Category Archives: Datelines

Interview with Rob Fredrick for American Scientist

Rob Fredrick at American Scientist interviewed me for a podcast he made on one of the talks at the European Conference for Science Journalists in Copenhagen.  I told him about my 2009 Nature story “Fake Facebook pages spin web of deceit” and we discussed the talk.

See also my story on the Copenhagen talk for IEEE Spectrum: https://lucaslaursen.com/how-bots-win-friends-and-influence-people.

Fredrick’s story and podcast here: https://www.americanscientist.org/blog/from-the-staff/computational-propaganda

Danish Electric Bike-Sharing Dodges Failure

Copenhagen’s public electric bikes are kind of a pain to get started: they are heavy and their coaster brake prevents riders from kicking the pedal around to a convenient starting place. The business side of the operation has also had a rough start, marked by delivery delays, bankruptcy, and restructuring. Once you do manage to push the bikes to a start, however, their 250-W electric motors kick in and they are a breeze to power around Copenhagen’s well-marked and protected bike lanes.

It may not have been electricity, but something has also boosted the Copenhagen bike-sharing program: Usage grew from just 169,000 rides in 2015 to 933,000 last year and the program, called Bycyklen, is on track for similar usage this year. That might be just enough to keep Bycyklen from falling over. Continue reading

Trial and error in a Mexican beach town

When general store owner Melchor Villanueva leans on his countertop he can see his whole world under his hands. The counter’s glass surface displays photos of his community: young soccer players, teens in their coming-of-age quince años finest, and bandanna-wearing fishermen. Many descend from survivors of Hurricane Janet, which in 1955 killed a third of the population of Xcalak, a beach town on the Mexico-Belize border, and destroyed the town’s coconut plantations. “It left only sand,” Villanueva recalls. Continue reading