🐤 Phoning it in

Should schools allow students to use cellphones? The answer isn't so simple.

Thursday | November 2nd, 2023
Early Chirp

Happy Thursday, chirpers! We hope your day is off to a peaceful start, but if you’re dealing with some anger today it might not be entirely bad.
While too much of this heated emotion can cause some serious physical and emotional damage, one new study found that anger can help people complete particularly challenging tasks.

So if you’re struggling to get through a tough situation, your best bet might just be to get good and mad at it.

-Chris Agee

$210.23 (1.64%)
Dow Jones
$221.71 (0.67%)
S&P 500
$44.06 (1.05%)
$0.00 (0.02%)
$609.81 (1.76%)
$9.54 (9.69%)
*Market data for this issue is from November 1st, 2023 at 5:57pm EST

🏦 Markets: The Federal Reserve decided not to hike interest rates on Wednesday, which provided a boost to the stock market. That doesn’t mean that inflation is under control, of course, and rates are still at the highest levels since shortly after the turn of the century.

Nevertheless, investors reacted to the news with some cautious optimism, resulting in a boost to all three major indexes. The Nasdaq Composite led the way with an increase of about 1.6%.

The central bank cited low unemployment and high economic activity as indicators that the economy has achieved the status of “strong” following the third quarter — despite persistently high consumer prices.


The Breakdown

A quick look around the world.

The Breakdown MLB/Giphy

⚾️ Over in 5: The World Series is over, and for the first time in the franchise’s history the Texas Rangers are world champions. It only took five games for the Rangers to take out the Arizona Diamondbacks after the two teams ended up as long-shot competitors in the fall classic. Entering Wednesday night’s game with a 3-1 advantage, Texas chalked up a decisive 5-0 victory after the first six innings of the game went scoreless. To put an exclamation mark on the historic win, the Rangers put up four runs in the final inning.

🏢 Losing streak: WeWork came on the scene with a stated goal of reinventing the office workspace as we know it. But concerns about its business model and the remote-work boom brought on by COVID have taken a huge toll. Now, there’s increasing speculation that it could file for bankruptcy as soon as next week. Stock prices fell almost 50% on Wednesday and the company, once valued at $47 billion, now has a market cap of just north of $100 million.

🇰🇵 Closing up: North Korea has long been a notoriously secluded country, but it’s about to get even more isolated. New reports indicate the country plans to shut down dozens of its embassies around the world — nearly a quarter of them altogether. The nation’s military provocations and record of human rights abuses have led to strict international sanctions, thus limiting Pyongyang’s ability to bring in money to support its limited diplomatic outreach around the world.

🗞️ Access denied: One of the most influential news sources on the planet was hit by an apparent “denial-of-service” attack this week. The Associated Press confirmed “surges in traffic” that knocked its website offline and prevented news articles from loading. A group of hackers known as Anonymous Sudan announced on Tuesday that it intended to target Western news sources with attacks, but the group wasn’t immediately linked to the AP outages.

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Exploring The Pros And Cons Of School Smartphone Bans

Some forms of the common prohibition have been around for more than 30 years.

Exploring The Pros And Cons Of School Smartphone Bans Giphy

While smartphones have become ubiquitous throughout modern society in recent years, there’s one place where their use is generally not permitted: school classrooms. On the surface, it might make sense to implement bans to cut down on cyberbullying, distractions, cheating, etc., but a growing number of experts say school administrators should reconsider.

The anti-ban argument

A number of nations, including Italy and China, are enforcing universal prohibitions on phone use during instruction periods. And several U.S. jurisdictions have implemented their own versions of such bans.

Some form of restriction is currently in place for students in roughly one-fourth of all the countries on Earth. But there are some exceptions, particularly for students with special needs or in cases for which teachers believe the devices can provide an educational benefit.

But after more than three decades of increasing scrutiny over the use of phones in class, critics say there are some compelling reasons to scale back those bans. Here are some of the reasons they provide:

  • Bans can negatively impact students who have jobs or other responsibilities.
  • Handing down suspensions for policy violations can set students back academically.
  • Cellphones can provide a pivotal form of communication in case of an emergency.

So, what’s the answer?

We’ve already addressed some of the reasons that these bans were implemented in the first place, but there hasn’t been a lot of in-depth research to evaluate how effective they actually are. There was even one U.S. study conducted in 2016 that showed schools with cellphone bans experienced a higher rate of cyberbullying than those without them.

That’s why the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization urges administrators to let students “learn the risks and opportunities” of smartphones, adding: “Shielding students from new and innovative technology can put them at a disadvantage.”

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New Evidence Shows Heat Isn’t Necessary For Water To Evaporate

The discovery clears up some confusion stemming from prior experiments.

New Evidence Shows Heat Isn’t Necessary For Water To Evaporate

If you’ve done much daydreaming about how water evaporates (we won’t judge), you might have considered heat to be a bit part of the equation. But a new study reveals that the presence of light is enough to get the job done.

The photomolecular effect

As MIT researchers discovered, light is actually more efficient than heat at completing the evaporation process. But since sunlight is the key factor in most of the planet’s natural evaporation, there’s been a longstanding assumption that heat is a requirement.

That theory has been under scrutiny for years in light of multiple studies involving so-called hydrogels containing liquid water that evaporated much more rapidly than expected. This prompted an MIT team to take a closer look.

What the experts found was that light is capable of delivering the energy needed to allow molecules to escape as vapor into the atmosphere. This process became known as the “photomolecular effect.”

Why it happens and what it means

While all light seems to work, studies show that certain wavelengths — green light in particular — are more effective than others.

More research into the science behind this effect is underway, but scientists believe it is possible because photons essentially target molecules close to the surface of the water. Since water doesn’t absorb light, there isn’t much wasted energy.

And this could all be happening in clouds and elsewhere in nature, which has sparked some theories regarding how we could harness the effect to benefit humanity and the planet itself.

Some folks think it might provide a more effective method of desalinating ocean water to compensate for shortages caused by human use and droughts. It could theoretically also lead to the development of more efficient cooling systems that rely on the evaporation process.

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A Bunch Of Birds Are Getting A Name Change … Here’s Why

Get ready to update your ornithology guidebook.

A Bunch Of Birds Are Getting A Name Change … Here’s Why

There are some strange names in the animal kingdom — and humans are always to blame. While some of these monikers might evoke a laugh or an eye roll, others are now seen as offensive, outdated, or exclusionary.

And that’s why the American Ornithological Society is about to debut new names for some familiar species.

“Names have power”

It might be easy to dismiss or ignore the history related to bird names, but biologist Colleen Handel, who serves as president of the society, says it’s important to dig into complex and sometimes painful details.

“Names have power and power can be for the good or it can be for the bad,” she said. “We want these names to be powerful in a really good way.”

What’s going to change?

The AOS only has the authority to change English names, so most of the species getting this treatment are native to North America. Dozens are expected to receive a new common name, but their scientific names won’t be changed.

According to the organization, its general goal involves:

  • Removing human names like “Gambel’s quail” and “Bullock’s oriole”
  • Stripping any language that might be offensive to certain groups
  • Providing new names that describe the birds themselves

A mixed reception

While many people applaud this step toward erasing problematic or vague bird names, some want to maintain the status quo … particularly people with connections to the individuals for which the birds were named.

But one thing is certain: The birds who receive updated names don’t much care what we call them.

And Trent University biologist Erica Nol thinks that this “human-driven exercise” could make certain groups of people feel more welcome in the vibrant and growing bird-watching community.

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Early Chirp

Written by Chris Agee

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