In the study of the plant kingdom, a slow revolution is underway. Scientists are beginning to understand that plants have abilities, previously unnoticed and unimagined, that we’ve only ever associated with animals. In their own ways, plants can see, smell, feel, hear, and know where they are in the world. One recent study found that clusters of cells in plant embryos act a lot like brain cells and help the embryo to decide when to start growing.

Ninety percent of the Chinese in California in the 19th century were from Siyi, by one historian's estimate. The language that rang through Chinese camps in the gold country was not Mandarin, the northern tongue many people today call “Chinese,” but a dialect of Cantonese, the language of the south.