Search Results for: Alexis Madrigal

The quest for the perfect dairy cow—starting with Badger-Bluff Fanny Freddie, a bull who has 50,000 markers on his genome that make him the best sire at the moment:

While breeders used to select for greater milk production, that’s no longer considered the most important trait. For example, the number three bull in America is named Ensenada Taboo Planet-Et. His predicted transmitting ability for milk production is +2323, more than 1100 pounds greater than Freddie. His offspring’s milk will likely containmore protein and fat as well. But his daughters’ productive life would be shorter and their pregnancy rate is lower. And these factors, as well as some traits related to the hypothetical daughters’ size and udder quality, trump Planet’s impressive production stats.

One reason for the change in breeding emphasis is that our cows already produce tremendous amounts of milk relative to their forbears. In 1942, when my father was born, the average dairy cow produced less than 5,000 pounds of milk in its lifetime. Now, the average cow produces over 21,000 pounds of milk.

“The Perfect Milk Machine: How Big Data Transformed the Dairy Industry.” — Alexis Madrigal, The Atlantic

See more #longreads from Madrigal

Writer Steve Silberman: My Top 5 Longreads of 2011

Steve Silberman is a contributing editor for Wired magazine, one of Time‘s selected science tweeters, and the author of the NeuroTribes blog at the Public Library of Science. He is currently working on a book about autism and neurodiversity for Avery/Penguin. (Read recent Longreads by Silberman here.)


After years of predictions from pundits that the migration of media to the Web and mobile devices would mean shorter and shallower stories aimed at a juvenilized readership incapable of sustained attention, I’m delighted to report that we’re in a renaissance of long-form writing. This has been made possible, in part, by insightful curators like Maria Popova (@brainpicker) and Mark Armstrong (@longreads), who point their readers to the best of the best, daily, on Twitter. Now what’s required are ways for freelancers and bloggers to earn the money they need to support this level of in-depth reporting and discursive exploration. Here are five pieces from 2011 that really stuck with me.


• Sy Montgomery, “Deep Intellect: Inside the Mind of an Octopus” (Orion Magazine

• Carl Zimmer, “The Human Lake” (his blog, The Loom)

• Julia Bascom, “Quiet Hands,” (her blog, Just Stimming)

• Alexis Madrigal, “A Guide to the Occupy Wall Street API, Or Why the Nerdiest Way to Think About OWS Is So Useful” (The Atlantic)

Michael Hall, “Falling Comet: The Last Days of Bill Haley” (Texas Monthly)


See more lists from our Top 5 Longreads of 2011 >

Share your own Top 5 Longreads of 2011, all through December. Just tag it #longreads on Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook.