To add to nautical maps, where waste plastics gather in the seas?

Friday, 29 August, 2014

Image by National Geographic

According to maps prepared by National Geographic, discarded plastic materials are building up, or coalescing, on the surface of five regions of the Earth’s oceans, mainly as a result of ocean currents that act as a marshalling force of sorts.

Tens of thousands of tons of plastic garbage float on the surface waters in the world’s oceans, according to researchers who mapped giant accumulation zones of trash in all five subtropical ocean gyres. Ocean currents act as “conveyor belts,” researchers say, carrying debris into massive convergence zones that are estimated to contain millions of plastic items per square kilometer in their inner cores.

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The jury selection process, how might you fare?

Friday, 29 August, 2014

Jury selection is something I’ve often wondered about… how exactly does it work, what are the chances of being deemed unsuitable (as it were), and the like. While it clearly applies to US courts, the New York Times has put together an interactive guide to the process, from a potential juror’s point of view.

Where you live, work, and your stances on a number of issues, all come into play.

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On texting in the movies, not at the movies

Thursday, 28 August, 2014

The characters of films communicating with each other via text messaging is one of the more recent challenges to confront filmmakers… specifically, what is the best way present this interaction to audiences?

It is a subject that San Francisco based film aficionado Tony Zhou explores in his short documentary, A Brief Look at Texting and the Internet in Film.

I don’t see all that many stage productions, but now I’m wondering what happens with texting in live performances and the like.

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The future lies in front of us doesn’t it, or is it actually behind us?

Thursday, 28 August, 2014

When we think of the future, many of us see it as being ahead, or in front, of us. When it comes to the past, what’s behind. But not everyone visualises the future or past in those ways, and the language we speak may play a part in our perceptions in this regard. Many Moroccan Arabic speakers for example think of the future as being behind them, and the past in front.

This test confirmed that, despite speaking of the future as being in front of them, the majority of Moroccan Arabic speakers think of it as being behind. Around 85 per cent of them located tomorrow’s object behind the person in the diagram, compared with just over 10 per cent of the Spanish speakers. De la Fuente’s group think the reason has to do with temporal focus. Their theory – “the temporal-focus hypothesis” – is that people and cultures who focus more on the past tend to locate it in front.

It’s an interesting way to look at how we move through time, as if we have our backs to the future, as we move forward, meaning the future is indeed behind us, and the past is before our eyes, hence in front of us, even if we are moving away from it.

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The mythical hermit who turned out to be real

Thursday, 28 August, 2014

Christopher Knight spent the best part of thirty years camping in forest land in the US state of Maine, and became the subject of local myth, even though few people knew little about him, or even if he actually existed.

While he may have seemed to lead a self-sufficient lifestyle, for one his camp site was highly organised, it was an appetite for sweets, usually sourced during midnight raids to nearby camping grounds, that was to ultimately be his undoing:

It was cold and nearly moonless, a fine night for a raid, so he hiked about an hour to the Pine Tree summer camp, a few dozen cabins spread along the shoreline of North Pond in central Maine. With an expert twist of a screwdriver, he popped open a door of the dining hall and slipped inside, scanning the pantry shelves with his penlight. Candy! Always good. Ten rolls of Smarties, stuffed in a pocket. Then, into his backpack, a bag of marshmallows, two tubs of ground coffee, some Humpty Dumpty potato chips. Burgers and bacon were in the locked freezer. On a previous raid at Pine Tree, he’d stolen a key to the walk-in, and now he used it to open the stainless-steel door. The key was attached to a plastic four-leaf-clover key chain, with one of the leaves partially broken off. A three-and-a-half-leaf clover. He could’ve used a little more luck. Newly installed in the Pine Tree kitchen, hidden behind the ice machine, was a military-grade motion detector. The device remained silent in the kitchen but sounded an alarm in the home of Sergeant Terry Hughes, a game warden who’d become obsessed with catching the thief.

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Dyslexia, a weakness or a strength? Apparently it depends…

Thursday, 28 August, 2014

Turning a weakness into a strength perhaps? Not too many people could see an advantage in being dyslexic, not when I was at school that’s for sure, but the learning difficulty can prove to be beneficial in some occupations:

The scientists with dyslexia – perhaps sensitive to the weeds among the flowers – were better at picking out the black holes from the noise, an advantage useful in their careers. Another study in our laboratory compared the abilities of college students with and without dyslexia for memorizing blurry-looking images resembling x-rays. Again, those with dyslexia showed an advantage, an advantage in that can be useful in science or medicine.

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The silent, but not forgotten, railway line of Paris

Wednesday, 27 August, 2014

Photo by Pierre Folk

Something to add to the list of things to see while in Paris, the Chemin de fer de Petite Ceinture, or “little belt railway”, a disused rail line that circles the French capital, and the subject of an extensive range of photos taken by Pierre Folk.

To do sooner rather than later, it seems property developers have their eyes on the land the rail line occupies, so it may not remain in its present state for much longer.

Via Colossal.

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Sea plankton on the International Space Station’s starboard bow?

Wednesday, 27 August, 2014

There’s bound to be a logical explanation, bound to… a study of external surfaces of the International Space Station (ISS) has revealed, among other things, the presence of sea plankton.

So how does plankton even reach the ISS? Via evaporation in over-drive? And once it… arrives there, what are the chances of survival? Pretty good actually, it would seem:

Some organisms can live on the surface of the International Space Station (ISS) for years amid factors of a space flight, such as zero gravity, temperature conditions and hard cosmic radiation. Several surveys proved that these organisms can even develop.

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The covers of Tintin books that never were

Wednesday, 27 August, 2014

“The Dunwich Horror”, “Tintin and the Reanimator”, “The Whisperer in Darkness”, and “The Shadow Out of Time”, these are just some of the Tintin titles that may – who knows – have come forth, were the stories of the young Belgian reporter still being published.

(Thanks Christine)

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The Pizza Belt is real and is centred on New York City

Wednesday, 27 August, 2014

New York City is not only home to outlaw-instagrammers, it is also the centre of the pizza belt. Pizza belt?

The Pizza Belt is defined as “the area of the United States where the chance of obtaining an adequate-to-good slice of pizza from a randomly chosen pizzeria is greater than 50 percent.”

It seems to me this is the sort of place I’d like to visit one day.

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