March 29, 2024

Things I learned these past few months

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

During the 1998-99 snow season, the Mount Baker Ski Area received 95 feet of snow, setting the national and world record for the most snowfall in a year. The mark stands 25 years later. (Seattle Times)

From farm to plate, one in four animals raised on factory farms are wasted. Researchers at Leiden University in the Netherlands found that in 2019, 18 billion of the 75 billion pigs, chickens, turkeys, cows, goats, and sheep raised for food around the world were never eaten. (Vox)

Hotel stars” indicate the number and type of amenities offered by the hotel, not the quality of the hotel. (Wikipedia)

Toys as a category has had significant deflation — meaning they’ve gotten way cheaper in the last 30 years. This is due to a handful of factors, but mainly increased reliance on cheap overseas production. Simply put: a toy that cost $20 in 1993 would only cost $4.68 today. (BI)

A new aviation company has developed a type of jet fuel made entirely from human sewage. (BBC)

In 2023, a record low was reached in global child mortality, with only 3.6 percent of newborns dying by the age of 5. (NYTimes)

Tyromancy is the ancient art of divining the future through cheese, and has been used by various cultures. around the world for centuries. (Saveur)

In January 1955, Marian Anderson becomes the 1st African American to perform with the New York Metropolitan Opera, singing the role of Ulrica in Giuseppe Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera”. (Wikipedia)

In 2024, more than half of humanity will live in a country holding a nationwide vote. (New Yorker)

The frog test is a pregnancy testing method relying on frogs to show the pregnancy status of women. The most well known frog test is the Hogben test, prevalent from the 1940s to the 1960s, by using the underlying principle of hormones and its subsequent biological response in both sexes of certain frog species. (Wikipedia)

Alcoholism can be a big issue in Antarctica. While there are no official statistics, some stations hold Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and the hearsay was troubling enough that in 2015, the Office of the Inspector General audited several American stations. (AtlasObscura)

Archaeologists have uncovered a cluster of lost cities in the Amazon rainforest that were home to at least 10,000 farmers around 2,000 years ago. Recent mapping by laser-sensor technology revealed those sites to be part of a dense network of settlements and connecting roadways, tucked into the forested foothills of the Andes, that lasted about 1,000 years. (ABC)

English Wikipedia received over 84 billion views in 2023 (Wikimedia Foundation)

The price of cocoa, up by 82% in 12 months, is at a 46-year high. (Economist)

2002-VE68, fondly called Zoozve, is the first discovered quasi-moon in the solar system, orbiting both the sun and Venus—a star and a planet all at once. (Radiolab)

NASA has expanded the search for extraterrestrial life by identifying 17 exoplanets that may harbor oceans of liquid water beneath their icy surfaces. (Physics-Astronomy)

Cheese fondue goes back centuries. But chocolate fondue is modern, invented in the 1960s at Chalet Suisse in New York, by Konrad Egli. (NYTimes)

The theme song for the children’s television show Arthur was sung by Ziggy Marley. The theme song for the children’s television show The Magic School Bus was sung by Little Richard. (Arthur Wiki/Wikipedia)

The moon is shrinking at a rate of about 46 metres over the past few million years, and that shrinkage is causing moonquakes, according to a new study from NASA. (CBC)

For the first time on record, global warming has exceeded temperatures of 1.5 degrees Celsius over a 12-month period. (Al Jazeera)

All Camembert and brie cheeses worldwide are inoculated with one genetically identical albino strain of fungi, Penicillium camemberti, which is not found in the wild. In recent decades, the fungus picked up mutations that interfere with its ability to produce spores, and that makes it much harder to clone. It’s now difficult for cheesemakers to grow the key fungus used to make brie and Camembert. (Vox)

Since their invention, cars and automobility have killed 60–80 million people and injured at least 2 billion. Currently, 1 in 34 deaths are caused by automobility. (Journal of Transport Geography)

Farming accounts for about 10 percent of climate pollution in both Europe and the United States. (Grist)

Americans spent 11.3% of their disposable income on food in 2022–a level last seen in 1991. (WSJ)

The human Y chromosome is degenerating and may disappear in a few million years, leading to our extinction unless we evolve a new sex gene. (The Conversation)

Asian Elephants mourn and bury their babies. A study conducted between 2022 and 2023 finds elephants travel a great distance to bury their young with care. (ABC)

A new analysis of two million white-collar jobs found fully remote employees are laid off 35% more often than their peers who work in-office or hybrid roles. (Business Insider)

The deepest points in each of the Earth’s oceans are called The Five Deeps. (TKSST

Email apnea” describes people’s tendency to hold their breath while [reading or writing messages. (GQ)

Chinese online megastore Temu was Meta’s top advertiser in 2023, reportedly spending $2 billion on advertisements at Meta. Temu also ranked among Google’s top five advertisers. (QZ)

Reintroducing just 20 species of large mammals (including beavers, bears and bison) could help to restoring the world’s biodiversity. Introducing these animals back into their historic ranges across the world could create the conditions necessary to allow these species to expand their ranges to cover over a quarter of the planet. This would help to restore ecosystems, lock away excess carbon dioxide and boost populations of other species. (NHM)

All but one of the 100 cities with the world’s worst air pollution last year were in Asia; 83 were in India. (CNN)

Dutch farms use only a half-gallon of water to grow a pound of tomatoes, while the global average is more than 28 gallons. (WaPo)

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