June 30, 2020

A few things I learned this month

Below, a quick roundup of a few of the things I learned in June, 2020.

Designer Sara Little Turnbull pioneered non-woven fabrics at 3M, which eventually led to the development of the N95 mask. Her design influence informs improvements that are in the N95 today, such as molded non-woven material, metal nose clips, and elastic straps. (Design Museum)

The South Philippine Dwarf Kingfisher (Ceyx mindanensis) was first described 130 years ago during the Steere Expedition to the Philippines in 1890, but a fledgling was photographed this year for the very first time. (NYTimes)

Mount Everest’s height is disputed, specifically whether or not the official number should account for the snow atop it.” A group of eight researchers from China just summited the mountain with the sole mission of getting the most accurate measurement to date of the world’s tallest peak. (Outside)

A large amount of Japanese whiskey isn’t made in Japan, and some of it isn’t whiskey at all. Japan has few rules about what constitutes whiskey, let alone what makes it Japanese: companies can buy spirits in bulk from abroad, bottle and label it Japanese whisky,” and ship it back out. (NYTimes)

The world’s collective forests have become shorter and younger overall in the past 50 years. This means that forests have less capacity to remove carbon from the atmosphere and are less hospitable to the many species that rely on them for shelter. (Science)

In the United States, there were only 27 days in 2019 where the police did not kill someone. Police killed 1,099 people in 2019; Black people were 24% of those killed despite being only 13% of the population. (Mapping Police Violence)

Using laser mapping, archaeologists have discovered a previously unknown, 2,800-year-old Mayan structure in Tabasco, Mexico. It is the the earliest and largest ceremonial structure belonging to the Maya civilization ever discovered. (Nature)

The word ‘privilege’’ is composed of the Latin words for private and law, and describes a legal system in which not everyone is equally bound. (NYTimes)

Florida has approved a plan to release 750 million mosquitos genetically modified with a protein that would kill their offspring. It is hoped that this will prevent mosquitoes from biting people and spreading diseases such as dengue fever and Zika. (Guardian)

Since 2011, there have been increasingly more online searches using the word best” than there have been including the word cheap”. (Benedict Evans)

Somewhere between 100 million and 400 million frogs end up in international food trade each year. (Eat This)

The world high-dive record is still held by Alick Wickham, a Solomon Islander who in 1918 dived 205 feet 9 inches from a cliff above the Yarra River in South Australia. He was successful, although his bathing costumes were ripped off by the impact and he lay in a coma for a week. (NYRoB)

Large-billed crows are able to discriminate between human languages without any prior training. (Corvid Research)

The minimum number of people required to feasibly settle on another planet has been calculated and the result is 110 individuals. (Nature)

In a Leipzig waste site, scientists have found a soil bacterium that can break down components of polyurethane—and survive the toxic chemicals released in the process. (Frontiers in Microbiology)

Daily growth rings on a 70-million-year-old fossilized mollusk indicate that Earth turned faster at the time, squeezing 372 days into each year. (American Geophysical Union)

→ Learning