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6

Natural Gas, the Impetus of Industrialization

When the Industrial era boomed in England, everything started to run at a fast pace. Developments were happening wherever you go and people started to adapt a mindset of efficiency because things became more timebound. It's either you keep up with how things went or you get left by the wayside.

The steam engine was the first invention that kickstarted the whole industrial revolution but it was the later developments that provided the necessary elements to boost the speed of industrialization. One such is natural gas.

Coal and gasoline have earned their reputation as fossil fuel boogeymen. Both have played extremely visible roles as the principal feedstocks for electricity generation and automobiles, respectively. But, scholar Leslie Tomory writes, methane gas was actually the first fuel to be delivered in an integrated network that provided hydrocarbon energy to the masses at the flip of a switch, back in Regency-era London.
In the process, the Gas Light and Coke Company (GLCC) confronted and solved problems of industrial politics, time coordination, machine standardization, contractor management, and even customer relations that have often been attributed to the later railway or electricity industries.

It was even once called the "green" fossil fuel but now, of course, times have changed and we know that fossil fuels all contribute to the pollution of our atmosphere and the destruction of the environment. Still, they have provided us with fuel for much of the machines we use to make our lives more convenient today.

(Image credit: Ethan Chan H C/Flickr; Wikimedia Commons)


6

3D Printing Provides Surgeons with Simulators To Train New Surgeons

With the help of 3D printing technology, we've produced tissues, a heart, and an air sac to help advance medical procedures and provide treatment for patients. But there are other uses for 3D printing in the medical field such as having them print replicas of organs for surgeons to demonstrate how to operate.

Cleveland Clinic gastroenterologist Nizar Zein first considered the idea of printing organ models in 2012 after reading about people constructing houses with 3-D printers and the technology’s potential uses in space exploration. He wondered if the method could make liver transplants from living donors safer.
The first prototype was crude — “really like a child playing with Play-Doh,” Zein recalls. Zein refined the model, and in 2013 started studying how a life-size 3-D liver model, in addition to 2-D scans, would change how surgeons planned operations. Zein’s team has gone on to print 3-D models of complex liver tumors to understand how they are connected to the organ, and thus inform surgical planning.

(Image credit: N.N. Zein et al)


5

Race to the Flag: The Mario Battle Royale

Mario is one of the most iconic video games of all time and it has inspired several iterations and spinoffs, as well as cameo appearances in various other games. But somebody took it one step further with Mario Royale (now named DMCA Royale, for IP reasons).

Mario Royale, which can currently be played in web browsers, is the creation of a YouTuber and programmer named InfernoPlus and pits 75 players against each other in a race through one world of Super Mario Bros. or The Lost Levels.
Players can’t directly interact with each other⁠—a Mario can’t stomp on another Mario⁠—but power-ups like fire flowers and invincibility stars do allow players to take each other out.
That’s not really the point, though; Mario Royale is a sort of collective race to the finish. Only the first three players to make it to the end of four levels will end up on the winner’s pedestal.
The real challenge is making sure your platforming skills are up to par and that you can avoid goombas and clear jumps amidst all the chaos.

-via Kottke

(Image credit: Kotaku)


5

Urban Sea Lions in Chile Get Their Itchiest Spots Scratched with a Lice Comb Invented by Scientists

Valdivia, Chile. Like stray dogs, sea lions prowl the fish market, waiting for food. A solar-powered water taxi then comes at them. A young scientist named David Ebmer stretches out his hand from the water taxi, reaching out to a massive sea lion . In his hand is a long stick with a lice comb taped on its end.

As a student of the parasitologist Carlos Hermosilla at Justus Liebig University in Giessen, Germany, Ebmer came to Valdivia to advance the team’s goal of studying marine mammals in the least disruptive way possible.
As human activities including fishing, shipping, and drilling encroach on marine mammals worldwide, scientists are striving to reduce the impact of their research. Flashy new technology, such as the drones that collect whale snot, can help. But sometimes all you need is a comb, a stick, and some tape. As Ebmer reported in May 2019 in the journal Parasitology Research, his “telescopic lice comb” performs beautifully, collecting sea lion fur and loose skin in addition to lice. With these samples, scientists can probe the curious biology of marine lice—some of the world’s only seafaring insects—as well as the genetics and health of the sea lions themselves.

Find out more about the sea lions and the study over at Atlas Obscura.

(Image Credit: David Ebmer)


5

St. George Has Been Restored

St. George has been restored- properly this time. Last year, in a story that echoes the famous Ecce Homo scandal, a 500-year-old painted wooden statue of St. George fighting the dragon at the Church of St Michael in Estella, Navarre, Spain, was "restored" by a local artist, with the results going all wrong, as you can see in the middle image. A year later, the statue has been restored by the Navarre government’s historic heritage department. Carlos Martínez Álava, the agency's head, explained that experts had spent more than 1,000 hours repairing the paint job.  

“It’s been a big effort economically as well,” he said. “The archdiocese of Pamplona and the parish have assumed the costs, which have come to around €32,000 or €33,000 (about (£29,000). If they’d done things properly in the first place, it would have cost around €10,000 to €12,000. That mistake has ended up costing three times as much it should have. There was also a €6,000 fine they had to pay.”

But he said he had been struck by the panic and remorse of those behind the botched job. “When it came in, what I noticed most wasn’t just how inadequate the restoration had been, but how much the people responsible were suffering and how worried they were that there was no way of fixing it.

“Our cultural heritage needs to be looked after by people who are qualified and trained. We need to know our heritage as throughly as possible to protect it, and we need to be alert. The alarm in this case was raised by somebody in the town telling us what had happened.”

The lesson here is that it never hurts to consult with experts before plunging into a project. Read more about the statue at the Guardian. 

(Image credit: Navarre regional government)


7

Bacteria that Can Potentially Save Frog Species from Extinction

Amphibians such as frogs have been greatly affected by the changes in the natural world. In the UK, European common frogs are at risk of extinction because of ranavirus, a virus that can kill a large number of frogs in a short time.

Scientists are looking for ways to prevent these frogs from going extinct. Fortunately, they discovered a bacteria that dwells on the skin of frogs that could protect them from the deadly virus.

They found a link between outbreaks of the disease and the make-up of bacteria on the frogs' skin in different populations across southern England.
This gives the first demonstration that in the wild there is a correlation between populations that get disease and populations that remain disease-free, and the mix of bacteria on the skin, said Dr Lewis Campbell from the University of Exeter.
"It's a silver bullet against the virus, potentially," he said.
The researchers hope the work could help save the frog species most often seen in UK ponds.

It is said that 40% of species are in danger of being wiped out due to habitat loss and climate change, and pathogens. I hope we can still avoid that from happening.

(Image Credit: Richard Bartz/ Wikimedia Commons)


7

The Carina Nebula: Home To Streams of Hot Gas, Cool Gas, and More

To find out how violent stars affect their surroundings, astronomers made a 48-frame high-resolution, controlled-color panorama of the center of the largest star forming regions on the cosmos — the Carina Nebula. This image here, taken in 2007, is the most detailed image of the nebula as of the moment.

Cataloged as NGC 3372, the Carina Nebula is home to streams of hot gas, pools of cool gas, knots of dark globules, and pillars of dense dusty interstellar matter.

The cosmos is always a magnificent view and is ever-amazing.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, N. Smith (U. California, Berkeley) et al., and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)


7

The U.S Adds More Chinese Tech Companies To Their Blacklist Over National Security Concerns

Five Chinese tech companies were added by the Trump administration to the U.S blacklist on Friday. This move further restricts China’s access to American technology. This also heightens the already high tensions before the planned meeting between U.S President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping that will happen next week in Japan.

The Commerce Department announced that it would add four Chinese companies and one Chinese institute to an “entity list,” saying they posed risks to American national security or foreign policy interests. The move essentially bars them from buying American technology and components without a waiver from the United States government, which could all but cripple them because of their reliance on American chips and other technology to make advanced electronics.

Know more of this story over at The New York Times.

(Image Credit: TheDigitalArtist/ Pixabay)


7

Blogging Origins: Why We Say 'Blog'

The word "blog" is a shortened version of the word "weblog" which makes sense because blogs are simply articles or other text and media documents that get logged onto the web. But it all started with one person, Peter Merholz's curious fascination with words and word play. Here's the story.

"For What It's Worth, I've decided to pronounce the word "weblog" as wee'- blog. Or "blog" for short."
I didn't think much of it. I was just being silly, shifting the syllabic break one letter to the left. I started using the word in my posts, and some folks, when emailing me, would use it, too. I enjoyed it's crudeness, it's dissonance... As I wrote Keith Dawson after he added "blog" to Jargon Scout.
'Blog' would have likely died a forgotten death had it not been for one thing: In August of 1999, Pyra Labs released Blogger. And with that, the use of "blog" grew with the tool's success.

And it's been 20 years since the word was coined. It has invited many other word play to describe various types of blogs like the word "vlog" for videos. Only time will tell how things will evolve and what other terms we can coin to describe the stuff we do online.

-via Kottke

(Image credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters/Unsplash)


7

The Content of Our Dreams Can Be Manipulated Through Brain Stimulation

We all have dreams when we sleep (when we are in the REM phase). In this dream world, we have our dream bodies which we can interact with in the dream environment. We can touch, hear, see, taste, and smell things around us in the dream world.

It's striking that we can recreate such vivid bodily experiences in a state when our physical body is completely unresponsive.

The question is: can we manipulate dream content? You may have heard of lucid dreaming where the dreamer is aware that he is in a dream, and therefore he can control what happens in his dream. But this experiment is different. This one relies on electric current.

Recently, a study aimed to investigate whether the sensorimotor cortex underlies the generation of movement and bodily experiences in dreaming. The authors used a method called transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to inhibit activity of the sensorimotor cortex during REM sleep, and observe the effect on bodily sensation and movement in dreams.
[...]
Two blind judges also carried out a content analysis of the dream reports and scored whether the report contained any movement of the dream-self, and what type of movements occurred— either single action, repetitive action, or passive movement. For instance, “diving” was classed a single action; “riding a bike downhill” as a passive movement; “writing something” as a repetitive action. A total of 50 dreams were analysed.
[...]
Overall the results support that using electrical stimulation to inhibit sensorimotor cortex activity specifically decreases presence of repetitive actions in REM sleep dreams. This provides novel evidence that the sensorimotor cortex is causal in the generation of dream movement.

Head over to Psychology Today for more details of the study.

(Image Credit: CreativeHexenkueche/ Pixabay)


7

Franchise Fatigue: Or Audiences Will Never Get Tired of Watching Big Franchises

Yes, the general consensus in the Hollywood film industry is that big mainstream studios are just squeezing their cash cows as much as possible because the audience loves it. So we see reboots, remakes, live-action adaptations, sequels, and all kinds of sloppy storylines being added or unraveled especially in big franchises because it brings in big bucks.

And sure, there are times when the audience as a collective would also feel fed up with these money-grubbing tactics, something they call "franchise fatigue", and it would show in their box office performances. But why is it that, despite a sequel being bad or obviously just trying to get us to throw our money at them, people actually still show up?

Franchise fatigue, on any given week, may be all too real, but one of its underlying aspects is collective amnesia. What it allows us to forget, each and every time, is that rehashing the same old crap, over and over, and expecting people to show up for it is what Hollywood has done for 40 years. And — news flash! — it works. More often than it doesn’t. And more consistently than originality.
But what’s left out of this equation, too often, is the dynamic that fuels my franchise-fatigue fatigue. Namely: If you’re going to interpret box-office numbers, especially when a movie tanks, as a sign of what the audience rejects, then you can’t do it with a double standard.
Yes, they didn’t want a new “Shaft,” and they didn’t want “Men in Black” with new stars. But here, measured by the numbers, is what they have wanted: the George Lucas “Star Wars” prequels, Disney strip-mining its holy animated catalogue for live-action remakes, the incredibly shoddy dinosaur sequel “Jurassic World”, and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad”.

(Image credit: Krists Luhaers/Unsplash)


9

Plastic-Trapping Device in Pacific Launches Once Again

In another attempt to clean the huge island of trash floating in the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii, the floating device designed to trap plastic waste redeploys for the second time.

Boyan Slat, creator of The Ocean Cleanup project, announced on Twitter that a 2,000-foot (600-meter) long floating boom that broke apart late last year was sent back to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch this week after four months of repair.
A ship towed the U-shaped barrier from San Francisco to the patch in September to trap the plastic. But during the four months at sea, the boom broke apart under constant waves and wind and the boom wasn’t retaining the plastic it caught.

The device not only cleans up the ocean; it also does not make any environmental impact according to marine biologists.

(Image Credit: AP Photo/ Lorin Eleni Gill, File)


9

The World's Ugliest Dog 2019



The World's Ugliest Dog for 2019 has been crowned at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California. The honor goes to Scamp the Tramp, a former stray from Los Angeles.

Fit with gray dreadlocks, frizzy fur and a tongue that hangs out a little to far, he's channeling musician Keith Richards, of the Rolling Stones, his owner said

Scamp faced some tough competition, each fit with equally unique hairstyles and wacky smiles.

Newly-crowned Scamp and his owner are now headed to New York City to appear on the Today Show. The pair are also taking home $1,500.

According to his biography, Scamp is a busy dog. He visits residents of a nursing home and helps first graders by letting them read to him. He is also an ambassador for the Humane Society of Sonoma County. While Scamp has fur issues, he does not have the malevolently evil appearance of some past winners. -via Fark


9

The 39 Year Old ‘Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back’ Mistake We Haven't Noticed

Pablo Hidalgo of the Lucasfilm Story Group spotted the said error in the Wampa cave scene from the 1980s "Empire Strikes Back".

If you look closely, "NEW YORK" can be seen stamped into the bottom of Luke's lightsaber. Good luck on not seeing that when you watch  the star wars franchise again!


Visit the HuffPost for more details about this error that we now know.


8

Song of the World's Rarest Large Whale Recorded for the First Time

There's a pop song that tells the story of a lonely whale continuously calling out to the world until someone can understand or hear its call. Lonely lonely lonely whale; like this, try calling once again, the translation of the song says, until this song that doesn’t have a response; reaches tomorrow.  

The whale in today's spotlight isn't the same whale that the song took  inspiration from, but the story is somewhat similar. Now, marine biologists have recorded the song of the world's rarest largest whale - the eastern North Pacific right whale, for the very first time. Here's CNN's Amy Woodyatt with the details:

The calls, which researchers have been trying to capture and identify for years, are thought to be the cry of lone males trying to attract mates. In the remote Bering Sea, it is an increasingly difficult task as the population of the extremely endangered whale dwindles.
North Atlantic and Southern right whales have been found to use single gunshot calls, upcalls, screams, and warbles instead of the patterned phrasing that constitutes singing.
From initial field surveys in the Bering Sea, the NOAA researchers thought that the sound patterns they heard could be song coming from the right whale, but struggled to link the song to the rare mammal. After seven years of documenting sound patterns and combing through data collected from different locations in the Bering Sea, scientists were finally able to visually identify the right whales, confirming their theory.
"We heard these same songs during a summer survey in 2017, and were able to localize the songs to male right whales," said Crance. "We can now definitively say these are right whales, which is so exciting because this hasn't been heard yet in any other right whale population."
Scientists think that these songs may be part of a reproductive display.

With their song finally reaching out towards the scientists, here's hoping that their song also reach its tomorrow - the response of their female counterparts.

image credit : John Durban (NOAA) via wikimedia commons


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