PICKS are stories from many sources, selected by our editors or recommended by our readers because they are important, surprising, troubling, enlightening, inspiring, or amusing. They appear on our site and in our daily newsletter. Please send suggested articles, videos, podcasts, etc. to picks@whowhatwhy.org.

The Quest to Find the World’s Largest Bee (Maria)

The author writes, “The rediscovery of the Wallace’s giant bee, a rare slice of good wildlife-related news, was splashed across media outlets around the world, illustrated with pictures of a delighted [entomologist Eli] Wyman and his colleagues holding a vial with the hefty insect inside. (They released it after taking photos.) … There are millions of undiscovered insect species living in other piles of dirt or in the bark of trees or beneath our feet that are at risk of dying off, sight unseen. The Wallace’s giant bee would’ve just been another nameless fatality, squeezed from its shrinking habitat, if it wasn’t the world’s largest bee.”

Understanding “The Correlation of Forces” (Gerry)

The author writes, “In Western military circles, it’s common to refer to the ‘balance of forces’ — the lineup of tanks, planes, ships, missiles, and battle formations on the opposing sides of any conflict. If one has twice as many combat assets as its opponent and the leadership abilities on each side are approximately equal, it should win. Based on this reasoning, most Western analysts assumed that the Russian army — with a seemingly overwhelming advantage in numbers and equipment — would quickly overpower Ukrainian forces. Of course, things haven’t exactly turned out that way. The Ukrainian military has, in fact, fought the Russians to a near-standstill. The reasons for that will undoubtedly be debated among military theorists for years to come. When they do so, they might begin with Moscow’s surprising failure to pay attention to a different military equation — the ‘correlation of forces’ — originally developed in the former Soviet Union.”

Why US Population Growth Is Collapsing (Sean)

From The Atlantic: “The U.S. population grew at the slowest pace in history in 2021, according to census data released last week. That news sounds extreme, but it’s on trend. First came 2020, which saw one of the lowest U.S. population-growth rates ever. And now we have 2021 officially setting the all-time record. U.S. growth didn’t slowly fade away: It slipped, and slipped, and then fell off a cliff. The 2010s were already demographically stagnant; every year from 2011 to 2017, the U.S. grew by only 2 million people. In 2020, the U.S. grew by just 1.1 million. Last year, we added only 393,000 people. What’s going on?”

Heaps of Campaign Cash Got Disney What It Wanted in Florida, Until Now (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “The Walt Disney Co. has dominated Florida for so long that the very idea of a backlash from the state’s political leaders has been unimaginable. Yet here we are. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and his GOP colleagues in the state legislature are threatening to bring the hammer down on the entertainment behemoth. Why? Because Disney is expressing disapproval of their latest effort to pander to their far-right base, the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law aimed at oppressing transgender people. DeSantis and his fellows are threatening to revoke Disney’s near-dictatorial control over the 43-square-mile site of Walt Disney World and its related theme parks and resorts outside Orlando, the product of a deal that Florida’s Republican governor, Claude Kirk, signed into law in 1967.”

Fox​ Viewers Are Less Likely to Believe Lies After Being Paid to Watch CNN for 30 Days: Study (Reader Jim)

The author writes, “A groundbreaking new study paid viewers of the Fox News Network to watch CNN for 30 days. What they found is that the viewers ultimately became more skeptical and less likely to buy into fake news. The early impacts, after just three days, showed that the viewers were already starting to change. The findings of the study, written by David E. Brockman and Joshua L. Kalla, explained that the experiment used content analysis comparing the two networks during Sept. 2020.”

Why We Still Don’t Yet Know How Bad Climate Migration Will Get (Laura)

From Vox: “As sea levels rise, temperatures become unbearable, and disasters grow more severe, tens of millions of people may not be able to stay where they are. Beyond the human toll it will exact, this climate-driven migration is poised to disrupt economic and political stability, which could fuel conflict. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations’ climate research unit, examines the consequences of rising average temperatures for people around the world. The 3,600-page report provides one of the sharpest and most comprehensive views of a warmer world, particularly what happens when people hit the limits of what they can adapt to and are forced to move. The report finds that most climate migration is poised to occur inside countries rather than across borders, and that some climate change effects could actually decrease migration in some areas. It also counters misconceptions about why people move.”

‘An Underutilized Tool:’ UV-LED Lights Can Kill Coronaviruses and HIV With the Flip of a Switch, Study Finds (Mili)

The author writes, “The same light bulbs used in offices and public spaces can destroy coronaviruses and HIV, according to a new study from U of T Scarborough. Researchers killed both viruses using UV-LED lights, which can alternate between white light and decontaminating ultraviolet (UV) light. With a cheap retrofit, they could also be used in many standard lighting fixtures, giving them a ‘unique appeal’ for public spaces, says Christina Guzzo, senior author of the study.”

Braces, Sex Pills, Fake Eyeball Among Bizarre NJ Beach Trash (Dana)

The author writes, “Volunteers picked up a record amount of trash from New Jersey’s beaches last year, with plastic items dominating the haul, and bizarre castoffs including male enhancement pills, a set of braces, a glow-in-the-dark condom and a Turkish Airlines hygiene kit found on the sand as well. The Clean Ocean Action coastal environmental group released its annual report [last week] on the result of the prior year’s beach sweeps. Over 10,000 volunteers picked up over half a million items along the state’s 127-mile (204-kilometer) coastline in cleanups held in spring and fall of 2021.”