Footnote about the Pinker-Gladwell kerfuffle: To discredit Gladwell, Pinker takes advantage of a truly embarrassing mistake (the science-writer's nightmare) in which Gladwell misspelled "eigenvalue'' as "igon value.'' (It seems a less successful gambit, though, after you learn that Pinker misspelled "sagittal'' in his list of Gladwell's errors -- a mistake which, though now corrected on the NY Times website, lives on in places where the freshly posted review was quoted, like here and here.)
Still . . . transferring doubleness from the t to the g in a word is a mechanical kind of error (explained beautifully here). It doesn't suggest ignorance of the word's meaning, so Gladwell's not even here. The igon-egg remains on his face, and a big question lingers: How could The New Yorker fact-checkers have missed this one?
In fact, they didn't. As noted in this post at Language Log, the article version of the chapter correctly spells the word ``eigenvalue.'' (The comments are as rich as the post, by the way -- they're where you'll find the point about ``sagittal'' and many interesting byways.)
Seems the manuscript went to both magazine and book editors, and only the magazine editors fixed it. Gladwell's blog now confirms this with a scan of the original passage as published in The New Yorker.
I don't understand why Gladwell didn't take advantage of the magazine's top-flight checking department. Was this a mechanical accident, the administrative equivalent of misplacing g's and t's when spelling a word (maybe he sent the wrong Word file over)? Was it time pressure? Or did he make the chapter so different from the article that he didn't use the latter as the manuscript for the former?
Anyway, thanks to Carl Zimmer, the science writer's science writer, for the pointer to Language Log.
A new study estimated the untapped potential of wind energy across Europe.
- A new report calculated how much electricity Europe could generate if it built onshore wind farms on all of its exploitable land.
- The results indicated that European onshore wind farms could supply the whole world with electricity from now until 2050.
- Wind farms come with a few complications, but the researchers noted that their study was meant to highlight the untapped potential of the renewable energy source in Europe.
French newspapers report that the trial hasn't lived up to expectations.
- The French government initially invested in a rural solar roadway in 2016.
- French newspapers report that the trial hasn't lived up to expectations.
- Solar panel "paved" roadways are proving to be inefficient and too expensive.
You want one. Now you may be able to survive one.
Photo credit: Jie Zhao / Getty contributor
- Cats live in a quarter of Western households.
- Allergies to them are common and can be dangerous.
- A new approach targets the primary trouble-causing allergen.