Extreme nerdery incoming! EC Henry used a virtual wind tunnel to test the aerodynamics of the ships seen in the Star Wars movies. It becomes clear that they were designed to look cool, and not to work in a real atmosphere. But when you compare them to each other, the Rebels with their ugly ships were more realistic and might have even worked. -via io9
The most popular cherry in America is the dark red Bing cherry, but few know where its name came from. The variety was first developed at Seth Lewelling's orchard in Oregon. The Lewelling family had hauled 700 fruit trees out west in the mid 1800s to take advantage of the region's fertile land and mild weather. Ah Bing was a 6-foot-tall Chinese immigrant who worked for Lewelling for 30 years, earning money to send back to his wife and children in China.
As the foreman of Lewelling’s orchard crew, Ah Bing supervised more than 30 men. He worked closely with Lewelling on grafting, propagating, and caring for trees. The Bing cherry, Ledding recalled, surfaced one day when Lewelling and Ah Bing walked through the rows of cherry trees, where each man maintained separate rows. In Ah Bing’s row, there was a marvelous new type of cherry. Someone suggested that Lewelling name the cherry after himself. But Lewelling protested. He had already named a cherry for himself. “No, I’ll name this for Bing,” Ledding recalled him saying. “It’s a big cherry and Bing’s big, and anyway it’s in his row, so that shall be its name.”
But other stories portray Ah Bing as even more central to the development of the cherry. In 1922, the agricultural journal The Oregon Grower related that Lewelling had assigned a collection of “Black Republican” cherry seedlings to Ah Bing to care for in 1875. Ah Bing’s cultivation resulted in the Bing cherry, which, the author commented, would “pass his name down in horticultural history.”
The name stuck, but the connection to Ah Bing is little known. He was a victim of the Chinese Exclusion Act and suffered through riots as anti-Chinese sentiment worsened. Read about Ah Bing and his cherries at Atlas Obscura.
For ten years now, we've followed the story of Mark Hogancamp, who created the intricate miniature World War II world called Marwencol. His art went viral, and led to a book and then a documentary about how Hogancamp used Marwencol as therapy after he suffered horrific injuries from a beating. Now his story is a feature film called Welcome to Marwen, starring Steve Carell as Hogancamp. The movie has an advantage over a documentary in that the dolls and action figures of Marwencol, or Marwen, come to life to support Hogancamp. Welcome to Marwen is scheduled to open on November 21. -via Tastefully Offensive
The Gorilla Foundation has announced the passing of Koko. Koko the lowland gorilla was born at the San Francisco Zoo and was only one year old when she began to train in sign language with Dr. Francine “Penny” Patterson. Koko's amazing ability to communicate led to the establishment of the Gorilla Foundation. She had a vocabulary of around 1,000 words in sign language and understood around 2,000 spoken words. Koko loved to watch movies and was an avid fan of the TV show Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. She was the first non-human to successfully participate in an internet chat. Koko was famous for her loving relationship with cats, and her intense bonding with her first kitten.
Koko’s capacity for language and empathy has opened the minds and hearts of millions. She has been featured in multiple documentaries and appeared on the cover of National Geographic twice. The first cover, in October of 1978, featured a photograph Koko had taken of herself in a mirror. The second issue, in January of 1985, included the story of Koko and her kitten, All Ball. Following the article, the book Koko’s Kitten was published and continues to be used in elementary schools worldwide. Her impact has been profound and what she has taught us about the emotional capacity of gorillas and their cognitive abilities will continue to shape the world.
Koko was 46.
(Image credit: Flickr user sid)
Archaeological excavations of ancient sites usually don't come in color, as hundreds of years and exposure to air, water, and/or soil will fade the original colors. But archaeologists in Denmark have studied the materials and pigments used in Viking paint to approximate what they might have looked like when they were new. The Vikings made paint out of various pigments bound with milk, eggs, or linseed oil, and used it to decorate their buildings. Some colors were more expensive than others, and some had cultural meaning.
It is not insignificant which colours the Vikings used on their houses. For example, some colours were rarer than others and were costly having been imported over long distances, says archaeologist Lars Holten, director of Sagnlandet Lejre and co-author on the new report.
“We know that the symbolism of colour is enormously important in all cultures. Red, white, and black are some of the most common and have similar symbolism among numerous cultures,” says Holten.
One of the more expensive colours is the red ‘cinnabar’ (number 5 on the interactive chart above), and it was likely used by chieftains or princes as a status symbol to demonstrate power over their surroundings, says Holten.
The Viking paints that have been identified so far have been posted at an interactive site, where you can learn the ingredients, cost, and symbolism of each color. Read more about the research into Viking color at Science Nordic. -via Metafilter
Bruce and Terry Jenkins have led an interesting life. Now that they are retired, they spend their time running a private shelter called Cat's Cradle. They have 30 cats, all of them rescues, elderly cats who have outlived their original owner. They get to spend their sunset years being loved and fussed over by the Jenkins. They are awesome people. Stay for the credits, where we get to see the finished butterfly garden. -via The Atlantic
(Image credit: Scott Beale)
Domino Sugar operated a sugar refinery on the East River in Brooklyn from 1858 until 2004. It lay abandoned until 2012, when Two Trees Management Company bought it, and this summer it has opened as Domino Park. The park has green space, game courts, flowers, an interactive fountain, playground equipment, a fog bridge, and a dog run. The park incorporates structures from the historic factory, such as these sugar augers.
(Image credit: Scott Beale)
See more pictures that show how an old factory can become a community park and still retain its history at Laughing Squid.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom officially opens Friday, although you can attend previews on Thursday. This will be the fifth movie in the Jurassic Park franchise, which began in 1993. However, the sequels came to a screeching halt in 2001 when Jurassic Park III came out. It was the first of the movies not to be directed by Steven Spielberg, and the first that wasn't based on a book. It made money, but was not well received. Screen Junkies explains why in an Honest Trailer for Jurassic Park III. Fourteen years went by before producers were healed from the trauma enough to bring us Jurassic World. -via Geeks Are Sexy
We all love service dogs, and we are in awe of their abilities and their loyalty. You're not supposed to pet one without permission, because they are on duty. It took time and the internet for people to learn that rule. But what if a service dog approaches you? That would be surprising, but it happens. For a reason. Lumpatronics told a story about how and why a service dog might come up to you.
So today I tripped. Fell flat on my face, it was awful but ultimately harmless. My service dog, however, is trained to go get an adult if I have a seizure, and he assumed this was a seizure (were training him to do more to care for me, but we didn’t learn I had epilepsy until a year after we got him)
I went after him after I had dusten off my jeans and my ego, and I found him trying to get the attention of a very annoyed woman. She was swatting him away and telling him to go away. So I feel like I need to make this heads up
If a service dog without a person approaches you, it means the person is down and in need of help
Now you know. They are truly being Lassie, asking you to come save Timmy from the well. -via The Daily Dot
Update: Nicolas Steenhout, an accessibility consultant, says this is not how most service dogs are trained to get help. He explains in this Twitter thread. -Thanks, Gristle McNerd!
(Image credit: Lextergrace)
Giant Mine near Yellowknife, in the Northwest Territories, extracted a lot of gold in its time. Then the gold ran out, and the company went bankrupt in 2004. They left behind 237,000 metric tons of arsenic trioxide as a side effect of the mining operation, although that amount does not include the arsenic that has escaped into the environment. You can read more about Giant Mine's history here. The Canadian government was left to deal with the arsenic. Tom Scott introduces us to the technology that won't destroy the arsenic, but will keep the dust from seeping into the air and water. Read more about the Giant Mine Remediation Project at its website. -via Digg
Vacationing in the Poconos Mountains goes way back into the early part of the 20th century. But in 1945, as soldiers returned from the war and got married, Farm on the Hill became the first "honeymoon resort" in the Poconos, and others soon followed. There were plenty of honeymoon accommodations to select from, like the "honeymoon mansionette" pictured above, complete with fireplace, plastic flowers, sky-blue decor, and a TV with a matching blue screen of death. There were plenty of recreational opportunities, like archery, swimming, golf, canoeing, and table tennis, as well as lounges and restaurants.
Some hotels went all in on the honeymoon idea as the 1960s progressed, with heart-shaped bathtubs during the era of "affluent vulgarity," which extended the potential clientele to unmarried couples ready to pay for a getaway. See a roundup of postcards from the Poconos during its honeymoon heyday at Flashbak. -via Everlasting Blort
While news spread through the rest of the country that the Civil War was over, Confederates in Texas fought on for another six weeks until June 19, 1865, when General Gordon Granger announced in Galveston that slaves were now free. That date has been commemorated in Texas and elsewhere ever since as Juneteenth. But it didn't mean that the enslaved people of Texas were actually free from that day.
5. NOT ALL SLAVES WERE FREED INSTANTLY.
Texas is a large state, and General Granger's order (and troops to enforce it) were slow to spread. According to historian James Smallwood, many enslavers deliberately suppressed the information until after the harvest, and some beyond that. In July 1867 there were two separate reports of slaves being freed, and one report of a Texas horse thief named Alex Simpson whose slaves were only freed after his hanging in 1868.
6. FREEDOM CREATED OTHER PROBLEMS.
Despite the announcement, Texas slave owners weren't too eager to part with what they felt was their property. When legally freed slaves tried to leave, many of them were beaten, lynched, or murdered. "They would catch [freed slaves] swimming across [the] Sabine River and shoot them," a former slave named Susan Merritt recalled.
Read more facts about Juneteenth, its origins and annual celebration, at Mental Floss.
T.J. was a 14-year-old who ate gummy vitamins as if they were candy. It was a language problem- he thought they were candy. While he ate too many every day, the day he consumed an entire bottle (150 gummies), he landed in the hospital with strange symptoms. YouTuber Chubbyemu (previously at Neatorama) takes us through the process of diagnosis and treatment, and explains in detail what a vitamin overdose does to one's body. It's not pretty. Chubbyemu has a series of horrific medical stories in his YouTube channel. -via reddit
In June of 1959, the US Postal Service, in conjunction with the US military, shot 3,000 letters from a submarine across 200 miles to a Naval Auxiliary Air Station in Florida. The letters were all the same, since this was a demonstration intended to show the Soviet Union how accurate American missiles were. But it was far from the first time folks attempted to deliver mail by rocket.
For example, in the late 19th century in Tonga, residents of the island of Niuafo’ou decided to try using Congreve rockets to send and receive mail. You see, the island’s lack of beaches and harbour, as well as the presence of the second deepest oceanic trench in the world, the Tonga Trench, right next to it (making it impossible to anchor), meant getting mail from ship to land wasn’t something regularly done, despite ships frequently passing by.
The ultimate solution to leverage the existing ship traffic here for sending and receiving mail was simply to have ships drop cans containing mail into the water and then blast their horns as they passed by. Strong swimmers would then swim out to try to collect the cans before the current did. Likewise, the swimmers would carry messages from the island out to the shipping lane to drop off, with the canned letters picked up when the ships passed. This all eventually earned Niuafo’ou the nickname of Tin Can Island.
But before they earned that moniker, they decided to go with the Congreve rockets, which is definitely a missed opportunity here in terms of a more badass nickname.
Mail delivery by those Congreve rockets was discontinued for the same reason other plans failed- the rockets were unreliable and not all that accurate. By the time missiles were accurate enough to do the job, we had planes going to all parts of the world anyway. Read about the many plans and projects to deliver mail by missile at Today I Found Out.
Milo the Quaker parrot sings along with his human, Erica Croke. The song is a classic, "Bacon Pancakes" from the TV show Adventure Time. Milo must watch the show a lot, or he sings it a lot, or he just loves making -or eating- pancakes. You can see more of Milo at his Facebook page. -via Tastefully Offensive
Are people in Finland happy or not? They have beautiful scenery, world-class schools, Santa Claus, weird sports such as wife-carrying and phone throwing, a robust social safety net, Northern Lights, and the government gives every new baby a box of supplies just for being born. Yet Finns are renowned for their dour, sometimes fatalistic outlook on life. And now there's a survey that proclaims how happy they are.
According to the 2018 World Happiness Report, based on research conducted by Gallup, Finland is the happiest country in the world. The Finns are not so sure about the result, though – being, as they are, a typically stoic sort of people.
“Nordic people, and the Finns in particular, are emotionally introverted,” explained Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute, an independent think tank in Denmark that studies happiness and wellbeing. “They rarely rank highly on expressions of joy or anger – they are very different in that way from people from Latin America, for example, who have a more exuberant emotional expression as a people. For [the Finns], happiness is more about living a reserved, balanced and resilient life.”
The seeming contradiction is in how you define your terms. The survey measured quality of life, which many people would assume leads to happiness. The word "happy" itself brings up a picture of people expressing joy, as in that song by Pharrell Williams. In Finland, the two don't quite meet, as you can read about at BBC Travel. They also explain kalsarikänni, or the tradition of getting drunk at home in your underwear. -via Digg
(Image credit: Flickr user Mariano Mantel)
Francis (franktasia 2000) discovered that his potted plant had sprouted legs! Is it getting ready to run away from home? Is it Groot? Audrey 2? In case you're wondering, this is a dragon tree, or Dracaena marginata. Among the jokes, gifs, and advice in the comments are some adorable drawings of the plant, which were all done in a hurry since this picture was only posted yesterday.
Cannot reiterate enough how proud I am of my son, whomst has defied the restrictions placed on him as a plant pic.twitter.com/zAfRpbirP3— franktasia 2000 (@tytonidaeus) June 17, 2018
Hope this hasn't been done yet! pic.twitter.com/hUu0CSZT1C— Gojee (@GojiraSenpai) June 17, 2018
WHAT A GOOD SON YOU HAVE I hope he has many adventures!!!! pic.twitter.com/PrR1q4lTQb— sana ˎ (@ilLuciinati) June 17, 2018
Continue reading for more.
The worst tourist mosquito experience I know is Roanoke Island in North Carolina, and the best is at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. But when you go to Walt Disney World in Orlando, you're too busy having fun to notice the lack of mosquitos. The theme park is built on a swamp in Florida, so what gives? The truth is that Disney goes to great lengths to control the mosquito population. Rob Plays explains how that happens.
YouTube has only been around for 13 years, but in that time has hosted some of the funniest, weirdest, most interesting short subjects you'll ever see. The ones that went wildly viral will be familiar to you, maybe all 100 of the ranked videos at Thrillist, which has embedded all 100 YouTube videos for your viewing pleasure. Stroll down memory lane with Charlie The Unicorn (99), Dramatic Chipmunk (84), Miss Teen USA 2007 (76), Trololo (68), Boom Goes the Dynamite (18), and many other viral videos you've forgotten about by now, but will make you laugh all over again. Then you can commence arguing about the ones they left off the list.
Penny restaurants were diners where you could get a decent meal without spending hardly any money. You could find them in some cities as far back as the turn of the 20th century, and they spread tremendously during the Great Depression. Penny restaurants were mostly run by charities, but the food wasn't free, because that would rob the transaction of its dignity.
T.M. Finney, who managed a St. Louis penny restaurant run by the local Provident Association, laid out the enduring modus operandi of charitable restaurants. “The aim of the scheme is to afford poor people to maintain their self-respect and reduce the number of beggars,” Finney stated.
At his establishment, every item cost a penny: A meal of half a pound of bread, soup, potatoes, pork and beans, and coffee only cost hungry customers five cents. Breadlines, where miserable hundreds waited hours for free food, were an all-too-common sight during the Depression. Penny restaurants were the dignified alternative.
Penny restaurants always appeared during times of financial trouble, but they reached their greatest prominence during the Great Depression. In 1933, unemployment was at 25 percent nationwide. A whole new cuisine of make-do was developing across the country, from starchy slugburgers to pork masquerading as higher-end chicken. At penny restaurants, food was simple and often meatless.
Some existing eateries got into the penny restaurant business as a hybrid, adding a section to their existing restaurant to serve the indigent. And at least one businessman could afford to give away free meals along with paid meals because the volume was so high. Clifford Clinton was some restauranteur, as one of his dining spots is still in business, although you can no longer get a free meal. Read about the rise and fall of penny restaurants at Atlas Obscura.
Two hundred years ago, Mary Shelley published a book that she'd been working on since she took up a challenge among friends to write a scary story. Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus was much more than a horror novel. It illustrated the march of science and the responsibility, ethics, and hubris of those who would dare create life, ideas that have resonated with readers for two centuries so far, even as science itself has changed greatly.
Two hundred years later, Arizona State University launched The Frankenstein Bicentennial Project — a cross-disciplinary, multimedia endeavor to engage the people of today with the timeless issues of science, technology, and creative responsibility posed by Shelley’s searching intellect and imagination. As part of the celebration, MIT Press published Frankenstein: Annotated for Scientists, Engineers, and Creators of All Kinds (public library) — Shelley’s original 1818 manuscript, line-edited by the world’s leading expert on the text and accompanied by annotations and essays by prominent contemporary thinkers across science, technology, philosophy, ethics, feminism, and speculative fiction. What emerges is the most thrilling science-lensed reading of a literary classic since Lord Byron’s Don Juan annotated by Isaac Asimov.
Reanimation! is a seven-part video series from Massive that features conversations with scientists about Frankenstein and the issues it addresses, produced as a companion piece to the annotated book. The first episode, A Bolt of Lightning, is an overview of the impact of Shelley's novel and the questions it raises for the philosophy of science.
Further episodes deal with the line between chaos and organization, the nature of life, the definition of consciousness and intelligence, the ethics of intervening in nature, and more. You can see all seven videos in the series at Brain Pickings. -Thanks, WTM!
The marketing has begun for the sequel to Wonder Woman. The title is Wonder Woman 1984, which tells us that the movie is set in that year, approximately 70 years after the first film, and well before Batman v Superman and Justice League. Gal Gadot Tweeted the picture above, showing us how the Amazon character's new costume will look. The basic design is the same as the leather she wore in the previous movie, with the metallic glitter of Lynda Carter's version. Chris Pine will return as Steve Trevor, shown here in his 1980s fashions.
Pine's casting would have been difficult to maintain as a secret, so they made Trevor's return into a marketing tool. The big question is how they will explain it. Wonder Woman 1984 is now in production and is scheduled to hit theaters on November 1, 2019.
The Wild Canadian Year is a five-part TV series about Canadian wildlife. Sam Ellis' assignment for the show was to film a Canada lynx in its natural habitat. Not an easy task, as remaining invisible is a big part of a lynx's lifestyle. But over time, Sam tracked and got to know a cat he called Mad Max. He spent 76 days trying to get some good footage of Max hunting. So here we have a videographer following a cameraman following a lynx following rabbits for more than two months, so let's appreciate the result.
James Cameron interviewed George Lucas for his TV series James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction. There was more discussed than made it to air, and the rest of the interview landed in a book, and now we know about what would have happened in the third Star Wars trilogy if it had followed Lucas' ideas. We can be very happy that didn't happen.
“[The next three ‘Star Wars’ films] were going to get into a microbiotic world,” he told Cameron. “There’s this world of creatures that operate differently than we do. I call them the Whills. And the Whills are the ones who actually control the universe. They feed off the Force.”
Elsewhere in the conversation, Lucas admitted, “Everybody hated it in ‘Phantom Menace’ [when] we started talking about midi-chlorians.” In terms of his storytelling, Lucas regarded individuals as “vehicles for the Whills to travel around in…And the conduit is the midi-chlorians. The midi-chlorians are the ones that communicate with the Whills. The Whills, in a general sense, they are the Force.”
Lucas is confidant that had he kept his company, the Whills-focused films “would have been done. Of course, a lot of the fans would have hated it, just like they did ‘Phantom Menace’ and everything, but at least the whole story from beginning to end would be told.”
But thankfully, it was not to be. Lucas' instead retired and sold Lucasfilm. So no matter how much you dislike any of the new Star Wars films, you can just tell yourself it could have been so much worse. Read more at IndieWire. -via Ars Technica
(Image credit: Flickr user raymond twist)
It seems like I spent the entire decade of the 1980s sitting in a movie theater. Even if you weren't born then, you've probably figured out from watching movies on TV that the '80s were a golden age for comedy, action, and science fiction movies for young adults. Illustrator Scott Park (previously at Neatorama) has designed a poster he calls EIGHTY2, or "80s", with 80 characters from 57 different movies from that decade. You'll recognize them all, even if you can't quite name them all. You can see a larger version of the image here, and buy a print here. -via Geeks Are Sexy
Chris Poole brings us a cute Fathers Day greeting in which his cat Marmalade expresses his thoughts. Say it with me now: "Awww." See more of Marmalade and his buddy Cole in previous videos. -via Laughing Squid
When the new Iroquois Theater in Chicago opened in November of 1903, it was advertised as "absolutely fireproof." On December 30th, between 1700 and 2,000 people, mostly mothers and children on holiday break, attended a performance of the comedy Mr. Blubeard, starring Eddie Foy. There were only 1600 seats, but tickets were sold for others to stand during the play.
As the show began its second act at 3:15 that afternoon, a spark from a stage light ignited nearby drapery. Attempts to stamp out the fire with a primitive retardant did nothing to halt its spread across the flammable decorative backdrops. Foy, dressed in drag for his next scene, attempted to calm the increasingly agitated audience. He ordered the orchestra to continue playing as stagehands made futile attempts to lower a supposedly flame-retardant curtain, but it snagged.
It was soon apparent that the fire could not be contained. Audience members bolted from their seats toward what few exit doors they could find, but most were obscured by curtains. They were further stymied by metal accordion gates, firmly locked to keep those in upper levels from sneaking down to pricier seats during intermissions. The terrified patrons – an estimated 1,700 with many more standing ticket holders clogging the aisles - were funneling through scant few chokepoints. Quickly the scene had changed “from mimicry to tragedy,” as one survivor said. Watching from the stage, Foy wrote in his memoirs, he saw in the upper levels a “mad, animal-like stampede – their screams, groans and snarls, the scuffle of thousands of feet and bodies grinding against bodies merging into a crescendo half-wail, half-roar.”
More than 600 people died in the stampede and conflagration. An investigation showed that required safety features were either nonexistent or non-functioning, and the overall design of the building impeded escape. The scandal of the Iroquois Theater fire led to the development of independently-powered exit signs and doors that open from the inside only. Read about the disaster and its aftermath at Smithsonian.
If you're stressing out about something specific, you know what's causing you to lose sleep. When you don't know what's causing it, the stress only increases like a snowball rolling downhill. This TED-Ed lesson from Dan Kwartler goes into the mechanisms that disrupt your normal sleep cycle. -via Digg