"5 COOL THINGS" - weekly emails

5 Cool Things  😎
5 Cool Things:
12/24/21
Greg and Dan wish you a fun holiday season and a happy, healthy New Year! We thank you being part of our 5 Cool Things family and hope you'll continue to enjoy novelty and learning for the sake of novelty and learning! And remember, you're welcome to send us your ideas to include among the articles. Some of our most interesting reads have come from our readers. And now, this week's 5 Cool Things . . .
 

Why Scientists Waited 50 Years to Study This Moon Dust (Smithsonian Magazine)

Amazingly, December 7-19 of this year marked 50 years since astronauts last walked on the moon. Material from the 1972 Apollo 17 mission was stored in special cans to avoid contamination so that technology could be developed to analyze it in more detail. Now, five decades later, these time capsules, also known as the Pristine Apollo Samples, are set to be opened at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, using technology developed by the European Space Agency, or ESA. The special equipment is designed to capture gases present when the sample was sealed while still on the lunar surface, potentially unlocking clues that will reveal information about the materials and chemicals present on the moon and during the formation of our solar system. Read more…


The World's First Octopus Farm - Should it Go Ahead? (BBC)

Octopuses are famously intelligent — but they are also prized for their meat in Asia, Europe, and increasingly in the United States. The Spanish company Nueva Pescanova (NP) plans to be the first to open a farm producing octopus for human consumption. This ambitious project relies on modern technology to help aquaculturists successfully octopuses, who characteristically resist breeding  in captivity. Humans may now be able to farm the octopus — but should we? NP claims they’re doing the creatures a favor by reducing the number of wild octopuses that are culled from their natural habitats. Moreover, European Union law doesn’t (yet) protect octopuses since they are invertebrates. Anyone who has studied octopuses, however, knows how creative, adaptive, and intelligent they are, and so the plan is fraught with controversy. "These are amazing animals. They are solitary, and very smart. So to put them in barren tanks with no cognitive stimulation, it's wrong for them." Read more…


Twenty Years Ago, ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’ Changed the Future of Hollywood (The Ringer)

“It’s impossible to miss the impact that increasingly vocal fans—with their social-media-assisted direct line to power—have in shaping our entertainment.” Twenty holiday movie seasons ago, The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter changed Hollywood forever by linking epic storytelling with the burgeoning power of the internet and social media. These movies also changed filmmakers’ and studios’ reactions to fanbases, as the dynamic pivoted from top-down entertainment delivery to a give-and-take process where the movies would be informed by fan reactions and feedback. In the process, new movies became much more dependent on existing intellectual property, or IP. That’s not to say new products cannot be successfully launched, but an existing universe has much more potential on which to capitalize. Twenty years after these groundbreaking movies, juggernaut franchises such as Star Wars, Marvel Comics, and Game of Thrones are the kings of the entertainment landscape. Read more…


Harassment of Navy Destroyers By Mysterious Drone Swarms Off California Went On For Weeks (The Drive)

Unbeknownst to the general public, the US Navy encountered numerous unidentified drones during the month of July 2019 off the coast of California, and even called in special drone countermeasure teams tasked with combating the aircraft. Previously thought to have been limited to just two nights that month, a recent Freedom of Information Act release shows many more encounters, raising concerns that foreign actors might be using such technology to gather data about the US military’s electronic warfare capabilities or response tactics. In some of their exercises against the airborne intruders, the Navy apparently fired upon the drones using a destroyer’s 5-inch deck gun and also may have employed a certain type of anti-drone jamming gun called a “ghostbuster”. Read more…


Brown; The Color is Weird (Technology Connections)

Brown: how is it made? As it turns out, no color can be projected to create brown - you can’t generate brown light by itself. That’s because brown exists only contextually, i.e., in comparison to other colors. In fact, what we know as “brown” is really orange with reduced brightness, seen in context. That’s why we can’t represent brown with LED lights, for example — darkening orange lights just creates a dimmer version of orange lights. In the end, something like brown is an example of the way that cultures create new concepts by mutual agreement, without a “true” definition. In the same way, certain ancient cultures only recognized red, black, and white, with no concepts for the colors blue, green, or yellow. This entertaining video will teach you all you need to know about the wonderful color brown. [Editors note: Greg graduated from Brown University, but is only finding out now it may not have existed . . . See more…

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            - Greg
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