Chicago native Bruce Falconer is a senior editor at The American Scholar. Despite his frequent international reporting trips, Falconer found himself stunned by the remote beauty of the Haida Gwaii archipelago just off Canada’s northwestern coast. Falconer traveled there to report on efforts by the entrepreneur Russ George to seed the nearby ocean with iron, stimulate a plankton bloom, replenish fish stocks, and sequester atmospheric carbon—an early, controversial experiment in “geoengineering.”
In “The Cut Stays Out of the Picture,” Jennifer Ouellette introduces us to neuroscientist Sergei Gepshtein, who argues films should no longer use cuts. The notion appealed to Ouellette, the Los Angeles-based author of My, Myself and Why: Searching for the Science of Self, because she loves the slow pace of old movies, and often finds the frenetic cuts in today’s blockbusters distracting. Seamless transitions, though harder to orchestrate, might make cinema more immersive, she says: “I love fast food, but I also can appreciate occasionally sitting down and really savoring something.”
"People are always going to be fascinated if somebody finds that looking at the color red makes you hungry, angry, or feel warm or something. Ultimately our knowledge of human nature is not impacted too greatly by that."
While writing his new book Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace, from which we adapted the story “The Secret History of Life Hacking,” Nikil Saval visited offices around the world, from India to Silicon Valley. By looking at where we work, he says he hoped to learn more about how we work. Saval’s research gave him some funny habits. “Now when I see commercials set in an office, I start to analyze the way the space is set up,” says the Philadelphia-based editor of n+1, “or I’ll walk by an office on the street and peer into the windows for a little too long.”
Jerry Adler has been covering the sciences for such a long time—for 28 years as a senior editor during Newsweek’s heyday—that he views psychology’s current crisis of credibility, which he details in this issue’s cover story with a certain detachment. Popular science fads come and go. “People are always going to be fascinated if somebody finds that looking at the color red makes you hungry, angry, or feel warm or something,” Adler says. “Ultimately our knowledge of human nature is not impacted too greatly by that.” But methodological standards have to be protected. “Serious science should be done in a serious way.”
As a former waiter, the writer and editor Rachel Levin was especially interested in the subject of tipping. In “The Tipping Point,” she writes about the effect that tablet-based payment systems like Square are having on the norms of retail commerce. She has written for Outside, The New York Times, and ozy.com. As a restaurant server on Martha’s Vineyard years ago, Levin also got a clear sense of how arbitrary tipping really is. “I’d work my butt off to get the fried calamari to tables,” she says, “while the bartenders were calm and happy and tan and make a dollar or two for ripping off a cap. Bartending is better.”
“It looked like a war scene, with flames, and smoke, and people running to survive covered in mud and exhausted,” says Espen Rasmussen of the obstacle race Tough Guy ("In the Picture"). Rasmussen, a photo editor for the Norwegian magazine VG Helg, photographed the grueling contest two years ago in England as part of a series he calls “Pain”—a topic he became interested in because of his father’s addictive love of bicycling. “What we have tried to do as human beings until now is to try and avoid pain,” he says. “But we have succeeded so much that people start to long for it again to test their minds and bodies.”