"5 COOL THINGS" - weekly emails

5 Cool Things  😎
5 Cool Things:
05/19/22
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.


Why Don’t Nations Buy More Territories From Each Other? (Marginal Revolution)

In our school days, many of us learned about the Louisiana Purchase, when France sold a massive amount of territory, stretching from New Orleans to what is now Montana. Perhaps surprisingly, land purchases like these have been quite rare in world history, with only four such transactions taking place since 1916. Why don’t more nations settle territorial disputes with hard currency instead of warfare? This article posits some reasons, including a decline in wars of conquest, the decreased value of empty or undeveloped land compared to previous history, and the problem of what to do with the citizens who already live in the region - such as the Greenlanders who might hypothetically be annexed by the US. Read more…


Jupiter Revealed (Knowable Magazine)

For many years, the world knew our solar system only through the lens of a telescope. The first planetary probes, launched in the 1970s, began to change our perceptions of these bodies, most notably after the Voyager probes completed their flybys of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Today, we have the benefit of even more advanced and specialized missions, which means the children of the future can grow up with incredibly rich closeups of many planets in their textbooks - or Chromebooks. NASA’s Juno spacecraft has been providing such images for over seven years, and this article details some of its incredible findings and stunning renderings of the cloud tops over this massive planet. From mega-storms larger than the continental US to strange swirling clouds that penetrate hundreds of kilometers into the planet’s atmosphere to the mystery of the giant’s magnetic field, here are Juno’s greatest hits. Read more…


The Record-Breaking Dive Under the Arctic Ice (BBC)

Nearly 64 years ago, a US military submarine called the USS Nautilus undertook a mission inconceivable to mariners in the golden age of exploration — it passed underneath the arctic ice to become the first vessel to sail beneath the North Pole. The feat was made possible by nuclear power, which removed the need to surface and recharge the submarine’s batteries by running diesel generators, a task performed by submarines up to that time. "It was an eloquent demonstration of a revolution in maritime warfare," say historians, and marked the dawn of an era when such vessels remain stealthily underneath the surface for months at a time, limited only by the need for supplies for their crews. Still, there were several dangers involve with the mission, including the impossibility of surfacing in the event of an emergency. Read more…


Sea Change (Rest of World)

As we’ve highlighted before on 5 Cool Things, the virtual world that we sometimes see as "floating cloud" actually depends on a very real physical network of wire cables including a massive web of undersea cables connecting nations around the world. The "free" construction of additional cables by large corporations to connect places like the gold coast of Africa to the rest of the internet might seem like a feel-good story. In fact, however, internet giants Google and Meta (formerly Facebook) are laying these cables, which gives rise to concerns about ceding total control of communications traffic over entire regions to for-profit corporations. This kind of monopoly would transform the internet, once a democratized “network of interconnected networks”, into a “handful of mega networks operating upon their own global physical infrastructure”. Read more…


What U.S. Submariners Actually Say About Detection Of So-Called Unidentified Submerged Objects (The Drive)

In the sky, unidentified objects are called UFOs. In the ocean, there are strange sounds too — USOs, or Unidentified Submerged Objects — that are detected by the sonar systems and sophisticated electronics on the ships and submarines of the world’s navies. Much like investigations of the US Navy’s tracking of UFOs off the coast of California 20 years ago, the truth about USOs is elusive. There are rumors, however, of a so-called “Fast Mover Program” which investigates objects traveling at speeds of several hundred knots under the water. And though USOs give pause to most seasoned veterans, “the biggest takeaway . . . is that mysterious sounds do emanate from the deep and are heard by the most talented sonar operators in the world working the most advanced underwater listening equipment ever created.“ Read more…

 

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See you next week!
            - Greg
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