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Earth, H2T

Fantastic infographic takes us from 35,000 feet up to 35,000 feet down, with fascinating facts along the way (did you know that sharks are common down to 7,000 feet or that the Deepwater Horizon oil rig had drilled down to 18,000 feet before it exploded?):

A Tree Grows in Milan

©Boeri Studio
About 900 trees, actually, and they're growing in a "vertical forest" (Bosco Verticale), on two residential buildings set to open this year:

Be the First on Your Block

Own an EarthBag home (photo gallery):

It Wasn't Built in a Day

An interactive timeline of the stages of Stonehenge:

Xtreme Recycling

Well, really (*shudder!*), why not? OrthoMetals recycles the metal products that are left behind after someone's been cremated. You know, hip replacements, artificial knees, even casket screws and handles:

Look, Ma, No Helmet

Two Canadian teens launch Lego man about 80,000 feet into the stratosphere and post the footage for the world to see (story and video):

Alligator Hunter

It's a family affair! His granddaughter caught her first alligator when she was 6 years old. Meet the man who taught her how and who keeps Louisianans safe from the pesky critters (and, yes, apparently, they "taste like chicken") (video):

Just a Quick Note

Ukrainian Lubomyr Melnyk plays "continuous music," which entails, among other things, playing about 12 notes and sometimes as many as 19 notes per second (video):

Words for Thought

Hmmm. If you had to pick "10 Novels That Will Sharpen Your Mind," which would you pick? Here are Scientific American's choices, plus a synopsis of each one (and, as is often the case, the comments following the story are just as interesting, if not more so):

Introvert? More Power to You!

A new book extols the virtues ~ and invaluable contributions ~ of the quietest among us:

Their Golden Years

How eight dictators, from Napoleon Bonaparte to Idi Amin to Manuel Noriega, spent their time in exile:

By Thunder!

Your chances of getting hit by lightning (assuming a lifespan of 80 years) are 1 in 6,250. So says the National Weather Service in this handy-dandy guide to thunderstorms that includes information about thunder, lightning, safety ... and a cool quiz!:

Costa Concordia's Coincidences

There are two: Number One ~ apparently, the theme from the movie Titanic was playing as the cruise ship Costa Concordia ran into rocks and started to tip over. Number Two ~ apparently again, one of the survivors is the granddaughter of the woman who survived the Titanic sinking:

Yes, No, Maybe So

Constellations, a play currently on stage in London, explores the ramifications of life in a multiverse. Here, the human angle may be even more fascinating than the scientific one: As the reviewer says, "If you truly accept that you inhabit a multiverse in which 'everything that can happen, does happen,' then what real significance do your choices have?":

The Buzz About Colony Collapse

Another theory, this one backed by science, about what's causing the rise of Colony Collapse Disorder:

Identifying Autism

Researchers say they can now identify signs of autism (though not with 100% accuracy) in infants as young as six months of age:

Big Brother Fashion

Raf Simons
Phillip Lim
Fashion often echoes the mood of the moment, and photos from the runway seem be showing that Orwell's 1984 has arrived: dour, androgynous, impersonal, and mechanical ~ at least for the men.

Happy New Year!

Celebrations light up the sky above Beijing (video):
Some predictions for this Chinese New Year of the Dragon from a feng shui master and an astrologer:


How do you like to go up in a swing/up in the air so blue?/Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing/ever a child can do!                                                                            ~Robert Louis Stevenson
Pretty pleasant for adults, too. I wonder if Stevenson ever imagined the inventive, artistic kinds of swings some people have created ~ and the unique places they've installed them:

An Apple for the Student

We have seen the classroom of the near future, and it seems it's all about the iPad. With the launching of iBooks 2, textbooks for the iPad, Apple, as usual, is changing the way we live and learn:
A demonstration of one such textbook (video):

Sail on, Silver Girl

Laura Dekker has become the youngest person to sail around the world solo (video):

The Sounds of Joy

Here, indeed, are words to live by. What improviser Will Hewett discovered when he sang for 15 minutes every day for a year was that "time bows to authentic commitment, and it stretches to accommodate it" (video):

Architecture FOR the People

Finally, there's someone like architect Bjarke Ingels, architect Bjarke Ingels, architect Bjarke Ingels ~ nothing more needs to be said. Ever. (video):
His company website (the windows take a minute to load but are completely worth waiting for; see the North Atlantic Culture House [NAB], third icon from top of first 2005 column, Motion til en leg [TRYG], top icon of first 2011 column, and Zira Island Master Plan [ZIR], third icon from bottom of first 2008 column):
Incinerator as ski slope, Copenhagen:
BIG's sustainable Danish Pavilion, Expo 2010

Hydrotherapy for Venice?

Could injecting water beneath the city of Venice save it from drowning?:

Of Mail and Machines

Enter the Smithsonian's exhibit on the United States Postal Service, its history, and how it works today (video and interactive timeline):

Parkour Palestine

Photo by Klaus Thymann (via NYT)
Few places in the world could be a more appropriate background for the philosophy and theory behind parkour than the Gaza Strip. According to one of the youths who practices it, "parkour helps untangle the 'anger and depression' that comes with living where they do" (story and video):

The Middle-Age Mind

What researchers are learning from the Midus (Midlife in the United States) study:
The Midus website:

Nailed It

An Illinois man didn't realize a nail from his nail gun had penetrated his brain until the next day (it made for a great facebook profile picture ~ seriously!):

Not So Silly, This Putty!

The story of Silly Putty, or how to turn $147 into $140 million:

To Live and Die in Antarctica

One hundred years ago, in his second trip to Antarctica, British explorer Robert Falcon Scott reached the South Pole only to discover that a Norwegian explorer had beaten him there. Still, Scott and his crew did some important scientific work before he and four of his comrades succumbed to the harsh environment (video):

Look Who's Talking

A new study has found that, as infants start to babble, they focus their attention on adults' mouths more than their eyes. At around 1, when they start to speak, they shift their focus back to the eyes. These findings may allow us to determine sooner whether a child may be autistic:

Rube Would Be Proud

How to exercise your hamster (or is that a guinea pig?) and turn a page of your newspaper without using your hands, all while enjoying your morning coffee ~ and breaking a vase and your computer in the process (video):

Loooong Hibernation

The skulls of prehistoric bears and some humans were discovered in an underwater cave on the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico (video):

Not One Red Cent

German Heidemarie Schwermer says she has lived without money for the past 14 years. Now her goal is to get others to join her. Her story is told in a new documentary, Living Without Money:

He Had a Dream

Video and full text of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, famous "I Have a Dream" speech, given in 1963:

It's the Soot, Stupid!

While lowering carbon dioxide emissions to slow climate change is important, scientists at NASA suggest that faster results could be obtained by focusing our efforts on methane and soot:

When Less Costs More

First, there was the word. And now, Sebastian Wernicke ~ with some help from hired assistants ~ boils approximately 2.3 million words' worth of TED talks down to six:

Living Wonder

Stephen Hawking, who turned 70 earlier this month, speaks about his life and his life's work:


The hagfish, which has been around since before the dinosaurs, is caught on tape gagging its would-be predators with slime (video):

Border Crossing

What's it like to follow your parents to a new country, to start over in a new school, with new customs and a language you may be able to speak but can't read or write? Just ask the new migrant students: children who grew up in the United States but moved with their families back across the border to Tijuana:

Big Music

Jake Shimabukuro and his ukulele (who woulda thought?!) (audio):

Sit Still!

An article in February's Pediatrics journal suggests that it is parents' focus on academic readiness and protection from playground injury that are keeping our preschoolers who are in day care from getting the exercise they need:

O00ooooohhhh ~ tech!

Look at what's being unveiled at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show!:

Snake on the Plain

The world's newest snake species can thank a little girl named Matilda for its official name:

Words, Words, 话

Interesting column ~ and comments ~ about the Chinese language. Is it one language with dialects or a family of languages, and what about the written characters?:

It Really IS Milky

Scientists have discovered the color of the Milky Way. And this is interesting because? Well, because stars' color indicates where they are in their life cycle. Apparently, according to the University of Pittsburgh's Jeffrey Newman, "The Milky Way is in a very interesting evolutionary state right now":
And that's not all! It seems there could be as many as 100 billion planets in the Milky Way:

Social Media Circa 1517

Could there have been anything like the Arab Spring, the Occupy movement, or even the election of a man named Obama before facebook and the internet? There could have, and there was. Meet Martin Luther (story and audio; fyi, I found the written story much more detailed and interesting, so if you have time for only one ...):

Impersonating an Impersonation

We can imagine to what lengths Meryl Streep (a fellow alum, if you don't mind my saying!) went to "become" Margaret Thatcher. Here's an account of how Margaret Thatcher herself became Margaret Thatcher:

Birthday Boy

Meet North Korea's new leader, Kim Jong-un, in a new video put out by the government in honor of his birthday:

A Home of One's Own

Where would you choose to live if you were a fish? Inside a sea cucumber? In Death Valley? How about in a shell? (story and videos):

Into the Mist

South Island, New Zealand   Steffen Schrägle
A phantasmagorical slideshow, well-captioned, of mists around the world:


Hard to believe, but the famous/infamous No Child Left Behind Act is 10 years old this month. An analysis of its achievements so far:

Bridge to Somewhere

The historic 7th Street Bridge over the Los Angeles River is actually two bridges, one on top of the other. Only the top level is now used by vehicles, and the area under it has long been empty, home to grafitti, trash, and the occasional homeless individual. It could be so much more, says architect Arthur Golding ~ it could be a Mercado del Río (story, slideshow, and audio):

Need to Read

On World Book Night (April 25, 2012), volunteers (like you) give out free books ~ books that they get for free from the organization when they sign up to be a Giver:

Now You Don't See It, Now You Do

Don't see that cute, fuzzy creature standing next to your friend on the subway? Well, it's there ~ sort of. Coming soon to an iPhone near you: apps that augment reality (video):

Ape for Apps

Apes need entertainment, too, and a few lucky ones are getting it the same way their cousins (we humans) do, from playing with the iPad (story, photos, video):

Turn and Face the Strange

"Change accelerates," says physicist and author Michio Kaku, and that's something we'll have to get used to. Here, he gives some predictions for 2012, including whether we should expect the world to end on Dec. 21 (video):

Picture This

Qamar Hashim
Eight-year-old Iraqi Qamar Hashim, the son of a photojournalist, has been using a camera since he was about 5. His first pictures were of U.S. soldiers, taken from the window of his home (story, photos, and video):

Stairways From Heaven

my favorite (of course!), in England
... and maybe to heaven as well (slideshow):

Star Light, Star Bright

The 12 best sky-watching events of the new year, starting with the Quarantid meteor shower, which should be easier to see than a lot of them because the moon won't be too bright, on Jan. 4:

The New Black Gold

Appreciate it while you can. Coffee (yes, coffee!! aaaaaaaaaaa) is one of the crops being negatively affected by climate change (slideshow):

It's a Girls' World

James Brown had it all wrong! The Girl Scouts turns 100 this year, and to celebrate, the organization has declared 2012 The Year of the Girl:

Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low with members of the first troop, originally called the Girl Guides, in Georgia. Her niece was the first registered member.
For more about Low, see

The Writing on the Wall

A proposed ordinance loosens restrictions on murals in Los Angeles by positioning them as original works of art. A 60-day public comment period began on Dec. 7, with the release of the draft:

Déjà Vu: The State-Backed Company

A profile of the once monolithic East India Company, whose layout is looking more and more familiar again. The question is, Will ~ or When will ~ its modern counterparts adopt its tactic of a standing army?:

Speaking in Tongues

Musings (inspired by the book Babel No More: The Search for the World’s Most Extraordinary Language Learners) about how we learn foreign languages and why some people seem to be able to learn so many more than others, like up to about 50!:
P.S., The comments following the article are just as interesting, IMHO. ... Hmmm ... do texting abbreviations count as a separate language?

If Fishes Were Wishes

An experiment with the golden shiner fish suggests that the uninformed individuals in a group can completely change that group's dynamic by diluting the minority opinion, thus allowing the majority to predominate. Can this phenomenon be generalized to humans ~ and to voters, in particular?: