Falls Can Kill You. Here’s How to Minimize the Risk.

At the same time, there are ways to minimize the chances of a dangerous fall, starting with regular exercise to maintain leg strength, balance, endurance and coordination that can help you “catch yourself” and avoid a fall if you should trip. Tai Chi is an excellent, low-impact way to improve balance. Also, practice standing on one foot when you brush your teeth, wash dishes or prep a recipe. You might also get Carol Clements’s new book, “Better Balance for Life,” that details a 10-week plan for improving stability.

Get your eyes checked at least once a year or more often if you have a gradually worsening condition like cataracts or macular degeneration. Don’t delay recommended cataract surgery; blurry vision can foster serious stumbles. Regularly update your prescription for corrective lenses. Older people often do better with single-focus lenses, which may mean two different pairs, one for distance and another for reading, rather than one pair of progressive or bifocal lenses.

Also get regular hearing checkups and consider hearing aids if needed. You don’t want to be startled into a fall by someone or something approaching from behind.

Have your doctor review all your medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, for their ability to cause dizziness or drowsiness. Wherever possible, eliminate or lower the dose of those that are potentially troublesome.

Dr. Leslie Kernisan, a geriatrician in the San Francisco Bay Area, lists these medications that may be especially likely to create a fall risk: psychoactive drugs like benzodiazepines (e.g. Xanax and Valium) and sleep medications like Ambien and Lunesta that affect the brain; antidepressants like Prozac, Zoloft and Elavil; medications that lower blood pressure, including Flomax and related drugs used to improve urination; medications that lower blood sugar, including metformin; and anticholinergic drugs like Benadryl, “PM” versions of over-the-counter pain relievers, the muscle relaxant Flexeril and the bladder relaxants Ditropan and Detrol.

Last, but by no means least, do a thorough evaluation of the fall risks in and outside your home environment. Get rid of clutter — no books, papers, clothing or pet toys left on the floor or furniture that partially obstructs paths to the bathroom, bedroom, kitchen or front door. Install railings on stairways — and always use them — and grab bars around the shower or tub and toilet.

Evaluate the safety of floors and floor coverings, including throw rugs (a big no-no), loose carpets and raised ledges between rooms. Use a top quality nonskid mat in the shower. Repair all broken or uneven stairs and flooring. Keep electric and phone cords off the floor. Wipe up all spills immediately.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/25/well/live/falls-can-kill-you-heres-how-to-minimize-the-risk.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

8 Things You Can Do to Care for the Planet

Welcome to the Smarter Living newsletter! Every Monday, we email readers with tips and advice for living a better, more fulfilling life. Sign up here to get it in your inbox.

Caring for the planet is one of those things that can seem out of our reach.

The problems are too big and complex to wrap our heads around. There aren’t any practical steps we can take in our everyday lives. And there’s nothing we can really do to help anyway. Right?

Nope.

Every week, The New York Times’s Climate and Environment team publishes a newsletter called Climate Fwd:, which gives you stories and insights about climate change, along with tips on what you can do.

In that spirit, we’re partnering with them this week to pull advice from a recurring featuring in their newsletter: One thing you can do. Below are eight things that you — yes, you, the person reading this — can do to care for the planet.

(And, of course, click here to subscribe to the Climate Fwd: newsletter.)

Hang on to your smartphone

The little computer you carry with you requires a lot of energy to assemble. The production of an iPhone 6, for example, released the equivalent of 178 pounds of carbon dioxide, or about as much as burning nine gallons of gas, according to a 2015 study. Instead of buying a new phone, try to keep yours in working condition for as long as possible (here’s some advice on how to extend its life). But if you must get rid of yours, recycle it or consider buying a used one.

Leave leaves

Leaves provide shelter for worms, moths and some butterflies, which then become prey for neighborhood birds. They also help nourish and fertilize soil, and you won’t burn fossil fuels by using a lawn mower or leaf blower.

Use a dishwasher, not the sink

Dishwashers have improved over the years: Average models certified by the government’s Energy Star program use 3.5 gallons or less per cycle. Compare that with an efficient kitchen faucet, which pours 1.5 gallons of water per minute, meaning that handwashing for four minutes nearly doubles the water use of a dishwasher. If you don’t have the luxury of owning a dishwasher, try to do the two-bucket method: “When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run. Fill one basin with wash water and the other with rinse water.”

Buy fewer clothes

Manufacturers use water and chemicals to dye and finish cotton clothes. Polyesters and nylons aren’t biodegradable. In this age of fast fashion, it’s best to wear your clothes for a long, long time. (Buying secondhand helps, too.)

[Like what you’re reading? Sign up here for the Smarter Living newsletter to get stories like this (and much more!) delivered straight to your inbox every Monday morning.]

Consider your online order, from click to carrier

When you’re shopping online, try to buy in bulk to reduce multiple deliveries, which can help cut carbon emissions from delivery trucks. Research your items to avoid having to return them, and always recycle the boxes.

Divest from fossil fuel

Do your retirement funds or other investments include fossil-fuel companies? Divesting has become common in union, city and state pension funds. In a 2018 report published by Arabella Advisors, a philanthropy services firm, 61 pension funds have committed to divestment since 2016, bringing the total to 144. Consider adjusting your retirement fund, and ask if your 401(k) can be fossil-fuel free.

Be mindful of your food waste

A massive amount of energy goes into producing the food we eat, especially meat and dairy. For example, the production of a single hamburger uses the same amount of water as a 90-minute shower. And about 40 percent of food in the United States is thrown away. To limit food waste when you’re hosting a get-together, use this “Guest-imator” to calculate the amount of groceries you’ll need. Also check out the “Waste-Free Kitchen Handbook” for more help on reducing food waste.

Tune your heating system

Most American homes are heated by furnaces or boilers, according to the Energy Department, and poorly maintained systems can burn more oil or natural gas than is necessary. Hire a technician to inspect yours to make sure it’s running efficiently and to cut down on indoor particulate matter. And if you have a boiler system that uses radiators, consider installing an outdoor reset control, which modulates the radiator’s water temperature based on the temperature outside. All of this can even result in direct savings for you: These small actions can knock down a heating bill by up to 10 percent.

Best of Smarter Living

Watch Out. Tax Season Is Even More Stressful Than Usual. With millions of people filing tax returns under a new tax law and after a long government shutdown, this is a challenging year. We offer survival tips and extensive coverage.

How Many Push-Ups Can You Do? It May Be a Good Predictor of Heart Health. Men who could get through 40 or more push-ups had 96 percent less risk of heart problems in the next 10 years than those who quit at 10 or fewer.

9 Ways to Cut Down on Plastic. It’s all about reducing single-use plastics.

There Are No Towels? The Renter’s Lament. One of the most frustrating aspects of renting a vacation home online — perhaps second only to a rental not resembling its photos or description — is what is missing.

The Good-Enough Life. The desire for greatness can be an obstacle to our own potential.

6 Things to Bring to an All-Inclusive Resort. Along with your usual beach vacation gear, you’ll want to pack some unexpected extras when you’re heading to an all-inclusive resort.

Tip of the Week

This week I’ve invited friend of S.L. Kara Cutruzzula, who writes my favorite daily newsletter, Brass Ring Daily, to tell us when throwing money at a problem is the right move.

Call the neurologists, I’ve figured out the impossible: I’m buying back brain space.

This year, my goal is to streamline my life and habits. The first step is eliminating minor tasks and actions that suck up time, energy and gray matter. My solution? Throwing money — small amounts, mind you — at problems.

And no, this isn’t just a cop-out to doing work: A 2017 study found that “spending money to save time may reduce stress about the limited time in the day, thereby improving happiness.”

Here’s my strategy.

Buy common items in bulk

I’m done pretending that certain items I use every day will never run out (as all logic and experience would suggest). After realizing “go to Target” was playing on a loop in my mind, I resolved to spend less time and mental energy running errands for basic essentials. So I ordered embarrassingly large quantities online and got them delivered instead. Now I have enough toilet paper, paper towels, tampons, oatmeal and coffee to carry me through to 2020.

Buy doubles

What do you use — or carry around — every day? I was transporting a wireless mouse to work for months before realizing they cost $10 and that buying two would allow me to stop thinking about it altogether. Purchasing multiple phone chargers also comes with minimal cost but maximum benefit. You can stop borrowing your colleague’s and never worry about hovering at 12 percent again.

Buy help

Whether you hire someone to clean your home or install your new 4K TV, the point is this: Paying someone to perform tasks that are always on your mind will get them done more quickly (and regularly) than if you try to do them yourself. Then you can focus on literally anything else. Your brain will thank you.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/24/smarter-living/8-things-you-can-do-to-care-for-the-planet.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

What You and Your Family Need to Know About Maternal Depression

The two programs work with both first-time mothers and women who already have children. They are available in Spanish and focus on low-income women. Both are expanding and testing different ways of delivering their curriculum, which is provided free to clinics and community health agencies.

The panel’s recommendation will require insurance to cover counseling at no cost to women receiving it. Health providers delivering it might have to pay for costs like babysitting and transportation for pregnant women who attend.

What about other prevention methods?

The task force evaluated the strongest research available on possible prevention methods, including physical activity, education, infant sleep advice, yoga, expressive writing, omega-3 fatty acids and antidepressants. In the 50 studies it analyzed, there were hints of promise with a few approaches, including physical activity and three programs in Europe (Britain and the Netherlands) that involved home visits by midwives or other health providers. But the evidence of benefit wasn’t strong enough with anything except counseling.

The panel also looked for any harm that prevention methods could cause. They found negative effects in the two small studies with antidepressants. One study reported instances of dizziness and drowsiness among women who took Zoloft. The other reported that more women taking Pamelor experienced constipation.

That doesn’t mean antidepressants aren’t good at treating actual depression, said a panel member, Karina Davidson, who is senior vice president for research for Northwell Health. After all, that’s what they’re designed for. But the studies so far don’t suggest that these drugs are the best method to prevent pregnancy-related depression before it develops.

For women who develop perinatal depression, how can it be treated?

If you have symptoms, seek help from a mental health provider, a community health center, a primary care doctor, or ask for a referral from your obstetrician or your baby’s pediatrician. Treatment might involve therapy, medication or both. For more advice and programs and support networks in your area, organizations like Postpartum Support International and Postpartum Progress are good resources.

The first step is knowing that you’re not alone, many women experience perinatal depression, it can be treated, and there are many organizations willing and eager to help.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/12/health/maternal-depression-prevention-pregnancy-.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

The 4 ‘Attachment Styles,’ and How They Sabotage Your Work-Life Balance

They don’t trust themselves or the system, so there is an undercurrent of “why even try?” in their day-to-day work.

How to tell if this is you

You tend to spend most of your time in a state of being overwhelmed because you fear everything and feel very little power to do anything about your fears (much less the work that is also piling up). This leads to your trying to avoid all of it and escape, get lost in social media, try organizing and reorganizing your desk, and perpetually think about how to explain why your work isn’t done.

What to do about it

If you fall into this pattern, you’ll need a two-prong strategy. The first involves reducing your fear response. Try some of the calming strategies we suggested for people who have an anxious attachment style, such as positive self-talk and support from colleagues or friends.

Then you will need to take gentle action to get your work done. Set some goals for yourself. It may start with opening one email a day that scares you, or with working just 15 minutes on a project you have avoided for weeks — or longer. Small bits of progress where you realize you can do something and it didn’t kill you lead to greater success later.

Secure Attachment

Those with a secure attachment style at work take tasks as they come, do what they can and address issues that come up easily. They work hard and do not fear saying no when they feel they need to. They know they are capable, and they are confident that others will respond well to them.

How to tell if this is you

You generally fare best when it comes to managing your time. You are comfortable prioritizing tasks and asking for help when you need it. You also feel comfortable setting healthy boundaries and pushing back when necessary, and you do not often engage in fear-based behavior.

What to do about it

If you have a secure attachment style at work, you are most likely managing your time well and achieving good work-life balance. Stay secure but be aware. Regularly ask for direct feedback so if there is something that you need to work on, you can make changes. Also, if you notice something seems really off, for example a big downgrade in the quality of communication with your manager, don’t dismiss it as, “Oh, she is just stressed.” Do a quick follow-up either in person or via email, saying: “I noticed that we’re not communicating as well as in the past. Is there anything I’ve done that’s contributed to that shift?”

Although attachment style is not the only factor influencing your time management, it may play a significant role, particularly if you find yourself repeatedly compelled to act against what you “know” to do. As with attachment style in your personal life, attachment style at work can vary based on situation or circumstance. In one job or with one particular person or project, you may have an anxious attachment style, and in another circumstance, you may display more secure characteristics. Wherever you find yourself, improving how you manage your time starts with identifying what kind of attachment style you have and then taking steps to address it.

Elizabeth Grace Saunders is a time management coach and the author of “The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment, How to Invest Your Time Like Money, and Divine Time Management.” She is a regular contributor at Harvard Business Review and Fast Company.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/19/smarter-living/attachment-styles-work-life-balance.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

How to Throw an Intimate Dinner Party With Your Neighbor

The fashion designer and former model Jane Mayle has lived on the top floor of an 1860s rowhouse on 12th Street ever since she was a student at Columbia University during the mid ’90s. “I still can’t shake the sense that I’m going to wake the neighbors,” she said on a recent winter evening, wearing a dress of her own design (her Elizabeth Street shop, Mayle, which developed a cult following for her beautiful and eccentric designs, closed its doors in 2008 but she relaunched the label three years ago as Maison Mayle). In 2003, Claudia Gould, the director of the Jewish Museum, moved into the third floor apartment below. A friendship eventually grew out of their proximity and personalities: Gould was struck by Mayle’s impeccable eye and charm; Mayle by Gould’s spirited generosity. After a leak left the building without gas for nearly a year, Gould proposed an unorthodox idea: Why not have a “progressive” dinner party for the building, a course on every floor, to celebrate the return of a functioning stove?

That first dinner — a “stairway to heaven” as Mayle called it — didn’t quite go as planned. There was supposed to be champagne in the ground-floor garden, dinner on the third floor, salad and light food on the fourth, dessert on the fifth — but it was summer, some neighbors were out of town, and what began on the fourth floor then moved to three or maybe it began on four and moved to five and then back down to three — whatever the order, memories have blurred from the passage of time but also thanks to good cocktails and better conversation. The event was enough of a success that Gould and Mayle planned another dinner to host between their two floors on a recent winter evening, this time inviting friends from outside the building including the artists Eva LeWitt and Ydessa Hendeles, the makeup artist Romy Soleimani and the film and theater producer John Hart.

Guests were greeted in Gould’s brightly lit apartment — surrounded by art — with small bites of toasted bread topped with escarole, roasted grapes and fennel seeds as well as an artichoke and ricotta spread. Placed next to the wine was a bottle of sotol, a Mexican liquor similar to tequila. Next, everyone moved upstairs to Mayle’s apartment, where a seated dinner commenced under a beautiful Ingo Maurer Uchiwa pendant lamp that matched the anemone flowers in small vases dotting the table. The main living-room wall was decorated with contoured plexiglass panels (found in a depot in the south of France by Mayle, and later discovered to be from the original Courrèges store in Paris); a small orange tree sat next to the hearth. The dinner only disbanded with the return of Mayle’s son and her stepdaughter — and with the evening now bathed in the warm glow of revelry, guests drifted downstairs, eventually entering back into the dark Sunday night.

Would the two neighbors do it again? Both said yes without hesitation. “Kadu [Lennox, Mayle’s partner] is just getting his beef shank stew perfected,” Mayle wrote me a few weeks later, “The orange tree is still alive, and the silverware and glasses are begging to get out again.” Here, Mayle and Gould share their tips for entertaining.

Avoid a Strict Theme, But Find Inspiration

While planning, Mayle originally sent Gould a New York Times photograph from last year of a meeting between President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and Kim Jong-un of North Korea. An unconventional choice, perhaps, but Mayle thought an image could be a way for the two to find a starting point for the evening without imposing a strict theme or sensibility. In it, the two Korean leaders are foregrounded by a massive pink centerpiece decorated with white doves and bright, colorful flowers; a landscape painting hangs behind depicting an autumnal mountain range. “I think we are both quite prone to flightiness but know that needs to be balanced with earthiness,” Mayle explained. The evening, which was decorated with colorful flowers from both the local bodega and the Chelsea flower market, embraced a similar kind of whimsical eclecticism without losing a sense of grandness.

Serve a Rare Liquor

Dinner guests were instructed to begin the evening on the third floor, at Gould’s apartment, which is hung with pieces by artists Gould has worked with throughout her career such as Kiki Smith and Lisa Yuskavage. Yet all too noticeable was a bottle of Mesh & Bone sotol on the table. Sotol is a distilled liquor and the plant from which it is sourced is a northern cousin to agave (it is called “desert spoon” in English) with long lance-like leaves that spiral from its heart; it offers a slightly smoother taste than tequila or mezcal. Mayle preferred to serve it on ice; Gould liked hers neat. Either way, it offered a festive glint to the evening. At its very end, the two served small glasses of Piemontese Grappa infused with chamomile, whose subtle flavors were a calming digestif.

Mix and Match

“Whenever I have had the chance to go to Claudia’s place,” Mayle told me, “I feel like hers is the life I would want to live if I wasn’t on the fifth floor living the life I have — it’s the way that she makes her place but also the ease with which she moves among her things.” The two freely mixed and matched their belongings to seamless effect: In Mayle’s apartment, Gould’s maternal grandparents’ Coalport china and plain white Hella Jongerius plates sat alongside Mayle’s Brimfield-sourced antique napkins; Mayle’s carved mother-of-pearl-handled silverware and hand-thrown Egyptian pottery were a surprising accompaniment to Gould’s 1970s imposing Baccarat crystal wine glasses.

Enlist a Professional Chef

Normally, Mayle’s partner, the set designer Kadu Lennox, is the one tasked with preparing the food. “He’s a really good cook,” said Gould. But because he was out of town for work, Mayle asked the Italian chef Alida Borgna to help, as the two had worked together on a press day for Maison Mayle. Borgna shopped at the nearby Union Square farmers’ market (as well as Eataly for rarer ingredients) and took cues from Gould and Mayle, who, wanting to avoid a fussy dinner, simply requested risotto and fish. Borgna prepared a feast of lemon risotto to start, followed by whole roasted turbot with herbs and smashed fingerling potatoes; steamed fennel with champagne vinegar; savoy cabbage with wine-soaked grapes; followed by a light and bitter treviso and Rosa del Veneto radicchio salad.

Serve Fresh Fruit and Chocolate — Plus a Surprise — for Dessert

Gould asked her friend Julian Bedel, the Argentine natural perfumer of Fueguia 1833, to bring dozens of his limited-edition samples from the many hundreds of perfumes he typically sells each year. As a silver platter arranged with satsumas and Forelle pears was set on the table for dessert, along with wooden boards of broken hunks of chocolate, Bedel began to pull small bottles from his pockets. Guests were instructed to share a detail of their scent preferences (“roses” or “musk”) and Bedel offered a sample to try. Should there be a match, the guest was allowed to pocket it for herself. Bedel is currently developing a scent inspired by Leonard Cohen for the Jewish Museum, in anticipation of an upcoming show later this spring.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/21/t-magazine/jane-mayle-claudia-gould.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

5 Cheap(ish) Things for a Romantic Date Night

Welcome to the Smarter Living newsletter. We email readers once a week with tips and advice for living a better, more fulfilling life. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every Monday morning.

When I met my husband six years ago, we went overboard in an attempt to sweep each other off our feet: Elaborate dinners at fussy restaurants, loud, late nights at trendy bars, hidden speakeasies that required a secret password for admittance. (Remember when speakeasies were a thing?)

It felt like we were performing romance rather than inviting romance into our lives. Having every date be an Instagrammable moment was, frankly, unsustainable. While these whirlwind evenings seemed like they’d be a lot of fun, they were exhausting to plan and mostly left us broke, overstuffed and hung over. We realized we didn’t need a series of extravagant events to connect with each other — we just needed to carve out time to connect.

Now when I plan a romantic date, there’s only one rule I follow: Choose things I know my husband will enjoy. That’s it. What we do on our date doesn’t have to blow his hair back; it just has to make him feel relaxed, appreciated, excited and loved.

In collaboration with Wirecutter, a New York Times company that reviews and recommends products, here are five cheap(ish) items to assist you in planning a romantic night, whether it’s your first date or 100th.

Candles

Not only does soft lighting make everyone look more appealing, but it can mellow a room with minimal effort. Set a few flickering tealight candles around the house or float a few in a shallow bowl to amp up the amorous ambience.

Wirecutter recommends the Richland Extended Burn Tealight Candles, which emit a subdued glow for seven hours. They’re unscented so they won’t overwhelm the room or compete with perfume or cologne.

Hands-free speaker

Fiddling with the background music means you’re not focused on your significant other. This is why you need a hands-free speaker. Wirecutter’s pick is the Sonos One for its terrific sound quality. Ask Alexa to play your favorite mood-setting tunes at whatever volume you choose without taking your eyes off your date.

(Side note: The soulful Charles Bradley Amazon station is my go-to station to play when I feel like setting a romantic vibe. It’s pretty much perfect listening when romance is in the air.)

Wine glasses

Sure, you can serve your date Cabernet in a juice glass, but if you want to make the night special, reach for truly excellent glassware. Wirecutter recommends the tulip-shared Libbey Signature Kentfield Estate All-Purpose Wine Glass, an elegant pick for both red and white wine.

If champagne is more your thing, here are Wirecutter’s picks for best champagne glass. If you’re staying away from alcohol, opt for a general purpose Wirecutter-approved drinking glass.

Serving board

You don’t want to be weighed down by a heavy meal on your hot date. Setting out a selection of delectable finger foods helps temper the effects of any alcohol consumption and it also keeps the energy playful and sensual.

When it comes to serving boards, the Jono Pandolfi Oval Platter is Wirecutter’s pick. The attractive glazed stoneware is robust enough to handle whatever noshes you set out.

Sweets

Why save boxes of chocolate for anniversaries and holidays? They’re the perfect treat to share whenever you want to make the night a little more special. Delight your sweetie with the Recchiuti Confections Black Box, Wirecutter’s favorite. A nip of decadent chocolate the perfect way to end any romantic evening (or at least transition to other activities you may have in mind).

P.S. — Still looking for the perfect last-minute gift? T Magazine’s editors answered questions about what to get the trickiest people on your holiday list, from family members who already have everything to picky friends to significant others with singular tastes. Read all their gift ideas here.

Best of Smarter Living

How to Write a Family Newsletter Your Friends Will Actually Read Your family is great, but no one wants to read about it for 10 minutes. Here’s what to do.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/19/smarter-living/5-cheap-ish-things-for-a-romantic-date-night.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Sleepless Flies Lived Long Lives. Why Not Us?

Sleep — that absurd, amazing habit of losing consciousness for hours on end — is so universal across the animal kingdom that we usually assume it is essential to survival. Now, however, scientists who repeatedly disturbed the sleep of more than a thousand fruit flies are reporting that less slumber may be necessary for sustaining life than previously thought, at least in one species.

A handful of studies involving dogs and cockroaches going back to the late 19th century suggest that being deprived of sleep can result in a shortened life span. But the methods behind some of these studies can make it difficult to say whether the test subjects were harmed by sleep deprivation itself, or by the stress of the treatment they were given — such as being shaken constantly.

The new study took a milder approach, in hope of seeing the true effects of sleep deprivation. The automated system the researchers developed for monitoring the flies kept track of their movements with cameras, scoring any extended period without movement as sleep. When they were not being awakened repeatedly, the males slept about 10 hours a day, females about five on average.

To keep the flies awake, the researchers equipped the system with tiny motors that would gently tip the flies any time they went still for at least 20 seconds. With this method, researchers deprived flies of rest over the course of their entire lifetimes, tipping them hundreds of times a day such that if they were snoozing during those periods of stillness, they might have been able to sleep around 2.5 hours a day on average.

“When the results came from that experiment, it was very surprising,” said Giorgio Gilestro, a professor at Imperial College London who is a co-author of the study, which was published Wednesday in Science Advances.

[Like the Science Times page on Facebook. | Sign up for the Science Times newsletter.]

While female flies in the experiment died about ten days sooner than other flies, male flies had completely normal life spans of about 50 days. Dr. Gilestro suggests that perhaps whatever sleep is doing in the way of essential maintenance can happen in a very, very short period of time, such that little sleep is required to keep an organism alive.

The study has limitations. It looked at only a single strain of fruit fly, said Dragana Rogulja, a professor at Harvard who studies sleep using fruit flies. “In principle, I think it would be have been awesome to test multiple strains,” she said, to understand whether other flies, some of which can live much longer, respond similarly.

Additionally, not everyone agrees that the scientists have succeeded in accurately recording when the flies are awake or asleep. Some periods in which flies made tiny movements were scored as waking time, for instance.

“I’m not convinced that the micro-movements they report are not part of sleep behavior,” said Amita Sehgal, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who pioneered the study of sleep in flies. If that is the case, the flies may have been able to sleep more than researchers realized.

Dr. Gilestro countered that these movements are not the same as the twitches that occur while animals are asleep. The flies walked around in between the recorded small movements, and they appeared to be feeding or grooming at those times. “We looked at that and we feel we can exclude this possibility,” he said.

The work touches on an interesting question: how much does the length of time spent asleep connect to sleep’s beneficial effects? For most of us, knowing exactly how much sleep you need to be healthy is likely to remain of academic interest. The unpleasant effects of missing even a couple hours, or being awakened even a couple times during the night, tend to discourage experimentation. But it’s intriguing to think that perhaps some of that time spent asleep matters less than the rest of it.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/20/science/sleep-deprivation-flies.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

How Israel’s Moon Lander Got to the Launchpad

The United States and the former Soviet Union sent robotic landers to the moon beginning in 1966, part of the space race that culminated with the Apollo 11 astronauts stepping foot on the moon in 1969. In 2013, China became the third nation to send a spacecraft to the moon, and this year, it became the first to land one on the moon’s far side.

Back in November 2010, it was a rush for the SpaceIL founders just to get to the starting line. The Google competition had been announced three years earlier. About 30 teams had already entered, and the deadline for submissions was the end of the year. From friends and family, Mr. Bash, Mr. Damari and Mr. Winetraub scrounged $50,000 for the entry fee, and on Dec. 31, they sent in the money and the paperwork with less than two hours to spare.

From the beginning, their pitch was geared to philanthropists, not venture capitalists.

“It’s a very different story than a commercial company trying to explain how they’re going to return the investment of the investors,” Mr. Bash said. “It’s one of the best decisions we made in the beginning.”

One of the people who heard their presentation was Morris Kahn, an Israeli telecommunications billionaire. “I gave them $100,000, no questions asked,” Mr. Kahn said, “and I said, ‘Start.’”

Mr. Kahn said at the beginning he just wanted to help. “Eventually, not only I got sucked in, I sucked myself in,” he said. “I got excited by this project.”

Mr. Kahn became president of SpaceIL and recruited other investors including Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas casino billionaire and major donor to the Republican Party in the United States.

As a nonprofit, SpaceIL also tapped the energy of volunteers. “If you were interested in space and wanted to do something beyond your day job, you could volunteer and give some of your time,” Mr. Winetraub said.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/21/science/israel-moon-lander-spaceil.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

How to Choose the Right Perfume or Cologne for You

As to why scents sometimes smell completely different on two different people, Ms. Yang said that fragrances are sensitive to light and heat, and even your own personal body chemistry, diet and hormonal levels. Even time of day plays into how a perfume “wears,” or how it smells on you, how powerful it is and how long it lasts.

Your environment also plays a role in how your skin smells. “At the very least, you should wear your fragrance at least twice in two distinct environments,” Mr. Jeong explained. “Since your surrounding, your diet, and even the weather can have an impact on how the fragrance smells on you, it is important to try your scent out a few different times.”

Ms. Yang let us in on the cardinal rule of fragrance application and sampling: “Don’t rub. Rubbing the scent creates heat that will break up the molecules faster. You can accidentally speed up the scent journey and miss out on the delicate dance of its true reveal.”

If multiple trips to the mall to sample new fragrances sounds exhausting, keep in mind that department stores have small sample vials behind the counters ready for you to bring home — all you have to do is ask. If you prefer a cosmetics store like Sephora, their staff is able to make a sample vial of fragrances on their shelves so you can wear them over a few days to know how they function in different environments, giving you time to live with the scent.

Discover something you love

The chemical makeup of your chosen scent has effects on the durability of your fragrance. Mr. Jeong said, “A big misconception is that all EDPs (eau de parfums) or parfums last very long and are great projectors. While oil concentration affects scent strength and sillage (how much a scent lingers in the air), the ingredients used in a fragrance formula often matter more.

“For example, natural citrus ingredients tend to be more effervescent and last shorter than notes like vanilla, patchouli, and different woods.”

Ms. Yang also pointed out that natural vs. synthetic elements in your scent affect not only the length of the wear, but the smell of the scent itself and how it interacts with your body. “Natural is not always more sustainable … or better for you. I’m a trained aromatherapist and I love natural fragrances as much as synthetic/natural combos. That said, four tons of roses, composed of approximately 1,600,000 rose blossoms, yields only 1 kilogram of rose oil. Real, all-natural perfumes are very expensive. No two rose yields will smell exactly the same (like wine) due to climate conditions.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/21/smarter-living/how-to-choose-perfume-cologne-fragrance.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

In a Gutsy New Thriller, a Black Female Spy’s Past Comes Back to Haunt Her

AMERICAN SPY
Lauren Wilkinson

One of the enduring pleasures of genre fiction is the occasional appearance of a novel that does more than it says on the tin: a murder mystery that offers genuine social insight, for example, or a thriller that informs as well as entertains. This happens less often than you’d think. More usual is the genre novel offered by a literary heavyweight self-consciously paddling in shallow waters, doing the genre a favor by splashing about in it. They might imagine their heft is adding sparkle to the waves, but all too often there is, as Gertrude Stein said, “no there there.” Just a few borrowed accessories, and a misguided sense of entitlement.

It’s a relief, then, that Lauren Wilkinson’s “American Spy,” while embracing ambitions and concerns that don’t always figure highly in the spy genre, is first and foremost a thriller. Its trigger sends us straight into plot: Marie Mitchell, a young black woman, is confronted in her home one night by an intruder. Dispatching him without undue difficulty, she flees the United States with her 4-year-old twin sons, and then — hiding out at her mother’s home in Martinique — sets about unraveling the complicated back story that produced her present (which, in the novel’s reality, is 1992).

The key to her current situation turns out to be her role, in the 1980s, as an F.B.I. intelligence agent. “Recruiting and running informants was about cultivating their trust,” Marie tells us. “To do that I found it worked best to lie frequently to them.” But like any agent in the field, she’s more lied to than lying: Recruited to an overseas operation, she finds herself the bait in a honey trap intended to remove the charismatic, popular leader of the newborn Burkina Faso, and soon realizes that the United States is interfering in another country’s democratic processes for its own advantage.

Image

Plenty to enjoy on its own terms, then, as a slick, well-observed thriller, but what adds depth are the perspectives offered by the central character. As a black woman, Marie is undervalued twice over in the boys’ club atmosphere of the F.B.I. of the 1980s. Spying is in her blood — her grandmother, fair-skinned enough to pass for white, “moved in and out of the New York places where Negroes were interdits, gathering her intelligence on the world that white people inhabited” — but her career choice remains morally problematic: Her mentor in the F.B.I. had been “one of a small handful of black special agents hired under J. Edgar Hoover’s tenure … used almost exclusively to undermine civil rights activists.” Her gender, too, puts barriers in her way. On being told, “We give female officers a hard time … We hold women to an unfair double standard,” she says, “Hearing him explain it in theoretical terms when I’d lived it caused me a specific type of maddening anger.”

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/20/books/review/american-spy-lauren-wilkinson.html?partner=rss&emc=rss