Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Mar 3-9, 2019

It’s time to get your mental corn popping!

Maya Wei-Haas says, if you’re tired of Daylight Savings Time, check out these places that are trying to end it. National Geographic

Chris Baraniuk: the new weapon in the fight against crime. BBC

AC Shilton lists nine ways to stop using so much single-use plastic. Outside Online

Laura Staugaitis shows us an art installation in the Hebrides that demonstrates the impact of climate change. This is Colossal

Scott Wilson wonders, could the massive aquifer under the Mojave Desert help solve California’s water problem? The Washington Post

Caren Chesler writes about the technological vision quest. It’s not all about a cure (though at least one man is waiting for just that). It’s more about giving those with limited to no vision technological aids so that they can more easily navigate the world on their terms. Popular Mechanics

Michael Greshko examines how we make, remember, and forget memories. National Geographic

Deborah MacKenzie: we may finally know what causes Alzheimer’s—and how to stop it. New Scientist

Apoorva Mandavilli reports on the second patient cured of H.I.V. and why this is a milestone in the global AIDS epidemic. The New York Times

Gianluca Mezzofiore: two astronauts will perform the first all-female spacewalk in history. CNN

SciShow Space news edumacates us about Mars’ ancient underground lakes and SpaceX’s successful Demo 1 mission.

 

Physics Girl explains Stephen Hawking’s final theory about black holes. It involves soft hair.

 

Deborah Netburn digs into an archaeological find: more than 140 children may have had their hearts torn out in ancient Peru. L.A. Times

Louise Pryke introduces us to Enheduanna, princess, priestess, and the worlds first author. The Conversation

Open Culture shares the news: The Book of Kells has now been digitized.

PBS Eons looks at the islands of huge hamsters and giant owls.

 

Bored Panda shares the photographs of Lisa, AKA ostdrossel, who set cameras in front of her birdfeeders. They’re amazing and hilarious.

Linda Lombardi wonders, do anxious owners make for anxious dogs? National Geographic

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you found something to fuel your creative efforts.

Until next tipsday, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

thoughtythursday2016

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Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Feb 4-10, 2018

Thought Thursday is here, and you know what that means … tomorrow is Friday! Happy Friday eve!

This is why Uma Thurman is angry. Maureen Dowd for The New York Times.

Gemma Hartley says that the equal distribution of emotional labour is the key to gender equality. Harper’s Bazaar

Author Roni Loren writes a personal post about hormones, stress, and sneaky depression.

Ed Yong studied his own articles to improve the gender balance of his reporting. The Atlantic

John Pavlovitz: no, you’re not tired of being politically correct.

The Economist is thinking about natives in an era of nativism.

Hannah Devlin reports on the DNA analysis of Cheddar Man and the revelation that the first modern Britons had dark to black skin. The Guardian

Cleve R. Wootson: Maya civilisation was vaster than thought, as thousands of newly discovered structures reveal. The Washington Post

Phil Plait shares Mike Olbinski’s time-lapse storm video, Breathe. SyFy

Whistler Deep Sky II – David McColm Photography

 

Ashley Hamer: yes, a donut-shaped planet is technically possible. Curiosity

Tariq Malik reports on the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket’s historic maiden voyage. Space

Andrea Morris introduces us to the woman teaching artificial intelligence about human values. Forbes

Rafi Letzter examines how an ancient virus may be responsible for human consciousness. Live Science

World War II spitfire pilot Mary Ellis from the Isle of Wight turns 100. BBC

Dangerous Minds profiles the Victorian woman who drew pictures of ghosts.

The astonishing science of what trees feel and how they communicate. Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees. Maria Popova, Brain Pickings.

Hooria Jazaieri points out three things we still don’t know about meditation (and how to read studies critically). Mindful

Steven Parton explores the science of happiness and why complaining is literally killing you. Curious Apes

Mohammed Al-Mosaiwi: people with depression are more likely to say certain words. Quartz

Truth Potato tells it like it is. Bored Panda

Piper, a short film by Disney Pixar.

 

I hope something in this mix got your mental corn popping.

Be well until the weekend.

thoughtythursday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Dec 17-23, 2017

It’s another tiny thoughty Thursday to finish off the year.

Steve LeVine compiles a list of the biggest AI stories of 2017. Axios

Patrick Caughill: SpaceX is leading the rise of an entirely new industry. Futurism

They escaped child marriage and now they’re speaking out. Kyle Almond for CNN.

Bill Donohue is seeking the lost art of growing old with intention. Outside

Anna Lovind: how to make darkness magical. Because we all need more magic in our lives.

Natasha Frost reviews the year in animal accomplishments. Atlas Obscura

Hope that was enough to get some mental corn popping.

Be well until the weekend!

thoughtythursday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Feb 19-25, 2017

It’s time to pop that mental corn, people.

In the war between Baby Boomers and Millennials, we’ve forgotten the hard-working, hard-playing Generation X. Um, no. We haven’t. Interesting article nonetheless. David Barnett for The Independent.

Jon Brooks: Girl? Boy? Both? Neither? A new generation overthrows gender. KQED Science

How slavery changed the DNA of African Americans. Michael White for the Pacific Standard.

Sarah Dziedzic discusses African-Canadian history with Cheryl Foggo. Canadian Living

Tristan Hopper recounts how smallpox decimated BC. The National Post

Bruce Kasanoff: intuition is the highest form of intelligence. Forbes

Anna Lovind: what if you’re on the wrong train?

I love language, and so, when I saw this article on Queens, the linguistic hub of the world, I had to share. Thanks, Lori. You always post teh awesome. Gus Lubin for The Business Insider.

This makes me sad, though. Kat Eschner: four things that happen when a language dies. The Smithsonian Magazine

Elizabeth Kolbert writes about why facts don’t change our minds. The New Yorker

Phil Plait: SpaceX nails the landing after an historic launch. Blastr

Umir Abrar is slightly embarrassed. A giant, dark galaxy is orbiting ours, but astronomers just noticed it. Physics Astronomy

Seven Earth-sized planets found orbiting around a nearby (relatively speaking) star. Phil Plait for Blastr.

NASA presents a celebration of clouds.

Brian Cox explains how the Large Hadron Collider disproves the existence of ghosts. BBC

Healthy Holistic Living shows you how to make a bee waterer to help support pollinating insects 🙂

Lauren Cassani Davis: horses can read human facial expressions (more than dogs or chimpanzees). The Atlantic

Moby just released four hours of free music composed for yoga and meditation. Educate Inspire Change

Imogen Heap – Run-time.

 

I hope you’ve got some good ideas to fuel you through the week.

See you Saturday for my February 2017 update 🙂

Be well until then!

thoughtythursday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Sept 25-Oct 1, 2016

I’m taking it easy on your mental popcorn, this week 🙂

Katie Hafner reports on the epidemic of loneliness among the elderly. The New York Times

Human trafficking is a hidden problem in north-eastern Ontario (and everywhere, unfortunately). CBC

Nora Caplan-Bricker reveals the risks of sexual assault on long haul flights. Slate

Marissa Fessenden shares how women in the early 1900s dealt with harassment. The Smithsonian

Library worker defends free speech and is arrested for it. The Bill of Right Defense Committee

Ronald W. Pies discusses the astonishing non-epidemic of mental illness. Psychiatric Times

Ivan Dikov reports on a shrine to Demeter and Persephone discovered in Bulgaria. Brewminate

Ria Misra reports on SpaceX’s major milestone en route to Mars. Gizmodo

Phil Plait shares Judy Schmidt’s astrophotography. Slate. Later in the week Phil shares the first photograph ever taken of the sun.

Maddie Stone shares the last image Rosetta captured before it crashed. Gizmodo

Fiona MacDonald reports on a 25 year old PhD student, Shu Lam’s, solution to antibiotic-resistant infections. Science Alert

Julien d’Hoy reports on how scientists have traced society’s myths to their primordial origins. Scientific American

The Vintage News shares the discovery of Britain’s Atlantis.

Medievalists.net lists the top ten scandals of the Middle Ages. Story fodder, anyone? 😉

Uninhabitable 1887 Queen Anne house is restored to its former glory. Laura Caseley for Little things.

Here’s a lovely local piece on NISA’s annual art show. South Side Story

Sad and Useless shares a Twitter stream on how God created some animals. Lolz aplenty.

Two guinea pigs discuss everything pumpkin spice.

 

Teddy Bear the porcupine’s Hallowe’en feast. He sounds like Woodstock from the Peanuts 🙂

 

Sheila Carabine releases her solo album 🙂 Here’s one of her songs: The Oak and the Maple.

 

Hope you enjoyed this week’s offerings.

See you on Saturday!

Thoughty Thursday

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, May 29-June 4, 2016

A nice variety this week.

Sudbury’s Health Sciences North put boots on the ground to help the people of Attawapiskat. Carol Mulligan for The Sudbury Star.

Laurentian University is now requiring all arts students to take Indigenous Studies courses. Kudos! CBC.

Morris Davis says he’s fine if goldfish have more patience than Millennials 😉 Ontuitive.

How Mark Zuckerberg led Facebook’s war to crush Google Plus. Vanity Fair.

Portland now generates electricity from turbines installed in city water pipes. Rafi Schwartz for Good.

Phil Plait shares footage of the latest SpaceX landing—from the Falcon 9’s perspective 🙂 Slate.

Here’s how the government on Mars will work, according to Elon Musk. Kurt Wagner for Recode.

I just—I can’t even. Apparently Texas representative Louis Gohmert wants to save us from same sex space colonies . . . ? Phil Plait, getting wacky for Slate.

When everyone got the vote. This is Finland.

For the women with balls who do give a fuck. Kate Rose for Elephant Journal.

Research reveals that a three day work week might be better for people over 40. I hope this research gets confirmed, pronto. Simplemost.

Lolly Daskal lists eight tiny habits that will make you happier. Inc.

A neuroscientist points out a benefit to exercise that’s rarely discussed. Quartz.

This is creepy-weird: there’s a mental illness called walking corpse syndrome that makes people think they’re dead. Medical Daily.

King Tut had a knife made from a meteorite. Slate.

Marian Evans explores Rosslyn Chapel’s ancient bee sanctuary. Bee-loved.

And that was your thoughty for this week.

Thoughty Thursday

CanCon 2015, day 3: Whither and how the human exploration of the solar system?

Mini disclaimer: These are my notes and may contain errors. Got corrections? Email: melanie (dot) marttila (at) gmail (dot) com

Panellists: Trevor Quachri, Wolfram Lunscher, Eric Choi

SpaceExplorationPanel

TQ: What do you think would be the most promising method of space travel for the exploration of the solar system?

WL: Nuclear-powered space travel. Once you’re in space, chemical rockets make less sense. NASA has developed a reactor the size of a fridge for interplanetary travel. Financing of the Mars program has been a contentious issue, however, and, for now, the Russians are ahead of the West.

EC: There is a lot of optimism about space travel again. It’s the positive influence of science fiction. Are there negatives to the way fiction portrays space travel?

TQ: Not really. Except, “where’s my rocket pack?” People want access to this technology now. It’s hard to see the destination when the process is so drawn out. We need to encourage science literacy.

WL: 2001: A Space Odyssey shows the way it was supposed to work, the way we thought it would work. There was a lot of optimism. After the moon landing, we were going to establish a presence on the moon in the 70’s and then use that as a step toward Mars, and eventually Jupiter.

EC: Fred Ordway was the advisor for 2001. They showed the use of flat screen monitors and newspads. While we don’t have human exploration of the Jovian system, in terms of the other technology featured in the film, we’ve been there and beyond.

TQ: The human interest aspect is crucial. We lose some of the romance when we compare what’s actually happening with what’s portrayed in science fiction.

WL: Space exploration was a human endeavour in the 50’s ad 60’s. That robots would go first wasn’t part of the picture. Arthur C. Clarke followed up on this with the message the monolith transmitted. There was a documentary on Discovery about a manned mission to another planet. The craft was totally automated.

TQ: In some fiction, automated probes are designed to build habitat and biological bodies for scientists, then the scientists’ consciousnesses are transferred into the remote bodies.

WL: They’re looking at similar possibilities for the moon.

EC: In Stephen Baxter’s alternate history Voyage, Kennedy survives and the mission to Mars is accomplished in the 70’s. They swung around Venus. We know more from robotic probes than the characters were able to gather. What are the hurdles we need to overcome to make this kind of vision happen?

TQ: Public interest needs to be sustained over long periods of time. This is the primary challenge. Science fiction is optimistic that we can overcome the obstacles.

WL: The biggest hurdle is money. We have to invest heavily to make the vision a reality. The money spent on The Avengers: Age of Ultron exceeded the cost of the last probe sent to Mars. The money being generated from the space program isn’t being realized in the same amounts as the money being invested into it. The money comes from the government or military, so it becomes politicized. It’s all quid pro quo. We need to build an industrial space infrastructure that will lead to colonization. There are parallels to be drawn to the discovery of the New World.

EC: William Proxmire, a former US senator, created the Golden Fleece Award, and gave it to scientific experiments that he considered to be the biggest wastes of taxpayer money. A number of them resulted in advances, but it just reflects his misunderstanding of science and scientific enquiry. Niven and Clarke both wrote stories about him. Sagan knew that Proxmire was opposed to SETI, but the senator was also concerned with the nuclear arms race. Sagan framed SETI in terms that were attractive to Proxmire and was able to get support for the project.

Q: How do private enterprises figure in?

TQ: Heinlein pre-figured that private industry would be responsible for our exploration of space. The Military-industrial complex worked toward it. Outside of public good, how do they identify the cost effectiveness of their efforts?

WL: What goes out has to come from somewhere. Rocket Ship Galileo was owned by the older brother of one of the characters. Serenity was bought in a junkyard. Elon Musk doesn’t fund Space X entirely out of his own pocket. NASA is his partner. They’ve faced hardship because of rocket explosions. That’s how research and development goes, though. Sometimes experiments fail.

TQ: In the golden age of science fiction, the archetype was the two-fisted astronaut-explorer. Now characters fit into the Elon Musk or Tony Stark archetype.

WL: In Clarke’s Prelude to Space, the mission tot he moon was funded by the last millionaire in England who bequeathed his fortune to the space program. The general belief is that mad scientists working in basements come up with all of the scientific innovations. In reality international teams of scientists do that work.

TQ: It’s a childhood fantasy, though. People have been building rockets in their back yards.

WL: Larry Niven isn’t just an author. He was involved in the Strategic Defence Initiative, the Citizen’s Advisory Council on National Space Policy, and an advocate for the Single-Stage-to-Orbit concept. He’s advised the Department of Homeland Security.

EC: Elon Musk was asked, how does one make a small fortune in space? His answer? You start with a large fortune. He went to Russia and tried to buy a rocket. It was beyond his means and so he started his own company.

WL: The question of security has been raised. What are they afraid of? That we’ll drag everyone to the trailing edge of technology? It’s so expensive because, to this point, most projects have been one-offs. One shuttle. One space station. Or the numbers have been limited. It’s the opposite of manufacturing. We need to think of efficiency and reusability for space exploration to move into the future.

And that was all we had time for.

Fascinating. Thoughty, even 😉

Next week, I’ll be coming to my last report from CanCon 2015. Sunday was not only a short day because of travel, but it was also the day when I had most of my pitches and blue-pencils scheduled.

It’s been fun. I won’t have more convention reportage to share with you until after Ad Astra at the end of April. In the meantime, I’ll fill up Saturdays with movie madness, series discoveries, and next chapter updates. I might even muster a book review. You never know.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Jan 17-23, 2016

Oh noes! I’ve rediscovered YouTube and the videos have invaded . . .

Canada is named the second best country in the world. How Canadian 🙂 We’re excited about coming in second. Global News.

Some of our new Syrian friends enjoying tobogganing for the first time:

 

Peter Denton wonders, where have all the readers gone? The Globe and Mail.

Dear parents: Everything you want to know about your son or daughter’s university, but don’t. Michael Enright interviews Ron Srigley for The Sunday Edition on CBC.

Education is performance art. Penn & Teller share their thoughts in The Atlantic.

When Trent Hamm thinks of the times he’s been the happiest, he notices two common threads. The Business Insider.

The powerful benefit of exercise that’s rarely discussed. Guess I’d better get my ass in gear. Quartz.

Dinah Laprarie of NISA champions mental health in Sudbury. CBC.

Cyndi Roberts of The Elephant Journal shares seven steps to easing anxiety without a pill.

Anna Lovind finds her own way to divine guidance 😉

So now a new study says smoking pot doesn’t lower adolescent IQs. IFLS.

Watching a water bubble freeze (in Finland):

 

Space-X attempted another booster landing last Sunday. And then this happened. Phil Plait, Bad Astronomer, for Slate.

That weird star with the Jupiter-sized planet and the suspected . . . something else orbiting it? Well the more they learn about it the stranger things get. Slate.

A constellation has been named for David Bowie (though it’s not officially recognized yet). IFLS.

Check out this planetary alignment through February 20. IFLS.

Phil Plait features this alignment on his Bad Astronomy column too. Slate.

xkcd charts possible undiscovered planets.

Rick Mercer’s rant on anonymous comments:

 

Gypsy Vanner horses:

 

Ms Mr performs “Reckless.”

 

And that was your week’s edutainment.

Hope you enjoyed it.

See you on Saturday for more CanCon 2015 reportage.

Thoughty Thursday

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Dec 20-26, 2015

Here’s to having a Thoughty New Year!

Cameron Diaz sums up the meaning of happiness. The Huffington Post.

Lauren Alix Brown: In your 30s, you’ll discover that happiness is just persistence and sheer will. Quartz.

Yvette Cooper says that online sexism is so out of control we can no longer control it. The Guardian.

It was the winter solstice last week, and Newgrange is one of the most magical places in the world to experience it. Irish Central.

Phil Plait got in on the solstice action, too. Slate.

Is your brain a computer, or is it a quantum orchestra, tuned to the universe? Interalia Magazine

So, Space-X launched its latest Falcon 9 rocket last Sunday night. And guess what? They stuck the landing 🙂 Both events were reported by Phil Plait, Bad Astronomer, for Slate.

No, this asteroid that passed by Earth on Christmas Eve did not cause earthquakes . . . Slate.

Pluto’s moon in near-perfect alignment. Space.com.

These are cool: sky wolves. I don’t care if they’re Photoshopped. They’re awesome. The White Wolf Pack.

Take a visual tour of New York’s most beautiful subway station, abandoned since 1945. Hyperallergic.

China’s ghost cities: the largest urbanization movement in the world. CBC’s The Current.

This 800 year old Icelandic hymn is pretty damned special. Pulptastic.

I haz a want. Samurai hoodies 🙂 Rocket News 24.

More evidence of the cleverness of crows from Phys.org.

So they built this hotel over an elephant migration route . . . Mental Floss.

David Wong shares the real meaning of Christmas that everyone forgets. Cracked.

Have a great time tonight and celebrate with the ones you love.

The future is yours to make. Make the most of it!

Thoughty Thursday

CanCon 2015 day 2: Asteroids

I can’t believe it. I actually had the time between Boxing Day shopping and family dinner this evening to put my post up. I love it when a plan comes together 😉

Happy Boxing Day, everyone!

Panellists: Andrew Barton, Eric Choi, Wolfram Lunscher

AsteroidsPanel

AB: Let me just say this: Armageddon is not a documentary.

WL: Asteroids pass Earth all the time. There’s an asteroid that will pass us on the far side of the moon, about 15,000 miles. The Hallowe’en asteroid. Mining asteroids is feasible, but we’d need rockets bigger than the Saturn 5. Space-X is developing the Falcon Heavy, which could be used for the purpose. Our planetary resource needs could be met by mining four asteroids. There is a parallel between the exploration of space and the exploration of the new world. Spice used to be as expensive as gold until the Spice Islands were discovered. It will be expensive to mine asteroids until we have sufficient access to the resources we need to make it reasonable.

Q: Can a solar mirror be used to melt asteroids?

WL: For resource processing in situ, a solar mirror could be used to smelt minerals. If we can figure out a cost-effective way to mine asteroids, we could become a true space-faring species.

EC: Terrestrial mining is a huge part of the Canadian economy. Can we transfer these skills to the mining of asteroids?

WL: The short answer is, yes. There’s a lot of enthusiasm within the industry for making the leap. Deep mining drills are taking place in Sudbury and a paper is being prepared, a feasibility study.

EC: Back to you Andrew. You said before that Armageddon was science fiction.

AB: I’m not the expert. I’m just and author who likes to write about asteroids. My research tells me that asteroid settlement is possible. James S.A. Corey (actually two co-authors) writes about the Belters, who make a living mining the asteroid belt for water to supply settlements on Mars and Jupiter’s moons. Asteroids are actually spinning rubble piles.

Q: Diverting asteroids away from Earth is supposed to be more effective than trying to blow the up. Are there any practical experiments or is this all fiction?

AB: We could use a kind of gravity tractor to divert asteroids. There’s not a lot of drama in the process, though, so people don’t write about that.

WL: If the asteroid impact is immanent, we would have to try blowing it up. If we can spot the asteroid at least ten years out, we would have the time to mount a mission to divert it.

EC: The budgets for the films Armageddon and Deep Impact were both orders of magnitude greater than the budget astronomers have for asteroid detection.

AB: There’s a probe that has been sent to the inner solar system, to Venus and closer to the sun. It’s intended to detect asteroids orbiting in the inner solar system. There’s danger from that direction, too.

Q: What complications does the spinning of the asteroid pose to landing on it?

AB: It’s problematic because there are voids in the asteroid a probe or landing vehicle could be lost.

And that was time.

Next weekend, I’m going to take a break from CanCon do write my year-end Next Chapter update, and, if I have time, I want to put together a post on how to set up Jamie Raintree’s new writing and revision tracking spreadsheet. I was asked to do this back in the spring by some writer friends who aren’t Excel-savvy, but realized that doing it when the spreadsheet is fresh off the presses would be better. Sorry for the delay, ladies!

We’ll see how it goes 🙂

In the meantime, I hope everyone is safe and cozy with their loved ones and if anyone dared Boxing Day madness, that they’re all home and none the worse for wear (if a little poorer in their bank accounts).