December 29, 2023

Things I learned these past few months

Below, a quick roundup of a few of the things I learned over the past few months.

Researchers have found that concrete can be made 30% stronger by replacing a percentage of sand with spent coffee grounds, an organic waste product produced in huge amounts that usually ends up in landfill. The method also reduces the use of natural resources like sand, further contributing to a greener circular economy approach to construction. (New Atlas)

A cheap malaria vaccine that can be produced on a massive scale has been recommended for use by the World Health Organization. Each dose is only $2-4 (4 doses/person) and 100 million doses/yr are already lined up to be produced. (BBC)

It’s estimated that the revenue generated by Anguilla’s .ai domain — around $3 million per month — currently accounts for around a third of the government’s monthly budget. (Rest of World)

Minecraft has already been the best-selling game of all time, but now confirmed it has sold over 300 million] copies. That’s well over a hundred million more than the second best-selling video game, Grand Theft Auto V, which topped out at 185 million reported sales. (The Verge)

In 1952, a group of three stars’ vanished — astronomers still can’t find them. A photographic plate taken at 8:52 pm shows a cluster of three bright stars. In a plate at 9:45 pm, they’re gone. (

After movie studios declined, Monty Python and the Holy Grail” was instead financed by Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Genesis, Jethro Tull, and Elton John, all of whom saw it as a tax write-off. (Eric Alper)

Lillian Vorhaus Oppenheimer was an origami pioneer from New York City. Becoming a leading figure in the art form in her later years, Oppenheimer is credited with popularizing it in the United States. She adopted the Japanese word origami instead of the English paper folding, and the foreign term became established in the English language due to her efforts.

The rarest blood type in the world is known as golden blood type”, and fewer than 50 people in the world have it. People with the golden blood type or Rh null blood group have no Rh antigens on their red blood cells. (Canadian Blood Services)

The Lady Elliot shrimp goby is the first new fish species discovered on the Great Barrier Reef since 2019, much to the delight of the researchers who stumbled across it by chance. (ABC)

Workers returning to the office and socialising after pandemic lockdowns helped lead to a 15% surge in sales of deodorants, according to Unilever, the maker of Dove, Rexona and Impulse among others. (Guardian)

There’s a whole genus of South American spiders whose species are named after people and things in the 1987 movie Predator. (Kottke)

In October 2023, EVs made up 84% of new passenger car sales in Norway. Only 4% of sales were petrol- or diesel-powered cars. (Robbie Andrew)

Agaricus bisporus account for 90 percent of the mushroom production in the United States, making it an almost one-billion-dollar industry. Button mushrooms, cremini mushrooms, and portobello mushrooms are all the same, just Agaricus bisporus at different ages. (Eater)

Someone actually makes the cookies that Cookie Monster eats on Sesame Street, and they are technically” edible. (NYTimes)

For the first time ever, more than one in 10 people in Japan are now aged 80 or older. The country has the world’s oldest population, measured by the proportion of people aged 65 or up, the United Nations says. (BBC)

The term horsepower” was adopted in the late 18th century by Scottish engineer James Watt to compare the output of steam engines with the power of draft horses. This was not science for the sake of science, but an attempt to develop marketing blurb for selling steam engines by talking about how many horses they could replace. (MeFi)

The fruit machine” was a device developed in Canada in the 1950s that was supposed to be able to identify gay men. The subjects were made to view pornography; the device then measured the diameter of the pupils of the eyes (pupillary response test), perspiration, and pulse for a supposed erotic response. (Wikipedia)

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