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Americans Are Living Farther from Their Employers


Wednesday, March 6th, 2024


Today’s newsletter is: 862 words; 4 min.

Heads up: The Bagel will be away the rest of the week!

See you on Monday!


Liberty University will pay $14 million for failing to disclose information about crimes on campus and its treatment of sexual assault survivors. The fine is by far the largest ever levied under the Clery Act, which requires schools that receive federal funding to collect campus crime data and notify students of threats. 

Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez (NJ) and his wife were charged with obstruction of justice in a new federal indictment. The superseding indictment comes just days after a key defendant in Mendendez’s corruption case pleaded guilty to bribery charges and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

U.S. lawmakers introduced a bill that would punish app stores for hosting TikTok. The bipartisan bill seeks to ban the distribution of apps controlled by Chinese tech giant ByteDance, including TikTok, unless the apps sever ties with their parent company.

Dartmouth’s men’s basketball team voted to unionize. The team is the first to unionize in U.S. college sports history and will likely face a protracted legal fight from the university.



Americans Are Living Farther from Their Employers

A new report by economists at Stanford University and payroll provider Gusto found the average distance between an employee’s home and workplace has more than doubled in recent years, rising from 10 miles in 2019 to 27 miles in 2023.

Changing work: 

  • The report found the number of people living 50 or more miles from their work has also jumped sevenfold, rising from 0.8% of workers in 2019 to 5.5% in 2023.

  • The trend is driven primarily by white-collar workers with remote jobs and those who earn more than $100,000 per year, often in industries like tech, finance, law, marketing, and accounting. 




U.S. Cities Could Be Capturing Billions of Gallons of Rainwater Each Year 

A new report from the Pacific Institute found urban areas generate 59.5 million acre-feet of stormwater runoff each year (about 53 billion gallons per day), equivalent to around 93% of total municipal and industrial use.

Untapped potential: 

  • While it’s not feasible (or smart) for cities to capture all of the stormwater that’s produced (since it’s also needed to replenish waterways and ecosystems), the report found stormwater capture is underutilized nationwide.

  • The report also found an uptake in stormwater capture could improve water resiliency by mitigating the impacts of climate change and drought, diversifying water supplies, and reducing water pollution. 



Here’s Why Humans Don’t Have Tails

A new study by researchers at New York University discovered an insertion of DNA shared by apes and humans but missing in monkeys may explain why humans don’t have tails.

Going tail-free: 

  • Without getting lost in the weeds, the researchers compared the DNA of tail-free apes and humans to that of tailed monkeys, expecting to find a mutation explaining our ancestors’ tail loss some 25 million years ago. 

  • Using mice, the team found it wasn’t a mutation that caused the change, rather an insertion of a DNA snippet called AluY was responsible for a variety of tail effects, including some mice born without tails.


Federica Gigante

This Ancient Astrolabe Shows Scientific Exchange Between Muslims, Jews, And Christians

Researchers from the University of Cambridge in the U.K. identified an 11th-century Islamic astrolabe (pictured above) with inscriptions in Arabic, Hebrew, and Western numerals that they say is a “powerful record of scientific exchange between Arabs, Jews, and Christians over hundreds of years.”

First smartphone:

The researchers describe the ancient piece of nerd machinery and others like it as “the world’s first smartphone,” which could be put to hundreds of uses, ranging from telling time to tracking distances to plotting stars.  

  • The present astrolabe (called the “Verona astrolabe”) underwent several modifications in its life, being adapted, translated, and corrected for centuries by Muslim, Jewish, and Chrisitian users in Spain, North Africa, and Italy.

  • “The astrolabe … stands out as a testimony to the contacts and exchanges among Arabs, Jews, and Europeans in the medieval and early modern periods,” the study found.

Chance discovery:

Study author Federica Gigante identified the 1,000-year-old astrolabe by pure chance when she came across a picture of it on the website for an Italian museum.

  • “The museum didn't know what it was and thought it might actually be fake,” Gigante said. “It's now the single most important object in their collection.”


  • 2,940 - The number of forest fires in the Brazilian Amazon last month, four times more than the same month last year and the most for any February since recordkeeping began in 1999, according to Brazil’s INPE space research institute.


Long Video. Learn about ancient Rome’s biggest construction projects. (10 min) 

Short Video. Here’s why so many people need glasses nowadays. (7 min)

Fun Video. Watch NASA’s new astronaut recruitment video (and maybe apply?). (2 min)

Good Read. A quick read on the fastest thing on Earth. (706 words; 3 min)

Neat List. Here are nine fascinating facts about subway systems around the world.


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Written by Ryan Wittler