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How High IS It?

Nepal hopes to put disputes (mainly between it and China) about the actual height of Mount Everest to rest (sorry!) by remeasuring it using the latest technology. The question is, Can there ever be a final measurement, since the Indian and Eurasian plates continue to converge?:

Who Was Here First?

European-style stone tools unearthed at various sites along the East Coast suggest that people from Western Europe came here at the height of the Ice Age ~ 10,000 years before people from Siberia crossed the Bering Strait to this continent:

Define 'Comedy'

What a find! An interactive site in which one can explore to one's heart's content the three worlds (Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso) of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy. Magnifico!:

Good Dog

This article is from 2008, but it's interesting nonetheless, detailing as it does how dogs have developed a sense of right and wrong from their many years of being our constant companions:

Sooo Fly, Vocal Fry

You know how so many sentences end in question marks these days? Well, that's, like, a vocal trend that started with young women and moved up, down, and across the ranks from there? And it's not the only one? You know, we, like, totally owe these speaking fads to girl culture?:

See Siku

Soren Koch of Hilmer and Koch Photography
In honor of International Polar Bear Day (Feb. 27), a webcam at the Scandinavian Wildlife Park in Kolind, Denmark, is streaming the antics of a 3-month-old polar bear cub. "Siku" is the word most commonly used to mean "sea ice" in Inuit, and this little guy is being hand-raised because his mother wasn't producing milk (right now, the fuzzy thing is busy trying to chew on a handler's boot!):!/live-cams/player/siku-cam-1

I Believe I Know

It is “the only true theory of consciousness,” says neuroscientist Christof Koch about Giulio Tononi’s hypothesis based on a set of mathematical equations:

Truth Be Told

Mrs. O'Leary's cow did not cause the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, shaving does not cause terminal hair to grow back thicker or darker, and Wow! Wikipedia actually has a List of Common Misconceptions!:
(This being Wikipedia, of course, one should probably independently verify whichever nuggets intrigue one most before getting too excited, though they all refer back to sources.)

Wind Whisperer

A new kind of wind turbine claims to be quieter and able to generate power from less wind:


Path, Pinterest, Flat Stanley, and more ~ the BBC reviews some new and not-so-new-but-updated apps and sites (story and video):

Stemming Bad Breath

Halitosis, as it turns out, may have its benefits. Researchers at the Nippon Dental University found that the gas responsible for foul breath, hydrogen sulphide, increased the number of stem cells that turned into liver cells:

Pretty, Sharp

Artist Brusspup duplicated a photograph (of a girlfriend? if so, my guess is he was well rewarded!) with five colors of pushpins (15,000 of them, to be exact) on a bulletin board (video):

What Will Chanel Do Now?

The edict was handed down from on high, and now the French have banned the use of the word "mademoiselle" ("miss") from their official forms and documents, which begs the question, Will Chanel keep it as the name of its perfume?:

Follow the Money

The trend in Chinese immigration, long from the countryside to the cities (and we're talking about millions of people here), is changing (video):

Flowers From the Past

A flowering plant was grown from 32,000-year-old seeds found near the icy banks of a river in Siberia ~ and it's delicate and lovely:

The Girl Who Would Be Gaga

photo by Malgorzata Saniewska
Photographs of one Stefani Germanotta on the eve of fame, taken by a restaurant co-worker, photographer Malgorzata Saniewska:

The Amazing Emily and Her Dad

In his topsy-turvy office, UCSC professor emeritus David Cope has spent years perfecting a software that allows computers to create algorithmic compositions in the style of classical composers, Bach, for example. The resulting works can fool even experts (story and audio):

A new study shows that doing everyday things in reverse, or at least in a different, order can stimulate creative thinking.
Up the Down Staircase
(OK, here's the link you can click on to get there right away: )

4+2+4=A Good Night's Sleep?

Just one more ill to blame on the Industrial Revolution: Historians and scientists now agree that four hours of sleep followed by one or two hours awake and then a second four hours of sleep seems to be the norm for humans ~ and that's how it was until the mid-1800s:

The Principal Peter

A rare interview with Professor Peter Higgs ~ yes, he of boson fame ~ on the occasion of his receiving the 2011 Edinburgh Award (story and video):

Mennonite Women in Mexico

Eunice Adorno
In her book Las Mujeres Flores, photographer Eunice Adorno shares images and what she has learned about the women of this small, German-speaking community that originally came to Mexico from Canada in the 1920s (story and video):

Kids' Classics, Computerized

Barbie Photo Fashion Doll Mattel

Monopoly, Barbie, Hot Wheels, even Laser Tag are all being updated for the computer generation. Press a button on Barbie Photo Fashion's belt, for example, to take a picture that appears on her T-shirt (pretty cool, that). And how does Laser Tag compete? It's on the iPhone, of course!:

Boy on a Roll

Matt Rainey for the New York Times

Kamron Doyle, 14, gave some of the best bowlers in the Professional Bowlers Association's national United States Open cause for pause:

Art To Come

From The Exorcist on stage to John Cage's 100th birthday, a preview of some of the arts and culture events to come in L.A.:,0,2575434.photogallery

Mechanized Music Madness

Who knew our friends the machines could serenade us with such a toe-tapping beat? (video):

Hey, Hey, We're the Zappas!

I had no idea Frank Zappa (of the Mothers of Invention) and Mike Nesmith (of the Monkees) even knew each other, much less that they were friends, but it makes sense. Both were pretty smart, even though they followed practically opposing paths in their art. (BTW, did you know that Nesmith's mom invented Wite-Out?) (video):

A Scrid of Info for Youse

It's the Dictionary of Regional American English, y'all! ("Y'all" is one of the best regionalisms ever and deserving of national status, IMHO.) The project is finally finished, 50 years after it began:

A, B, C, D, iPad

The use of iPads in a kindergarten classroom improved the literacy-test scores of the children who were part of a study, according to an Apple blog:

Google-Colored Glasses

Google Goggles (n.): smart glasses that will stream Internet information for the wearer "based on preferences, location and Google's information," according to Google:,0,653228.story

Frère Jacques Would Approve

If you already speak English, why learn another language? And if you want to, which should it be? Answers to both questions, albeit not necessarily ones everyone would agree with (OK, OK, ... with which everyone would agree!), are here:

Mountains and Mist

Photographer Sebastião Salgado photographed the mountains of Ethiopia, where life continues as it has for generations, in black and white:

Duck, Duck, Rabbit

The easier it is for you to flip between duck and rabbit in this drawing, the more creative you probably are:

Cinema Vivant ~ Feb. 25

8 p.m., Silent movies accompanied by live gypsy swing music from Hot Club of San Francisco; Beckman Auditorium, Caltech, Pasadena. $10 (youth)/$20.

Is Seeing Believing?

The best optical illusions of 2011, as judged by the Neural Correlate Society (I still can't find the man and woman kissing!):

Practice Makes Perfect Fun

March 6-8 are, in this order, World Spelling Day, World Maths Day, and World Science Day, when you can play against people from all over the world. Sign up, and you can practice now:

It's Got Your Number

The future of your health is in your hands (it's your phone):

Creating Nature

Gotta love that Andy Goldsworthy!:

That's Nice

Research is showing that there is a biological reason for pro-social behavior not only in humans but in higher primates, elephants, and mice, among others, which undercuts the long-popular theory that humans are basically aggressive and competitive (and thanks to Kris for finding this article):

Got iPhone?

From giving Siri an Australian accent to accessing the camera in two moves, here are 21 tips to help you enjoy your iPhone (even more):

CO2 Up, pH Down

As CO2 levels in our atmosphere rise, the pH level of the ocean declines, which means the water becomes more corrosive. Two new studies of life surrounding CO2 seeps in the ocean floor give us a preview of what that may mean: and

One and Only

In 1950, according to the Census Bureau, the percent of U.S. households that consisted of one person living alone was 9.3. In 2000, that number was 26 ~ about 27.2 million Americans. In his new book, "Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone," NYU sociology professor Eric Klinenberg talks about the many factors that have contributed to that change:
For more on the topic:

Conscious Consciousness

There has been progress made in an area that many might call the true final frontier ~ the human mind's consciousness of itself and its abilities:

Bastion of Babel

The talking dictionary project is recording the last native speakers of endangered languages (story and audio):

The Edison Quiz

Apparently, Thomas Edison gave a knowledge test to all applicants for employment. Would you be part of the 7% who scored 90% or better?:

Get Out of Town!

Sometimes backlashes are good, as in the growing reaction against our increasingly sedentary lifestyle and our children's increasing lack of contact with nature and free play. "There is a growing body of research that says getting outside regularly is good for kids," says the director of an organization called Play England, "but that is fighting a massive zeitgeist, which says that if you let your kid out of your sight, then they will come to harm":

Going Down?

To announce the opening of its new thrill ride, a London mall hires an artist to paint an optical illusion in an elevator car, making it look as if its floor had crumbled away (story and video of the reactions):

A La Mode de Chez Nous

The 18th Century Macaroni

From Marie Antoinette's muslin gaulle to the Macaronis to Alexander McQueen's hooves, a tour of the more outrageous ~ and mostly intriguing ~ fashions throughout history:

A Clean Space

You know those Swiss, always neat. Now, they're turning their sights on the debris up in space, which, left unchecked, could almost certainly one day slam into the satellites we deem necessary (video):

Earth Day ~ March 31

Get ready to be part of an international, growing celebration of our power:

Love Without Borders

The Canhs now live in Hanoi
The amazing story, told in a slideshow, of a Vietnamese man and his North Korean love, together after three decades ~ 30 years during which he wrote 40 letters to her, during which he was told by North Korean authorities that she had died or that she had married, during which he never lost hope that one day they would be together:

A Day By Any Other Name ...

Valentine's Day? It's so turn-of-the-century! How about something a little more 21st century, like Generosity Day, for example (video)?:!

Insect Sushi

Would you eat bugs if they were elegantly presented and didn't look anything like bugs? Insects, say the inventors of the Ento Box, are the food of the future (and the use of the exquisite word "portmanteau" totally makes up for the typo ~ or misspelling? ~ of "tongue"!):
P.S., Thanks to Tim for the title of this post ~ try to say it three times fast!

Intro to Molecules

The most recently discovered molecule just may be the one that a 10-year-old accidentally created in her science class:

The Long & Short (Boards) of Styrofoam

Waste to Waves ~ a California company is turning Styrofoam into surfboard blanks (story and video):

Revenge of the Neanderthals

The sun does not revolve around the Earth, and the oldest cave paintings weren't painted by Homo sapiens sapiens:

Notes From a Cucumber

The Vegetable Orchestra tunes up (video):
and plays in a 2008 concert (video):

The Universe Song

Photos by NASA, music by Eric Idle ~ need I say more?!?:

Helping Hubble

You can help the scientists by classifying the galaxies in Hubble's images:

Importing Pachyderms

A professor of environmental change biology suggests what Australia can do to stop its cycle of grass fires: Bring in the elephants!:

Warm Colors

Nine of the ten warmest years since 1800 have taken place since 2000, according to NASA. A video timeline of the warming of the Earth, 1800-2011:

Desert Snow

Ski Dubai, an enclosed "winter" resort, has imported 20 penguins that will now live the pampered life in this bubble in the desert. It's a controversial move, of course: (story and video):

Flying Right

Included in this rescue story is valuable information about how to save a bird that's flown into a window:

The Shadow of Her Smile

Spain's Prado will send its twin painting of the Mona Lisa, thought by many experts to have been painted by a Da Vinci pupil alongside his teacher, to the Louvre for an upcoming Da Vinci exhibit: (video):