In his State of the Union Address, President Obama promised that this year, for the first time ever, American taxpayers would be able to go online and see exactly how their federal tax dollars are spent. Just enter a few pieces of information about your taxes, and the taxpayer receipt will give you a breakdown of how your tax dollars are spent on priorities like education, veterans benefits, or health care.
Slowly, the Boy Scouts have developed into a real training ground for budding scientists and engineers. Of the 126 current merit badges offered by the Boy Scouts of America, 31 of them fit under the STEM umbrella. But it’s the newest badge that is generating a lot of interest. This week, the BSA introduced the robotics merit badge, an ambitious set of requirements that really explores robotics as both a hobby and a career.
Development of the merit badge took more than a year and involved robotics experts from organizations like NASA, Lego, the University of Texas, and many others.
The language of Ayapaneco has been spoken in the land now known as Mexico for centuries. It has survived the Spanish conquest, seen off wars, revolutions, famines and floods. But now, like so many other indigenous languages, it’s at risk of extinction.
There are just two people left who can speak it fluently – but they refuse to talk to each other. Manuel Segovia, 75, and Isidro Velazquez, 69, live 500 metres apart in the village of Ayapa in the tropical lowlands of the southern state of Tabasco. It is not clear whether there is a long-buried argument behind their mutual avoidance, but people who know them say they have never really enjoyed each other’s company.
7. Weird News of the Week: Man Sexually Transmits Insect-Borne Disease to Wife
Scientists think they may have documented the first case of a sexually transmitted insect-borne disease, according to a study in Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Brian Foy, a vector biologist at Colorado State University who traveled to Senegal, was bitten by a mosquito and subsequently developed the Zika virus, which causes fatigue and joint pains.
When Foy returned to the U.S. and had sex with his wife, he unknowingly transmitted the disease to her.
“There are a number of critical physiological problems that would be life-ending, likely within seconds,” said Peter Wagner, a physician and physiologist at the University of California, San Diego. “Forget about the fact that you don’t have a parachute. You would be instantly exposed to very, very low oxygen levels. Within three or four seconds, my guess is that you would be breathing like hell.”
Loss of consciousness and death would soon follow purely from oxygen deprivation to the brain, Wagner continued. At the same time, temperatures of -70 degrees Fahrenheit (-57 degrees Celsius) — made even colder by the chill of 500 mile-per-hour (805 kilometer-per-hour) winds — would lead to rapid freezing, beginning with the skin, eyes and other surface tissues.
Gang members are twice as likely to be crime victims than non-gang members and are more frequently subject to simple assault, aggravated assault and drive by shootings, according to a recently study by the Crime Victims’ Institute at Sam Houston State University.
In addition, gang members report their neighborhoods are more dangerous, are of lower quality, and have greater problems with drugs compared to non-gang members.
12. Image of the Week: Egyptian mummy reveals the world’s earliest prosthetics — toes!
Modern archeologists have found two artificial big toes in Egyptian tombs: the linen and plaster “Greville Chester toe,” which dates back past 600 BC (below); and the wood and leather “Cairo toe,” which was built between 950-710 BC and was unearthed affixed to a female mummy. Researchers were unsure if these devices were functional or merely aesthetic, but after some sure-footed testing, they appear to be the earliest prosthetics discovered yet.
If you love to golf, but feel guilty every time your ball plops into the lake as another piece of litter, never fear — your environmental concerns may soon come to an end. An undergraduate student and an engineering professor at the University of Maine have developed a biodegradable golf ball that completely dissolves in water in one week. Using cooked lobster shells, a natural binding agent, and a mold they bought on eBay, the team has created an eco-friendly golf ball that hits and flies like the real thing, and costs 80 percent less than other biodegradable balls currently on the market.
Each year, Paris welcomes 45 million visitors to the city. Of those, roughly 1 million come from Japan. And of those million visitors, each year, about twenty fall ill to an odd condition called “Paris Syndrome” — effectively, an acute reaction to being in Paris.
Paris Syndrome is marked by a psychiatric breakdown suffered by the visitor, often including physiological side effects such as dizziness, an increased heart rate, and otherwise unexplained sweat. Extreme cases come with increased anxiety, a sense of persecution, and even hallucinations. Most of those affected are Japanese, but on occasion, a non-Japanese tourist will fall prey to the syndrome.
16. Infographic of the Week: The Health Benefits of Coffee vs Tea
It was the early 1940s. A war stretched across the globe. Times were desperate, and there was no method people were too proud to use – including a stink bomb.
There are plenty of books, shows, and movies about the French resistance movement during World War II. Other countries are quick to point out that they had as dedicated resistance movements as France did. It’s true. But let’s face it, if you want a story told about your resistance movement, you should really have based it in Paris. In war stories, certain tactics are generally omitted. Sure, any weapon that works will be used at the time, but it doesn’t look good on screen. ‘Who me?’ is one of those non-cinematic weapons.
‘Who me?’ was developed by the American Office of Strategic Services. It was given out in pocket-sized atomizers, so it could be used by ordinary citizens in a crowd. And it stunk. Literally. A resistance fighter was supposed to saunter up to a German officer, spritz him with the compound, and walk away.
Around 15 percent of American girls are going through puberty by the age of seven, research has revealed.
Doctor’s don’t know why girls are maturing so faster – although there are a variety of theories.
Among black girls almost one in four – 23 percent – go through puberty by the age of seven, according to the study published in Pediatrics.
In just three decades ‘childhood’ has been cut back by a year and a half as youngsters develop earlier.
In the search for answers to some of the most mysterious and fundamental questions about the the universe, Europe’s $10 billion particle-smashing Large Hadron Collider has been hogging the spotlight in recent years.
Suddenly, this week, physics enthusiasts’ eyes turned to Tevatron, a much smaller and less powerful particle accelerator in Batavia, Illinois, that is scheduled to be shut down for good after September. And, depending on what happens with the budget crisis on Capitol Hill, it could be even sooner.
At Tevatron, part of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), scientists said they may have found evidence of a particle never observed before. That would mean a brand new building-block of matter would be added to what physicists know about the universe.
But the keyword is “may” — there’s about a 1 in 1,000 chance that it’s just a fluke of statistics. In the coming weeks and months, additional data from Tevatron’s detectors and the Large Hadron Collider will probably deliver a more definitive answer about whether indeed a new particle has been discovered.
22. HistoricalLOL of the Week
Over the next four years, this war would become the most disruptive and transformative event in American history — something that was true in Whitman’s time and remains true in our own, as we begin marking its sesquicentennial this week. It’s no surprise that, in the intervening years, no other event has attracted more writers (or sold more books). But what is surprising is that the Civil War did not produce any great works of contemporary literature.
This has puzzled critics and readers from the beginning. “Our war,” William Dean Howells wrote in 1867, “has laid upon our literature a charge under which it has hitherto staggered very lamely.” In “Patriotic Gore,” his classic 1962 study of Civil War writing, Edmund Wilson echoed Howells’s concern. When it comes to the Civil War, there’s no poem or novel or even author who leaves us saying: This is the one who got it right, who captured what the war meant and what it felt like. In fact, the work most people think of is “The Red Badge of Courage” — a novel published 30 years after the war’s end by a writer who wasn’t even born until 1871.
n an article called the “Weather Underground,” published in the May 2011 issue of Golf Digest, author David Owen describes something called the SubAir system. SubAir was invented in the 1990s by Marsh Benson, Owen explains, a senior grounds manager at August National. The first model consisted of “a stove-size machine,” as Owen describes, that was “attached to the existing network of drainage pipes beneath the putting surface [where it] was acting like a giant Shop-Vac, hoovering moisture from below.”
A project director at SubAir explains to Owen that “the concept is to supply fresh air into the root zone and help provide a more optimal growing environment for the greens.”
27. Better Book Titles of the Week – Edith Wharton “The Age Of Innocence”
28. How-To of the Week: Fix Suede Discolorations and Scuff Marks with a Pencil Eraser
It’s 369 feet high. That’s about twice the size of the Statue of Liberty (minus the foundation). I like this tree. The people who discovered it have never revealed its true location, which is somewhere in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. And though it’s got a nickname, “Stratosphere Giant,” it is no longer the giant. It’s been trumped.
After its short four-year reign as World’s Tallest, two hikers, Chris Atkins and Michael Taylor, were deep in another section of another park, Redwood National Park (purchased in 1978 during the Carter administration) when they came across a new stand of trees, taller than anyone had ever seen before. The tallest of the tall is 379 feet 4 inches, 10 feet taller than the Giant. It’s now called “Hyperion.”
Marks on a clay tablet fragment found in Greece are the oldest known decipherable text in Europe, a new study says.
Considered “magical or mysterious” in its time, the writing survives only because a trash heap caught fire some 3,500 years ago, according to researchers.
Found in an olive grove in what’s now the village of Iklaina (map), the tablet was created by a Greek-speaking Mycenaean scribe between 1450 and 1350 B.C., archaeologists say.
Additional Sources: The Presurfer