Sidney Gottlieb proved to the world that there are few things more dangerous than a chemist with a metaphysical streak – especially if he collects a few thwarted ambitions. Born in 1918, he was deemed physically unfit for duty in the Second World War. Instead of going to war, he went to the University of Wisconsin, and graduated with a degree in chemistry. His degree didn’t help him into the army, but it did interest the CIA.
The Central Intelligence Agency, barreling into the Cold War, was trying to devise new ways to get an advantage over the enemy. Old warfare strategies wouldn’t work. They had to brainstorm new ones. It’s said that there are no bad ideas in brainstorming. The CIA, at the time, seemed set out to prove that there were no bad ideas at all. And Gottlieb was just the guy to try to help them.
Among the 34 OECD and G20 countries, nearly 26 percent of the total 255 million college-educated individuals between the ages of 25 and 64 hail from the United States. China comes in a distant second at 12.1 percent and Japan is a close third at 11.4 percent.
Meet the biggest cautionary tale in the world of defense procurement: the Death Star. Thanks to the Pentagon’s in-house acquisition journal, Defense AT&L Magazine — not usually a venue for fan fic — we have a detailed explanation as to why. Air Force Lt. Col. Dan Ward provides a nerdy-but-accurate examination of the Empire’s acquisition flaws in building the moon-sized death ray:
Why do “wet wrinkles” appear only on the hands and feet? And why are the most prominent wrinkles at the ends of the digits? Surgeons already know that cutting nerves in a finger prevents the wrinkling, suggesting the process is controlled by the nervous system.
Now a paper in the journal Brain, Behavior and Evolution offers more evidence that wet wrinkles serve a purpose. Much like the tread on a tire, they improve traction.
7. Weird News of the Week: 98-Year Old Woman Earns 10th Degree Black Belt
After 98 years, the phone call finally came.
Last week, Sensei Keiko Fukuda of San Francisco became the first woman to be promoted to judo’s highest level: 10th degree black belt.
Only three people in the world, all men living in Japan, have ever reached that mark.
In early June of 1893, President Grover Cleveland discovered a large tumor on the roof of his mouth. The cancer was progressing quickly. Doctors determined that if the patient were to survive, the growth had to be removed. But the procedure was complicated, and Cleveland’s doctors feared the surgery could trigger a stroke. There was also a 15 percent chance in those days that the president could die under the knife. After weighing his options, Cleveland chose to have the tumor removed, under one condition: The operation had to be conducted in total secrecy. The president feared that Wall Street -already reeling from falling stock in the midst of a depression- would panic if news of his illness leaked. Even his vice president, Adlai Stevenson, was to be kept in the dark.
The patented system — called Adaptiv — uses a matrix of hexagonal “pixels” that can change their temperature very rapidly. On-board cameras sweep the area to pick up the background scenery and display that infra-red signature on the vehicle.
This allows even moving tanks to be effectively invisible in the infra-red spectrum, or mimic other objects. “The tank skin essentially becomes a big infra red TV,” BAE Head of External Communications Mike Sweeney told Wired.co.uk. “You can display anything you want on it — including a cow — while the rest of the vehicle blends into the background.”
12. Image of the Week: Tiny Lending Libraries
The industrialist Andrew Carnegie used his vast fortune to build 2,509 libraries around the world. The people of Little Free Library would like to continue that philanthropic tradition and make it accessible for people without Carnegie’s wealth. So they sell birdhouse-sized libraries that you can fill with books that people in your neighborhood can read.
A friend called a few weeks ago to tell me about a skyscraper that had to be evacuated after an earthquake in Seoul. For ten minutes the building made wide metronomic swings. Thing was, there had been no earthquake registered in the area. It was a mysteriously super local event. After a two-week investigation, the epicenter had been narrowed down to the building’s twelfth floor gym where the side kicking, upper-cutting, and fist-jabbing of seventeen middle-aged Korean women boxercising to Snap’s 1990s hit “I’ve got the Power” seemed somehow to have hit the building’s resonant frequency, sending the whole structure into convulsions. Surely the gods thought they were doing Seoul’s Technomart a good turn when, at the beginning of time, they decided out of all possible pasts and futures, for this building’s Achilles’ heel to be the improbably collection of seventeen Korean women on the wrong side of forty paired with 1990s American infomercial exercise culture.
For now at least, the moon is like the sea: everyone can use it, but no one can own it. In 1967 the U.S. and the Soviet Union negotiated the Outer Space Treaty, which states that no nation can own a piece of the moon or an asteroid.
“You have a right to go up and take the lunar soil, but you don’t have any right to draw a square on the surface of the moon and say, ‘That square is mine,’” says Stephen E. Doyle, a retired lawyer who served as NASA’s Deputy Director of Internal Affairs.
17. Infographic of the Week: The Great Pop vs. Soda Controversy
18. A typeface for dyslexics
The University of Iowa, in a wild attempt to stay hip and relevant, has announced that they will offer a full-ride scholarship, thats $37,000 dollars folks, to the applicant with the best essay…that’s 140 characters or less. This isn’t the first time twitter has been involved in scholarly pursuits or had its character limits used as a creative constraint. This probably is the first time the stakes have been this high though, roughly $265 per character.
22. HistoricalLOL of the Week
In 1951, Hong Kong psychiatrist Pow-Meng Yap authored an influential paper in the Journal of Mental Sciences on the subject of “peculiar psychiatric disorders”—those that did not fit neatly into the dominant disease-model classification scheme of the time and yet appeared to be prominent, even commonplace, in certain parts of the world. Curiously these same conditions—which include “amok” in Southeast Asia and bouffée délirante in French-speaking countries—were almost unheard of outside particular cultural contexts. The American Psychiatric Association has conceded that certain mysterious mental afflictions are so common, in some places, that they do in fact warrant inclusion as “culture-bound syndromes” in the official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Why does exercise make us happy and calm? Almost everyone agrees that it generally does, a conclusion supported by research. A survey by Norwegian researchers published this month, for instance, found that those who engaged in any exercise, even a small amount, reported improved mental health compared with Norwegians who, despite the tempting nearness of mountains and fjords, never got out and exercised. A separate study, presented last month at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, showed that six weeks of bicycle riding or weight training eased symptoms in women who’d received a diagnosis of anxiety disorder. The weight training was especially effective at reducing feelings of irritability, perhaps (and this is my own interpretation) because the women felt capable now of pounding whomever or whatever was irritating them.
27. Better Book Titles of the Week – William Shakespeare: King Lear
28. How-To of the Week: Use Doritos (or Other Chips) to Start a Fire
Speaking of fruit, you may think a banana is just a banana, but it’s not. Dole and other banana growers have turned the creation of a banana into a science, in part to manipulate perceptions of freshness. In fact, they’ve issued a banana guide to greengrocers, illustrating the various color stages a banana can attain during its life cycle. Each color represents the sales potential for the banana in question. For example, sales records show that bananas with Pantone color 13-0858 (otherwise known as Vibrant Yellow) are less likely to sell than bananas with Pantone color 12-0752 (also called Buttercup), which is one grade warmer, visually, and seems to imply a riper, fresher fruit. Companies like Dole have analyzed the sales effects of all varieties of color and, as a result, plant their crops under conditions most ideal to creating the right ‘color.’ And as for apples? Believe it or not, my research found that while it may look fresh, the average apple you see in the supermarket is actually 14 months old.
The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, the Bobbsey Twins, and Tom Swift were all the product of one man, Edward Stratemeyer, a New Jersey author who wrote more than 1,300 books and eventually founded a syndicate of ghostwriters who pounded out juvenile mysteries based on his instructions.
Stratemeyer conceived the syndicate when his Rover Boys series proved so popular that he could not keep up with the demand for more books. He corralled a stable of hungry young writers, and in 1910 they were producing 10 new series annually. Each writer earned $50 to $250 for a manuscript he could produce in a month, working with characters and plot devised by Stratemeyer.
33. How a Virus Spreads