Saturday, October 6, 2018

This Is How You Flip a Water Bottle

Smithsonian: Hey Fellow Kids, This Is How You Flip a Water Bottle

New paper by undergrads illuminates the physics behind the Water Bottle Challenge

In 2016, the youth of America were obsessed with this one cool trick: the water-bottle challenge. The concept is simple, but it’s easier said than done. Just flip a full or half-empty plastic water bottle so it lands upright. Kids around the country chronicled their successes and failures on YouTube while the crinkling of tossed water bottles drove their parents crazy. The craze may have faded, but the physics still remains. That’s why, reports Mindy Weisberger at LiveScience, a group of young researchers recently published an article demonstrating how to land a water bottle every single time.

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CSN Editor: A lot of physics in play.

Library Of Congress Digitizing Historic Archives

CSN Editor: This is a cool video.

From YouTube .... Reporting for Sunday TODAY, NBC’s Harry Smith takes a tour of the largest library in the world: the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. He gets a first-hand look at some of the 164 million items in the archives, including historic documents that shaped this country.

Friday, October 5, 2018

2018 Nobel Peace Prize -- News Roundup

Daily Mail: Nobel Peace Prize is jointly awarded to a Yazidi former ISIS sex slave turned human rights activist and a Congolese doctor treating rape victims

* The winners are Nadia Murad, a 25-year-old from Iraq and Denis Mukwege, 63, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo
* They won for their 'efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war'
* Murad campaigns for the ISIS murders of Yazidis to be recognised as genocide
* She is the second youngest winner after Malala Yousafzai who won in 2014 at 17
* Mukwege has treated thousands of survivors of sexual violence in armed conflict
* He has called on the world to take a tougher line on rape as a weapon of war
* The prize, worth $1 million will be presented in Oslo, Norway on December 10

This year's Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to a gynecologist treating victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo and a Yazidi human rights activist and survivor of sexual slavery by Islamic State.

The prize, worth nine million Swedish crowns ($1 million), will be presented to Nadia Murad, 25, and Denis Mukwege, 63, in Oslo on December 10.

On the reason for their choice, the Nobel committee chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen said in Oslo that the pair one the prestigious award for their 'efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.'

Read more ....

2018 Nobel Peace Prize -- News Roundup

The Latest: Peace winners praised by US envoy, not Trump -- AP
Nobel peace prize 2018 won by Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad - as it happened -- The Guardian
Congolese doctor, Yazidi activist, champions in fight against rape in war, win Nobel Peace Prize -- Reuters
Nobel Peace Prize for anti-rape activists Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege -- BBC
2018 Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to Yazidi Activist and Congolese Doctor -- The New York Times
Nobel peace prize 2018 winners: who are Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad? – video profile -- The Guardian
Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad -- DW
Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad for efforts to end sexual violence in war -- ABC News Online
Nobel Peace Prize honours champions of fight against sexual violence -- AFP
Nobel Peace laureates demand end to sexual violence in war -- AP
Nadia Murad: from jihadist slave to Nobel laureate -- AFP
Nadia Murad, from ISIS sex slave to global human rights campaigner -- CNN
Congolese doctor dedicates Nobel Peace Prize to victims of sexual violence -- Reuters
Nobel's Mukwege hears news in surgery as wild cheers erupt -- AFP
'Dr. Miracle' Is The Co-Recipient Of The Nobel Peace Prize -- NPR
Who is Nobel Peace Prize winner Denis Mukwege? -- DW
DR Congo hails Nobel win but says Mukwege 'politicises' his work -- AFP
DR Congo hails Mukwege Nobel win but says he's 'not infallible' -- AFP
Yazidis celebrate Murad's Nobel prize as they mark top ritual -- AFP
UN chief says Nobel Peace Prize winners 'defended our values' -- AFP
Sexual violence, a savage feature of conflict over centuries -- AP

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Is The Pentagon Developing An Agricultural Bioweapon?

Research programme with potential for dual use: scientists fear that the Insect Ally programme by the US could encourage other states to increase their own research activities in the field of biological warfare (MPG/D.Duneka)

Wired: The US military is hacking insects with virus DNA, raising fears of dangerous new bio-weapons

Darpa, the research arm of the US military, is embarking on a radical new trial, but researchers warn that the technology could be turned into a biological weapon

Making crops taller, tastier, and more resistant to disease is a tedious process. For thousands of years, the only option farmers had was to pick two plants that showed particularly desirable characteristics and breed them together, hopefully creating offspring that shared those promising traits and avoided undesirable ones.

Modern gene-mutating techniques sped up this process. First, researchers worked out that by bombarding embryonic cells with radiation, they could force mutations in plant genomes, causing desirable traits to occur at random. They could then pull out these mutated cells and use them to generate entirely new plant lines.

Read more ....

More News On Concerns That The Pentagon Developing An Agricultural Bioweapon

The Pentagon is studying an insect army to defend crops. Critics fear a bioweapon. -- Washington Post
Viruses Spread by Insects to Crops Sound Scary. The Military Calls It Food Security. -- The New York Times
Scientists: US military program could be seen as bioweapon -- FOX News/AP
U.S. military project could be seen as a bioweapon, scientists warn -- NBC
US plan to genetically alter crops via insects feared to be biological war plan -- The Guardian
US military plan to spread viruses using insects could create ‘new class of biological weapon’, scientists warn -- The Independent
DARPA is Making Insects That Can Deliver Bioweapons, Scientists Claim -- Newsweek
The Pentagon is studying an insect army to defend crops. Critics fear a bioweapon -- Stuff
Scathing Report Accuses the Pentagon of Developing an Agricultural Bioweapon -- Gizmodo
Questions Raised About DARPA-Funded Crop Program -- The Scientist

Should The Nobel Prize Consider Diversity, Geography, And Gender When Awarding The Prize?

Nobel Prizes are the most prestigious awards on the planet. This year's announcements have further highlighted questions about why so few women have entered the pantheon, particularly in the sciences. (Fernando Vergara/Associated Press)

CBC: Nobel Prizes still struggle with wide gender disparity

Just 48 of 892 winners have been women, and 30 of those have won literature or peace prize

Nobel Prizes are the most prestigious awards on the planet but the aura of this year's announcements has been dulled by questions over why so few women have entered the pantheon, particularly in the sciences.

The march of Nobel announcements began Monday with the physiology/medicine prize.

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CSN Editor: The answer is no. The Nobel Prize should not consider diversity, geography, and gender. The focus should be on the merit of the science, or in the case of literature, the work and the impact that the author has been able to accomplish.

Apple’s Best Product Is Now Privacy

Fast Company: Forget the new iPhones: Apple’s best product is now privacy

Under Tim Cook’s leadership, Apple saw just how critical an issue user privacy would become. Now it’s at least as important a feature as shiny industrial design or a nice camera.

When my friends come to me asking which smartphone or laptop they should buy, I almost always recommend an Apple product–the latest iPhone or MacBook. I recommend these products not just because they are Apple’s best, but because as someone who covers technology for a living, I believe that for most people, Apple offers better products and solutions than its competitors.

Yes, Apple’s products are more expensive than many, “but you get what you pay for,” I frequently explain. In the case of iPhones, they generally have the fastest smartphone processors on the market, sport arguably the best industrial design, and have the most refined and stable operating system. I attribute similar qualities to Apple’s MacBooks, although my recommendation for those also include the line, “you’ll pay a little more up front, but they’ll last you twice as long as a PC laptop.”

Read more ....

CSN Editor: Maybe no more .... Chinese Spies Infiltrated 30 American Companies Including Apple And Amazon By Embedding Chips On Their Server Boards.

The Story Behind SpaceX

The Falcon 1 rocket ascends toward space on its fourth flight. SpaceX

Ars Techica: Inside the eight desperate weeks that saved SpaceX from ruin

The company's meteoric rise can be traced to a critical launch from a Pacific isle.

They bunked in a double-wide trailer, cramming inside on cots and sleeping bags, as many as a dozen at a time. In the mornings, they feasted on steaming plates of scrambled eggs. At night, beneath some of the darkest skies on Earth, they grilled steaks and wondered if the heavens above were beyond their reach. Kids, most of them, existed alone on a tiny speck of an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It was the middle of nowhere, really.

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WNU Editor: It is amazing how feeling desperate and under pressure can bring about innovations and new discoveries.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Top 10 Most Expensive Books Ever Sold

Luxatic: The Top 10 Most Expensive Books Ever Sold

Used since hundreds of years ago, books are probably the most important step in mankind’s evolution. From the papyrus scrolls used in the Ancient Egypt and the manuscripts in the monasteries of The Middle Ages, books evolved into what we know today and even appeared more and more in digital form.

While before Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press in 1439, books had to be written and copied by hand making them expensive and rare, today the process is so automatized and so much more easier for their digital form that books have become quite cheap and accessible.

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CSN Editor: In my opinion these books are priceless.

The $100 U.S. Bill Is The Most Popular Bill In The World

Quartz: There are now more $100 bills than $1 bills in the world

A funny thing happened on the way to a world of cryptocurrencies and mobile payments. Cash became more popular than ever. The main reason? The one hundred dollar bill.

In 2017, for the first time ever, the one hundred dollar bill became the most popular US bill in circulation, beating out the one dollar bill. It is quite the turn of events for Benjamin Franklin-faced banknote. Just 10 years ago, it was less common than both the $20 and the $1.

The share of US dollars in circulation as a share of GDP rose from about 6% in 2010 to 9% in 2018, according to the Federal Reserve. Increased use of $100 bills has been the primary driver.

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WNU Editor: A one dollar bill does not buy much in today's world.

Astronomers Have Found A Moon The Size Of Neptune In A Distant Star System

An artist's concept of the star system where researchers think they've observed the first exomoon. Dan Durda

Popular Science: Astronomers think they’ve found a moon the size of Neptune in a distant star system

It could be the largest moon we’ve ever seen

Nearly eight thousand light-years away from Earth, there’s a star about the same size as our sun. Like our own solar system, that distant star is orbited by a planet about the same size as Jupiter. But that’s where the similarities end. Around that planet circles a Neptune-sized gas giant, which may be the first moon discovered outside the solar system, and the largest moon ever observed.

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WNU Editor: That must be one hell of a big moon.

The Ultimate Guide To Cutting and Splitting Firewood

Popular Mechanics: The Ultimate Guide To Cutting and Splitting Firewood

From felled tree to kindling, how to safely turn fresh wood into wood heat.

Heating with wood is a study in stubborn self-sufficiency. It’s hard work, but as with growing vegetables, it’s rewarding. It’s also a study in efficiency or inefficiency. Looked at as industrial engineering, the goal is to turn a standing tree into heat as efficiently as possible. You shouldn’t take the easy way out and convince yourself that cutting and burning firewood is just a lifestyle choice that’s all frost-covered mornings and flannel shirts. Efficiency should elbow its way into that cozy scene.

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Editor: The season to do this is now.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

How Viagra Became A $3-Billion-Dollar-a-Year Industry

The very first Viagra print ad. It appeared in Esquire in August 1998. Esquire

Esquire: How Viagra Went from a Medical Mistake to a $3-Billion-Dollar-a-Year Industry

Two unlikely dudes took on Wall Street, pharma nerds, and God—and got America hooked on a little blue pill.

According to the Chinese calendar, 2017 was the Year of the Cock. 2018 is the Year of the Dog. And, in Dog years, this is also the Year of the Cock Pill: Viagra.

The revolutionary erectile-dysfunction drug is celebrating the twentieth anniversary of its Brobdingnagian launch in a most auspicious way: by finally going generic.

The ramifications for generic sildenafil (the scientific name) are huge for your pocketbook and your health. Viagra’s high demand and cost (about seventy dollars a pill) have made it among the most bootlegged meds in the world, and one of the top sellers for Internet pharmacies. A study presented at the World Meeting on Sexual Medicine found that 77 percent of Viagra sold online was fake. Counterfeit Viagra and similar impostors have been linked to liver damage, strokes, and death. Just a few years back, former Los Angeles Lakers star Lamar Odom ended up face-planted in a Nevada brothel from coke and phony herbal fucklements. “He was taking herbal Viagra,” brothel owner Dennis Hof said at the time, “and a lot of it.” The availability of generic sildenafil cuts the price of the pills in half and promises greater assurance that the pill you pop won’t be your last.

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WNU Editor: The need for the blue pill was (and still is) there.

Russian Space Chief Believes That The ISS Space Station Hole Was Made Deliberately

Sabotage: Russian astronaut Sergei Prokopyev showed the original 'drilled hole' during a video released by the space agency Roscosmos. NASA

Daily Mail: It was sabotage! Russia finds International Space Station hole was made DELIBERATELY, says agency chief

* The ISS experienced a drop in pressure due to an air leak overnight on August 30
* Various theories were floated, including damage caused by a micrometeorite
* However, an initial investigation has ruled-out accidental damage as an option
* A second probe aims to reveal further details, including persons responsible

Russian investigators looking into the origin of a hole that caused an oxygen leak on the International Space Station say it was caused deliberately.

Speaking on Monday, Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russian space agency Roskosmos, said that an official investigative report had confirmed their theory.

'It concluded that a manufacturing defect had been ruled out which is important to establish the truth,' he said.

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Update: Russia finds ISS hole made deliberately: space chief (

Bookyards Editor: The Russian Space Agency are saying that it was not a manufacturing defect. That this hole was made deliberately in space. A lot of speculation is happening right now, but unfortunately there is no proof.

Here Are Your 2018 Ig Nobel Prize Winners

Ars Technica: Here are your 2018 Ig Nobel Prize winners

The 2018 awards honor research on cursing while driving and cannibalistic calories.

Ever wondered why so many people don't read instruction manuals, or how many calories are in the human body? Or whether stabbing a voodoo doll representing your horrible boss with pins could help reduce workplace tension? The winners of this year's Ig Nobel Prizes have got you covered. These and other unusual research topics were honored tonight in a ceremony at Harvard University's Sanders Theater.

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WNU Editor: Never a dull moment at this event.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Lost Civilisations Tens Of Thousands Of Years Old Discovered In India's Western State Of Maharashtra?

BBC: Prehistoric art hints at lost Indian civilisation

The discovery of rock carvings believed to be tens of thousands of years old in India's western state of Maharashtra has greatly excited archaeologists who believe they hold clues to a previously unknown civilisation, BBC Marathi's Mayuresh Konnur reports.

The rock carvings - known as petroglyphs - have been discovered in their thousands atop hillocks in the Konkan region of western Maharashtra.

Mostly discovered in the Ratnagiri and Rajapur areas, a majority of the images etched on the rocky, flat hilltops remained unnoticed for thousands of years.

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WNU Editor: This discovery is  raising more questions than answers.

Is This What We Call Progress?

Here Is A Great Resource On Ancient Libraries

Editor: For those who are interested in the history of ancient libraries, here is a great website (link here).

Sunday, September 30, 2018

This Is Why 95.8% Of Female Newscasters Have The "Same Hair"

Courtesy of Esther Katro.

In Style: Why 95.8% of Female Newscasters Have the Same Hair

Esther Katro was 22 when she landed her first job as a reporter at a local TV station in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The recent graduate loved the thrill of breaking news and being on air. But when she was out chasing stories in the college town, people kept mistaking her for a student. She went to her news director for advice, and his response had nothing to do with developing her fledgling reporting skills. “He was like, ‘You have to cut your hair to look older,’” she recalled.

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WNU Editor: Never noticed it before .... but it is true .... all the female newscasters on the TV stations that I watch have short hair.

300 New Words Have Been Added To The Scrabble Dictionary

The Guardian: Yowza! 300 new words added to Scrabble dictionary

Scrabble players will have to rethink their game after new words, including OK and ew, added to approved list

Three hundred new words have been added to the official US Scrabble dictionary, including sriracha, aquafaba, beatdown, zomboid, twerk, sheeple, wayback, bibimbap, botnet, emoji, facepalm, frowny, hivemind, puggle and yowza.

Merriam-Webster released the sixth edition of the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary on Monday, four years after the last version.

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Editor: The Scrabble dictionary checker is here.