Monthly Archive: October 2015

1,962

England’s National Repository To Save Forgotten Beers

The National Collection of Yeast Cultures (NCYC) currently stores around 4,000 different types of yeast, including those for baking and brewing. Some of their strains are used in the fermentation of specific beers—a trade secret, if you will. When the Jennings Brewery was all but destroyed in a flood, they lost their age-old yeast strain, used to brew one of the last remaining real ales. There was a backup stored at the NCYC, though, and they were able to keep working. Along with saving beer, they’re also doing some groundbreaking research on things like food spoilage and cancer. They’re also trying to track the evolution of yeast and, in turn, the development of life on Earth.

2,441

Text Message Slang Goes Back To Telegraph Operators

Although text slang seems to be a new invention, it has actually been used since the 1890s. Telegraph operators develop an idiomatic set of abbreviations and slang terms to shorten their messages and keep down prices. Just like modern text slang, these messages were nearly impossible for non-operators for decipher. This slang is the precursor to modern SMS terms like ROFL, LOL, and more.

1,990

The Intergalactic Spaceport In Wyoming

In 1994, possible residents of Jupiter were facing grave danger from a potential interstellar collision. Not about to let them think they were alone, Green River, Wyoming, changed the name of their airport from Green River 48U to the Greater Green River Intergalactic Spaceport, and even issued an official city council resolution that they would accept any refugees from Jupiter that needed a new place to live. While it still attracts a number of planes that touch down and take off just to log their stop at an intergalactic spaceport, any real development has been locked in bureaucratic hell.

323

The Obscure Tale Of The Man Who Killed Romania’s Awful Dictator

Ionel Boyeru never thought he was destined for fame. A captain in the Romanian army during the Communist years, he was the sort of man who probably wouldn’t leave much of a trace on world history. But history had other plans. On Christmas Day 1989, Boyeru volunteered for a top secret mission. It was only after stepping forward that he discovered what that mission was. Boyeru had just volunteered to kill his own boss, the brutal Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. His actions would mark a turning point in Eastern Europe’s post-Communist transition.

515

The Exoplanet That Should Have Been A Gas Giant

A recently discovered planet fooled astronomers into believing that it was a gas giant. But when the final numbers were all added up, Kepler-10c proved to be the first planet of its kind: a solid rocky world soundly challenging everything astronomers knew about planet formation. Planets this size were previously thought to be incapable of being anything other than a gas giant. Not only should Kepler-10c not exist (according to science), but it’s rewriting space history. It was thought that the early universe wasn’t capable of forming rocky worlds due to the scarcity of heavy elements, but this uber-prehistoric planet proves it was very possible.

981

The Difference Between Eating Healthy And Orthorexia

Most people try to eat healthy. You know, have a salad on the side instead of cheese-fries, make sure there’s always fruit in the house, make sure you’re eating your vegetables. But orthorexia occurs when eating healthy becomes your everything. It’s characterized by a sense of accomplishment, control, and superiority when you’re sticking to your ultra-strict diet (which usually gets more and more restrictive), and a way of life that’s dictated by food. When you start avoiding certain activities because it might interfere with the diet or you might have access to unauthorized food, when you start criticizing others’ food choices, and when relationships with actual people start ending, that could be orthorexia.

2,171

The 10,000-Year Radiation Warning

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is a deep geological repository used by the US government to store nuclear waste. Once the site is sealed, warnings will be needed that can effectively communicate danger up to 10,000 years into the future. Proposed ideas included threatening architecture, color-changing cats, and even an artificial moon. The final system will involve warnings in several languages on granite pillars, a large wall around the site, and other artifacts.

88

How A Million-Dollar Lawsuit Hinged On Defining The Word ‘Dope!’

When Beastie Boys singer Adam “MCA” Yauch died in 2012, he left behind a very specific clause in his will. None of the group’s music was to be used to advertise anything. Ever. So you can imagine the group’s confusion when Monster Energy posted a video overlaid with Beastie Boys songs only a few days after his death. The resulting multimillion-dollar lawsuit made headlines around the world, and not just for its famous plaintiffs. As part of the settlement, the court was forced to legally define what the exclamation “Dope!” meant.

6

Johnny Appleseed Was Actually Giving The Gift Of Liquor

We all have a very distinct picture of Johnny Appleseed. He’s the barefoot tramp, walking across America, spreading apple seeds wherever he goes. That’s only part of the truth, and the best part usually isn’t mentioned. The trees that Chapman was planting weren’t the ones that would be used to grow apples we eat. Instead, he was planting the sour apples that would be used to make hard cider. Once America’s drink of choice, hard cider fell out of fashion when Prohibition agents took their axes to Chapman’s orchards, and it’s only recently that hard cider is making a comeback in the states.

680

The Man Who Memorized 22,514 Digits Of Pi

Daniel Tammet is an autistic savant, with a very rare form of synesthesia. He sees numbers as having colors and very beautiful visuals, and he says some numbers look a lot better than others. He was able to see pi playing like a story in his head, and after some study could count it to 22,514 digits accurately in a few hours. He also learned Icelandic well enough to converse in only a week.