With e-books, educators can see whether you’ve skipped pages or even bothered to open your textbook; a Spanish study claims there will be fewer people living on earth in the next century than now; meanwhile, although Portugal’s government has failed to impose austerity, it’s now come up with equivalent replacement measures. These discoveries and more after the jump.

On a regular basis, Truthdig brings you the news items and odds and ends that have found their way to Larry Gross, director of the USC Annenberg School for Communication. A specialist in media and culture, art and communication, visual communication and media portrayals of minorities, Gross helped found the field of gay and lesbian studies.

Teacher Knows if You’ve Done the E-Reading Several Texas A&M professors know something that generations of teachers could only hope to guess: whether students are reading their textbooks.

If at First You Don’t Succeed in Imposing Austerity. . . The motto of the Portuguese government of Pedro Passos Coelho appears to be, if at first you don’t succeed in imposing austerity—because the Constitutional Court struck down more than $1.3 billion in austerity measures—then try, try again—by cutting social security, health, education, and public enterprises.

Shanghai’s Spectacular Growth, in One Photo Recently, Olga Khazan directed our attention to a fascinating satellite image, produced by scientists at ETH Zurich, showing the startling difference in Shanghai’s light intensity in the past 20 years.

Could Earth’s Population Peak in 2050? For the past two decades, demographers have generally agreed that global population growth will continue to inch steadily higher in the coming century, raising concerns about everything from pollution to housing to the world’s water supply.

Scientific Articles Accepted (Personal Checks, Too) The scientists who were recruited to appear at a conference called Entomology-2013 thought they had been selected to make a presentation to the leading professional association of scientists who study insects.

Rigging the Rankings? The president of University College Cork has asked all faculty members and other academic employees at his institution to each recruit three people from other universities — people who “understand the importance of UCC improving its university world ranking” – to register to vote in the survey of university reputations conducted by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), one of the major producers of international higher ed rankings.

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