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Vintage subways, eclipses on other planets, and music on X-rays August 19, 2017

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Photos of the Boston construction of America’s first subway system.

“On Jupiter, which has 69 moons, it’s possible for there to be multiple eclipses occurring at the same time. On Pluto, whose moon appears much larger in its sky than the Sun, total eclipses can happen every day for years on end.” [Video]

The only music that was allowed were classic composers, or simple folk tunes, whose words were all about how great socialism was.” So Soviet Russia got an underground cottage industry in illegal music…recorded on discarded X-ray film.

Doctor Who co-creator Sydney Newman advocated a female Doctor in 1986. (As well as some very ’70s companions.)

People tend to lose track of actual facts about the Bible, including how Lovecraftian it is: There are twelve pearly gates, they’re carved from a single pearl each, and they are never, ever closed.

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Fun stuff: Trump leaks, drunk Stonewall, and more November 2, 2016

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I’ve been sick since Friday, which means my days have been passing in a blur of naps, coughing, periodically getting up to make another bowl of chicken soup, and watching the clock to see if it’s time for another dose of Nyquil yet.

I tried to go in to work on Monday, and boy, was that a mistake. Staggered home after an hour. Current plan is to give it another shot on Thursday, so we’ll see how that goes.

In the meantime, here’s some fun Internet things.

Owen Ellickson’s TRUMP LEAKS — pinned on his Twitter — are a delight.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Kickstarter for a GOP-inspired dating sim. With Megyn Kelly as your roommate/wingman. I really hope they get enough to make the stretch goal where they’ll add Fiorina to the cast of romanceable candidates.

Marsha P. Johnson sparks the Stonewall Riots, as told by Drunk History. Apparently they even took the time to find trans actors to play the trans historical figures! Good times.

“We asked the BuzzFeed Community to highlight moments in television shows that have helped them when they were experiencing depression.” At first I thought this was going to be a figurative “happy scenes that people really enjoyed” list, but no, it’s genuine “I’ve been down here before, and I know the way out” scenes.

“The [Trans-Neptunian Object] orbits in a plane that’s tilted 110 degrees to the plane of the solar system. What’s more, it swings around the sun backwards unlike most of the other objects in the solar system. With this in mind, the team that discovered the TNO nicknamed it ‘Niku’ after the Chinese adjective for rebellious.”

Mini wind turbines shaped like artsy sculptures. Imagine if we could get a few in every park.

Science!: toothy dinosaurs, adapting our brains to Google, language of whistling, Earth with rings, and more January 26, 2016

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The dinosaur’s jaw was lined with at least 1,000 teeth with coarse surfaces perfect for pulverizing plants. U. kuukpikensis belongs to the hadrosaur group of duck-billed dinosaurs. It was 25 to 30 feet long, six or seven feet high at the hip, and probably covered with scales.”

“With timelapse cameras, specialists recorded salt water being excluded from the sea ice and sinking. The temperature of this sinking brine, which was well below 0C, caused the water to freeze in an icy sheath around it. Where the so-called “brinicle” met the sea bed, a web of ice formed that froze everything it touched, including sea urchins and starfish.”

“This effort appears to have backfired for the organization—whose mission is to raise awareness about how certain environmental exposures may be linked to autism—since the study SafeMinds supported showed a link between autism and vaccines does not exist.

We’ve begun to fit the machines into an age-old technique we evolved thousands of years ago—“transactive memory.” That’s the art of storing information in the people around us. We have begun to treat search engines, Evernote, and smartphones the way we’ve long treated our spouses, friends, and workmates.”

Unlike all other spoken languages, a whistled form of Turkish requires that “speakers” rely as heavily on the right side of their brains as on the left side, researchers have found.”

“Instead of using ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ to describe Standard American English versus African-American English, Craig’s model uses ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ designations, so there’s no judgment attached to either language. One isn’t ‘better’ than the other per se, it’s all about when it’s appropriate to use one form or the other. It’s ‘this is how you talk in school,’ rather than ‘don’t talk like that.’ Craig calls it ‘a slight change’ that makes a big difference in kids’ attitudes about their own language.

What would Earth’s skies look like with Saturn’s rings? Awesome, gorgeous renderings.

And one (more) big science-based reason why everyone should be able to make a comfortable living wage:

If just one Einstein right now is working 60 hours a week in two jobs just to survive, instead of propelling the entire world forward with another General Theory of Relativity… that loss is truly incalculable. How can we measure the costs of lost innovation? Of businesses never started? Of visions never realized?”

Pluto, Andromeda, robot fingers, 80,000-year-old trees, and other wonders of science July 15, 2015

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The voyage to Pluto, one step and one photo at a time. (I may have gotten a little emotional at this one.)

Close-up view of the heart! Complete with discussion.

Elsewhere in the universe:

1.5 billion pixel photo of the Andromeda Galaxy, covering a space 40,000 light-years across and capturing over 100 million individual stars.

A solar eclipse caught in an analemma: the sun photographed from the same spot at the same hour throughout a year, making a distorted figure-eight. And since now we have cameras on Mars, we can capture the Martian analemma, which is just a teardrop.

The oldest living things in the world, including eight-thousand-year-old bushes, 80,000-year-old trees, and 400,000-year-old bacteria.

With no new medical discoveries, no new technologies, no payment incentives — and little public notice — hospitals in recent years have slashed the time it takes to clear a blockage in a patient’s arteries and get blood flowing again to the heart.”

Artificial robot fingers that flex like real ones! Science is great.

The woman who saved the space program, the woman who was the Nazis’ most wanted person, the woman who chartered a bank in 1903, and more September 27, 2014

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“Lamarr wanted to join the National Inventors Council, but was reportedly told by NIC member Charles F. Kettering and others that she could better help the war effort by using her celebrity status to sell War Bonds.” Instead of…coming up with the technology that Bluetooth and wi-fi are based on.

“The three women pictured in this incredible photograph from 1885 — Anandibai Joshi of India, Keiko Okami of Japan, and Sabat Islambouli of Syria — each became the first licensed female doctors in their respective countries.”

“Much of her work was top secret and she was a very private person – she actively avoided the press. Barely anyone knew about what she did for the space programme. It was only at her funeral did her colleagues begin to share her story. ‘Mary [Sherman Morgan] single-handedly saved America’s space programme,’ he said, ‘and nobody knows but a handful of old men.’

Maggie Walker: first woman of any race to charter a bank in the US. As the daughter of a former slave. In 1903.

Antoinette Perry: the actress and director after whom the Tony Awards are named. Started acting in 1905; got into directing in 1928.

Martha Gellhorn: “Women weren’t allowed to serve in combat in those days – that restriction wouldn’t be lifted until 50 years later, in 1994. So how did a female slip through the cracks and land on the beaches with the boys in uniform? Two reasons — she was a journalist, and she was a stowaway.”

Nancy Wake: the Gestapo’s most-wanted person, parachuting, recruiting, taking command of battles, killing an SS sentry with her bare hands, and generally earning that 5-million-franc price on her head.

“Preparing the animators’ vision for camera required the inking and painting of thousands of fragile, combustible cels with perfect refinement. During Snow White, it was not at all unusual to see the ‘girls’—as Walt paternalistically referred to them—thin and exhausted, collapsed on the lawn, in the ladies’ lounge, or even under their desks. ‘I’ll be so thankful when Snow White is finished and I can live like a human once again,’ Rae wrote after she recorded 85 hours in a week.

Neat stuff. (Paralysis implants, a Bill Watterson art cameo, cool maps, language stuff, diamond planets.) August 27, 2014

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“The Neurobridge technology combines algorithms that learn and decode the user’s brain activity and a high-definition muscle stimulation sleeve that translates neural impulses from the brain and transmits new signals to the paralyzed limb. In this case, Ian’s brain signals bypass his injured spinal cord and move his hand.

“Now if you had asked me the odds of Bill Watterson ever saying that line to me, I’d say it had about the same likelihood as Jimi Hendrix telling me he had a new guitar riff. And yes, I’m aware Hendrix is dead.” Pearls Before Swine gets the most awesome guest artist imaginable.

A globe laid out by Voronoi diagrams, where all the territorial lines are drawn based on which national capital the land is closest to. Overlaid on our world’s current borders, so you can check out the difference.

US language maps, based on Census Bureau data. Most commonly-spoken languages in all the states based on different parameters, starting with “other than English” and “other than English or Spanish.”

Constructive reduplication, found all over the world, from English to Finnish to Hungarian to the Bantu languages. (Or, the linguistic explanation for the difference between “salad” and “salad salad”.)

A bunch of awesome animals (as well as some terrifying lamprey pictures; be ready to scroll; they’re after the Tufted Deer). Teeny armadillos, skinny canids, deer with awesome horns and hind-legged stances, and what looks like a rabbit-capybara.

Python swallows a three-foot-long crocodile whole. Nature is awesome.

The most amazing of the 3500+ exoplanets we’ve discovered, including the diamond one, the burning-ice one, the one with a day-long year, and the incredibly dark one (lit by a sun, though).

Humans make fun stuff: past through present. April 26, 2014

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Medieval kids’ doodles on birch bark. This is the greatest thing. 13th-century children draw exactly the same way as 21st-century children.

“An Austrian collector has found what may be the oldest globe, dated 1504, to depict the New World, engraved with immaculate detail on two conjoined halves of ostrich eggs.” (It has most of South America down correctly, but above that is ocean, with a couple of scattered islands where you would expect North America to be. Someone needs to write an AU in that universe.)

“Modern GIFs may make the Internet a more animated place, but they’re no match for the sublime weirdness of 19th-century animations.

“The girl who is standing in the photo is the one who is dead.

Isaac Asimov in 1964, predicting what the world will be like in 2014. He’s close to the Internet, way off when it comes to hovercars, and, as you would hope, right-on about robots.

Apple II emulator, with tons of games! In the name of nostalgia, I had to play a round of Oregon Trail, and then may have lost a couple of days rediscovering Lemmings.

Like every visual artist ever, Osamu Tezuka had a clandestine stash of personally-drawn porn. Specifically, sexy anthro mouse porn.

Virtual planet maker! Impressively shiny.

Hacking together your own solar chargers, suitable for powering your USB devices or whatever else you’re in the mood for.

Recovered past science + dismaying future science April 22, 2014

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“…archeologists unearthed a small stockpile of seeds stowed in a clay jar dating back 2,000 years. For the next four decades, the ancient seeds were kept in a drawer at Tel Aviv’s Bar-Ilan University. But then, in 2005, botanical researcher Elaine Solowey decided to plant one and see what, if anything, would sprout.” The resurrection of the lost-for-millennia Judean date palm.

“Technology historians say the instrument is technically more complex than any known for at least a millennium afterward.” The earliest surviving analog computer.

“Studies have found that parts of the Mediterranean region are drying out because of climate change, and some experts believe that droughts there have contributed to political destabilization in the Middle East and North Africa. In much of the American West, mountain snowpack is declining, threatening water supplies for the region […] In Alaska, the collapse of sea ice is allowing huge waves to strike the coast, causing erosion so rapid that it is already forcing entire communities to relocate.”

“Already, signs of erosion are everywhere in the Ganges Delta — the world’s largest delta, which empties much of the water coming from the Himalayas. There are brick foundations torn in half, palm trees growing out of rivers and rangy cattle grazing on island pastures the size of putting greens. Fields are dusted white with salt.”

“‘Nothing in the TMDL dictates that agriculture do anything one way or another — much less that any kind of zoning occur that is not supported by local government,’ Baker said. ‘States and local governments worked together with a number of federal agencies to develop this Clean Water Blueprint for the bay. It’s hardly a mandate being imposed on high down to the states.'”

“NASA scientists are calling the planet Kepler-186f, and it’s unlike anything they’ve found. The big news: Kepler-186f is the closest relative to the Earth that researchers have discovered.” Maybe we should send its potential residents a warning not to screw their planet up the way we have.

Jellies in space, cat vision, sun polarity, printable livers, and algae lamps March 6, 2014

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…or, science continues to be awesome.

“A warning for future space colonizers: Babies born in space might not ever figure out how to deal with gravity. Jellyfish babies, at least, have to deal with massive vertigo on Earth after spending their first few days in space.

Visualization of how cats see the world versus how humans do! Much better night vision, of course; but as it turns out, way worse distance vision.

The sun decides to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow. …okay, not exactly, but it is literally reversing its own polarity.

This is either the real-world precursor to hard-light holograms, or lightsabers. Possibly both. Exciting either way!

The mini-livers that Organovo made are just half a millimetre deep and 4 millimetres across but can perform most functions of the real thing. To create them, a printer builds up about 20 layers of hepatocytes and stellate cells – two major types of liver cell. Crucially, it also adds cells from the lining of blood vessels. These form a delicate mesh of channels that supply the liver cells with nutrients and oxygen, allowing the tissue to live for five days or longer.”

“It’s still in the ‘so crazy it just might work’ stage, but these microalgae-powered lamps, invented by French biochemist Pierre Calleja, could absorb a ton of carbon from the air every year. That’s as much as 150 to 200 trees.”

(Mad) science: preserved mammoths, super-vision, life on Mars, and brainlets-in-jars September 4, 2013

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“An expedition led by Russian scientists earlier this month uncovered the well-preserved carcass of a female mammoth on a remote island in the Arctic Ocean. […] But what was more surprising was that the carcass was so well preserved that it still had blood and muscle tissue.”

Found: a woman who has the inverse of color-blindness, a functioning extra cone that allows her to distinguish more colors than the average human. By a factor of 100.

Organoid310“Using molecular markers tuned to specific parts of the brain, Lancaster showed that the organoids develop a variety of distinctive zones that correspond to human brain regions like the prefrontal cortex, occipital lobe, hippocampus, and retina. They also included working neurons, which were produced in the right way.” These are lab-grown, human-stem-cell-derived mini-brainlets-in-a-jar.

“The difference between us and the people we were trying to serve: they probably had less food than we did. We were starving under the best possible medical conditions. And most of all, we knew the exact day on which our torture was going to end.”

“We don’t even have to speculate to see the impacts. The report notes that dozens of weather events in recent years have shown how vulnerable the energy sector is to even a moderately hotter climate (the United States has warmed about 1.5°F over the past century).”

Interactive tracker for the Mars Curiosity mission one year in, including a timeline and a ton of photos.

Speaking of the red planet, oxidized molybdenum levels suggest that the microbes whose heirs are all the life on Earth might have originated on Mars.