Biology professor Deborah Gordon, MA ’77, has studied ants for decades, but she recently gained new insight into how colonies make decisions. Discovering that the number of ants sent out to forage corresponds with the amount of food available, she consulted Stanford computer science professor Balaji Prabnakar, who had his own eureka moment: The ants are in effect using the same protocol that controls traffic on the Internet.
Former Stegner Fellow Larry McMurtry (1960-61) made his mark as a writer (Lonesome Dove, Terms of Endearment, The Last Picture Show) and as a bookseller in Archer City, Texas. In an effort to downsize his inventory of more than 400,000 used books, in August he held a weekend “Last Book Sale.” To his surprise, as he reports in a New York Review of Books essay, buyers from across the country scooped up some 90 percent of the 300,000 items on sale, indicating there’s still life in the trade. Unsold: 30,000 novels.
A year ago, assistant professor of art Terry Berlier spent part of her sabbatical combing through a Bay Area dump and creating artworks from household discards. Some of the results are on view at the Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery on campus through November 18. Also on display is a topsy-turvy, half-size model of Berlier’s home constructed with instrument strings, which will be played by composer Luciano Chessa at 7 p.m. on November 13.
Low-flying photographer George Steinmetz, ’79, has captured many of Africa’s stunning natural phenomena for National Geographic from a custom-made motorized glider. Now he’s finished a 15-year project: shooting the world’s deserts. His photographs are on display at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C., through January 27, and Desert Airwill be released by Abrams Books on December 1.
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The Effort Effect
Seeing at the Speed of Sound
Let Me Introduce Myself
Dunder Mifflin Going Out of Business
Data is from the past two weeks.