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1

At Cambridge, Food Deliveries to Quarantined Students Are Announced with Actual Plague Bells

The University of Cambridge dates back to 1209 and has thus experienced the travails of pandemics of the past 800 years, including the Black Death. One of the hygienic practices dating back to that time includes ringing a bell to clear space between the infected and the uninfected. This type of hand bell is called a plague bell.

Cambridge students who are self-isolating can select to have their food deliveries announced by plague bell. One difference between now and centuries ago: they make this selection by filling out an online form.

-via Marginal Revolution


1

Pilots at the Real Top Gun School Are Fined $5 Every Time They Reference the Movie

The 1986 movie Top Gun is about an elite training program for the US Navy's best fighter pilots. It was inspired by an actual school maintained by the Navy. As that movie is one of the most iconic of the 80s, students at the school are, of course, familiar with it. But they know better than to mention or quote it. Doing so results in a $5 fine.

Why? Former TOPGUN instructor Commander Guy Snodgrass explains in his new book about the school that everything about the school is serious. There's no time to make jokes. Business Insider reports on Snodgrass's book:

"But," Snodgrass explained, "when you get to TOPGUN, because it is such a professional organization and you want to emphasize that you are at the top of your game, that it's about professionalism, about good leadership, you don't turn TOPGUN into a joke by referencing the movie."
[...]
"So, it is a part of our bylaws that if someone overtly references the movie — it could be a direct quote, it could be something that is really close to a direct quote — that's an automatic $5 fine. And it's enforced. And you are expected to pay right then. You pull out your wallet and pay the $5," Snodgrass said.
Old habits die hard though. "I think at some point we were all fined because it's so ingrained in our aviation culture," he told Insider.

-via Geek Tyrant | Image: Paramount


1

Stained Glass Bats

The most common types of stained glass works that you might see include windows, decorative panes, and lamps. But Nicole Bex thinks imaginatively beyond those norms. Her Etsy shop includes realistic bats with glass wings! Each one has a wingspan of about a foot.

-via So Super Awesome


1

Rain Cloud Chair

Rise above those stormy, dreary days. Sit above them on the Rain Cloud Chair by Shota Urasaki, a designer on Okinawa. Stainless steel rods simulating the rain support the polyester foam seat. It would be an ideal chair for creative writing moments.

-via Toxel


1

Dakota Gets a Pumpkin



Dakota is a rescue coyote living at Save a Fox Rescue. He is so excited about his gift of a pumpkin! It's a ball to play with AND food! If only he had opposable thumbs! -via reddit


1

The Uncertain Heavens: Christiaan Huygens’ Ideas of Extraterrestrial Life

In the late 1680s, Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens wrote the book Cosmotheoros, which speculated on the existence and nature of life on other planets. It was the first such book written by a scientist based on observations of outer space. Huygens had established a reputation by discovering Titan, the first moon of Saturn observed, and figuring out that planet's rings. He was also an inventor and mathematician. While he wrote the book in Latin for an educated audience, it was quickly translated and became quite popular.

Huygens' ideas about plants and animals were based on reasonable projections of what was then known to exist on the Earth, recently expanded by news of exotic species brought back to Europe by explorers' ships. Marvelling at the richness and fitness of species “so exactly adapted”12 to life on Earth, he argued that if we were to deny this abundance to other planets, then “we should sink them below the Earth in Beauty and Dignity; a Thing very unreasonable.”13

What form might this life take? Based on new information that American species are different, but enough like those of the Old World, Huygens presumed a general similarity with terrestrial species. But he did give some consideration to the different physical conditions that may prevail on other planets. The atmosphere might be thicker, for example, which would suit a greater variety of flying creatures. Gravity might be different, too, although he did not provide estimates of the comparative gravitational force on each of the planets, and in any case he rejected the notion of a simple correlation between the size of a planet and the scale of its flora and fauna. “We may have a Race of Pygmies about the bigness of Frogs and Mice, possess'd of the Planets,”14 he wrote, although he thought it unlikely.

For Huygens, though, “the main and most diverting Point of the Enquiry is . . . placing some Spectators in these new discoveries, to enjoy these Creatures we have planted them with, and to admire their Beauty and Variety”. Remarkably, he suggested that these intelligent observers might not be men, but other kinds of “Creatures endued with Reason”.15 Some planets, indeed, might be capable of accommodating several species of “rational Creatures possess'd of different degrees of Reason and Sense”.16

If Huygens had been born a century earlier, he might have been burned at the stake for such ideas that went against the teachings of the Church. But Cosmotheoros was only published after his death, and he leaned into the scientific principle of uncertainty. As it was, the book gave 17th-century readers something to think about. Read more about the life and writings of  Christiaan Huygens at the Public Domain Review. -via Damn Interesting


2

A Truly Bonkers Sandwich-Making Machine



Joseph Herscher of Joseph's Machines (previously) constructed five different Rube Goldberg contraptions in order to make a sandwich. That in itself is not so surprising, but the mechanisms he uses along the way are astonishing. How did he know precisely how that hand mixer would act? Surely he isn't going to eat jelly out of a toy truck! He doesn't, but how its used is genius. Be sure to stay for the credits, because they get a little messy. -via Digg


2

Davy Crockett on How to Get Elected

Davy Crockett was more than king of the wild frontier. Between becoming a famous bear killer and fighting to save the Alamo, Crockett was a politician in Tennessee. While he didn't win all his election campaigns, he sure participated in a lot of them, which left him quite experienced. He shared some tips on how to win those campaigns.  

When the day of election approaches, visit your constituents far and wide. Treat liberally, and drink freely, in order to rise in their estimation, though you fall in your own. True, you may be called a drunken dog by some of the clean shirt and silk stocking gentry, but the real rough necks will style you a jovial fellow, – their votes are certain, and frequently count double. Do all you can to appear to advantage in the eyes of the women. That’s easily done – you have but to kiss and slabber their children, wipe their noses, and pat them on the head; this cannot fall to please their mothers, and you may rely on your business being done in that quarter.

Drinking and kissing babies, got it. There's a lot more advice, though, which you can read at Shannon Selin's blog. -via Strange Company

(Image source: Library of Congress)


1

The Memory Tree



Even a ghost can be traumatized by a scary experience and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. This is from Boston band Hallelujah the Hills.

Case-in-point: over the course of 4 months in quarantine, lead singer Ryan Walsh decided to make a stop-motion music video for their song "The Memory Tree," from the band's recent album I'm You. He handcrafted little ghost puppets and tiny ghost houses and put together a whole elaborate world to tell a whimsical story of spirits and transdimensional discovery, in the style of a classic silent film.

-via Boing Boing


2

Google Has New Icon Designs, And People Don’t Like It

G Suite has been recently rebranded by Google. The app collection, which is now known as Google Workspace, now has new icon designs as well. According to Google, these new icon designs reflect a “more connected, helpful, and flexible experience” on the Workspace. But it seems that the new designs create unnecessary confusion, and they don’t seem to help the average user. Tarvin Gill from Mashable has this to say about the new icon designs:

I’m on the fence about this new design. On one hand, I do like the consistency of the new icons. They all share the same colors and stand out from the other app icons on my phone.
But on the other hand, I find myself taking longer to open up any Google app because I have to make sure I’m launching the right app.

How about you? What do you think about this?

(Image Credit: Frederic Lardinois/ Twitter)


2

Hospital in Japan Gets 5 Million Yen Cash Donation, Returns It, Gets It Again, And Then Decides To Keep It

Japan — Earlier this month, the Kobe City Medical Center General Hospital received an enormous monetary donation from an unknown donor. Thinking that there might have been a mistake, they decided to return the package, which contained 5 million yen (over $47,700), on the return address provided in it. Days later, however, they received the same package again, this time with no return address. After consulting their lawyers, the hospital then decided to accept and keep the donation.

So, after some initial awkwardness, all was well that ended well. It’s understandable too, as it was probably the sender’s first time doing something like this, and Kobe City Medical Center told [the] media that it was definitely the first time they’d ever received an “anonymous” donation.

More details about this story over at SoraNews 24.

(Image Credit: kobeshinbun/ Twitter)


2

Baby Gets Shocked When Phone Rings

Baby Schuyler-Mai loves imitating her dad. Whenever she sees her father Anthony with the phone in his ear, she would grab it and put it to the back of her head. But when the phone rang, the 11-month baby had the shock of her life.

The startled little girl begins kicking her legs and waving her legs in panic - leaving the room in hysterics.
Mother Aileen Codd, 22, captured the moment on October 21, and her father Anthony, 34, said that they're still laughing about the 'perfectly timed' video.
[...]
'The phone was on loud and vibrated - I don't think she was expecting it to happen - it was priceless.'
He added: 'It was the first time that she'd reacted like that to the phone ringing - usually she just looks at it and thinks "what's this?"

Check out the video over at Daily Mail.

What are your thoughts about this one?

(Image Credit: Kennedy News and Media/ Daily Mail)


2

The First Animals To Be Domesticated Were Dogs, Study Finds

A study of dog DNA has found out that dogs were domesticated some 11,000 years ago, confirming that they were the first animals to be domesticated before any other known species. This would mean that the friendship of humans and dogs is time-tested, and dogs are worthy of the title “man’s best friend”.

Dr Pontus Skoglund, co-author of the study and group leader of the Ancient Genomics laboratory at London's Crick Institute, told BBC News: "Dogs are really unique in being this quite strange thing if you think about it, when all people were still hunter gatherers, they domesticate what is really a wild carnivore - wolves are pretty frightening in many parts of the world.
"The question of why did people do that? How did that come about? That's what we're ultimately interested in."

Learn more about the study over at BBC.

(Image Credit: pixel2013/ Pixabay)


3

When Halloween Costumes Were Really Scary

Back in the day, Halloween was taken seriously. Back then, this was believed to be the day when the world of the gods became visible to us, and this resulted in “supernatural mischief.” Some people would offer treats and foods to these gods, while others wore animal skins and heads to disguise themselves as wandering spirits. In doing so, they won’t be disturbed by these spirits. And that is why Halloween back then was really scary.

Know more about the history of Halloween over at CNN.

(Image Credit: Toby Ord/ Wikimedia Commons)


4

AI Camera Keeps an Eye on the ...Bald Head?

The Scottish football team Inverness Caledonian Thistle decided to forego paying a cameraman and employed a robotic artificial intelligence algorithm to operate the camera for games. This is an important job, as spectators are banned from attending games due to the pandemic.  

The club announced a few weeks ago it was moving from using human camera operators to cameras controlled by AI. The club proudly announced at the time the new "Pixellot system uses cameras with in-built, AI, ball-tracking technology" and would be used to capture HD footage of all home matches at Caledonian Stadium, which would be broadcast directly to season-ticket holders' homes.

Cut to last Saturday, when the robot cameras were given a new challenge that hadn't been foreseen: A linesman with a bald head.

The robotic camera operator couldn't help but focus on the referee's head, which is stunningly round and white, instead of the ball in play. While this kept the action on the sidelines for viewers, there were plenty of jokes about how this improved the broadcast, "given the usual quality of performance." You can see a highlight video of the game at IFLScience. -via Metafilter


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