Monthly Archive: October 2013

The Founding Fathers Wanted Canada To Be The 14th State

Canada is the butt of a lot of jokes, mostly about being polite in every aspect of life, but the fact is that the USA’s neighbor to the north has long been a tremendous ally and exemplary country. Which is probably why the original Articles of Confederation actually invite Canada to become a part of the US. The Founding Fathers even specified that Canada could skip all the red tape everyone else had to go through.

Human Athletic Ability Has Reached Its Natural Peak

The number of world records being broken in athletics has been in decline since the end of the 20th century. Cheating scandals have been on the rise. The International Swimming Federation banned high-performance swimsuits as an unfair advantage. These things may all have a common cause: An exhaustive analysis suggests that humans may have reached the peak of athletic performance. Some have argued that, short of using drugs or new technology, humans won’t get any better than we are now. We may have almost broken all the records we can break.

The Cave So Huge It Has Its Own Ecosystem

People have known about the cave in the Chongqing province of China for a long time, but nobody had ever gone very far down into it. But when a team of scientists explored it last year, they found it was so huge that it had its own ecosystem, including plants, streams, and clouds. Now recognized as one of the largest cave systems in the world, no one knows what else it’s hiding in its unexplored depths.

Virtual Reality Is Used To Treat Drug Addiction

Study of addiction has shown that environmental cues can cause a physiological desire in addicts. Being in a bar can create the need to drink in an alcoholic, for example. This is known as cue reactivity. In order to teach addicts to control these reactions, doctors have created virtual reality worlds, including sights, sounds, and even smells. They put the addict in a triggering situation, such as a bar or even a virtual crack house, but in a safe environment. Patients can then learn to control their reactions and become less likely to relapse in the real world.

The British Built A Power Station Just For Tea-Making

Following the broadcast of a popular television program, the British power network often experiences a massive spike in usage as thousands of people switch on their electric kettles and make cups of tea. Luckily for the populace, there’s a special facility in Wales built solely to cope with this nightly demand: the Dinorwig hydroelectric power plant.

The Man Making A Living Suing Spammers

Like waiting in line at the DMV and airplane food, spam emails have become a cliché of life’s little annoyances. It’s a status that’s been earned, as estimates are that 90 percent of email traffic worldwide is unsolicited junk. That’s around 73 trillion emails a year from a Nigerian prince offering knock-off pharmaceuticals (but only if you hurry). Back in 2002, a marketer named Dan Balsam was receiving a fair few of these when he decided he was sick of it. He quit his job to start law school, with the intention of suing the people creating the nuisance.

The Terrifying Guinea Pigs Of Ancient History

You’d be hard-pressed to come up with an animal less terrifying than a guinea pig. Short, unintelligent, and utterly harmless, today’s guinea pigs are the epitome of both cuteness and stupidity. However, their evolutionary ancestors were another thing altogether: Eight million years ago, South America was swarming with guinea pigs the size of buffalo.

Dead Bodies Don’t Cause Disease

Whenever there is a large disaster, one of the first things authorities will often wish to do is dispose of dead bodies for fear of a disease outbreak. Officials in many countries have rushed to burn or bury bodies to prevent an epidemic. Yet dead bodies don’t cause disease outbreaks. The World Health Organization states that it is better to wait and dispose of bodies normally via local custom and that mass burial or cremation should never be carried out. It has a detrimental impact on the mental health of survivors, and there is no real benefit. Disease in disaster areas is often caused by poor sanitation among the living.