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17th-century London Death Roulette

If you lived in London in 1665, your chances of dying were fairly high. Communicable diseases were rampant, sanitation was hit-and-miss, and health care providers didn't have a lot to offer. What you died from could be pretty much anything, since the science of diagnosis was often a matter of guessing. London employed searchers of the dead to determine a person's cause of death, which was important in tracking victims of the plague. These searchers were mostly older, uneducated women who had no better opportunities, and they were subject to pressure and bribery. Therefore, London records show causes of death as simple as old age, falls, and childbirth, and as inexplicable as surfeit, grief, and rising of the lights. While the deceased might have been embarrassed to die of "winde," the survivors would be okay with anything that didn't lead to a quarantine of the remaining family.

Matt Round created the game Death Roulette, in which you spin the wheel (figuratively) to be assigned a random death date and cause based on the actual records from that week in London. As you see, I died of winde, which is "paroxysms of severe gastrointestinal pain," or just what you thought anyway, farts. If the odds were also based on the records, most of us would die from the plague. -via Boing Boing


The Coolest Toys From Toy Fair 2020

It’s February once again, and that means it’s another year for the annual Toy Fair in New York City. lists 15 toys from the said fair which they believe are the best. Some of the toys featured are Pokemon toys like Eevee and Snorlax, Star Wars toys like Baby Yoda and the Darksaber, as well as Minecraft toys, and the remote-controlled version of Tesla’s Cybertruck.

Check them out over at the site.

(Image Credit: Kotaku)

(Image Credit:


Killing Bacteria In An Entirely New Way

Antibiotics are what we use to treat various bacterial infections. But sometimes, antibiotics may be rendered ineffective when bacteria develop antimicrobial resistance and become resistant to these antibiotics. This phenomenon can be really dangerous, as the bacteria will continue to multiply and cause more harm. Thankfully, a new group of antibiotics, which could prove to be a promising candidate in fighting against antimicrobial resistance, has been discovered.

The newly-found corbomycin and the lesser-known complestatin have a never-before-seen way to kill bacteria, which is achieved by blocking the function of the bacterial cell wall. The discovery comes from a family of antibiotics called glycopeptides that are produced by soil bacteria.
"Antibiotics like penicillin kill bacteria by preventing building of the wall, but the antibiotics that we found actually work by doing the opposite -- they prevent the wall from being broken down. This is critical for cell to divide.
"In order for a cell to grow, it has to divide and expand. If you completely block the breakdown of the wall, it is like it is trapped in a prison, and can't expand or grow."


(Image Credit: Pixabay)


A Simulation of the Evolution of the Universe

Billions of years ago, there was nothing in the universe, and everything began with a bang. The Big Bang. Billions of years later, here we are on this Earth, and above us are numerous stars, planets of varying sizes, and dust clouds. But what happened in between? The Illustris simulation of the universe gives us some answers through this video with amazing music.

The Illustris project exhausted 20 million CPU hours in 2014 following 12 billion resolution elements spanning a cube 35 million light years on a side as it evolved over 13 billion years. The simulation tracks matter into the formation of a wide variety of galaxy types. As the virtual universe evolves, some of the matter expanding with the universe soon gravitationally condenses to form filaments, galaxies, and clusters of galaxies.

Truly magnificent.

(Video Credit: APOD Videos/ YouTube)


The Backflip That Broke the Internet

You may have seen a Tweet somewhere, or many places, over the weekend featuring a guy in high heels doing a backflip. It ends disgustingly poorly, but has nearly 14 million views so far. It probably helps that everyone who saw it had to watch it again. Now we know who is behind it. The guy in the video is circus acrobat Jiemba Sands (previously at Neatorama). The ending is the work of VFX artist Raghav Anil Kumar.  

Anil Kumar noted that Sands' content is usually surprising, like when he gracefully trips over a log or falls off a tree branch, but still ends up on his feet.

"My goal was to up the levels on both those aspects and I think the idea worked," Anil Kumar said. "I tried to challenge myself to make something that's already unexpected even more unexpected, and Jiemba's content was the perfect fit for this."

An Instagram video shows how it was done.

Read more about the project at Mashable.


Photos of Everyday Life in Japan Over 100 Years Ago By Eliza Scidmore

Traveling across Asia, writing, photographing, as well as publishing several books. That’s what Eliza Scidmore did from the late 1800s to the early 1900s.

She was one of the only women photographers employed by National Geographic and would later become the first woman board member of the magazine.

Of the many places that she has visited, the place that captured Eliza’s eyes was Japan. Throughout her life, she visited numerous times in Japan and captured the everyday life of its people. Now, over 100 years later, we can see that some things never really changed.

Check out her photos over at Spoon & Tamago.

(Image Credit: Eliza Scidmore/ National Geographic/ Spoon & Tamago)



I've always been a comics buff and even today read newspaper comics online. I also read Kevin and Kell and a few other strips that are out of the mainstream. One such, and it is a real gem, is Sarah Andersen's FANGS. From the strip's introduction:

Vamp is three hundred years old but in all that time, she has never met her match. This all changes one night in a bar when she meets a charming werewolf. FANGS chronicles the humor, sweetness, and awkwardness of meeting someone perfectly suited to you but also vastly different.

The comic appears in weekly episodes, in anywhere from one to six panels, and the humor is definitely of the black variety, such as Vamp's response to Jimmy the Werewolf's query as to what she did when one of her past lovers cheated on her. "What did you do?" "With his body?"

Not too sure about the 'sweet', but it definitely is funny and introspective. Who knew monsters thought about such things or had such problems with their love lives?

FANGS is but one of the offerings on tapas, and the first episode may be found here. You may scroll through the sequence to see all what are currently available.


Who Wants Halo Eyebrows?

Why have two eyebrows when you can have one unibrow? Even better, why have an ordinary-looking eyebrow when you can have a halo eyebrow?

This is an example of things you would say did not happen until you saw it. “Pics or it didn’t happen,” as they say. Surprise, surprise. Here are people who tried this halo eyebrow trend.

Well, what do you think?

(Image Credit: Sad and Useless)


How the English Found Cannabis

Thomas Bowrey traveled to Machilipatnam, on the coast of India, in 1673. He saw many strange and fascinating things that were completely unfamiliar to an Englishman, including the consumption of Bangha and Gangah, which left users in a besotted state.

Bowrey initially compared the effects of the drug to alcohol. Yet it seemed that bhang's properties were more complex, “Operat[ing] accordinge to the thoughts or fancy” of those who consumed it. On the one hand, those who were “merry at that instant, shall Continue Soe with Exceedinge great laughter”, he wrote, “laughinge heartilie at Every thinge they discerne”. On the other hand, “if it is taken in a fearefull or Melancholy posture”, the consumer could “seem to be in great anguish of Spirit”. The drug seemed to be a kind of psychological mirror that reflected — or amplified — the inner states of consumers. Small wonder, then, that when Bowrey resolved to try it, he did so while hidden in a private home with “all dores and Windows” closed. Bowrey explained that he and his colleagues feared that the people of Machilipatnam would “come in to behold any of our humours thereby to laugh at us”.

Yes, they probably would have laughed. Bowrey chronicled the experiment and immediately looked for a way to import and sell cannabis, as did others who followed. Read about the impressions cannabis left on the English at the Public Domain Review. -via Nag on the Lake

(Image source: Rijksmuseum)


How Do Blood Transfusions Work?

The first blood transfusions took place long before we had any concept that blood came in different types. That is frightening to think about. Most patients died, but for some reason they kept trying. Aren't you glad they finally figured it out? -via Geeks Are Sexy


Objects In Our Zodiac Signs

Did you know that zodiac signs are home to astronomical oddities? Take for example the constellation Aries. Nestled within it is gas giant 30 Arietes Bb (or 30 Ari Bb, for short), an exoplanet which has four suns. Not one, not two, but four. I wonder how hot that planet is.

Check out the other astronomical oddities found in zodiac signs, and how they are similar to people born under that zodiac sign, over at Live Science.

(Image Credit and Copyright: Karen Teramura, UH IfA)


Hot Wheels Just Announced A Remote-Controlled Cybertruck

Can’t get enough of Tesla’s Cybertruck? Hot Wheels just announced their remote-controlled version of said vehicle, and it’s already sold out! The 1:64 scale RC model will cost you only $20, while the 1:10 scale RC truck, which has fully functional headlights and taillights, will cost you only $400, which is a hundred times cheaper than the original Cybertruck, which costs $40,000. Now that’s a bargain right there. You can’t fit inside a scale model, though.

(Image Credit: Mattel)


The Things That Hide Behind The Words “I Can’t”

We often say “I can’t”, but behind these two words are various meanings. When we say “I can’t”, we have to ask ourselves, “why can’t I do it?” That is where the true meaning of what we have just said comes to light.

With a toddler in the house, it gets easier to hear all the shades of meaning that can hide behind two words. “I can’t” might actually mean “I don’t want to,” “I’m afraid,” “I’m confused,” or even “I don’t know how.”

Having to parse out hidden meanings of these words for a hundredth time, Amanda Baker finally understood why her childhood gymnastics coach banned the phrase on the gym.

Anyone who used it, even the other coaches, had to do 50 push-ups before trying conversation again. It wasn’t that he wanted people to do things beyond their skill or safety level. The policy was against the words themselves. He felt they were a shield to hide behind instead of admitting more useful – and actionable – hesitations. “I’m afraid.” “I’ve never done it by myself.” “I need to rest a few minutes before I try.” “I’m embarrassed to try in front of other people.” “I don’t want to, because…”
But letting ourselves fall back on the “I can’t” can do more damage than just hiding our deeper feelings.

Check out the full article over at Scientific American.

What makes you say, “I can’t”?

(Image Credit: mohamed_hassan/ Pixabay)


Single Man Used A Billboard, Found A Date On Valentine’s Day

Can’t seem to find a date? How about trying what Mark Rofe did? The 30-year-old man, after being single for a year, decided to pay £425 so he can advertise himself on a 3m high and 6m billboard.

The massive sign in Manchester featured a photo of him lounging on his side and says: "Single? Date Mark. This could be the sign you've been waiting for."

Surprisingly, thousands of people expressed interest in going out with him. A man in China even told him, “I give you pleasure and many moneys. I own big shoe company.”

Mark eventually went on a date on Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out.

"She's a lovely, interesting and clever person and anyone would be lucky to date her.
“But we both felt we weren't a good fit for each other."

But he’s not gonna give up yet.

… he has launched a website – – where applicants can get in touch, and has launched a crowdfunding website for more billboards.
He added: "If at first you don't succeed, buy more billboards.”

What are your thoughts about this one?

(Image Credit: Daily Star)


The NYC Mandate That Shaped Modern Skylines

People living close together in cities is the most efficient way to run a society, because population density is the key to offering services and building social ties. But there's a limit to the benefits of density. City planning regulations are the reason that New York and other cities do not resemble Kowloon Walled City, an organic experiment in density that was demolished in 1993. New York saw the future looming, like a massive skyscraper, in 1915.

The Equitable Building is sometimes cited as the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, but this structure was more accurately the canary in the coal mine, signaling rather than leading to the end of space-maximizing skyscrapers — structures filling out their lots and rising straight up into the air. Completed in 1915, it was the latest in a growing number of such structures, with two sections cut out (making its plan view into an ‘H’ shape ) to allow some daylight access for central occupants of this dense architecture.

This structure and buildings like it were relatively unconstrained at the time, leading developers to take full advantage of every square inch. As they grew taller, however, more and more citizens expressed concern about the shadows they cast on adjacent structures and the ways in which they loomed up over and choked off the streets below.

The result was New York’s 1916 Zoning Resolution, the first such law in the US. Every skyscraper that came afterward had to be designed to let sunlight in to people on the streets. Read how that works at 99% Invisible. -via Digg

(Image credit: Antonio Knauth)

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