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INTERESTING STUFF – 11 March 2017

FIVE-YEAR-OLD WINS SPELLING BEE

I would have lost to young Edith Fuller, at my age now, on the word she spelled correctly to win. As it is, she is the youngest spelling bee winner ever and she won against some students three times her age.

You can read more at the Washington Post.

CLEVER EXHIBIT OF FICTION GENDER GAP FOR WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH

Loganberry Books in Cleveland, Ohio, made an important statement about the gender of fiction writers by reversing all the novels on their shelves written by men so we cannot see the titles and names. Take a look:

Loganberrybooks

Here's a close up:

Loganberrycloseup

You can read more at Huffington Post and you can visit the Loganberry website where there are more photos.

THE MAN WHO MAKES MAZES

Adrian Fisher is, they say, the world's pre-eminent maze de signer. In his career, he has created more than 700 mazes in 40 countries.

”...like all skillful mystery-makers,” notes the YouTube page, “Fisher's greatest talent in maze-making is knowing how to perfectly blend the intrigue of exploration with the satisfaction that comes from finding your way.”

HUD SECRETARY BEN CARSON SAYS SLAVES WERE IMMIGRANTS

You may have heard that last week, in his first speech to employees of the Housing and Urban Development agency (HUD) where he is now secretary, Dr. Ben Carson announced that slaves were immigrants. Here's the video with some Twitter reaction appended:

You can read more at the Washington Post and I'll have more to say about Dr. Carson's speech in these pages on Monday.

IT'S DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME AGAIN

Why don't we just give up daylight savings time; it's not like it has a purpose anymore and even with computers, WiFi and Bluetooth that do it automatically, I still have way too many clocks to change tonight.

Dst2

Tonight's the night – move your clocks AHEAD one hour. It will be darker when you wake on Sunday.

HOW SMALL ARE WE IN THE SCALE OF THE UNIVERSE

While we're considering the sun and daylight in relation to our clocks, how about this – human size compared to that of the universe. Here's a Ted Talk designed to make us feel deeply insignificant.

DRAGON'S BLOOD

Scientific journals have a penchant for publishing “maybe breakthroughs” that are no doubt of interest to fellow scientists but are not much so to the rest of us since it will usually be years (if ever) before discoveries are translated into useful results.

But sometimes they are just plain interesting. This is a komodo dragon, the largest reptile on earth. (Image from remotelands.com)

Komodo_7B

As an article in The Economist explained last week:

”Komodo dragons, which are native to parts of Indonesia, ambush large animals like water buffalo and deer with a bite to the throat. If their prey does not fall immediately, the dragons rarely continue the fight.

“Instead, they back away and let the mix of mild venom and dozens of pathogenic bacteria found in their saliva finish the job. They track their prey until it succumbs, whereupon they can feast without a struggle.”

As you undoubtedly have read, antibiotics are becoming less and less effective putting humans at risk we haven't encountered for decades. And that is where, perhaps, komodo dragons come in to save the day – as a “promising source of chemicals on which to base new antibiotics.”

Working with fresh komodo blood, a team of scientists in Florida,

”...identified 48 potential [antimicrobial peptides] that had never been seen before. Their initial tests were equally promising.

“Dr Van Hoek exposed two species of pathogenic bacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus, to eight of the most promising peptides they had identified. The growth of both species of bacteria was severely hampered by seven of the eight; the remaining peptide was effective against only P. aeruginosa.”

A lot of Latin but with apparently good news although it may take years to see results for humans. Still worth knowing if only to read the phrase “dragon's blood” in real life, not a horror movie.

You can read more at The Economist.

A MOST SATISFYING VIDEO

This is a great video to watch when everything seems to be going wrong – in your personal life or in the world at large. It feels so good when things are done amazingly well, just right and, sometimes, even perfectly.

If you liked this here are two more: One. Two.

BALD EAGLES IN DUTCH HARBOR, ALASKA

Once almost extinct, bald eagles are back from the brink. So much so that there can be videos like this one of a fisherman sharing his catch with a whole, big flock of eagles.

* * *

Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” at the top of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog IF you include the name of the blog and its URL.

Comments

As always, great stories. What's interesting to me this week is that there are two places mentioned that I'll be visiting this year - - Dutch Harbor and Komodo Island - - both places I already looked forward to visiting.

I live in Arizona, so no moving the clock tonight!

Great post, really loved the eagle video. I sure wish we could drop Daylight Savings time, not looking forward to a week or so of timechange hangover.

I loved the TED talk. It reminds me of Carl Sagan and his TV talks. Thank God for Neil DeGrasse Tyson who is carrying on the educational talks. Although I am unable to see them, I do watch whenever I catch him on other programs.

Carl Sagan's chart of the planets comparing the size of each with Earth at the end just a pinprick dot. It certainly keeps things in perspective.

Down with daylight savings time. We see many calling for an end to it, and I've not seen or heard of anybody defending it for a long time. It's perplexing that this outmoded practice persists.

Just what I needed. Thanks.

Loved the most satisfying video....it is a pleasure to watch talented people do their jobs perfectly....and what a thrill to see the bald eagles (in Alaska, maybe?) thriving.............

The eagles are interesting but I wonder if that is the best idea for a fishing vessel and dependency on human feeding?

I only have two clocks left to set back. One is a bit hard with the pendulum. It had been our sons clock and I couldn't figure out when he died why I'd set it and then it would be wrong the next trip up. Finally dawned on me, he had 2 different batteries in it. :-)

Ben Carson -- I sincerely hope he donates his brain to science. I wonder how the brain of a surgical savant is wired.

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