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Articles on Significant Terms

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A large-scale battery storage system in Long Beach, Calif., provides renewable electricity during peak demand periods. Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

What is a virtual power plant? An energy expert explains

Some power plants don’t have massive smokestacks or cooling towers – or even a central site.
In 2022, California built an emergency drought barrier across the West False River near Oakley to protect against saltwater intrusion. AP Photo/Terry Chea

What is seawater intrusion? A hydrogeologist explains the shifting balance between fresh and salt water at the coast

Saltwater intrusion is bad for human health, ecosystems, crops and infrastructure. Here’s how seawater can move inland, and why climate change is making this phenomenon more frequent and severe.
Cicero defined ‘liberal arts’ in a book he wrote about rhetoric in a republic. ra-photos/E+ via Getty Images

What are the liberal arts? A literature scholar explains

When people hear the term ‘liberal arts,’ it may sound like a phrase with political overtones. A scholar of literature explains why that’s wrong and takes a closer look at its origin and meaning.
Striking United Auto Workers picket at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., shortly after midnight Friday, Sept. 15, 2023. AP Photo/Paul Sancya

What are strike funds? A labor-management relations expert explains

When unions amass large sums of money to parcel out to workers, it can give them more leverage in negotiations with employers.
People pray over the body of Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster at the abbey of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, near Gower, Mo., in April 2023. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

What is incorruptibility? A scholar of Catholic worship explains

People are congregating in Missouri after news spread that the exhumed body of a nun had not decayed four years after her death. There is a long history to these claims.
A prayer altar in the main gathering hall at the temple Wat Ratchapradit in Bangkok, Thailand. Pictures from History/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

What is Theravada Buddhism? A scholar of Asian religions explains

Theravada Buddhism is the dominant religious system in several parts of South and Southeast Asia, but there is a rich diversity of beliefs and practices in this tradition.
Henry Darger worked as a hospital custodian. After his death in 1973, hundreds of his illustrations were discovered. Brooklyn Taxidermy/flickr

What is vernacular art? A visual artist explains

The genre – also known as ‘folk art’ or ‘outsider art’ – serves as a reminder that art is a universal human pursuit.
Some Luddites simply want to press ‘pause’ on the uninhibited march of technological progress. Stan Eales/iStock via Getty Images

What’s a Luddite? An expert on technology and society explains

Despite the association of ‘Luddite’ with a naïve rejection of technology, the term and its origins are far richer and more complex than you might think.
Wild birds like pelicans and ducks are getting infected with – and dying from – a new strain of avian influenza and have spread it to farm animals around the world. Klebher Vasquez/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

What is spillover? Bird flu outbreak underscores need for early detection to prevent the next big pandemic

A biologist who studies how viruses spread from animals to people explains the process of spillover and the risks posed by the new bird flu that has spread across the globe.
Tech billionaire Dustin Mosovitz is one of the world’s wealthiest effective altruists. Patricia de Melo Moreira/AFP via Getty Images

What’s effective altruism? A philosopher explains

The term, coined in 2011, refers to people who seek to use their money and time to make as much progress as possible toward solving the world’s most pressing problems.
Alec Baldwin accidentally shot and killed a cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, in late 2021 while filming a movie in New Mexico. AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

What is involuntary manslaughter? A law professor explains the charge facing Alec Baldwin for ‘Rust’ shooting death

To convict Alec Baldwin of manslaughter for the on-set deadly shooting of Halyna Hutchins in 2021, prosecution will need to show that the actor was either reckless or criminally negligent.
There are many environmental, social and governance principles worth considering. ArtemisDiana/iStock via Getty Images Plus

What does ESG mean? Two business scholars explain what environmental, social and governance standards and principles are

Many investors and corporations believe that accounting for the impact that businesses have on the environment, society as a whole and their own workforces benefits their bottom line.

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