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Same Difference

So this is how it happens sometimes. I saw a promo for an article saying that an Islamic group damaged the shrines of Muslim saints in Timbuktu (actually an interesting story, in case you're interested: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-18657463 ). But aren't Islamists Muslims, thought I? I must be wrong, I thought. So I Googled "Islamist vs. Muslim" (one and the same, it turns out) and came upon a website that's all about spelling out the difference between terms/concepts that are often confused. I now happily pass it along for your edification: http://www.differencebetween.net/

Get Fresh

The backstory is just as compelling as the product, which is sustainable, all natural, compostable, and will keep your fruits and veggies fresh much longer than without. And as if that isn't enough, this young company will donate a package for every one sold to food banks and nonprofits in developing countries: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/saving-food-one-sheet-of-paper-at-a-time/2012/05/14/gIQAXeHLRU_story.html

Water Song

As their entry into Musichackday in Amsterdam, Germans Alice Zappe and Julia Lager wired up an umbrella to play music when hit by raindrops (video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pS5ELW-gqUk . According to one article, the new and improved version, which the pair are now working on, can be hooked up to generate the sounds of different instruments: http://www.deccanchronicle.com/channels/sci-tech/others/now-umbrella-sings-rain-414

It Came to Mars

NASA scientists explain the challenges of landing a spacecraft (Curiosity, scheduled for a 10:31 p.m. PDT August 5 touchdown) on Mars, where the atmosphere is 100 times thinner than Earth's, and how they're meeting them. It all involves a supersonic parachute, extra rockets, and a tether, and it's super-cool (video): http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/video/index.cfm?id=1090

Thoughts From On High

Some 150 miles west of the raging fires of Colorado Springs, ideas are raging at the eighth annual Aspen Ideas Festival. According to its website, the festival "will gather some of the most interesting thinkers and leaders from around the US and abroad to discuss their work, the issues that inspire them, and their ideas." It is, they say, "a gathering for diverse, intellectually curious people to learn, listen, debate, and question what we can do to make our world—and our children’s world—a better place": http://www.aspenideas.org/festival/overview

How's Your Health(care)?

The Washington Post has put together a handy little (albeit basic) form that will allow you to determine how the Supreme Court's decision on so-called ObamaCare will affect you: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/what-health-bill-means-for-you/

A Hard Day's Plight

"I hope that my photographs will serve as a witness to history," writes Dr. David L. Parker of the pictures he has taken of child laborers around the world (slideshow): http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/gallery/intro.html

This boy is mixing mud for brick-making. India. 1995. One wonders where he is now ...
David L. Parker, M.D.

Rock-Paper-Robot

The folks at the Ishikawa Oku Laboratory at the University of Tokyo (with, apparently, nothing better to do!) have developed a robot that will win at rock-paper-scissors every time. It does so by recognizing the shape the human hand is starting to make (story and video): http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504784_162-57462100-10391705/ultimate-rock-paper-scissor-robot-will-win-every-time/

Patterns of Autism

Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital were able to detect autism in children as young as 2 by looking at brain wave patterns in an EEG. They found 33 patterns indicative of the condition: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-18577327

Bird Brains

Recent experiments have shown that many birds, like pigeons and crows, can distinguish between human faces and voices: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120622163056.htm
In addition, studies with ravens prove that these birds have long-term memory and can remember previous relationships: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419132558.htm

Night Moves

The pros and cons of the different sleeping positions (it seems that on the back is best, if the head is elevated right), including those best for pregnant women, babies, and snorers: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-the-best-sleep-positions.htm

Art on the Other Side

Tijuana is hosting its first Art Walk on Saturday, June 30. The week leading up to it will be filled with events, and of course, the day after is the Mexican election: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/jun/24/border-week-first-art-walk-tijuana/

Let Them Be

Once again, scientific studies are confirming what common sense has indicated all along. In this case, it is that young children benefit greatly from being able to play and experiment and figure things out on their own: http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2011/03/why_preschool_shouldnt_be_like_school.html

Assistant Astronomers

The astronomers at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona are looking for a few good amateurs to help them with their research. To join the team, one simply looks through the research options and chooses the one nearest to one's heart, then signs up: http://www.scientificamerican.com/citizen-science/project.cfm?id=lowell-amateur-research-initiative

Inside Iran

"Reporting in Iran feels like a scavenger hunt for the truth." Somehow, New York Times Op-Ed columnist Nicholas Kristof got himself permission to travel freely around that country on what turned out to be a 1,700-mile road trip. This interesting 14-minute documentary is the result: http://video.nytimes.com/video/2012/06/23/opinion/100000001624588/my-iranian-road-trip.html

Polka-Dot Universe


Enter the insistent, compelling infinity of artist Yayoi Kusama (currently on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York), now in her 80s and voluntarily living in a psychiatric institution, whose stunning, phantasmagoric work has its roots in her unsettling mental illness (video): http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-radio-and-tv-18510292

All Creatures Great and Small

British photographer Tim Flach trains his camera on the creatures who share this planet with us, millipedes to apes, placing them before a dark backdrop, much as one might a human for a formal portrait (slideshow): http://moreintelligentlife.com/gallery/all

The Art of Warriors

More terra cotta warriors, including some firsts! Among the finds were a shield ~ the first one found ~ and a warrior with enough paint on him to enable archaeologists to know what they really looked like (pic at left). And you thought they were a uniform, subtle light brownish-gray all along, didn't you?: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/06/pictures/120620-terra-cotta-warriors-china-new-army-shield-armor-science/

A general, digitally reproduced to show the original colors.
Illustration by Pure Rendering GmbH, National Geographic

People in Motion

Haight-Ashbury, North Beach, the Age of Aquarius, the Fillmore, "a whole generation with a new explanation" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5W2SdEFI64g ). It was 45 years ago that a groundswell that seemed to start at the turn of that decade gathered force and fame and intensified into the phenom known as the Summer of Love. Before it was co-opted by the status quo and the advertising industry, it had a profound and lasting effect on this country and much of the world. But where, if anywhere, had it come from? Who, if anyone, had been its driving force(s)?: http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2012/07/lsd-drugs-summer-of-love-sixties

The Riddle of Turing's Apple

Did Alan Turing (see "Revealing Turing" post below) really commit suicide, as we have long believed? One Turing expert says it's just as possible that he didn't: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-18561092

Food for Thought

The nonprofit Public Library of Science published the first article in a series looking at the global food industry. According to the introduction, "In this first week the guest editors lay out a background and three competing views of how public health professionals can respond [1], and Lori Dorfman and her colleagues [16] compare soda companies' corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaigns with those of the tobacco industry, demonstrating how CSR deftly shifts responsibility for overconsumption from corporations to individuals, forestalls regulation, and promotes brand loyalty and sales. In subsequent weeks we will publish analyses of the rapid rise of Big Food sales in developing countries, an essay on food sovereignty and who holds power over food, and two perspectives from South America and Africa on the displacement of traditional diets by the incursion of multinational food companies": http://www.ploscollections.org/article/browseIssue.action?issue=info:doi/10.1371/issue.pcol.v07.i17

Camp Out ~ June 23!

Saturday, June 23, is the day of the Great American Backyard Campout. Register here: http://www.nwf.org/Get-Outside/Great-American-Backyard-Campout/Why-Camp.aspx

Water World

In rain-soaked Duluth, an 8-year-old boy steps into a puddle ~ and ends up in a field a mile away (story and video): http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/boy-survives-harrowing-mile-long-ride-storm-drain-minn-floods-article-1.1100663
Kenny Markiewicz was sucked into a storm drain
ABC photo

Electronics Roadshow

How much would you pay for an old, obsolete computer? $50? $150? How about $374,500? Hmmmm ... Maybe that old clamshell in the garage should be treated with a little more respect: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20120621-computer-nostalgia/1

Downhill (Skateboard) Racer

80.74 miles per hour. On a skateboard. World record. Plus, how some sick technology helped it happen: http://www.gizmag.com/skateboard-world-speed-record/23043/

Revealing Turing

It's a familiar story: Little-known or appreciated during his relatively short life, Alan Turing, who could be (and has been) called the "father of computing," has become the subject of books, exhibitions, TV shows, and many myths ~ not least because of the way in which he died: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20120620-the-turing-test-of-time/1

The Longest Day

from maniacworld.com
Wednesday, June 20, was the longest day of the year. The solstice itself was at 7:09 p.m. (EDT). That means that from today on, the days ~ daylight time, actually ~ will be getting shorter again. Enjoy them while you can! (story and video): http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2012/0620/Summer-Solstice-Why-the-days-will-shorten-from-here-on-out-video

Pictures of the summer solstice celebration at Stonehenge, where Ancestor, a 22-foot (6.7-meter) statue of a human giving thanks for the sunrise, was reinstalled for the event (slideshow): http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-18530218

For the Greater Good

This is for anyone over the age of 50 who has a great idea for how to make life in this world better and wants to put it into action. You could get $5,000 to help you with your project: http://www.takepart.com/thebestexoticmarigoldhotel/contest?cmpid=encore

Private to the Core

Apple now has a patent for a new and intriguing way of protecting one's identity and information not only from Big Brother but from the growing bands of "Little Brothers" as well: http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2012/06/apple-wins-surprising-anti-big-brother-surveillance-patent.html

This Welcome Mat Sucks

The minute you step on this mat, its little suction cups vacuum the dirt off the soles of your shoes. Almost worth the $6,250 price tag, don't you think? (story and video): http://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/feeling-lazy-suction-doormat-means-you-wont-have-to-wipe/

Body Guards

Microbes of all types and sizes ~ 100 trillion of them ~ call our bodies home, and researchers known as medical ecologists are only beginning to learn about them, their interactions, and the good they do: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/19/science/studies-of-human-microbiome-yield-new-insights.html?src=me&ref=general

The website of the National Institutes of Health's Human Microbiome Project: http://www.hmpdacc.org/

Well, it turns out that someone's come up with a Body Ecology Diet, too: http://www.everydiet.org/diet/body-ecology-diet

Safe(r) in the Surf

This summer, some California lifeguards will be letting Emily loose in the waves. "She" is a motorized, remote-controlled life-saving device that can get to a swimmer in distress much faster than a human (video): http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/click_online/9728920.stm

Flip Your Flops

A company called TerraCycle will now recycle your old flip flops and cosmetics containers ~ and it's easy and free!: http://www.ecouterre.com/terracycle-will-recycle-your-old-flip-flops-used-cosmetics-packaging/

Tour de Living Room

Just in time for the Tour de France (which starts June 30, btw) comes an exercise bike that will copy the course hill for hill, ups and downs included. Now all you need is surround sound so you can hear the heavy breathing of the rest of the peloton (story and video): http://newslite.tv/2011/07/06/ride-the-tour-de-france-from-y.html

It Sounds Like Summer

NPR went through Billboard's charts back to 1962 and came up with a list of the most popular songs of every summer up to this year. A sample ~ 1964: Dean Martin, "Everybody Loves Somebody"; 1976: Starland Vocal Band, "Afternoon Delight"; 1988: Steve Winwood, "Roll With It"; 1999: Smash Mouth, "All Star"; and 2011: Nicki Minaj, "Super Bass." See what you think (story and audio): http://www.npr.org/2012/06/20/155132353/the-mix-the-songs-of-the-summer-1962-2012

Both Sides Now

Untitled, 2010; Victoria Sambunaris/Yancey Richardson Gallery
Photographer Victoria Sambunaris, a first-generation American of Greek origin, traveled along the U.S.-Mexico border and found beauty (story and slideshow): http://www.npr.org/blogs/pictureshow/2012/06/20/155281976/this-is-the-border

World Refugee Day ~ June 20

Malian refugees in Niger; photo UNHCR/H. Caux
A newly released report by the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) says that 80 percent of the world's refugees are being hosted in developing countries, like Pakistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which are also some of the poorest countries.

 "Developing countries cannot continue to bear this burden alone, and the industrialized world must address this imbalance," said High Commissioner Ant├│nio Guterres. "We need to see increased resettlement quotas. We need accelerated peace initiatives in long-standing conflicts so that refugees can go home": http://www.unhcr.org/4dfb66ef9.html

Charles Wallace Would Approve

Circle Limit IV
Will the art of M.C. Escher prove to be the link between a string theory model and a quantum physics model of the universe? Stephen Hawking and his colleagues think it's possible: http://physics.about.com/b/2012/06/13/escherverse.htm

Heavy Data

A chart accompanying a paper published by BMC Public Health clearly shows the world's distribution of body mass. Not surprisingly, North America comes in first (as in, fattest). In fact, if the population of the rest of the world had the same collective biomass as that of North America, it would be the equivalent of adding 1 billion average-size people to the planet: http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2012/06/daily-chart-11

Destinations of the Damned

"Interesting" phobias ~ and the places that would seriously challenge those who have them: http://www.bbc.com/travel/slideshow/20120615-strangest-travel-phobias
Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia (ironically, fear of long words) sufferers might pass out at hearing the formal name of the city of Bangkok.
photo by Joseph Younis

US, in the Spotlight

From gridlock in L.A. (did you know that, 100 years ago, it had the largest urban rail network in the world?), to our mountains of food trash (according to the EPA, food trash is the largest component of solid waste in our landfills), to a look at how the Peeps factory deals with its very seasonal demand, to much, much more ~ it's a font of fascinating information about US. (Unfortunately, you have to wade through a Dow Chemical commercial before each presentation.) (videos): http://www.pbs.org/america-revealed/

Hiatus

SoManyInterestingThings is taking a short break ~ until mid-June, when school will be over and life will once again include time for pursuits beyond mere daily survival. :-)