August 30, 2019

A few things I learned this month

Below, a quick roundup of a few of the things I learned in August, 2019.

Ocean freight shipping accounts for 3% of global emissions. Hydrogen-fueled vessels offer promise in reducing the industry’s carbon use. (NPR)

Dying without a will is the leading cause of involuntary land loss among African Americans. (ProPublica)

Youths rated as attractive were less likely to have negative encounters with the criminal justice system—but only if they were women. (Psychiatry, Psychology and Law)

Most Chinese children say they want to be an astronaut when they grow up. In the US and UK, the answer is vlogger” or YouTuber.” (Ars Technica)

Since 1972, California’s annual burned area has increased more than fivefold, a trend clearly attributable to the warming climate. (Earth’s Future)

The first Sony Walkman prototype was built by modifying an old Sony Pressman, a compact tape recorder designed for journalists. The portable media player was first originally released on July 1, 1979 and revolutionized the way people listened to music. (MyModernMet)

John Houbolt, an engineer at NASA, was the primary advocate of using lunar orbit rendezvous for landing a spacecraft on the moon. It was Houbolt’s method that ended up prevailing and making the lunar landing possible. (NPR)

Test pilot Ed Dwight was on track to becoming the first African-American astronaut until circumstances (racism and Kennedy’s death) conspired against him; he is now a renown sculptor. (NYTimes)

Tetris, the hugely popular game many of us first discovered on a Game Boy, was conceived by Soviet Russian game designer Alexey Leonidovich Pajitnov in 1984. He derived its name from the Greek numerical prefix tetra- (all of the game’s pieces contain four segments) and his favourite sport, tennis. (Dense Discovery)

The price of rhinoceros horns reached about $65,000 a kilogram in 2012, and rhino horns remain, pound for pound, one of the most expensive substances on earth—worth more than its weight in gold or cocaine. The high prices and low penalties have led to a global increase in rhinoceros poaching. (Guardian)

The medals for Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics will be made from gold, silver, and bronze recycled from 78,895 tons of donated old gadgets. (Verge)

Unlike most of our punctuation, the semicolon is fairly young. It debuted in 1494, in an Italian book called De Aetna. The publisher of the book believed readers and writers would find a use for a break midway between the quick skip of a comma and the patient pause of a colon; and so, out of these two marks, he created the chimera we know as the semicolon. (Millions)

Overall, Major League Baseball players have a lower death rate than other men and athletes—although catchers fare the worst. (JAMA Internal Medicine)

William Dampier played a pioneering role in spreading ingredients and cuisines. He gave us the words tortilla,” soy sauce,” barbecue,” chopsticks,” and breadfruit,” and he unknowingly recorded the first ever recipe for guacamole. (Gastro Obscura)

About 3% of billionaire philanthropy goes to climate change, compared to about 0.01% of the US federal budget. (Slate Star Codex)

Consumption of rosé wine is up in France, where people are eating less meat and appreciating the pink wine’s Instagrammability.” (Economist)

Microscopic water bears,” possibly the toughest animal in the known universe,” recently landed on the Moon. (WIRED)

A recent poll from YouGov found that 30 percent of millennials say they feel lonely, and 22 percent of millennials in the poll said they had zero friends. (Vox)

African Americans are significantly underrepresented in the profession of architecture. Of the approximately 113,000 architects currently licensed in the United States, only 2 percent are African American. (Curbed)

The 2018 Official Catholic Directory lists 45,100 nuns in the United States. (ESPN)

Timothy C. Winegard estimates that mosquitoes have killed more people than any other single cause — fifty-two billion of us, nearly half of all humans who have ever lived. (New Yorker)

→ Learning