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The Last Remnants of the Log Drives

It's a dangerous kind of work to cut down trees but it's even more dangerous what riverjacks do with them after. Floating logs down the river seems like an exciting way to transport logs but it's dwindling nowadays with trucks and railroads proving to be easier and more efficient in bringing the logs to be processed. But what is it about log drives, the practice of transporting logs down the river, that makes riverjacks stay?

(Image credit: Popular Mechanics)


How To Protect Your Dead Loved Ones: With Guns and Torpedoes

It seems like an obscure prospect to keep watch over your dead loved ones unless you placed precious belongings with them in their tombs. But if you have fears that the coffins would be sacked by grave robbers or taken without permission to be sold as cadavers to medical schools, then you might consider use this method of keeping watch over them which people back in the 19th century did: with guns and torpedoes laid out as traps.

(Image credit: Museum of Mourning Art, Arlington Cemetery)


Why Is Alaska Having A Hot Winter?

Further north in the Arctic regions, winter has been blowing really cold and frigid for the most part. Except for a city named Utqiagvik in Alaska which recorded a temperature within the 20s to 30s range last week. It wasn't the only one though. Practically the entire North Slope of Alaska "was having record temperatures of 30 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit" which is unusual for an Arctic climate during winter.

All of this, Thoman says, is related to a series of storms that moved from the North Pacific into the central and western Bering starting in late January. Some of those storms continued north into the Chukchi sea as well, and in doing so “transported very warm air up to the North Slope,” Thoman told Earther. The heat wave backed off this week, with temperatures dropping back into bone-rattlingly cold (aka normal) territory, although the respite from could be short-lived.

Read more on Gizmodo.

(Image credit: Bryan Thomas/Twitter)


The Aftermath of Marine Electric's Capsizing

Though not as dramatic as say, something like Titanic capsizing, the Marine Electric's wreck is nonetheless poignant as it is significant. It may not be a commercial vessel, as it was being used by the US Coast Guard, but the 31 lives who were lost as a result of the wreck served as a catalyst for reforms within the Coast Guard's safety protocols, inspections, as well as rescue operations procedures in order for such accidents to never happen again.

(Image credit: The Maritime Executive)


The Hunt for MISTY, the US Government's Stealth-Capable Spy Satellite

Almost 30 years ago now, a group of spy sat hunters assembled by Ted Molczan watched earnestly on the night sky for a chance to see the space shuttle Atlantis launched into space. It wasn't Atlantis they took particular notice of but the payload that it carried, which Molczan claims is a classified US government spy satellite that has been equipped with stealth capabilities. For amateur astronomers, this was a once in a lifetime event that they could not pass up so they waited patiently for the exact moment when they will see Atlantis and the satellite named MISTY. And they weren't disappointed.

(Image credit: Supercluster)


Has Anyone Ever Really Inherited Millions from a Random Person They’ve Never Heard Of?

Everyone has a dream at least once in their lives about inheriting money from a long lost uncle, or someone they met once on a train, or from someone famous who wanted to spread it around. It happened in the movies Brewster's Millions and Melvin and Howard. In real life, it doesn't happen often, but it has happened often enough over time to make a list.

In yet another case from the early 20th century, we have the rather odd story of Archibald McArthur- a man who deserves an article of his own. But to sum up his life story for now, as a young man he moved to Dodgeville, Wisconsin, arriving with almost literally nothing but the clothes on his back and a degree from Lawrence college. On his first day in town, he worked sawing logs in exchange for a bed to sleep in that night and a hot meal.

He subsequently spent the next couple decades making a fortune, living lavishly and then, for reasons known only to him, very suddenly liquidated all his assets, became a vegetarian, grew a rather Dumbledore-esk beard, and took a vow of poverty. He lived in a shack from then on and mostly just hung out in a nearby cemetery reading philosophy books and poetry. According to a January 31, 1926 article from the Milwaukee Journal, he  told people who asked that he preferred hanging out with the dead more than the living.

After a few decades living like this, at the age of 78 he seems to have felt the call all elderly feel at some point, and decided to move to Florida. He thus bought a car, drove to Florida, sold the car, and died a few years later. Beyond a few other bequests, including randomly leaving $15,000 (about $216,000 today) to the son of a woman, Mrs. Jane Joyce, whose family he’d been friends with when he was young, he left the bulk of his estate, $300,000 (about $4 million today) to a young clerk by the name of George Rafferty he once met on a park bench in Jacksonville, Florida.

There was even one couple that inherited six billion dollars from a grandmother they'd never met. They had heard she was wealthy, but they didn't know she was that wealthy. You can read those stories, plus instructions for finding out if you might be able to tap into some unclaimed estate money in the UK and the US, at Today I Found Out.

(Image credit: Flickr user Ken Mayer)


Building a Baby T. Rex

We've learned an awful lot about Tyrannosaurus rex since the first fossils were found. Strangely, we've never seen a fossil of a baby T. rex. So for the new exhibit T. rex: The Ultimate Predator opening March 11 at the American Museum of Natural History, paleontologists had to do a bit of educated guessing when constructing models of a T. rex hatchling and a juvenile dinosaur. -via Laughing Squid


Every Oscar Best Picture Winner, Ranked

Since the Academy Awards were first bestowed in 1929, there have been 90 films that took home the Oscar for Best Picture of the Year. Some deserved the award, some didn't. And now we have a ranked list pf all 90 movies to argue over. To be frank, we weren't around to experience many of those years in film, and a movie that was the cream of the crop for that particular year can easily be horrible compared to the top movies of another year. And in some years, the moviegoing audience was horrified by which film the Academy selected. Be that as it may, Vulture has ranked all 90 movies against each other in a list that is sure to provoke disagreement, if not downright hatred. Isn't that what ranked internet lists are all about? -via Digg

(Image credit: Maya Robinson/Vulture)

This year's Academy Awards will be announced on Sunday, February 24.


How To Keep Your Goldfish Alive For 15 Years

Goldfish should live around 15 years with proper care. The problem is that people who keep fish in their homes don't know how to provide the optimum conditions for a pet fish. Science Insider has some tips on how to care for goldfish so that they will live a long and healthy life. It won't be easy, but it will make a world of difference for one (or more) fish.


Eloping to Gretna Green

For more than 260 years, when someone in the UK mentioned taking a trip to Gretna Green, that meant they were getting married. How did a small town in Scotland get such a reputation? It wasn't Gretna Green's fault; that's the first town a person encounters when crossing the Scottish border from England. And England made getting married a lot more time-consuming than Scotland. The Church of England had established rules for marriage ceremonies, including having to wait several weeks in case someone objected. No such rules existed in Scotland.  

Though Scottish marriage laws allowed for pretty much anyone to legally marry a couple, bride- and grooms-to-be arriving from England often felt as if they needed some kind of formality to make their wedding seem more official. In seeking out responsible, upstanding local citizens in a town where the likely knew no one, couples often turned to toll keepers, innkeepers, and blacksmiths to perform the ceremony.

As the local lore goes, when earnest couples crossed the Scottish border and arrived at Gretna Green, they spotted the village’s blacksmiths at their forges and would ask if they'd be willing to join them in matrimony. So it became a local tradition for couples to seek out these anvil priests in the village’s two blacksmith shops and inns, and thus the anvil came to symbolize the commitment newlyweds were making to each other.

Laws are different now, but an anvil is still the icon used to signify a Gretna Green wedding. Read about the history of Gretna Green weddings at Mental Floss.


When Price Algorithms Collude

In economics, it would be hard to manipulate prices to further one's interest. If there's perfect competition in the market, such things will never happen. But there is no such thing as perfect competition in the real world. So chances are, there will be differences in prices for various products. That's why the government intervenes. Now, things are a bit different online. Pricing algorithms are becoming widely used in online retailing since it would make things a lot easier to set the price for your product and attract customers. However, when two pricing algorithms have been left on their own, they would naturally collude.

This sort of collusion would stem from a certain type of algorithm, the researchers say. Reinforcement algorithms learn through trial and error. In the simplest terms, a walking robot would take a step, fall, and try again. These algorithms have often been used to teach algorithms to win games like Go.

(Image credit: Markus Spiske/Unsplash)


Meet the New Units of Measurement in the Metric System: Ronna/Ronto and Quecca/Quecto

Corresponding to the numbers 10^27 and 10^30 respectively, ronna and quecca will be the new prefixes to use for these numbers. Their counterparts will be called ronto and quecto. Given how big our storage space is getting as more data is being created every day, we need to update our vocabulary to know how to refer to these numbers once they become common use. It is predicted that by the 2030s, "computer data storage may surpass one yottabyte (10^24)" which is currently "the largest number with an official metric prefix".

(Image credit: imgix/Unsplash)


The Prospects of Artificial Leaves

Global warming poses a serious threat to our environment, to our oceans, and to the various ecological systems in the world. Concerned with the survival of the Earth in the face of this anthropogenic phenomenon, several initiatives have been launched, treaties have been signed, and efforts have been made to reduce the carbon footprint and the greenhouse gas emissions of the world. But still, we are nowhere near the goal. Researchers from the University of Illinois in Chicago are trying the best they can to bring a solution that could improve our situation even just a little bit. Previously, there have been research done on artificial leaves but the problem was that "they only work in the laboratory where they used pure, pressurized carbon dioxide from tanks." Now, the researchers say they have a design that could be brought into the environment.

(Image credit: Meenesh Singh)


Why Strep A Has No Vaccine Yet

Vaccines for diseases like polio, measles, and small pox have made it possible for millions and millions of people to live long, healthy lives. It has helped reduce and eradicate such diseases so that they no longer become an epidemic and cause mass outbreaks that could literally wipe out an entire population. But with all the advancements in medicine and diseases that have been cured, there are still some diseases that don't have any vaccines even though we know how to treat them. One such is for the pathogen group A Streptococcus bacteria or Strep A for short which can cause rheumatic heart disease. Emily Sohn investigates on the matter.

(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)


The Heliconian Butterfly's 'Lady in Red'

When humans look for a partner with whom they want to have a relationship, we usually list the qualities to which we are attracted and what we want to see in our partner. There are some qualities that may be negotiable while there are things that you probably wouldn't compromise. But for certain species of Heliconian butterflies, they have quite strict criteria for finding their mate.

Complex and diverse, Heliconian’s wings patterns have drawn the attention of artists and scientists alike. And yet, each distinct species maintains its own unique pattern through generations. Scientists always wondered exactly how the species manage to preserve and maintain these patterns—and don’t cross-breed with each other.
One obvious reason is that Heliconian males are very picky when it comes to choosing their mates. A male will only woo a female butterfly that looks like him—meaning that she has the same color patterns as him. That’s why the red-spotted species react to Jiggins’s red cloth. Scientists knew that this specific reproductive trait drove the butterflies’ speciation, but the exact genetic basis governing their mate selection was unclear until recently.

(Image credit: University of Cambridge)

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