November 30, 2020

A few things I learned this month

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

Boston Medical Center built an organic farm on its roof that provides 6000 pounds of vegetables a year to feed patients and staff and members of the community. More than 400 volunteers tend the garden. (BMC)

Cognitive dissonance, coined by Leon Festinger in the 1950s, describes the discomfort people feel when two cognitions, or a cognition and a behavior, contradict each other. At its core, Festinger’s theory is about how people strive to make sense out of contradictory ideas and lead lives that are, at least in their own minds, consistent and meaningful. (Atlantic)

New York City libraries were constructed with apartments for the custodians. The libraries were once heated by coal; each had a custodian, who was tasked with keeping those fires burning and who lived in the library, often with his family. (Atlas Obscura)

Scientists have measured the shortest interval of time ever recorded: 247 zeptoseconds. The time measures how long it takes a particle of light to cross a single molecule of hydrogen. (NBC)

In Sweden, the term Jantelagen refers to the amount of energy it takes to ignore the fame of a famous person. (NYTimes)

Up until 1804, the person who received the second most votes in a presidential election became the vice president. (Charlotte Observer)

The first words spoken on the telephone, by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876 were, Mr. Watson — Come here — I want to see you.” (Library of Congress)

More than 100 whales have been rescued after becoming stranded on a beach on Sri Lanka’s southwest coast. Villagers defied a coronavirus curfew to help rescue the small whales, wading into the breaking surf to push them back into the sea near Panadura. (BBC)

Trümmerfrau (literally translated as ruins woman or rubble woman) is the German-language name for women who, in the aftermath of World War II, helped clear and reconstruct the bombed cities of Germany and Austria. (Wikipedia)

There are approximately 400 trees for every human on Earth. (Reddit)

The sand at the Augusta Masters is so bright because of a chalk-white trap filler called SP55 that’s made of granulated quartz. (LATimes)

The inaugural Op-Ed page appeared on Sept. 21, 1970. It was named for its geography—opposite the editorial page. (NYTimes)

Because of the East African Rift system, Madagascar is slowly breaking apart into smaller islands—at about seven millimeters annually. (GeoScienceWorld)

Wasp venom is used in medicines for anaphylaxis from wasp stings, but the supply chain for venom extraction is breaking down. (Undark)

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