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Who First Came Up with the Idea of Black Holes Anyways?

After a week of teasing, astronomers have finally released the first image of a black hole, as taken by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a network of 8 radio telescopes around the world

The black hole, which weighs 6.5-billion times that of the Sun and resides some 55 million light-years from Earth, is at the center of Messier 87, a massive galaxy in the Virgo galaxy cluster.

“We have seen what we thought was unseeable. We have seen and taken a picture of a black hole,” said EHT Director and astrophysicist Sheperd Doeleman as reported by Science News:

That's because black holes are notoriously hard to see. Their gravity is so extreme that nothing, not even light, can escape across the boundary at a black hole's edge, known as the event horizon. But some black holes, especially supermassive ones dwelling in galaxies’ centers, stand out by voraciously accreting bright disks of gas and other material. The EHT image reveals the shadow of M87’s black hole on its accretion disk. Appearing as a fuzzy, asymmetrical ring, it unveils for the first time a dark abyss of one of the universe’s most mysterious objects.

But have you ever wondered who thought of the idea of black holes in the first place?

If you thought that black holes are a new concept in astrophysics, you'd be wrong: The idea of a star that's so dense that not even light could escape from its gravitational field was an old one - it was proposed in 1783 by an English clergyman named John Michell.

Michell wrote:

If there should really exist in nature any bodies, whose density is not less than that of the sun, and whose diameters are more than 500 times the diameter of the sun, since their light could not arrive at us; or if there should exist any other bodies of a somewhat smaller size, which are not naturally luminous; of the existence of bodies under either of these circumstances, we could have no information from sight; yet, if any other luminous bodies should happen to revolve about them we might still perhaps from the motions of these revolving bodies infer the existence of the central ones with some degree of probability, as this might afford a clue to some of the apparent irregularities of the revolving bodies, which would not be easily explicable on any other hypothesis; but as the consequences of such a supposition are very obvious, and the consideration of them somewhat beside my present purpose, I shall not prosecute them any further.

Michell called these objects, "dark stars."

Alas, Michell's idea of black holes didn't convince his contemporaries and it was forgotten (until his writings were re-discovered in the 1970s). Michell died in relative obscurity, and no image of him survived to this day.


Mexican Scientists are Moving a Forest to Save the Monarch Butterflies

Every year, millions of monarch butterflies made the migration from northern and central United States, as well as southern Canada to Mexico to overwinter there.

But recently, researchers are worried that the Mexican forest that serve as the butterfly's winter habitat is being destroyed by global warming. They decided that the best way to save the butterflies is to save the forest, and to do that, they have to move the forest 1,000 feet up a mountain to a cooler climate range:

The trees, known as “sacred firs” because their conical shape calls to mind hands clasped in prayer, offer a dense canopy that acts as an umbrella for the butterflies that cluster by the thousands on their trunks and branches. The oyamel protects the butterflies from chilly winter rains and creates a microclimate cold enough to keep the butterflies in a state of hibernation but not so frosty as to kill them.

Scientists fear that climate change may kill off these firs altogether. A 2012 research paper coauthored by Saenz-Romero and published in the journal Forest Ecology and Management found that the area suitable for the oyamel is likely to diminish by 96% by 2090, and disappear completely within the reserve.

The region is warming at such an accelerated pace that the trees won’t be able to adapt, scientists say, and will need help migrating to areas where the climate is predicted to be suitable for them in future years.

Kate Linthicum of the Los Angeles Times has the rest of the story.

Image: Steve Cory/Wikimedia


Amazing Sashimi Art by mikyoui00

Betcha never seen sashimi beautifully arranged like this! Behold, the wonderful sashimi art by Instagrammer mikyoui00.

Such raw talent!


Ghost Acting: How Technology Recreated Young Carrie Fisher for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

The great Carrie Fisher, the first actress that played princess Leia, can’t be recreated. She was iconic and different in a way that made her iconic. However, with great lengths in technology, we’re able to create a vision of Carrie past.

Ghost acting is a popular new art that allows younger people to “transform” their faces into that of another. The science and technology behind it is astonishing but even more so, the visual effect.

From Technology Review:

When it came to the role itself, [actress Ingvild Deila] spent about three days in a studio getting scanned by Industrial Light and Magic, and only one on set. To create the scan, the visual effects gurus showed her a picture of Fisher that she had to mimic. Hundreds of lights were then flashed around her to capture detailed images of her face in a variety of lighting conditions.
This scan served as the base on which Fisher’s 19-year-old face was overlaid for the final scene. “It was so strange. I could tell it’s me, but it’s also definitely not me,” she says. “It’s hard to describe that feeling. You now can see a bit of what it feels like with apps like Snapchat where you can put layers and swap faces.”

Read the entire story over at MIT Technology Review.

Image: Lucasfilm/Ingvild Deila


Mom Wrote Down Every Question Her Kids Asked in a Day That Required Her to Make a Decision

Blogger Emma Morris of The Last Word On Nothing created an exasperating list that drew more traffic than ever to her website.

The list wasn't advice or anything that would potentially be used as instructions, but rather, a list of questions. Better yet, the questions were not from Emma herself, but rather from her children.

She compiled a list of questions that she was asked from her children over the course of a few days, and it leaves no room for any additional questions. Reading over her list you’ll see how utterly exhausting the mom life is and how interesting little brains are indeed.

For example:

Can I play on your phone until you wake up?
Will you make a creature on this kids app?
Can we have breakfast now?
Can we have waffles?
Can I use my own money to buy candy and ice cream at the corner store when we go to buy eggs to make waffles?
Will you help me count my money?
Can we have chocolate chips in the waffles?
Can I mix it?
Can I measure the baking powder?
Can I mix it now? It is my turn.

View the rest over at Morris' blog. Image via Pixabay


This Small Hamlet in Kyoto, Japan, Has a Fire Sprinkler System That Covers the Entire Village

Kayabuki no Sato, a small hamlet in Kyoto makes sure to keep out any undesired natural disasters through a very unique system.

The hamlet has created small sprinkler systems that cover then entire area in water.

From Spoon & Tamago:

In order to maintain the authenticity of the landscape, officials decided to camouflage all 62 fire sprinklers inside huts. When activated, the huts open up like transformers and sprinklers spray water high into the sky, covering the farmhouses with water.

The system is tested every 6 months and it creates a beautiful spectacle in addition to providing a security and safety measure for protection. Quite a site as the visitors flock to observe the bold measure of maintenance.


Luxury Explosion: Photographer Fabian Oefner "Exploded" a $2 Million 1972 Lamborghini Miura Into a Thousand Pieces

Artist Fabian Oefner has a reputation for taking things apart. His art encompasses the beauty of dismemberment and explosions. He has an entire series dedicated to exploding models of cars and taking small pieces to show the dynamic.

The “Disintegrating” series showcases his famous perspective on breaking down something large and dynamic into something very small.

His recent works shows something even more unique and rare, an exploding Lamborghini. It wasn't an easy feat for Oefner as he accumulated over 1,500 photographs in order to create this lasting piece. It gives his audience an even greater expanse at the wonder of engineering.

View the rest of the story over at My Modern Met.

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Hematogen: Candy Bars Made From Blood

"A spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down." Isn’t that what Mary Poppins said? This clever little saying wasn’t far from the truth. Little did Mary know about the Soviet treat that functioned as medicine, Hematogen.

This treat included blood which helps with conditions for iron deficiency such as anemia. Cleverly concealed in the guise of a chocolate bar, Hematogen has been tested over time to prove medicinal benefits.

[Physicians and manufacturers] fiddled with everything from cocoa to milk to yeast, producing powdered forms and extracts of all manner of products. They turned their eyes to blood as well, hoping to distill its nutritional value into shelf-stable, palatable forms. (Raw blood spoils incredibly quickly and easily, especially during industrial animal slaughter.)
Pirogovskaya notes that researchers across Europe created a host of blood-based products, like Hematopan, “blood powder sweetened with licorice,” and Haemosan, a “drink made of blood protein, lecithin, and calcium glycerophosphate.” Hematogen, according to the Russian newspaper Pravda, originated in a Swiss doctor’s lab as part of this late 1800s modernist food craze.

While some may be hesitant about eating blood with their chocolate, others may say that they enjoy the “metallic” taste that it leaves behind.

Would you eat a candy bar made with blood? Read the rest over at Munchies.

Image: Hilary Pollack


Steamboat Willie LEGO Set Features Monochromatic Mickey Mouse and Minnie

LEGO has just announced the release of this fantastic 751-piece "Steamboat Willie" LEGO set.

The set, released on April's Fool Day (but no joke, it's a real set), aims to celebrate the birthday of Mickey Mouse who made his screen debut in the 1928 black-and-white animated short film "Steamboat Willie."

From LEGO:

This LEGO brick version of the S.S. Willie features steam pipes that move up and down and paddle wheels that rotate when the boat is pushed along. The boat’s bridge has room for a minifigure and play-inspiring nautical details such as the ship’s wheel, life buoy and buildable bell. On deck there is a working crane to lift the ‘potato bin’ cargo aboard and this unique toy building set comes with new-for-April-2019 Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse minifigures, each with special silver-colored decoration, plus a parrot figure.

Via Technabob and Geekologie

See the pictures and get a blast from the past:

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HollyWORLD: Hollywood Signs in Other Places Than Hollywood

The Hollywood Sign in the mountain overlooking Los Angeles is an iconic landmark, but these signs are nowhere near Hollywood.

Instead, they're located in far-flung locations like the hills of Palermo in Italy, Wicklow County in Ireland (population 100!), Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad, India, and so on.

If Its Hip It's Here blog lists where the faux Hollywood signs are located both inside and outside of the United States.


Where in the World is Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi?

In late 2017, "Salvator Mundi," a painting of Jesus Christ called attributed to Leonardo da Vinci was sold in an auction for over $450 million. It was the world's most expensive painting.

The painting was bought by an anonymous bidder, who later turned out to be an ally of the ruler of Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

About a month after the auction, a local museum in Abu Dhabi announced that it has the painting and that it would display the work ... then mysteriously canceled the unveiling event without explanation.

Since then, the whereabouts of Salvator Mundi has been shrouded in mystery.

So, where is the painting? Find out in this excellent article by David D. Kirkpatrick over at The New York Times:

... any clues to the movements of “Salvator Mundi” have the art world abuzz.
One person familiar with the details of the painting’s sale said it had been sent to Europe after the completion of payment. And Professor Modestini said that she had heard from a restoration expert that he had been asked by an insurance company to examine the painting in Zurich last fall before further shipping.
But the examination was canceled, and the Zurich expert, Daniel Fabian, declined to comment.
After that, said Professor Modestini, “the trail goes completely cold.”


The Magical Egg Oven of Ancient Egypt

It is no surprise that there are many amazing things the Egyptians have to offer us: their mathematical knowledge, invention of the papyrus, and their beautiful art. But there is one thing that "Egypt ought to be prouder of them than her pyramids," said French entomologist René Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur in 1750, and that is the Egyptian egg incubators, invented some 2,000 years ago.

Many have been amazed by this ingenious method of the Egyptians, such as Aristotle. Some have even called it supernatural!

From the outside, many incubators looked like smaller, more rounded versions of the pyramids. They sat upon rectangular brick foundations, and had conic-shaped chimneys with a circular opening at the top. That thousands of eggs could be hatched in a single oven was an impressive feat, considering that a broody hen can only hatch up to 15 eggs at a time. Incubator hatching also meant that hens could spend more time laying eggs.
Exactly how workers operated the ovens is much less clear. According to some scholars, Egyptians were very secretive with egg ovens.

See the egg-cellent method of egg-hatching of the Egyptians over at Atlas Obscura.

(Image: Lenny Hogerwerf/Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)


Women as War Machines of World War I

Photography of war usually evokes images of men fighting, but a collection of World War I photos held at London's Imperial War Museum showed a different, more feminine side of the Great War.

The mass conscription of men to the front line of the fighting resulted in women entering the workforce in great numbers. In addition to replacing the male labor force in traditional occupations, women served as part of the war machine by performing dangerous jobs: building airplanes and even bombs in munition factories.

From The Public Domain Review:

As is documented by this vast collection of remarkable photographs, held by London’s Imperial War Museum, women’s lives were entirely transformed. The images show women performing a whole host of tasks: casting bricks, generating electricity, solutionising cork, building ships, painting railway stations, warming rubber, milking cows, signalling trains, smelting iron, blasting granite, making glucose, digging holes, and constructing houses, in addition to the work already prescribed to them such as childcare and domestic labour. ...
The conditions these women worked in were often dangerous and accidents were common. The TNT factories were particularly hazardous. In January 1917, an explosion at a plant in East London killed 73 people, and workers were nicknamed “canaries” due to the dangerous chemicals turning their skin yellow.

Image: Munition workers in a shell warehouse at National Shell Filling Factor No. 6 in Chilwell, Nottinghamshire, one of the largest shell factories in the UK/July 1917/Horace Nicholls/Wikimedia

Image: Female munition workers guiding 6-inch Howitzer shells at the National Shell Filling Factory in Chilwell, Nottinghamshire/July 1917/Horace Nicholls/Wikimedia)

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Too Lazy to Exercise? Take a Hot Bath Instead

We all know that exercise is a good way to fight fat, but what if you actually don't need to be hot and sweaty to burn calories? Turns out, being hot (by soaking in a hot bath) is all you need to do to reap benefits similar to those of exercising.

Steve Faulkner of Loughborough University wrote this article for The Conversation:

At Loughborough University we investigated the effect of a hot bath on blood sugar control (an important measure of metabolic fitness) and on energy expended (number of calories burned). We recruited 14 men to take part in the study. They were assigned to an hour-long soak in a hot bath (40˚C) or an hour of cycling. The activities were designed to cause a 1˚C rise in core body temperature over the course of one hour.
We measured how many calories the men burned in each session. We also measured their blood sugar for 24 hours after each trial.
Cycling resulted in more calories being burned compared with a hot bath, but bathing resulted in about as many calories being burned as a half-hour walk (around 140 calories). The overall blood sugar response to both conditions was similar, but peak blood sugar after eating was about 10% lower when participants took a hot bath compared with when they exercised.
We also showed changes to the inflammatory response similar to that following exercise.

(Image: Robson Hatsukami Morgan/Unsplash)


How to Determine The World's Largest Dinosaur

School books, publications and even the movie Jurassic Park held to the notion that the Tyrannosaurus Rex (T-Rex) was the largest dinosaur to walk the Earth in its days.

Standing tall and mighty above all others, but how accurate is that? With these animals now extinct and paleontologists rarely coming across entire skeletons, how is it possible to determine the true holder of the “World’s Largest Dinosaur” title?

Head on over to Live Science to find out which dinosaur scientists deem as the largest, as of now, and how these determinations are made.

(Image: Jennifer Hall)

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