(photo credit: Courtesy)
Einstein lovers can celebrate. The Princeton University Press has launched, in cooperation with the Hebrew University, The Digital Einstein Papers – a free, open-access website that puts The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein online for the first time and brings the writings of the 20th century’s most influential scientist to a wider audience than ever before.
The project begins with the complete contents of volumes one to 13 of The Collected Papers (5,000 documents for the years 1879-1923, up to and including the award of the Nobel Prize in physics and his long voyage to the Far East). It includes both the documentary original language edition (with English-language annotations and scholarly apparatus) and the English-language translation; and scientific writings and correspondence, non-scientific writings, family letters, notebooks, lectures and travel diaries.
Two years ago, the university in Jerusalem announced the opening of The Einstein Archives Online, at www.alberteinstein.info, which is a joint database of its Albert Einstein Archives and the Einstein Papers Project of the California Institute of Technology at www.einstein.caltech.edu. Highly popular and widely accessed around the world, it focuses on the archival manuscripts, although one can access some of the annotated and translated versions from the print volumes. These are produced on the Einstein Archives Online as pdfs but with no additional linking or navigation.
The new Digital Einstein Papers website presents all the annotated documents currently in print (volumes one to 13) as they appear in The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, a publishing venture of the Einstein Papers Project – and the full text of these volumes is searchable. The site also includes all the introductory and editorial structure, notes, references, historical and scientific context, and correspondence.
It includes navigation between the documentary edition and the translation supplement, navigation to the footnotes, the indexes and links out to the Einstein Archives Online. It offers online the collective editorial work of the leading Einstein scholars and researchers worldwide and thus presents a scholarly historical narrative. The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, will eventually number 30 printed volumes, and the material from each volume will be added to the Digital Einstein Papers approximately 18 months after publication in print.
THE LIZARDS’ LONGEVITY SECRET
Doctors tell us that the frenzied pace of the modern 24-hour lifestyle is damaging to our health. But while life in the slow lane may be better, will it be any longer? It will – if you’re a reptile.
A new Tel Aviv University study has found that reduced reproductive rates and a plant-rich diet increases the lifespan of reptiles. The research, published in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography, was led by Prof. Shai Meiri, Dr. Inon Scharf, and doctoral student Anat Feldman of TAU’s zoology department, in collaboration with Dr. Daniel Pincheira- Donoso of the University of Lincoln in the UK, and other scientists from the US, the UK, Ecuador and Malaysia.
The international team collected literature on 1,014 species of reptiles (including 672 lizards and 336 snakes), a representative sample of the approximately 10,000 known reptiles on the planet, and examined their life history parameters: body size, earliest age at first reproduction, body temperature, reproductive modes, litter or clutch size and frequency, geographic distribution and diet. The researchers found that, among other factors, early sexual maturation and a higher frequency of laying eggs or giving birth were associated with shortened longevity.
“There were aspects of this study that we were able to anticipate,” said Meiri. “Reproduction, for example, comes at the price of great stress to the mother.
She experiences physiological stress, is unable to forage efficiently and is more vulnerable to her surroundings. This reflects evolutionary logic. To relate this to humans, imagine the physical stress the body of an Olympic gymnast experiences – and the first thing that disappears is her menstrual period.
In reptiles, it also increases the probability of being preyed upon.
“We found that reptiles that were sexually mature early on were less likely to make it to old age,” Meiri continued. “Live fast and die young, they say – but live slow, live long.”
The team also discovered that lizards with a plantrich diet lived longer than similar-sized carnivores that ate mostly insects. Ingestion of a protein-rich diet seemed to lead to faster growth, earlier and more intense reproduction, and a shortened lifespan.
Herbivorous reptiles were thought to consume nutritionally poorer food, so they reached maturity later – and therefore lived longer. Hunting may also be riskier than gathering fruits and leaves – at least for animals, the researchers concluded.
“If you’re an animal, hunting your food can be dangerous,” said Meiri. “You risk injury or even death. This is why you cannot simply transfer this logic to humans. Going to buy a head of lettuce at the supermarket is just as risky as going to the meat department. As a reptile, if you eat plants, you may need to be frugal, take life more slowly, and save your calories for digestion. You are forced to have a slower life, a more phlegmatic existence.”
The researchers also found that reptiles in geographically colder regions lived longer, probably due to hibernation, which offers respite from predators, and slower movement due to a seasonal drop in metabolic rate. “Our main predictors of longevity were herbivorous diets, colder climates, larger body sizes and infrequent and later reproduction,” said Meiri. “I stress that you cannot simply transfer the results of a study on lizards to humans, but this is the first study of its kind on reptiles, which opens up an avenue for further research on other factors that lead to longevity of these and other species.”