The American workplace is grueling, stressful and surprisingly hostile.
So concludes an in-depth study of 3,066 U.S. workers by the Rand Corp., Harvard Medical School and the University of California, Los Angeles. Among the findings:
Nearly one in five workers — a share the study calls "disturbingly high" — say they face a hostile or threatening environment at work, which can include sexual harassment and bullying. Workers who have to face customers endure a disproportionate share of abuse.
Nearly 55 per cent say they face "unpleasant and potentially hazardous" conditions.
Nearly three quarters say they spend at least a fourth of their time on the job in "intense or repetitive physical" labour. "I was surprised at how physically demanding jobs were," says lead author Nicole Maestas, a Harvard Medical School economist.
Telecommuting is rare: 78 per cent say they are required to be present in their workplace during working hours.
Only 38 per cent say their jobs offer good prospects for advancement. And the older they get, the less optimistic they become.
About half say they work on their own time to meet the demands of their job.
"Wow — (work) is a pretty taxing place for many people," Maestas says. "I was surprised by how pressured and hectic the workplace is."
Maestas wonders whether toxic working conditions are keeping Americans out of the labour force. The percentage of Americans who are working or looking for work — 62.9 per cent in July — has not returned to pre-recession levels and is well below its 2000 peak of 67.3 per cent.
The unemployment rate is at a 16-year low, and many employers complain they can't fill jobs.
"There's a message for employers here," Maestas says. "Working conditions really do matter."
The sun is about to spill some of its secrets, maybe even reveal a few hidden truths of the cosmos.
Astronomers are going full blast to pry even more science from the mysterious ball of gas that's vital to Earth. They'll look from the ground, using telescopes, cameras, binoculars and whatever else works. They'll look from the International Space Station and a fleet of 11 satellites in space. And in between, they'll fly three planes and launch more than 70 high-altitude balloons.
"We expect a boatload of science from this one," said Jay Pasachoff, a Williams College astronomer who has travelled to 65 eclipses of all kinds.
Scientists will focus on the sun, but they will also examine what happens to Earth's weather, to space weather, and to animals and plants on Earth as the moon totally blocks out the sun. The moon's shadow will sweep along a narrow path, from Oregon to South Carolina.
Between NASA and the National Science Foundation, the U.S. federal government is spending about $7.7 million on next Monday's eclipse. One of the NASA projects has students launching the high-altitude balloons to provide "live footage from the edge of space" during the eclipse.
But it's not just the professionals or students. NASA has a list of various experiments everyday people can do.
"Millions of people can walk out on their porch in their slippers and collect world-class data," said Matt Penn, an astronomer at the National Solar Observatory in Tucson, Arizona.
The spectacle is the first in 99 years to span the entire continental United States, will take place August 21.
The 2017 Perseids will peak on the night of August 12 and early morning hours of August 13. As (bad) luck would have it, this year, the moon turned full on August 7th, and it will be at a rather bright waning gibbous phase several nights later which might make viewing the meteor shower a little difficult this weekend. Here's some tips on viewing the annual celestial event from timeanddate.com: