"5 COOL THINGS" - weekly emails

5 Cool Things  😎
5 Cool Things:
03/11/21
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.


The World's First Space Hotel Will Open in 2027 — and You Can Even Buy a Vacation Home There (Travel and Leisure)

In the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, released in 1968, character Haywood Floyd enjoys a stay at an orbital “space hotel”, a wheel-like space station that spins to simulate the Earth’s gravitational pull. According to the concept for Orbital Assembly's Voyager Station, which is slated for construction in 2026, actual space hotels might be quite similar the one that 2001 director Stanley Kubrick envisioned. Holding up to 280 guests, the hotel plans to feature much the same amenities as luxury hotels on Earth — restaurant, bar, gym — and would likely leverage private space vehicles like the ones being developed currently by SpaceX to ferry guests to and from the Earth’s surface. With a three-and-a-half day stay expected to run about $5 million, it might be time to start saving your pennies. Read more…
 

Walker ‘Stunned' to See Ship Hovering High Above Sea Off Cornwall (The Guardian)

A visual phenomenon called a “superior mirage” is something that’s not seen very often in temperate climates, tending to occur within the Arctic circle because of the specific temperature conditions required. So when David Morris, walking along the English coastline near Falmouth in Cornwall, saw a massive tanker ship apparently floating tens of feet above the water, he had no idea he was witnessing just such an illusion. The effect that causes superior mirages is called temperature inversion, wherein warm air gets trapped above cooler air at the horizon level, which refracts light upwards and causes faraway objects to “float.” It’s the opposite of the mirages popularized in contemporary culture, known as inferior mirages. In this scenario, cooler pockets of air reflect sunlight from above back to the eye, generating a puddle-like effect. Read more…
 

Why You’re Seeing More Hawks at Your Birdfeeder (Cool Green Science)

If you live in the suburbs, you might have noticed in recent years a shift in the number of predatory birds swooping and soaring around your home — and a corresponding decrease in certain animal populations, such as rabbits. According to research by the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, hawks in the genus Accipiter have increased their presence in the Chicago area alone by 40% since the 1990s. It seems that hawks, once apparently doomed to perpetual loss of habitat, have rebounded as suburban homes chose to install bird feeders en masse, providing an easy food source for marauding predators. Of course, there’s no way to know the eventual effects of this shift, but research suggests that an increased hawk population might help to keep overabundant bird and animal species in check, not to mention providing spectacular views of nature in action. Read more…
 

Lou Ottens, Inventor Of The Cassette Tape, Has Died (NPR)Cassette tapes: where would we be without them? Although today cassettes might seem like just another dead analog music format, we actually owe a lot to the transition from vinyl to cassette, especially because the ease of recording and sharing tapes launched a revolution in music sharing. With cassette tapes, music fans could record songs from the radio and create mix tapes, prefiguring the later freedom of ipods, digital music, mix cds and, eventually, music streaming. Cassette inventor Lou Ottens, who died this week at the age of 94, knew he had to make tapes accessible and portable to ensure success. Ottens actually fashioned a small wooden block, small enough to fit in his pocket, as a template for the size he needed to engineer. That was in 1963, and for 20 years cassettes grew in popularity before being eclipsed when CDs came on the scene. The format isn’t dead, however — legions of nostalgic fans keep cassettes turning to this day. Read more…


The Air Force Is Having To Reverse Engineer Parts Of Its Own Stealth Bomber (The Drive)

Is the Air Force’s stealth bomber so stealthy that not even the Air Force knows how it’s constructed? That appears to be the case. Mark Thompson, an analyst at the Project on Government Oversight, reports a military notice seeking to reverse engineer parts of the bomber that involve dispersion of heat (such systems could include avionics or propulsion). Why couldn’t the military just call up Northrop Grumman, the original manufacturer, for blueprints? It’s anyone's guess, but the plans might have been misplaced, destroyed, or even erased due to security concerns. Still, there’s plenty of irony to be found in the realization that the US military is employing the same reverse engineering technique used for years by nations like China in order to glean classified secrets. Read more…

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See you next week!
            - Greg
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