• An Endemic Pathway to Sheep and Goat Domestication at Aşıklı Höyük (Central Anatolia, Turkey)

      Stiner, Mary C; Munro, Natalie D; Buitenhuis, Hijlke; Duru, Güneş; Özbaşaran, Mihriban; School of Anthropology, University of Arizona (National Academy of Sciences, 2022-01-25)
      Sheep and goats (caprines) were domesticated in Southwest Asia in the early Holocene, but how and in how many places remain open questions. This study investigates the initial conditions and trajectory of sheep and goat (caprine) domestication at Aşıklı Höyük, which preserves an unusually high-resolution record of the first 1000 years of Neolithic existence in Central Anatolia. Our comparative analysis of caprine age and sex structures and related evidence reveals a local domestication process that began around 8,400 cal BC. Caprine management at Aşıklı segued through three viable systems. The earliest mode was embedded within a broad-spectrum foraging economy and directed to live meat storage on a small scale. This was essentially a “catch-and-grow” strategy that involved seasonal capture of wild lambs and kids from the surrounding highlands and raising them several months prior to slaughter within the settlement. The second mode paired modest levels of caprine reproduction on site with continued recruitment of wild infants. The third mode shows the hallmarks of a large-scale herding economy based on a large, reproductively viable captive population but oddly directed to harvesting adult animals, contra to most later Neolithic practices. Wild infant capture likely continued at a low level. The transitions were gradual but, with time, gave rise to early domesticated forms and monumental differences in human labor organization, settlement layout, and waste accumulation. Aşıklı was an independent center of caprine domestication, and thus supports the multiple origins evolutionary model.
    • Evaluation of individual and ensemble probabilistic forecasts of COVID-19 mortality in the United States

      Cramer, Estee Y; Ray, Evan L; Lopez, Velma K; Bracher, Johannes; Brennen, Andrea; Castro Rivadeneira, Alvaro J; Gerding, Aaron; Gneiting, Tilmann; House, Katie H; Huang, Yuxin; et al. (National Academy of Sciences, 2022-04-08)
      Significance: This paper compares the probabilistic accuracy of short-term forecasts of reported deaths due to COVID-19 during the first year and a half of the pandemic in the United States. Results show high variation in accuracy between and within stand-alone models and more consistent accuracy from an ensemble model that combined forecasts from all eligible models. This demonstrates that an ensemble model provided a reliable and comparatively accurate means of forecasting deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic that exceeded the performance of all of the models that contributed to it. This work strengthens the evidence base for synthesizing multiple models to support public-health action.
    • A megastudy of text-based nudges encouraging patients to get vaccinated at an upcoming doctor's appointment

      Milkman, Katherine L; Patel, Mitesh S; Gandhi, Linnea; Graci, Heather N; Gromet, Dena M; Ho, Hung; Kay, Joseph S; Lee, Timothy W; Akinola, Modupe; Beshears, John; et al. (National Academy of Sciences, 2021)
      Many Americans fail to get life-saving vaccines each year, and the availability of a vaccine for COVID-19 makes the challenge of encouraging vaccination more urgent than ever. We present a large field experiment (N = 47,306) testing 19 nudges delivered to patients via text message and designed to boost adoption of the influenza vaccine. Our findings suggest that text messages sent prior to a primary care visit can boost vaccination rates by an average of 5%. Overall, interventions performed better when they were 1) framed as reminders to get flu shots that were already reserved for the patient and 2) congruent with the sort of communications patients expected to receive from their healthcare provider (i.e., not surprising, casual, or interactive). The best-performing intervention in our study reminded patients twice to get their flu shot at their upcoming doctor's appointment and indicated it was reserved for them. This successful script could be used as a template for campaigns to encourage the adoption of life-saving vaccines, including against COVID-19.
    • Pluto near the edge of chaos

      Malhotra, Renu; Ito, Takashi; Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona (National Academy of Sciences, 2022-03-31)
      Significance: The dwarf planet, Pluto, has stirred the imagination of the public and of planetary scientists due to its many unusual properties. Among these properties is its Neptune-crossing orbit whose stability is owed to an orbital resonance with Neptune. Less well understood is the role of the other planets. We demonstrate that the orbital architecture of the giant planets lies within a narrow niche in which Pluto-like orbits are practically stable on gigayear timescales, whereas nearby are strongly chaotic orbits. Pluto is witness to the dynamical history of the solar system; quantifying its proximity to strong chaos and dynamical instability can enable quantitative constraints on its own dynamical history as well as that of the solar system.