"5 COOL THINGS" - weekly emails

5 Cool Things  😎
5 Cool Things:
12/10/20
Hi, this is Greg Powell. I hope you'll enjoy one or more of these interesting topics from the world of business and beyond. Dan Powell, my son and collaborator, has researched the articles and written the summaries, so this is not a boilerplate message. We'd like to give you a weekly break to learn about something cool or, better yet, 5 Cool Things.

 

Pilot Chuck Yeager Dies At 97, Had 'The Right Stuff' And Then Some (NPR)

Chuck Yeager, fearless aviator and the first person to exceed the speed of sound in level flight, died this week at the age of 97. Known for his record-breaking flight in the orange-painted Bell X-1 Glamorous Glennis, which was dramatized in the 1983 movie The Right Stuff, Yeager also held a distinguished record as a fighter pilot in World War Two, achieving the rare “ace in a day” accomplishment after shooting down five aircraft in one mission. After his work flying beyond the speed of sound in the X-1, Chuck Yeager went on to pilot several other experimental craft, setting more speed and altitude records as he did so. "Chuck's bravery and accomplishments are a testament to the enduring strength that made him a true American original,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, “and NASA's Aeronautics work owes much to his brilliant contributions to aerospace science." Read more…

 

Experiments Show We Quickly Adjust to Seeing Everything Upside-Down (The Guardian)

While many people are able to read documents placed upside-down, scientists are still at a loss to explain how — and why — the brain quickly adapts to visual changes. A famous mid-century experiment highlighted the ability of the brain to adjust to upside-down vision as Professor Theodor Erismann studied one of his students at the University of Innsbruck, who volunteered to wear a pair of glasses that turned the world completely upside down. At first, the experiment proceeded just like you’d expect — wild stumbling, the pouring of liquids in the wrong direction, and confusion about the movements of various object. But after about a week, the pair noticed a definite improvement in the subject’s motion. In fact, after just ten days, the student could ride a bicycle and perform other activities perfectly well. It seems that, as long as the visual input is consistent, the brain is able to adjust to a state of altered vision in most people. Read more…

 

Rome's Rich Past Stalls Metro Line Expansion (ABC News)

Imagine the challenges for Rome’s city planners. In addition to workers’ unions, regulations, and red tape, there’s another problem that can crop up when building in Rome — running into a piece of its ancient past. That’s what builders of Rome’s new subway line, called the Metro C, are dealing with as they lay track through the area that used to be the center of ancient Rome. As workers began to tunnel in one section, a stone staircase turned out to be “…the seats of a covered rectangular amphitheater, a place where plays, speeches and debates were held by the city's poets, scholars and politicians.” According to archaeologists, the site was likely Emperor Hadrian’s “Athenaeum”, an auditorium dating to 135 AD. It was a historic find, but another setback for the Metro C, which was originally slated for completion in 2015. Read more…

 

Best Map of Milky Way Reveals a Billion Stars in Motion (Nature)

Nothing in this universe ever truly stands still — not the planet we walk on, and not even the star that we orbit. A new map by the Gaia space observatory shows how 40,000 stars in the core of our Milky Way Galaxy are expected to move during the next 400,000 years, a reminder of the complexity and ever-changing nature of our corner of the cosmos. Gaia is a European Space Agency (ESA) project that orbits the Sun in a spot behind the Earth called the L2 Lagrangian point, a stable area more than 900 million miles behind the Earth where the satellite is protected from the Sun’s light. From its perch, the observatory is able to carefully record the “parallax” or movement of stars seen from different points in its orbit, in order to calculate their exact distances. Read more…

 

Toledo Zoo First to Record Biofluorescence in Tasmanian Devils (WTOL)

Does “Taz,” the Tasmanian Devil from the Looney Tunes, need an update? According to researchers at the Toledo Zoo in Toledo, Ohio, Tasmanian Devils are capable of bioflourescence — they can light up naturally, like fireflies or algae — and they have the photos to prove it. Tasmanian Devils are omnivores and members of the marsupial family that live only in Australia and the island of Tasmania. There are many other animals, including certain mammals, that exhibit this behavior, but the specific purpose of bioflourescence for the Tasmanian Devil remains a mystery. Naturally, scientists suspect that the species’ ability to create a bluish glow might help attract mates. Read more…

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            - Greg
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