The United States dropped from 50th to a tie for 54th in the annual Bloomberg Health-Efficiency Index. The index tracks health costs and life expectancies, using the latest data available, which in this case is from 2015. The drop in ranking may be due to four countries being added to the index this year, all of which placed in the top 25. Read more about how the index was calculated, and see the stats for the top 56 countries at Bloomberg. -via Digg
During the first of Ernest Shackleton's three Antarctic expeditions, he brought along some "fun stuff" for when they were isolated indoors, which included a printing press, ink, and paper. Over the winter of 1908, the men published a book called Aurora Australis, which they wrote, illustrated, printed, and bound themselves. The content was an eclectic mix (as were the binding materials).
Shackleton served as editor, and solicited submissions from the crew. He chose to include everything from an interview with an Emperor Penguin to a tongue-in-cheek, faux-Biblical account of the expedition. In one chapter, an anonymous messman details the trials and tribulations of his job. In another, the geologist Douglas Mawson describes an journey to an imaginary place called Bathybia, hidden inside an Antarctic volcano, where fungi grow and temperatures reach a balmy 70 degrees.
The expedition crew produced 100 copies of the book, of which 70 are still known to exist. Read the story behind Aurora Australis at Atlas Obscura. The book is available to read online here.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat. The shampoo prank goes on for quite some time before the victim realizes someone is messing with him, and even then he suspects the guy showering beside him. Stay for the visual punch line at the end. After all, that's a lot of soap! -via reddit
Seven-year-old Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja sure can sing! Watch her rock the national anthem before a soccer match in California.
Biologist Toshihisa Yashiro of the University of Sydney and colleagues have discovered the first-known asexual termite colony in the world. But why get rid of the males?
So why did all-female populations evolve at all? To puzzle out the answer, Yashiro and his colleagues pitted the asexual and sexual termites head-to-head—literally. When they measured the noggins of soldier termites from the all-female and mixed-sex colonies, the researchers found that, unsurprisingly, those in female-only colonies looked a lot more alike. But in this case, uniformity wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
With their relatively unarmored bodies, termites aren’t built for the offensive. Instead, when the colony is under attack, the insect’s main mode of defense often involves plugging the entrances to their nests with their own heads. A variety of head sizes could actually be a burden rather than a boon, meaning the loss of males may have actually empowered these female fighters to survive an assault.
Read the rest over at this article by Katherine Wu over at the Smithsonian
Photo: Mature termite queen surrounded by workers and soldiers. (CSIRO/CC BY 3.0)
Eighteen-year-old teen Aldi Novel Adilang's job was to keep the lamps aboard a fishing hut lit to attract fish - but when heavy winds knocked the floating hut off its mooring, he was swept out to sea:
Aldi had what the Jakarta Post described as "one of the loneliest jobs in the world," as a lamp keeper for a floating fish aggregator called a "rompong." The vessel is compromised of a modest hut on top of a raft of logs. Aldi's job was to keep the lamps lit at night to attract fish for a period of six months.
Stationed 125 kilometers (77 miles) out to sea off the coast of Indonesia's North Sulawesi region, Aldi's only human contact was a weekly delivery of supplies or via a walkie-talkie.
But on July 14, strong winds unmoored the small vessel, which had no engine and no paddle on board, and blew it thousands of miles away from home toward the remote US island territory of Guam.
After his supplies ran out, Aldi began catching fish from the sea and burning small portions of the rompong's wooden base to cook them on.
Read the rest over at DW
The 2019 senior class of North Farmington High School of Farmington Hills, Michigan dressed up for their school id cards as their favorite celebrities, memes, and movie/television characters. The students use a simple #NFID19 hashtag to catalog them on twitter. This tradition has been going on at the high school for years. The senior class of 2018 was able to get everyone involved.
Check out all the current senior year's id photos at
If my school had id cards back in the day, it probably would have been full of Ferris Buellers and Material Girl Madonnas!
Lucas, the adorable young spider animated by Joshua Slice, is a jumping spider. That's nice to know, but it turns out that jumping spiders do not spin webs. But don't tell Lucas that he can't do something. He'll show you!
Scientists from Yale-NUS College and the University of Fribourg have discovered a novel color-generating mechanism used by the iridescent rainbow weevil to create a spectrum of colors:
... the researchers determined that the scales of the insect were composed of a 3D photonic crystalline structure made from chitin, the main ingredient in insect exoskeletons. They further discovered that the vibrant rainbow colors on this weevil’s scales are caused by two factors: the size of the crystal structure that makes up each scale, and the volume of chitin used to form the crystal structure. Larger scales have a larger crystalline structure and use a larger volume of chitin to reflect red light; smaller scales have a smaller crystalline structure and use a smaller volume of chitin to reflect blue light.
“The ability to produce these structures, which are able to provide a high color fidelity regardless of the angle you view it from, will have applications in any industry which deals with color production,” said Yale-NUS professor Vinodkumar Saranathan. "We can use these structures in cosmetics and other pigmentations to ensure high-fidelity hues, or in digital displays in your phone or tablet, which will allow you to view it from any angle and see the same true image without any color distortion. We can even use them to make reflective cladding for optical fibers to minimize signal loss during transmission."
(Image: Dr. Bodo D. Wilts)