing just that. The Office for Science and Society (OSS)  at McGill University in Montreal seeks to bring critical…

The Worth of a Life

A walk in the almost-spring air launched my day. Recent sunny days have banished the snowy vestiges, and Ellie and I enjoyed our separate but simultaneous walks: me with my eyes to the trees; she with her nose to the grass. We breakfasted on our return, and while Ellie settled in for a post-breakfast snooze,…

Corn Sablés

This post is for those who preferred Pecan Sandies over Oreos as children. Ok, now that I’ve cleared the room, it’s just you and me. There’s no better cookie, in my mind, than a shortbread (or ‘sandie’, or ‘sablé’ — which is just the French word for sand). With a subtle taste and lightly scented,…

A Way to Live Safely Despite Covid

With the decline in recent days of the Omicron surge, a rising chorus of opinion advises us to learn to live with Covid. Unfortunately, the daily death rates from Covid (currently averaging ~2500) remind us that living with Covid implies also dying from it. Despite the ongoing funerals, anti-mandate sentiment is finding little resistance from…

A case for adoption

What does it take for a technology innovation to tip over from niche adoption to mass acceptance? I don’t have to make a case for adopting a pup to share your home. If it’s right for you, you’ll do it. What’s on my mind today is how something new takes off from being a novelty…