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Earth Hour Around the World

The Sydney Harbour Bridge before/after (right)
 Beautiful pictures of cities, towns, famous buildings and monuments joining in the movement:

Los Angeles Free-ways

The Freeway Service Patrol, funded by a proposition that passed in 1990 (I know, long time ago, but maybe the service has been around for a while and we just never knew about it?), helps stranded motorists gratis. Just dial #399 or call from a freeway call box (and thanks to Francine for getting the word out):

What Some People Do

As a member of Amnesty International, I received an Urgent Action letter about one Jenni Williams, founder of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise. I didn't know anything about her, so I looked her up. A courageous and impressive woman indeed:

Afternoon Delight

Now, these are happy cows! (video):

Street Sleeper

Designers in Detroit are creating solutions for the homeless population, like a bag that turns into a shoe and a water- and wind-resistant coat that turns into a sleeping bag:

15 Minutes

Hollywood auditions for a black cat, 1961:

published in Life magazine; photos by Ralph Crane

Time To Sleep

Apparently, it is not the amount of sleep we get in middle age that has the greatest effect on our brain's ability to function, but whether that amount has changed substantially over the years:

On the Brain

An interview with Jonah Lehrer, author of Proust Was a Neuroscientist, reveals some interesting factoids (disclaimer: I have not fact-checked them). Did you know, for example, that when jazz musicians are improvising, scans show, they "turn off" the part of the brain that restrains us ~ the superego part, if you will (my words)?:,0,1199318,full.column

Is Kevin Costner To Blame?

Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones ~ why is everyone speaking with a British accent?:

Drive, Baby, Drive

Google's car uses radar and GPS to drive itself ~ and its blind passenger, in this case, to Taco Bell and the dry cleaner's (story and awesome video):

Earth Hour ~ Saturday, March 31

More than 5,200 cities and towns in 135 countries and territories ~ turning out the lights for an hour or more can light up your life by making you part of a global community:

You Say πατάτα, and I Say Potato

The Greeks are responding to their personal financial crises with charity, barter, and innovation (story and video):

Americans Abroad

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”     —Mark Twain
One of 10 Ideas: A Defense Strategy for the Global Generation from the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute is to make it easier and more affordable for students to study abroad:

Red-Hot Cash

Volunteers distribute briquettes Laszlo Balogh, Reuters
Literally. Hungary has turned its old bills into briquettes, which it's giving to the poor and to charities (slideshow):

Move to the (Heart)Beat

Trust them Brits to come up with a memorable ad (aka "advert") that teaches the best way to perform CPR and save lives (video):!

Cups and Caboodle

How quickly can you stack 12 cups into a pyramid? How about 1.93 seconds? If so, you could have won the 2012 championship in Tokyo (story and video):

Cloning Around

A graphic detailing the milestones of cloning, from the tadpole in the 1950s to the cow that makes quasi-human milk in 2011:

Nature's Child

More and more parents are choosing natural products for their babies and children:

You Must Remember This

Winner Nelson Dellis ©Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images
The USA Memory Championship took place on March 24 and was won by a Florida man (for the second year in a row) who trained by memorizing random series of cards while climbing Mount Everest:

Math Notes

A new study shows the benefits of teaching fractions by way of music:

Kid Critic

Let's say you're a kid (or traveling with one) and you wanna know where to eat in New York City. Zagat won't really tell you, the Guide Michelin won't really tell you. No one will tell you quite like a kid tells you. And that's where David Pines steps in. Best buffalo wings, btw? Atomic Wings (there are three, on Broadway, 9th, and 2nd ~ you're welcome):

The Thing About This Ring ...

... is that it was made entirely out of one 150-carat diamond ~ and it can be yours for about $68 million (story and video):


Juliane Koepcke tells the fascinating and heartrending story of her survival after a plane crash in the Peruvian rainforest 42 years ago:

The Truffle Kerfuffle

Ah, the mighty truffle. Unattractive, reclusive, and yet somehow wildly popular. Fans may be thrilled to know they can be found all over the world:

Jim Yong Who?

We know he's the president of Dartmouth, but besides that, who, exactly, is Jim Yong Kim, President Obama's nominee to head the World Bank?:

Now THAT'S Entertainment!

Elvis would have loved it.
Where to stay when you're visiting Minsk World, China's very own military theme park? Why, the Kiev, of course, a Russian aircraft carrier that has been turned into a luxury hotel:

It's About Time

ChronoZoom, now out in beta version, is a zoomable, clickable history of time across the universe. It was dreamed up by a UC Berkeley student while in a class on Big History (video):!

Worldwide Weddings

Veiled brides wait for their mass wedding ceremony to start, Amman, Jordan, July 1999
Jamal Nasrallah / AFP/Getty Images

There are many different ways to get married (slideshow):

South African president Jacob Zuma and his bride, Tobeka Madiba, dance in a Zulu ceremony, January 2010, Nkandla, South Aftica
Rajesh Jantilal/AFP/Getty Images

YA Power

Harry Potter, The Hunger Games ~ Young Adult literature is having an incredible influence over its readers, and much of that influence is pointing fans in the direction of activism and community service:

Prisoner to Paliamentarian?

A former political prisoner is running for parliament in Burma/Myanmar:

A Scroll Through Space

A fantastic infographic showing the true vastness of space. Printed out, it would take up 27 pages ~ and that's only to the edge of our solar system!:

Capturing Change in Cuba

Photographers Chip Cooper (from Alabama) and Néstor Martí (from Cuba) talk about the Cuba they saw and photographed ~ a Cuba in transition, a Cuba on the edge of great change ~ for their book Old Havana/La Habana Vieja (story and video):

ALL the Amenities

Backyard baseball diamond, Castle Rock, Colorado
Interested in a house with its own skate park complete with jumps (one over the pool), rails, and a quarter pipe? How about one with a full-size baseball diamond in the back yard? Really, though, why set your sights so low? (slideshow):

Curious Minds Want To Know

Paul Allen (yes, he of Microsoft fame) is fascinated by "what makes us human" ~ $500 million worth of fascinated:

The Color of Creativity

Several new studies all point to the same conclusion ~ that the color green spurs creativity:

Greeks Bearing High-Tech Gifts

Tech entrepreneurs in Greece are hoping their field will lead the country out of its financial morass:

Earhart 75 Years Later

New evidence may point the way to finally solving the mystery of aviator Amelia Earhart's disappearance:

Einstein Online

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which Albert Einstein helped found, has added to its online catalog of his papers. It now includes about 80,000 documents, not just about science, but personal papers, such as letters sent and received:

Scene From Space

Scientists using a new computer program to pore over satellite photos have discovered around 9,000 possible new archaeological sites in northeastern Syria:

Peace & Love

A Facebook campaign started by an Israeli family exemplifies the best of what social media can do:

A Little Slice of Pyongyang

Touted as Europe's first North Korean restaurant, Pyongyang in Amsterdam is staffed by North Koreans chosen by the North Korean government and trained at the Pyongyang Restaurant in Beijing. "We want to help patrons discover the people and the country. It has nothing to do with politics," says owner Remco van Daal:

Witness to History

Photographer Lewis Hine (1874-1940) fought the inhumanity of child labor in the best way he knew how, with his camera:

Of this photograph, Hine noted: Norma Lawrence is 10 years old and picks from 100 to 150 pounds of cotton a day. Drags the sack which often hold 50 pounds or more before emptied. Location: Comanche County, Oklahoma. Date Created/Published: 1916 October 10.

Different From You and Me

Holland & Knight

Copper heiress Huguette Clark died last year (at the age of 104), but her apartments and houses, long uninhabited but still maintained, are coming to life with stories of their reclusive owner:

The World at Your Fingertips

Yes, there's an app for that, and it's from NASA. "Earth Now" lets you check up on our planet's vital signs. What's more, it's free:

A Paler Shade of Green

The pendulum continues to swing. A recent study comparing the attitudes of three generations (Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials) suggests that the real "Me Generation" is the one born in the 1980s and 1990s:

Eat Like a Cave(wo)man ...

(... but walk like an Egyptian.) First it was Sauvage, in Berlin. Now Copenhagen is getting its very own restaurant serving food according to the diet of our ancestors. Appropriately enough, it is called Palæo:

Painting Time

Is it a series of pictures? Is it animation? Artist Jeff Scher creates paintings that move. "When frames collide," he says, "they create this other event":

Within You and Without You

Yes, we are all such a miniscule part of this universe, but as Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson points out, we are also made of it and therefore intimately connected to everything in it (thank you, Pike) (story and video):

A Slightly Different Perspective

Where we see a wooden hanger, Gilbert Legrand sees Dick Tracy's car racing to the scene of a crime; where we see an egg carton, he sees a row of muscular oarsmen. Legrand lets his imagination run amok among everyday objects:

"The Little Corner" by Gilbert Legrand

Any Way You Look at It

Broccoli House        Brock Davis
From the "Things That Make You Go 'Hmmm' File" ~ the amusing, creative images of Nancy Fouts: and Brock Davis:
Purse With Teeth        Nancy Fouts

Stimulating an Appetite for 'Hunger'

The story of how Hunger Games, the movie, has beefed up anticipation is a lesson for would-be PR execs ~ and for the rest of us whose desires they're charged with manipulating:

Water AND Light

Refusing to follow the conventional wisdom, an NGO used solar panels to power irrigation in Benin, West Africa ~ and gave villagers electricity to boot and themselves a new direction and vehicle for change:

And So On Down the Line

If U.S. companies go to China to get things manufactured inexpensively, where do the Chinese go? Well, if they follow the lead of Great Wall Motors, it's Bulgaria:

The Man in the ... Ouch!

NASA/Photodisc/Getty Images
How did the moon come to look the way it does? NASA releases a 2½-minute video history of the moon and a guided tour of its very pocked surface (story and videos):

Nature Vs. Nurture

The debate continues, but this time you can take part, by signifying your belief, reading the argument on both sides, then clicking on whether your opinion has changed. In this particular version, the focus is on genius:

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs (shown here in 1984) was raised by his adoptive parents. His sister, who was raised by their shared biological parents, is a successful, award-winning author and a professor of English at UCLA.

The Wonders of Why

The awesome, inimitable late Richard Feynman, scientist par excellence, explains why he can't explain how magnets work (intro and video):

Not So Black-and-White

There are many theories about why zebras have stripes, including one suggested about 25 years ago that the pattern repels flies. A new study shows that indeed it does:

Breaching the Great Wall

Westerners are discovering a new Tweeterverse ~ China's Sina Weibo, where the Golden Rule is "don’t post anything offensive religiously, politically, culturally":

Calling Credits

In some countries where students don't have easy access to computers, taking a class via cell phone is the way to go:

Touch Typing Indeed

An app that's now being developed for smartphones and tablets uses the Braille system to allow users to type without having to look at the keyboard (story and video):

Leonardo Lost, Leonardo Found?

It's still a mystery, but it won't be for very much longer. Is there a Leonardo da Vinci mural ~ and alleged lost masterpiece ~ behind Giorgio Vasari's "Battle of Marciano" in the Hall of the 500 in the Palazzo Vecchio?:

The Wearin' o' the Green

A few facts, myths, and legends about St. Patrick and his day:

Man of the House

What's new at the International Home and Housewares Show? A focus on the male customer:

An electrical smoker, from Masterbuilt, can use wood chips ~ and the newer versions come with a remote control!

How Safe Is "Safe"?

Too bad U.S. parents can't rely on our government to protect our children ~ or ourselves. Fortunately, we now have the Internet and can do it ourselves (if we have the time and energy):


The theory of relativity is relatively safe. A new experiment seems to prove that neutrinos cannot travel faster than light, as an earlier experiment had suggested:

Where Is Everyone?

What if they built a city and no one came? Ordos, in Inner Mongolia, China, has apartment buildings, office buildings, statues, big plazas, and a population of zero:

Two Stories a Day

In an allegorical reflection of the country's building boom, a city in China erects a 30-story prefab hotel in 15 days (story and video):,0,5608518.story

Wild Footage

Extreme close-ups of badgers at home, the Lechuguilla cave system, lions hunting at night, glaciers calving. How did BBC's camera people manage to capture those magnificent shots? It wasn't always easy ~ or comfortable ~ according to a collection of behind-the-scenes video clips from the Nature series:

The Rise of the Bug

Drug-resistant microbes are on the rise worldwide, according to the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), and we are close to entering a post-antibiotic age:

More or Less Food

The average American throws away 33 pounds of food every month. Worldwide, it is estimated, 30 to 50 percent of all food produced is not consumed. What are the repercussions of such waste? They go beyond the obvious. Thinking ahead, what can be done about it?:

Not His Father's Iditarod

The Iditarod saw its youngest winner ever this year. Dallas Seavey, 25, and his dogs made the almost 1,000-mile run in 9 days, 4 hours and 29 minutes, beating his father and grandfather (and their dogs):

Tabula Rasa All Over Again

Engineers in Britain have invented a process that removes all toner ink from a page without harming the paper. Once perfected, it could allow companies to effectively and efficiently reuse paper, which would be more environment-friendly than recycling:

WISE Observations

NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team

Wow! A catalog of images and movies, with accompanying information, from the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer mission, launched in 2009:

This is what's left of Cassiopeia A, a super-bright, massive star that exploded 11,000 years ago. The light from the event first reached Earth around 1667 C.E.

Robots Center Stage

It's Rebound Rumble time as student-designed robots strut their stuff at the 21st Los Angeles regional FIRST Robotics Competition March 15-16. It all takes place at the Long Beach Arena, it's open to the public, and admission is free. What more could you ask for?:

Ni Hao, Xiao Hai

A BBC show for toddlers and young children has added Mandarin to the list of languages it's teaching:


At age 6, Lori Anne Madison will be by two years the youngest competitor in the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee. Not that it worries her. In an interview after she won the Prince William County spelling competition, she said, "I was confident because I have been in spelling bees with older kids before, and I judge them by who they are, not about age." Oh, and that's not all: She's A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E! (story and video):

End (n.): Last Part

print version of Encyclopaedia Britannica
“Some people will feel sad about it and nostalgic about it," said Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., president Jorge Cauz. "But we have a better tool now. The Web site is continuously updated, it’s much more expansive and it has multimedia.”:
Like most great transitions, this one has its supporters and its detractors:

A New Old Human

The bones of at least five individuals found in a cave in southern China point to their being a newly discovered species of human that lived sometime between 11,500 and 14,500 years ago. Scientists are calling them the Red Deer Cave people (story and video):

The Dark Side of Space

A NASA study of astronauts has found that prolonged time in space can lead to eye and brain deformation:

A (Huge) Slice of Pi

In honor of Pi Day (March 14!), the story of the man who memorized pi to 67,890 decimal places ~ all hail Chao Lu!:

Across Sudan

Photographer Tim McKulka traveled throughout Sudan for five years. He saw it when it was the largest country in Africa and after the referendum that split it in two (audio with slideshow):

And the Winners Are ...

Nithin Tumma, 17, who figured out how a protein helps cancer hide from the body's immune system ... Andrey Sushko, also 17, who invented a motor that is powered by water's surface tension ... and all the teens whose exceptional work won them top prizes in the 2012 Intel Talent Science Search:

Deep in Nomads' Land

Recent finds of jewelry and other artifacts from as early as the 8th Century B.C.E. may show that ancient nomadic tribes were no less sophisticated than their more rooted brethren:

Kids Have Until April 1

That's the deadline to register for the Google Science Fair:

Going Down

James Cameron (yes, he of Titanic and Avatar fame) is getting ready for his next big project ~ descending to the deepest point in the ocean, the bottom of a 6.8-mile-deep depression in the Mariana Trench (and, of course, it will all be filmed):

Der Bunker in Der Forest

FWIW, Hitler had a bunker deep in the forests of central Ukraine, too:

Adventures in Art

"I slapped the morning paper down on my desk as the sirens wailed outside." An awesome interactive site in which you help detective A. Pintura solve "The Case of Grandpa's Painting" ~ and learn a little something about art history while you're at it:

Wave of Inventions

In answer to the destruction, misery, and loss of life caused by last year's tsunami, Japanese inventors are coming up with novel ways to survive, including Noah, a pod designed to allow four people to ride out a giant wave:

And Speaking of Languages ...

Sixteen-year-old Tim Doner started with Hebrew, then went on to Arabic, Russian, Italian, Persian, Swahili, Indonesian, Hindi, Ojibwe, Pashto, Turkish, Hausa, Kurdish, Yiddish, Dutch, Croatian and German before finally finding an online family of like-minded language lovers (story and video):

That Was Then, This Is Now

Sendai both photos Toru Yamanaka/Agence France-Presse—Getty Images
One year later, a photographer takes pictures of various sites devastated by Japan's tsunami and places them side-by-side with pictures of those same sites taken right after the disaster (you can slide the center divider between to pictures to get a larger view):

Shuttle on a String

In tribute to the Space Shuttle, Romanian Raul Oaida launched a Lego replica attached to a helium balloon. Together, they ascended to 35,000 meters (about 21 miles) above Earth, with a camera recording the flight (video):

Learn the Language

A new app is said to translate while helping you learn a new language ~ for free. At this point, the only languages available are English, German, and Spanish (with French, Italian, and Chinese to come), and users are being added from a waiting list:

Suspended on a Sunbeam

"There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world."                                                    ~ Carl Sagan, reading from his book Pale Blue Dot

Travel Tips

How much should you tip a server in China? Nothing! How about in Italy? Not over 10%. What you should know about tipping around the world:

Making Change

From the flush toilet to penicillin, ten of the world's top life-changing innovations, at least according to Innovation News Daily (did you know that 5,000 years ago the people of Pakistan and the Orkney Islands had toilets linked to public drainage systems?):

One After Another

Photographer Elliott Erwitt talks about how he got the idea of using several pictures shot in sequence to tell a story and how he does it (story, video):

Here Comes the Sun (Storm)

A huge solar flare is traveling our way and may disrupt cell phones and other electronics, like GPSs ~ but it will also lead to auroras (story, video):

I'm Looking Through You

© 2009 Satre Stuelke LLC

As a student, Satre Stuelke mixed medical science with art and X-rayed common objects to show their hidden side. He is now a radiology intern and presumably doesn't have time for such frivolity anymore!:

Redrum? Red Door!

A study of 2,000 individuals concluded that those who have red front doors are the happiest:

Burning Curiosity

Together with Stony Brook University in New York, actor Alan Alda has created a contest in which 11-year-olds judge which is the best definition of certain phenomena among those suggested by scientists and others. There are two parts to the contest. The first is for those who want to answer the current question, which is, What is a flame? The second is for the 11-year-old judges, who will vote on the best answer:

Artificial Appendages

Prosthetic toe, Egypt Science Museum
A slideshow of prostheses through history:

Higgs Can Run, But ...

The search for the God particle continues, but data from the now-closed Tevatron accelarator suggest that U.S. scientists might have caught a glimpse of it:

Car Care

He bought a $9,000 car kit, and several more thousand dollars and six years (including the year he didn't touch it because he was so frustrated) later, he had it: a three-wheel, two-seat, 900-pound roadster:

Travel Much?

A list of all the best places you probably never thought about visiting:

Shadow Floor Show

Dancers: Mahogany, Stainless Steel, Acrylic

John V. Muntean carves sculptures whose shadows change depending on their angle under the light (slideshow, video):

Who Let the Dogs Out?

It's the 40th Iditarod, running now from Willow to Nome, Alaska. A spectator's guide:

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

"The U.S. legal system, which still applies to you and me, really no longer applies to the national-security state." An interview with Tom Engelhardt, author of The United States of Fear:

The Sound of Spiders Spinning

 A researcher in Japan has spun a set of violin strings from the silk strands of more than 300 golden orb-weaver spiders (story and audio):

Hacking Through the Years

"Hacking" wasn't always a bad word. The first hackers were college students playing pranks, and their hacks were, for the most part, clever and witty. Flash forward a few decades, and hacking has evolved ~ or devolved ~ into something much more sinister and with much more at stake:

A Week in the Life of a Joke

What makes a good joke? Lots of work, editing, opinion-taking, and practice, practice, practice:

Listen to Your Nucleus Accumbens

Research is showing that 19 nerve cells deep in your brain are making financial decisions an amazing 2.8 seconds before the rest of your brain realizes it:

Walking for Water

The World Walks for Water and Sanitation, March 17-25:

Double Vision

photo by Jodi Cobb

What is it about twins, especially identical twins, that attracts us so much? Whatever it is, this slideshow will only build upon the fascination:

Typed Verse

Poet Kathleen Rooney expounds upon her (and Dave Landsberger and Eric Plattner's) project, Poems While You Wait:

Sustainable Kitchen

A design for a "natural kitchen" in which the various steps of the food-preparation process feed each other:

Next Gen: China

China is getting ready for new leaders. Who are the people to watch?:

Loving Pets ~ A LOT!

Stella & Shoshin (not pictured: Eddy & Neville)
How much do we Americans love our quadrupeds? About 50 billion (yes, "Billion") dollars' worth and counting!:

Know Poe

Here's a great interactive website all about Edgar Allan Poe and his works, including an annotated Raven and the story of the mysterious Poe Toaster:

Tiny Is the New Big

Green House, Wisconsin
While some buyers are demanding three bathrooms for every room (see "When You Gotta Go ..." below), others are scaling back to the bare minimum. It's all part of a growing (one can only hope) movement away from conspicuous and unnecessary consumption and toward sustainability (slideshow):

Readers Are Leaders

From The Age of Innocence to Wuthering Heights, A Doll's House to A Winter's Tale, The Aeneid to Words for Music, and The 1,000,000 Pound Bank-Note to Zinotchka, books, plays, poems, and short stories at your fingertips ~ for free:

Psychedelic, Man!

Screen Shot
Your own virtual kaleidoscope ~ rotating, changing, and totally outa sight!:


Three tidbits of basically irrelevant yet somehow still interesting information about dessert, comedians, and feet:

Light Up My Life

Screengrab. East Martin Michigan. Oct. 24, 2011
Breathtaking photographs of an Aurora Borealis that could be seen as far south as the state of Georgia and that exhibited a rare red hue:


Japanese researchers have built what is being described as a speech-jamming device ~ it's quite simple, based on a basic psychological principle, and it works!:
See it in action ~ sort of ... (video):

All in the Family

Irish author Colm Tóibín talks about the influences, positive and negative, that family relationships have on writers, including W.B. Yeats, Thomas Mann, and Barack Obama (audio):

When You Gotta Go ...

"You almost cannot have too many bathrooms." So says real estate agent Boyd Smith, whose territory includes Pasadena and La Cañada Flintridge. And what bathrooms they are: one for each room, his and hers in the master, steam showers, chandeliers and floor lamps, and bubble massages in the oversize tub:,0,1145278.story?page=1

BIL Occupies TED

And now, a TED for the 99%! It's the BIL Conference (,0,540491.story), streaming live March 3-4 from the Queen Mary in Long Beach: