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6

58 Holes: The Popular Ancient Board Game in the Middle East

Ancient peoples weren't simply concerned about how to survive but evidences have shown that they had various ways of passing their time, including having fun with some board games.

A pattern of small holes cut into the floor of an ancient rock shelter in Azerbaijan shows that one of the world's most ancient board games was played there by nomadic herders around 4,000 years ago, according to an archaeologist who has investigated the find.

The game was called "58 Holes", which was also known by the name "Hounds and Jackals".

At that time, the game was widespread across the ancient Middle East, including Egypt, Mesopotamia and Anatolia, he said.
Though the rules of 58 Holes are unknown, many think it was played a bit like modern backgammon, with counters, such as seeds or stones, moved around the board until they reached a goal.

(Image credit: Walter Crist/Gobustan National Park)


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8

An Obituary for an Annual Dinner

For 70 years, Faith Lutheran Church in Forest Lake, Minnesota, served an annual lutefisk dinner on the second Tuesday in December. The community was settled by Scandinavian immigrants, and the church served a traditional dinner of lutefisk, lefse, boiled potatoes, meatballs, and other traditional dishes. The church has decided to discontinue the feast this year, and to get the community's attention, pastor John Klawiter wrote an obituary for the dinner, published in the Forest Lake Times. I guess it's true that more people read the obituaries than any other section of the newspaper. People outside of Forest Lake might think that the cause of death would be lack of participation due to a waning taste for lutefisk (a gelatinous dish made by reconstituting dried whitefish with lye), but that wasn't the case. Five hundred people came to eat last year. Go figure.

Ultimately, it was the aging of the volunteers that helped contribute to the decision to finally pull the plug on the 70-year tradition.

“We gathered earlier this fall,” Zarembinski said. “The process begins with a head count.  Who is still able to stand to help in the kitchen? Who is no longer able to drive and will need a ride or isn’t able to come at all? Who is in a nursing home and isn’t able to help as they have in the past? Who has passed away in the last year? Who has moved south away from the cold already?” There’s a theme here.

“The average age of the most recent core group of volunteers chairpersons is approximately 75 years old,” she said. “Not only is nobody getting any younger, but it has become more and more difficult to find volunteers that would have an impact on lowering that average age significantly.”

RIP, Faith Lutheran Scandinavian Dinner. -via Atlas Obscura

(Image courtesy of Rev. John Klawiter)


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9

The Cube Rule of Food Identification

Arguing about whether a hot dog is a sandwich makes as much sense as arguing whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable. The answer always depends on the larger context. Classifying food combinations may be a fool's errand in the long run, as dishes from around the world exist along an amazing spectrum, but we still try. The question that rules over food classification is, do we define food by its structure, or its ingredients?

Er, maybe ingredients don't work so well. Enter the Cube Rule of Food, which classifies combination foods by the location of the starch. The classifications are toast, sandwich, taco, sushi, quiche, and calzone. Most of what we eat regularly belongs in one of those categories. Since structure matters and ingredients don't in this system, you find that Pop Tarts are calzones, pigs in a blanket are sushi, and a hot dog is a taco. It makes perfect sense. Pie? Pie can exist in several categories, depending on how it is made and how it is sliced. There is an extra category for foods with no starch, meaning that steak is classified as salad. That's just the beginning of the weirdness you'll find in the Cube Rule.  -via Metafilter

(Image credit: @Phosphatide)


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8

Goodfellas Chantix Ad

We've discovered what Henry Hill's problem was: the mobster-turned-informant was suffering from nicotine withdrawal! You've seen the Ray Liotta Chantix ad; it's all over YouTube. Joseph Lindquist re-edited it with footage from the 1990 movie Goodfellas that illustrates all the legally-required warnings in the ad. -via Laughing Squid


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9

Time Magazine Persons of the Year

Time magazine has announced their Person of the Year, and it's a group of people. The title of the report is called "The Guardians and the War on Truth," but we can describe the group as journalists, particularly journalists who paid a steep price. The magazine features four different cover photos of journalists:

Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist who was murdered in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul; the staff of the Capital Gazette newspaper, who kept working after their Annapolis headquarters were targeted by a mass shooter; Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone, Reuters reporters jailed in Myanmar after their reporting on the Rohingya atrocities; and Maria Ressa, whose news site Rappler has reported on the Philippines' brutal drug war President Rodrigo Duterte and now faces tax evasion charges from his administration

Read what Time has to say about these journalists, and why they were selected.


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8

From Bad to Worse: The Cases of Post-Hospital Syndrome

When you get confined in the hospital due to a surgery or to recover from a serious illness or injury, you would expect to get better after your stay.

However, there may be some cases in which patients experience feeling worse than when they were checked in the hospital. This is post-hospital syndrome.

If part of a hospital stay is to recover from a procedure or illness, why is it so hard to get any rest?
There is more noise and light than is conducive for sleep. And nurses and others visit frequently to give medications, take vitals, draw blood or perform tests and checkups — in many cases waking patients to do so.
Some monitoring is necessary, of course. Medication must be given; some vital signs do need to be checked. And frequent monitoring is warranted for some patients — such as those in intensive care units. But others are best left mostly alone.

Well, maybe this is the reason why some people don't feel comfortable around hospitals.

(Image credit: Rahav Segev/The New York Times)


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9

How to Make Lava Lamp - Science Experiment for Kids

You can try this experiment with your kid, because it's so easy, interesting and beautiful.

For this experiment you are going to need one glass (or bottle, vase), vegetable oil, water, food coloring and Alka Seltzer (or effervescent vitamins).

First you pour water in the glass and then pour vegetable oil. Try to pour oil on the side of the glass, so you don't make too many bubbles.

Anyway, if you make a lot of bubbles, let it rest for a while.

When water and oil separate and majority of bubbles are gone, add few drops of food dye. Food coloring won't dissolve in oil, but instead it will submerge until it reaches water. In some cases it will dissolve in water right away and in other cases it will stay between oil and water as bubbles. This is because there is thin film of oil outside the bubble which prevents it from mixing with water.

After that, you just drop one Alka Seltzer into the whole thing, relax and enjoy the view. I used effervescent vitamin C. I think this way reaction is more bubbly then with Alka Seltzer.

When lava lamp uses all the "power" of tablet, just add another one. I added five or six in a row and it was working like a charm.


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8

Eric Larsen Sets Out for New South Pole Expedition Record

Surviving in cold weather is tough but having to face such extreme conditions as those in the South Pole would be very harrowing, a daunting task that Eric Larsen has taken on.

On November 23, the 47-year-old from Crested Butte, Colorado, set out from the Hercules Inlet on the edge of the continent and began to ski more or less in the same direction, solo, unsupported (no outside resupplies), and unassisted (no aid from sled dogs or a kite), for 700 miles.

This isn't his first time skiing in Antarctica, he has done it several times before. So what motivated him to do it again and to make it more challenging? Why is he at it again?

On a personal level, his expeditions are about being creative and unique, he says—a way to push our boundaries of knowledge.

(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)


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9

Sounding Nature: Listening to How Nature Sounds without Humans

Stuart Fowkes had it right when he said that humans are a really, really noisy bunch. Living in an urban area, you would hear all sorts of sounds from humans and things made by humans.

But in this new project by Cities and Memory, a global collaborative sound project created by Fowkes, they try to step away from humans and focus on areas where the natural world is undisturbed.

Sounding Nature is the biggest global collection of nature sounds, featuring nearly 500 sounds from 55 countries, from jungles to glaciers to underwater shrimp recordings.
The map has two parts: the field recording of the sound itself, and then the musical remix it inspired.

Check out the sound map on Cities and Memory. - via The Verge

(Image credit: Johannes Plenio/Unsplash)


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8

Letter Theft: How Words Switch Sounds

Over time, languages evolve and change depending on the context in which they are being used. From Old English to Middle English, and from there to Modern and Contemporary English, many words have changed and taken new meanings and sounds.

Words do some truly inventive things when they change, and change they always do.
Some switch their sounds around, like when hros became hors, nowadays spelt with an extra e as horse.
Some lose their sense of having an internal composition, like when wāl-hros ‘whale-horse’ became walrus.

Erich Round lists some more words that have switched their sounds through time. Read about them on Morph.

(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)


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8

Squirrel Says Hello to UPS Delivery Driver



Last Tuesday in Chicago, a security camera caught footage of a UPS delivery driver bringing a package. He was welcomed by a squirrel! Instead of panicking, he found delight in the encounter. This should put a smile on your face the way it did to this guy. -via Boing Boing

The squirrel apparently passed his training.


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7

Meet Buddy, The Dog Who Became a Witness for a Pet Ownership Case

Oddly enough, in 1921, a judge allowed a dog to testify about to whom he belongs. It might seem bizarre that a court of law would swear in a dog to the witness stand but this might have been a special case.

The case was a pet ownership battle. The plaintiff, Maj. Gen. Eli Helmick, said that the dog was Buddy, purchased in 1920 from Brockway Kennels in Baldwin, Kansas, which had advertised 75 “white, intelligent, shaggy, handsome trick Eskimos.” For almost two years, the family raised the pup, until one day in November 1921 it went missing.
Months later, Florence Helmick visited Keeley Morse’s hat shop, where customers were greeted by a fluffy, friendly white dog that Florence insisted was her Buddy. She demanded Morse hand over the animal. When he refused to surrender the dog, which he called Prince, the Helmicks brought him to court.

Read more about the story by Christopher DeCou on Narratively.

(Image credit: Subin Yang)


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7

A Probiotic Might Help Treat Autism

There are various kinds of autism in the spectrum but they all affect an individuals ability to socialize and communicate. At times, they may have trouble with learning things.

Researchers have found that there might be some type of bacteria in their intestines, or rather lack thereof, that might have a connection to autism.

Recent research has shown that altering animals’ intestinal bacteria can have dramatic effects on their nervous systems. Ameliorating autism by tinkering with the ecology of the gut might thus be a fruitful line of inquiry.
The bug in question is Lactobacillus reuteri. It is commonly found in healthy digestive systems and helps regulate acidity levels. And it is also easily obtainable for use as a probiotic from health-food shops.

Would this gut bacteria be the key to helping individuals with autism? Hopefully, it does.

(Image credit: Andrea Ucini)


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11

Shchedryk (Carol of the Bells)



One day I wondered how old the song "Carol of the Bells" is, so I looked it up. The song was written in 1914 by Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych. It was based on the Ukrainian folk chant called "Shchedryk," which goes back much further. It was not a Christmas song.

The original folk story related in the song was associated with the coming New Year, which, in pre-Christian Ukraine, was celebrated with the coming of spring in April. The original Ukrainian title translates to "the generous one"[4] or is perhaps derived from the Ukrainian word for bountiful (shchedryj),[3] and tells a tale of a swallow flying into a household to proclaim the bountiful year that the family will have.[5]

With the introduction of Christianity to Ukraine and the adoption of the Julian calendar, the celebration of the New Year was moved from April to January, and the holiday with which the chant was originally associated became Malanka (Ukrainian: Щедрий вечір Shchedry vechir), the eve of the Julian New Year (the night of 13–14 January in the Gregorian calendar). The songs sung for this celebration are known as Shchedrivky.

The song was first performed by students at Kiev University in December 1916, but the song lost popularity in Ukraine shortly after the Soviet Union took hold.[5] It was introduced to Western audiences by the Ukrainian National Chorus during its 1919 concert tour of Europe and the Americas, where it premiered in the United States on October 5, 1921 to a sold-out audience at Carnegie Hall.[3] The original work was intended to be sung a cappella by mixed four-voice choir.[5] Two other settings of the composition were also created by Leontovych: one for women's choir (unaccompanied) and another for children's choir with piano accompaniment. These are rarely performed or recorded.

Asked to write English lyrics for a performance on the NBC radio network in 1936, Peter J. Wilhousky, an American musician of Ukrainian descent, centered the English version around bells, because the tune reminded him of hand bells. The original Ukrainian lyrics translate as:

Shchedryk, shchedryk, a shchedrivka [New Year's carol];
A little swallow flew [into the household]
and started to twitter,
to summon the master:
"Come out, come out, O master [of the household],
look at the sheep pen,
there the ewes have yeaned
and the lambkins have been born
Your goods [livestock] are great,
you will have a lot of money, [by selling them].

If not money, then chaff: [from all the grain you will harvest]
you have a dark-eyebrowed [beautiful] wife."
Shchedryk, shchedryk, a shchedrivka,
A little swallow flew.

The performance in the video above was recorded in Kiev in 2011.


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9

Pillow Cats

You can get a personal photograph put on all kinds of household items now. Be warned, you're going to have to watch this video twice to catch what you missed the first time around. I really don't want to say any more than that. -via Everlasting Blort


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9

Genetic Algorithms May Propel Evolutionary Processes

The laws of nature govern much of how the world works from the vast reaches of space to the tiniest particles that make up all living and non-living things. There are certain determined forces and factors that inevitably dictate why and how things are.

The question one might ask is "How did everything came to be if we assume that everything happened in a random manner?" Evolutionary biologists suggest that it was through the process of natural selection.

The process of natural selection winnowed the field. Moreover, it seems likely that nature somehow also found other shortcuts, ways to narrow down the vast space of possibilities to smaller, explorable subsets more likely to yield useful solutions.

These algorithms are tested in various iterations, continuously mutating, combining, and adding on features that would become beneficial to organisms.

Eventually, many repetitions of this process lead to a highly fit individual, or solution.

(Image credit: Ricardo Bessa/Quanta Magazine)


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9

MAGPIE: Understanding Solar Wind By Recreating It

What are solar winds and more importantly, how does it affect Earth and other planets in our solar system? We have a rough idea of solar winds in that, they are a stream of particles being emitted outward from the sun.

But scientists want to know more and have a deeper understanding of how it interacts with Earth. So they sent a probe on a mission toward the sun. In the meantime, the Imperial College of London is doing research on these solar winds by recreating it.

The Mega Ampere Generator for Plasma Implosion Experiments, or MAGPIE, is a two-storey machine within the labyrinthine basement of Imperial College London. Inside, a box-sized crucible resides at the heart of a collection of giant tubes.
Every now and then, for half a millionth of a second, it literally explodes into life, releasing a burst of miniaturized solar wind that scientists can study as it interacts with its magnetic target.

(Image credit: Goddard Space Flight Center/NASA)


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11

What's the Most Dangerous Food of All Time?

People run all kinds of risks to eat food that can be dangerous. Last week, we heard about how cherries and milk together can kill you. Luckily, that was a myth. At one time, Europeans thought that tomatoes were poison. With all the misinformation about food, it's time to turn to the experts.

For this week’s Giz Asks, we reached out to a number of food historians and anthropologists to nominate their candidates for the all-time most dangerous food. There was one sticky pattern, but mostly, their takes varied wildly; collectively they cover pretty much all of the non-fruit/vegetable parts of the food pyramid. If you like eating, and also enjoy being alive, you might want to take their opinions to heart.

The different experts picked different foods for different reasons. Some can be deadly if you don't select, prepare, or store it correctly. Others are safe in small amounts, but contribute to early death if you overindulge over time. Some are vectors for disease, and some are just bad for everyone because its production is destroying the environment. It is telling that the last four experts chose the same food. Read all the opinions on the most dangerous food at Gizmodo.

(Image credit: Ericsteinert)


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10

Burning the Wall Of Death



Back in 2007, crazy man Colin Furze (previously at Neatorama) built a motordrome, or a "Wall of Death" out of around 850 pallets. It started him on a career making YouTube videos about the strange things he builds. You can see the videos of him building it, crashing in it, and successfully riding his 70cc Honda scooter in it. Now, he decided to get rid of the "rotting pile of pallets" by sending it up in a glorious blaze, to the music of a song written about it. -via Digg


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10

The "Official" Dance Steps For 'Tainted Love'

We're in love with this video from comedy genius Joe Kwaczala (@joekjoek​) showing the "official" dance steps to 'Tainted Love.'

via Digg.com

Image & Video via YouTube


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12

Did Curiosity Discover Gold on Mars or Just a Meteorite?

A week or so ago, the Curiosity rover found a smooth shiny rock at the Vera Rubin Ridge. It has not yet been analyzed to see its chemical composition but scientists say that it could be another meteorite which isn't uncommon.

Curiosity has been at the Highfield drill site before, but NASA’s mission controllers wanted to take a look at four previously detected rocks—including an unusually smooth rock that, in black and white at least, looks a bit like a chunk of gold.
Immediate suspicions are that the rock, dubbed Little Colonsay, is a meteorite, but NASA scientists won’t know for sure until Curiosity performs a chemical analysis.

Read on for more on Gizmodo.

(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Los Alamos National Laboratory)


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12

Cosmic Dust Detected Above the North Pole

There are so much particles in space that we don't really know everything that is out there. Recently, a signal has been detected in the space above the North Pole and scientists are trying to figure it out what it could be.

Though it's not clear exactly what's causing it, new research supports the idea that the signal may be coming from tiny, ultrafast-spinning grains of cosmic dust.
The strange North Pole signal, detected by a massive, all-sky survey, originates in some of the dustier corners of our galaxy and is part of a galaxy-wide signal that has puzzled scientists for decades.
Because this mysterious emission can muddy signals coming from the faint afterglow from the Big Bang, understanding it better could ultimately help researchers get a better picture of the early universe.

Learn more about it on Live Science. - via Space.com

(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/CXC/STScI)


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11

"I Turned Out Just Fine", But It May Not Apply to You

Whenever we discuss parenting practices, we often draw from personal experiences on how we were raised and how we turned out, then based on those recollections, since it was effective for us, then the same can be applied to next generations producing the same effect.

However, Justin Coulson, an Australian parenting expert argues the opposite:

The “I turned out just fine” argument is popular. It means that based on our personal experience we know what works and what doesn’t.
But the argument has fatal flaws.

Sure enough, one principle or practice in child-rearing may not apply to all cases. The same goes for every other thing in the world. There are other ways that may work for other people depending on the situation and context.

And since we're talking about children here, living, breathing human beings who can feel, think, perhaps not rationally most of the time, but still every experience they have has an impact on their lives.

(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)


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12

So....why is it named Area 51?

The USAF facility (better known as Area 51) is a remote area of Edwards Air Force Base, within the Nevada Test and Training Range. It is publicly unknown what the base's current primary purpose is, however, based on historical data, it most likely supports the development and testing of experimental aircraft and weapons systems.

The secrecy concerning the base has made it the frequent subject of conspiracy theories and a central component to UFO's. Questions about the site remain unanswered.

Read more over at Gizmodo via Amaze and Amuse

(Image credit: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Area_51_ohne_Legende.png)


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11

Just Have A Bite: Why We Become Squeamish About Eating Bugs

Whenever we encounter some new type of food, we would probably hesitate a bit before trying it. If you're more adventurous, you might just go ahead and dig in.

For a lot of people, eating insects is an exotic practice, something that you may not see that often or even think about doing. But when you go to places in Asia or Africa, it's part of their culture.

Julie Lesnik, an anthropologist, explores the practice of entomophagy and wrote about it in her dissertation. At the very least, having insects in your diet not only would cut down costs but it can prove to be healthier.

(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)


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13

What Does It Look Like When A Star Dies?

A star's death results in its explosion, that's the gist of it. But how does it actually look like in detail, from its onset to its very final moments? A research team from the Australian National University has witnessed one such event happening.

The astronomers witnessed the star dying a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, as part of a project that aims to solve the mystery of how stars explode.
Dr. Brad Tucker, one of the lead researchers of the survey, said about 170 million years later on 4 February 2018 the array of high-powered telescopes detected the light emanating from the exploding star, otherwise known as a supernova called SN 2018oh.

Read more on Phys.org.

(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)


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12

Pre-Code Comic Book Horrors And Dr Wertham’s 1954 Seduction of the Innocent

Although comic books today are a dying breed of literature (Marvel has, after 50+ years, canceled The Fantastic Four, once billed as "The World's Greatest Comic"), they were in their heyday during the 1940's and 1950's (as was the Lone Ranger), when something called the Kefauver Hearings occurred in 1954, causing the then-in-vogue horror comics to die out by 1955 due to implementation of the Comics Code Authority, without which approval comics could not be distributed and sold via normal channels. The comic cover pictured was the final straw (unbelievably, it was edited from a far gorier version) and was the beginning of the end for EC Publications, of which the sole survivor would in 1955 become MAD Magazine (magazines were not subject to the Comics Code as were "comic books).

Dr. Fredric Wertham’s 1954 book, Seduction of the Innocent, was an American bestseller – it tapped into the fears of parents from sea to shining sea - that first led to the Kefauver Hearings and then to a frenzy of censorship in the comic book world. The irony, however, is that the book was so poorly researched, that much of its content was simply made up or misrepresented (it was Wertham's opinion that Batman and Robin were in an obvious homosexual relationship). Of course, the public didn’t give a hoot about facts, and Seduction of the Innocent became a sensation due to its many lurid illustrations, examples of which, with running commentary, can be found here.

Stan Lee, who recently died, was head of Atlas Comics during this period, and he too published horror titles and others that ran afoul of the new code. Consequently, he left Atlas and went on to found Marvel Comics in the early 1960's, and the rest, as they say, is history.

If you'd like to see more of what you have most probably missed-out on, but which most probably corrupted your grandparents, you may do so by visiting here. (It should surprise no one that I own the complete EC library.)


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16

This is What Going Viral Looks Like

Rusty Blazenhoff wrote about Tim Klien's jigsaw puzzle montages at Boing Boing, and it turned out to be her biggest blog post ever, even bigger than Swineapple. Neatorama was one of the earlier sites to pick it up, and over the next couple weeks, Klein was inundated with messages and inquiries about buying his puzzle montages. 

Want one of Tim's pieces? Get in line. He's sold every single one of his current pieces (he delighted in selling his art to STRANGERS for the very first time) and there is a waiting list for future ones.

Now Klein and Blazenhoff have joined forces to start an online newsletter for jigsaw puzzle enthusiasts. In case you want an inside look at how the sausage is made in the blogging world, Rusty wrote a timeline of how a blog post went viral and put Klein on TV and in magazines around the world.


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13

The Cloth Womb from 18th-Century France

The French midwife Angélique Marguerite Le Boursier du Coudray was a master of her craft. She was also an educator, training thousands of midwives, doctors, and surgeons in the intricacies of childbirth beginning in 1759. Du Coudray used an amazing model, seen above, of a uterus, placenta, and fetus to show her students how the process of birth works. It is made of leather and fabric, and has held up well. Now more than 250 years later, the model is in the Flaubert Museum and History of Medicine in Rouen, France. But you can see several views of how it works, and read more about du Coudray at Flashbak.  -Thanks, WTM!


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11

What If You Are Stressed Everyday?



Everyone experiences stress; it's just part of life. But sustained, daily stress can affect our bodies and brains- and not for the better. That's just what you needed to hear on top of all that stress, right? AsapSCIENCE has the details.   


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