Alex Eben Meyer

Alex Eben Meyer

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We would expect gig economy mainstays, such as Uber and Lyft, to challenge related industries. But SOM’s Jiwoong Shin and colleagues have shown that such companies have the potential to disrupt unrelated fields as well. Shin and his teammates hypothesized that because Uber and Lyft offer attractive employment options for low-skilled service workers, their presence in a labor market increases service staff turnover in restaurants, resulting in decreased service quality. Using labor-force data and restaurant reviews from Austin, Texas—where the local rules led to Uber and Lyft halting operations for a year—the team found that when Uber and Lyft first entered Austin, negative restaurant reviews climbed. When the companies left, negative reviews declined; upon their reentry, negative restaurant reviews again increased. The study suggests the gig economy can disrupt the labor market, with consequences for industries far beyond the restaurant market.

A team led by Yale and the University of Victoria (Canada) recently found a tiny star system orbiting the Milky Way. The system currently has two names—Ursa Major III / UNIONS 1 (UMa3/U1)—because astronomers can’t yet confirm whether it is a dwarf galaxy (named for its constellation, Ursa Major) or a star cluster (named after the survey in which it was discovered, UNIONS). A central question is the possible involvement of dark matter. The team notes that dark matter functions like “gravitational glue” and is thought to be the universe’s invisible “scaffolding.” Researchers say UMa3/U1 is either a tiny galaxy stabilized by large amounts of dark matter or a star cluster observed just before its demise. If UMa3/U1 turns out to be a galaxy, it could be the faintest stellar system discovered so far.

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