January 31, 2019

A few things I learned this month

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

It’s possible to develop an anaphylactic allergy to meat after getting bitten by a lone star tick. (Mosaic Science)

The word Abracadabra” was originally used as an incantation as part of a perceived cure for malaria. (This Podcast Will Kill You)

Over 39,773 people died by guns in 2017, which is an increase of more than 10,000 gun deaths from 1999. (CNN)

The song Silent Night” was first performed 200 years ago last Christmas Eve when Franz Gruber set words by Josef Mohr to music after the organ in their church in Oberndorf broke down. (The Conversation)

The Titanic was on fire for days before it hit the iceberg, possibly causing damage that contributed to its quick sinking. (Dialogue & Discourse)

Over the past three decades of global warming, the oldest and thickest ice in the Arctic has declined by 95 percent. The oldest ice is a glue that holds the Arctic together and, through its relative permanence, helps keep the Arctic cold even in summer. (Washington Post)

Chindogu is the art of inventing everyday gadgets that appear to solve a particular problem, but are in reality pretty useless. The International Chindogu Society has established ten tenets of the art form, and examples of gadgets include a solar-powered flashlight and training wheels for high heels. (99pi)

Oscar the Grouch was born in Minto, New Brunswick, Canada, and his favorite dessert is spinach sardine chocolate fudge sundaes. (Wikipedia)

In 2016, 275 million people worldwide experienced an anxiety disorder and around 268 million experienced depression. The nonprofit Mental Health America found that 56.5 percent of US adults with a mental illness received no treatment. (TONIC)

Ida Lewis was an American lighthouse keeper noted for her heroism in rescuing people from the seas. During her 54 years on Lime Rock she is credited with saving 18 lives, although unofficial reports suggest the number may have been much higher. (The Memory Palace)

Most mangoes grown in the United States are all descendants of a single mango tree that survived the elements—a genetic bottleneck that led to a bland and tasteless but hardy variety called the Tommy Atkins. (Gastropod)

Butter from cow milk is yellow because cows store beta carotene in their fat, and butter can often be over 80% milk fat, versus milk that is often less than 3% milk fat. (NY Times)

Smart people feel happier alone than when others, even good friends, are around. A healthy” social life actually leaves highly intelligent people with less life satisfaction. (World Economic Forum)

Italy produces more than 7,100 tons of panettone each year—about ten percent of which is sold internationally. An official Italian panettone must be composed of no less than 20 percent candied fruit, 16 percent butter, and eggs that are at least four percent yolk. (Smithsonian Mag)

Ghrelin, the hormone that regulates appetite in the body, has been found to also induce overindulgence because it incites pleasure centres in the brain when exposed to food smells. (Cell Reports)

In Home Alone, Kevin watches Angels with Filthy Souls, and uses the film to distract burglars that break into his home. Contrary to what many of us thought, it turns out Angels with Filthy Souls is a completely fictional movie (a parody of the 1938 film Angels with Dirty Faces) created for Home Alone. (Wikipedia)

Simple sugars, like fructose and sucrose, can make it all the way to the colon, where they shut down the production of beneficial bacteria like like Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron, a microbe found in individuals who are healthy and lean. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)

Published works from 1923 entered the public domain on January 1, 2019, the first additions in over 20 years. (Duke Law)

A NASA spacecraft captured images of the most distant space object ever seen by humans. New Horizons, a probe launched in January 2006, sent images of Ultima Thule, an icy object 4 billion miles from Earth, in January 2019. (Buzzfeed)

Canada’s 100 highest paid CEOs netted 197 times more than the average worker made in 2017, earning the average yearly wage ($50,759) before lunch on January 2. (CCPA)

Thomas Jefferson purchased a copy of George Sale’s 1734 translation of the Qur’an into English as a law student at the College of William & Mary in 1765. Rashida Tlaib from Michigan, the first Palestinian American woman elected to the US House of Representatives, was sworn in using Jefferson’s personal copy of the Qur’an in 2019. Keith Ellison of Minnesota also used Jefferson’s Qur’an in 2007 during his swearing-in. (Buzzfeed)

The Musée du Louvre had a record 10.2 million visitors in 2018—an increase of 25% in comparison with 2017. One cause of the rise in interest in the Louvre is Beyoncé and JAY-Z’s Apeshit” video, with its tribute to some of the museum’s greatest artworks. (Musée du Louvre)

For the second year in a row, the number of independent bookstores in the United Kingdom has grown in 2018, after declining every year since 1995. (The Guardian)

A machine-learning algorithm programmed by Dr. Jae Ho Sohn can look at PET scans of human brains and spot indicators of Alzheimer’s disease with a high level of accuracy an average of 6 years before the patients would receive a final clinical diagnosis from a doctor. (UCSF)

Daisuke Inoue invented the karaoke machine in 1971 by combining an amplifier, a coin box, and an eight-track car stereo. His invention, which he never patented, kicked off the karaoke craze. (The Appendix)

Contrary to what popular culture would have us believe, Manhattan only has about a dozen alleys, all of them south of Canal Street. Most of the New York alley” scenes in movies are filmed in one alley: Cortlandt Alley. (99pi)

Despite the magnitude and persistence of economic inequality in the United States, Americans (both black and white) vastly underestimate racial disparity in income and wealth. (National Academy of Sciences)

Being exposed to images of superheroes subconsciously encouraged test subjects to be more altruistic, leading scientists to look into a link between aspirational figures and prosociality. (Frontiers in Psychology)

Members of D’Angels Motorcycle Club, Nigeria first all-female motorbikers club, raise health awareness by hosting events and conducting public education on their bike rides. (This Is Africa)

Using data from NASAs Kepler space telescope, citizen scientists have discovered a planet roughly twice the size of Earth located within its star’s habitable zone. The size of the new world, known as K2-288Bb, is rare among exoplanets. (Phys.org)

Plant physiologists in Brazil and Ireland are researching how to use the gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 to create the world’s first spicy tomato. To do this, researchers propose activating capsaicinoid-producing genes in the tomatoes. (Trends in Plant Science)

Antibiotics should be used with caution in outer space since they may quickly fuel drug resistance in bacteria. Researchers found Escherichia coli bacteria treated with antibiotics in a simulated microgravity environment rapidly developed resistance to antibiotics. (mBio)

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