March 29, 2021

A few things I learned these past two months

Below, a quick roundup of a few of the things I learned in February and March 2021.

The NY Times gives out commemorative Page One press plates to reporters and photographers whose work has been featured on the front page for the first time. (NYTimes)

As part of their TV deal, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz made sure that Desilu Productions held the rights to all the episodes of I Love Lucy. They pioneered the idea using re-runs and syndication to turn a further profit for a television show. (Planet Money)

Specimens of the endangered Asian arowana, the world’s most valuable aquarium pet, can command up to $300,000 at auction. (The Hustle)

Using a dinosaur fossil with exceptional skin preservation, a scientist was able to figure out what a dinosaur’s rear end orifice would have looked like. Dinosaurs, along with most other animals, had only a single rear orifice known as a cloaca to defecate, urinate and copulate. (CBC)

C-3PO had a mismatched silver leg throughout the entire original Star Wars trilogy. (Screencrush)

On Feb 1, Oregon decriminalized possession of small amounts of all drugs. Instead of punishing people, the state will offer greatly increased access” to services like treatment and recovery. (Drug Policy Alliance)

The Cistercian monks invented a numbering system in the 13th century which meant that any number from 1 to 9999 could be written using a single symbol. (Twitter)

At least 14 people died in seven avalanches in the first week of February. It was the highest number of recreation-related fatalities in avalanches in the United States in at least a century. (NYTimes)

Amazon Web Services accounted for 63% of Amazon’s profits in 2020. (NYTimes)

Early US airmail relied on a network of terrestrial landmarks, including towers, beacons, and giant arrows—and some Morse code—to be able to let them fly at night. (Places)

All of the COVID-19 virus particles spreading death and misery around the world would fit into a single can of Coke—all 2 quintillion of them. (NYPost)

Bisexual lighting is the simultaneous use of pink, purple, and blue lighting to represent bisexual characters. It has been used in nightclubs as well as in studio lighting for film and television. (Wikipedia)

Pap smears are named after Georgios Papanikolaou, the doctor who determined its use in detecting early signs that could lead to cervical cancer. (Aminatou Sow)

Solar panels capture more sunlight with capsaicin—the chemical that makes chili peppers spicy. Adding capsaicin expands the grains which make up the active material of the solar cell, allowing it to more effectively transport electricity. (Joule)

An extremely small number of people have a genetic mutation that gives them no fingerprints. (BBC)

The biggest bioluminescent vertebrate found on land or sea—found so far—is the kitefin shark. (NYTimes)

Pet owners report greater happiness from spending money on their animal than on themselves. (Journal of Positive Psychology)

Summers in the Northern Hemisphere could last nearly six months by the year 2100 if global warming continues unchecked. (Geophysical Research Letters)

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