"5 COOL THINGS" - weekly emails

FINAL 5 Cool Things 😎
5 Cool Things:
12/21/23
After 5 years of weekly mailings, this is the final edition of 5 Cool Things. What a wonderful run it's been! When I asked my son Dan in late 2017 if he'd like to select interesting items off the Internet and write a blurb for each one, I knew he'd do a great job -- but he has amazed me with his creativity, reliability, and wide-ranging intellect . Thank you Dan. It's been a really fun collaboration.
The reason for bringing 5 Cool Things to a close is that I'll be retiring tomorrow. I conceived of this project  to stay in touch with business associates and friends in a fun and interesting way. Dan and I truly hope you've had fun and gained some interesting knowledge along the way. From cryptocurrency to King Arthur, from octopus brains to a virtual tour of the Titanic, from the inventor of the "yellow line" on TV football games to the spacetime continuum, it's been an eye-opening and mind-expanding journey.
Dan and I wish you health, happiness, and endless Cool Things as you pursue your life journeys. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!


The Slaves of Tromelin Island (Amusing Planet)

It’s hard to imagine a worse fate than being stranded on a desert island, especially when you’re not sure that anyone will ever come back to rescue you. The story of the slaves of Tromelin Island is an incredible tale of survival against all odds. In 1761, the French frigate Utile, carrying about 160 slaves to be sold on the island of Mauritius, broke apart on a reef off the windswept patch of sand and grass then called Île des Sables, or the Isle of Sand. The sailors eventually constructed a new ship and sailed off, stranding the slaves with nothing but the remains of the original wreck. However, one of the sailors fought to send a rescue party for years and, after several failed attempts, he arranged for a ship to rescue the remaining slaves — 15 years later! At that point, only seven women and an eight-month-old boy were still alive - but, amazingly, they survived. Today, archeologists study the ruins of shelters and tools left on the island from this epic experience of survival and tragedy. Read more…

 

You Know It’s a Placebo. So Why Does It Still Work? (Wired)

How might you react to being prescribed a placebo — a medicine that you know doesn’t work? The American Medical Association allows for doctors to prescribe such “open-label placebos”, as long as they tell their patients they’re among the treatments being used. What’s weird, and what really fascinates researchers, is that these placebos actually work in certain cases. It makes you wonder what else in worlds might be affected by the power of individual thought and shape our reactions to daily life. “As a 2016 paper in the journal Pain puts it, ‘Engendering hope when participants feel hopeless about their condition can be therapeutic.’” Read more…

 

Neanderthal DNA May Help Explain Why Some People Are Early Risers (Smithsonian Magazine)

We homo sapiens are the only remaining species in the Homo genus, but this wasn’t always so. Roughly 70,000 years ago, when early humans migrated from Africa to Eurasia, they encountered and even mated with Neanderthals, another seven or eight species of humans. To this day, humans of non-African ancestry carry between one and four percent Neanderthal DNA. One genetic trait passed down from Neanderthals is the ability to adjust to the differing levels of daylight which they experienced in the northern climates where they lived. Thus, being an early riser - having a “faster-running internal clock” - may be a Neanderthal trait which gave them the energy to hunt in the dawn's early light. Read more…

 

Why More Women Live in Major East Coast Counties While Men Outnumber Them in the West (AP News)

Surveys show a disparity between the relative numbers of men and women living in major cities, with more men on the west coast and more women on the east coast. Part of the difference is accounted for by the places that people work, such as the military bases and tech corridors in the west which tend to employ more men. Sadly, another factor is that men in certain regions are affected more strongly by incarceration and mortality, meaning that fewer survive to be counted in the data. “At birth, the sex ratio in the U.S. has historically been 105 men for every 100 women. The ratio inverts around age 30. Since the mortality rate is higher for men than it is for women at almost every age group — due to violence, drinking, smoking, job hazards and suicide — that ratio decreases with age, until at age 90 or above there are typically about two women to every man.” Read more…


How An Ionizing Particle From Outer Space Helped A Mario Speedrunner Save Time (The Gamer)

“Speedrunning” is an aspect of video gaming wherein players attempt to beat levels of a video game at the quickest pace possible, aiming to achieve all the objectives with the lowest elapsed time. In 2013, a Super Mario 64 player live streaming on Tik Tok was able to jump much higher and farther than anyone ever had before. The community immediately went to work hunting for the cause of the “glitch”, with a $1000 reward posted for the player who could figure out what had happened. They discovered the amazing jump occurred because of a phenomenon called a “bit flip”, wherein a cosmic ray from outer space collided with the N64 console being used, changing a 1 to a 0 in the game’s files and allowing for a super jump at just the right moment. Read more…

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See you next week!
            - Greg
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