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The flower that blooms in the winter

The witchhazel is a species of flower that blooms in cold temperatures and lives around campus, and in abundance at the Morris Arboretum. The Arboretum’s Anthony Aiello talks the ins and outs of the strange species.

Brandon Baker

Pint-size philosophers

By engaging with Philadelphia elementary students and high school teachers, Penn professor Karen Detlefsen is opening young minds to a new kind of philosophical thinking.

Michele W. Berger

Inside Penn

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Philadelphia Inquirer

Trump-friendly Newsmax bundled into Comcast’s Xfinity service

The Annenberg School for Communication’s Victor Pickard discussed conservative news channel Newsmax and its recent deal with Comcast. If Comcast is “feeling the heat from the right, it will make sense to appease some of those critics,” said Pickard.

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Defense News

Russian hackers work several times faster than Chinese counterparts, new data shows

Michael Carpenter of the Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement said Russian hackers are “the most aggressive and risk-tolerant because they’ve broken so many international norms and face so few repercussions that they don’t really believe there will be any serious consequences to their action.”

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Philadelphia Inquirer

Can you teach students to be happy? Colleges are trying.

James Pawelski’s course The Pursuit of Happiness goes beyond introducing students to positive psychology by encouraging them to practice it. Pawelski, of the School of Arts and Sciences, emphasizes the field’s two key concepts: emphasizing individual strengths and creating closer human bonds. “It’s important that wellness not be thought of as something merely important for mentally ill students,” he said.

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CNN

Stockton starts giving some residents $500 a month to fight poverty

The School of Social Policy & Practice’s Amy Castro Baker will be studying a universal basic income (UBI) experiment in Stockton, Calif. “We see UBI as a nice addition to social policy not a replacement,” Castro Baker said. “This project will help push discourse based on science not just based on assumptions we may have about poor people and what they need.”

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Vox.com

The latest Instagram influencer frontier? Medical promotions

PIK Professor Jonathan Moreno said a disclosure is not enough to protect consumers learning about pharmaceuticals through sponsored social media posts. “You can say, ‘Oh, there’s transparency’, and that’s the end of the story. But ethically, [influencers] who do this do take on some personal responsibility, quite apart from the legal side. They take on some personal responsibility for promoting a product or process that could change somebody else’s life.”

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Philadelphia Inquirer

Philly accent: There’s a lot youse don’t know about it. Just ask these experts.

William Labov is best known for his decades of studying language patterns in Philadelphia, but the local accent is anything but fixed in time. Josef Fruehwald of the School of Arts and Sciences commented on the Philadelphia region’s shifting accent, alongside colleagues Meredith Tamminga and Jami Fisher.

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NextCity.org

Philly applies a ‘light touch’ to get dollars flowing for middle-income homes

Vincent Reina of the School of Design discussed Philadelphia’s new Workforce Housing Credit Enhancement program, which guarantees loans to small and mid-size developers building income-restricted projects. The enhancement “is a nice way of releasing pressure on the housing market,” says Reina.

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Allentown (Pa.) Morning Call

Pennsylvania Supreme Court relents for now on medical malpractice changes

Responding to threats by a large health network outside Philadelphia to end cross-county partnerships if venue restraints on medical malpractice lawsuits were lifted, Hanming Fang of the School of Arts and Sciences and the Leonard Davis Institute said changing the venue rule would allow lawyers to file lawsuits in Philadelphia regardless of affiliations with the city’s health systems. “I don’t see that logic,” said Fang.

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Philadelphia Inquirer

Penn Libraries and venerable Philadelphia Athenaeum form bookish alliance

The Libraries have entered a partnership with the Athenaeum, Philadelphia’s last remaining subscription library. “Our new library partnership with the Athenaeum of Philadelphia makes easily accessible the Athenaeum’s unmatched collection of historic architectural publications and other documentation for the study of this rich legacy,” said David Brownlee, a School of Arts and Sciences professor and an Athenaeum board member. Jon Shaw and Constantia Constantinou were also quoted.

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Science News

A new insulation material is practically weightless yet still durable

The School of Engineering and Applied Science’s Deep Jariwala commented on a new, nearly weightless insulation material made of porous aerogel capable of withstanding temperature shifts of over 1,000 degrees Celsius. “It’s notoriously hard to make materials that are not just lightweight but can also be heavily heat resistant.”

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