Some Japanese researchers did the math on the fate of the billions of tons of rocks and water that were tossed into space when Earth was hit by an asteroid 65M years ago. It turns out that much of that material probably bore life, and it wound up not just on the Moon, but also on on Mars and the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Some of the ejecta (about 1,000 rocks) would have even wound up on an Earth-like planet orbiting a red dwarf star, located 20 light years away. This math tells us that life would only have needed to evolve at 25 sites throughout the Milky Way for these sorts of spores from those planets to have seeded the entire galaxy with life. →
It’s been hypothesized that pesticides are the source of the global collapse of bee populations, but there had been no controlled experiments demonstrating correlation. A French government group performed just such an experiment and found that, indeed, colonies exposed to low levels of imidacloprid (a common, Bayer-developed insecticide) failed to thrive. They were 100–200% more likely to die while away from their nests, possibly because imidacloprid damages their ability to navigate back. →
- ThinkProgress: The Conservative Recovery Teeters Into Recession
17,000 new jobs were created by the private sector last month. 17,000 jobs were eliminated by the public sector last month. Bummed by last month's flatlining of job growth? Thank a congressman.
- New York Times: Rep. Shelley Berkley’s Cause Is Often Her Husband’s Gain
She's a strong supporter of (admittedly much-needed) better funding of kidney-care facilities. He's making a fortune on it as a nephrologist. If you ask her, it's just the darnedest coincidence. If you ask an ethicist, it's just plain wrong.
- List of Virginia Caves
The most extensive cave system in Virginia is Butler-Sinking Creek, in Bath County, at seventeen miles of total passages. The deepest is 786 feet—that's measured from the highest point to the lowest point—at Burns Cave, in Highland County. That's more than half again as deep as Virginia's tallest building is tall, the 38-story Westin Virginia Beach Town Center
- Wall Street Journal: Waffle House Index Measures Hurricane Recovery
Their approach to disaster recovery is impressive. People have to eat, Waffle House wants to make money—everybody wins.
- Wikipedia: Bunyip
There's a widespread Australian Aboriginal belief in the "bunyip," a terrifying, water-dwelling mythological creature. It's theorized that these stories arose from occasional discoveries of fossilized bones from any of the many enormous prehistoric marsupials that could be found wandering around Australia until about 40,000 years ago.
- New York Times: Where Pay for Chief Executives Tops the Company Tax Burden
A study of the Fortune 100 has found that at least 25 of them paid their CEO more last year than they paid in federal taxes. eBay, Boeing, GE, and Verizon all made the list. This makes it rather difficult to takes seriously claims of excessive taxation of major U.S. businesses.
- IBM Many Bills: A Visual Bill Explorer
IBM is doing some really interesting work with legislation here. In my own work on Richmond Sunlight, I've long treated the text of the bill as a black box, doing very little with the text of bills. IBM demonstrates here that there's actually some valuable data to be gleaned from the actual words within the bill. Their interface is lousy—the site is hard to use—by I really admire their original thinking.
- Think Progress: In Washington, You Don’t Need To Know Anything About Policy To Be a Senator Or Chair Important Commissions
Former Senator Alan Simpson knows disturbingly little about Social Security and, indeed, history and math, especially for the guy who is the co-chair of the President Obama's budget commission.
- Wikispecies: Free Species Directory
From the Wikimedia foundation, Wikispecies is like Wikipedia, but for species. One entry for every species. They're up to 265,369 articles.
- Wall Street Journal: Grandparents and Grandkids Connect Via Facebook, Twitter and Texting
My grandfather kept up with his grandchildren—and we kept up with him—via Facebook until shortly before his death last year. My grandmother had photos and status updates cherry-picked from Facebook and e-mailed to her—delivered via her HP Presto e-mail printer—until her death last month. Of course, the ability to assign grandparents (and grandchildren) to a specific group to limit access is helpful, too—kids need not share everything with their elders.
- Virginian Pilot: Large alligator spotted near NC-VA state line
Global climate change means alligators are marching northward, clear to Virginia. Ken Cuccinelli should go for a swim in the Pasquotank River with seven feet of global warming hoax.
- The Washington Post: The shocking truth about the birthplace of Obama’s policies
Ezra Klein's sensationalist headline aside, it's a fact that the president's agenda is substantially consistent with standard Republican positions in the early nineties. Cap-and-trade, an individual mandate for healthcare, and mixing tax increases and spending cuts for deficit reduction—all sensible conservative positions that Republican leaders are hysterically insisting are the stuff of communism. Conservatives eager to pretend that Obama is a "socialist" or a "Marxist" have tacked so far to the right—giving the president a wide berth—that they're left with Donald Freaking Trump as the most likely get to the the Republican nomination.
- Future Journalism Project: Who Pays Teachers Best for their Time?
A ranking, by country, of how much teachers work and their salary. Teachers in the United States work more than in any other ranked nation, but are paid the fifth-lowest amount.
- Politico: Half of Iowa Republicans don’t believe Barack Obama was born in U.S.
Another quarter simply aren't sure. Iowa Republicans must be some of the dumbest people on Earth.
- Rubular: A Ruby regular expression editor and tester
Enter a regular expression and a test string, and it evaluates the results. Marvelously useful.
- Reuters: Swedish spruce may be world’s oldest living tree
A cluster of Norway spruces on the Swedish border are 8,000 years old. That was the beginning of the Copper Age, before the Sahara existed, when England was connected to Europe with a land bridge, and just before wine was invented.
- Guardian: Honeybees ‘entomb’ hives to protect against pesticides, say scientists
Bees are awesome.
- New York Times: More Physicians Say No to Endless Workdays
I'm glad to see that more doctors are ditching the habit of working endless hours. Though I appreciate that a small-town doctor or a specialist has an obligation to always be available, it's great that doctors who have a choice are working 40-hour weeks. The inventor of the residency program wrote of a doctor's obligations: "What about the wife and babies if you have them? Leave them." Enough of that.
- Good: Scientist Beloved by Climate Deniers Pulls Rug Out from Their Argument
A climate change doubter funded by the Koch brothers presented a report to Congress on climate change the other day. He intended to expose existing global temperature data as inaccurate. And, after a bunch of research he discovered that…climatologists are absolutely correct. AWK-ward.
- Discover: Sex, Ys, and Platypuses
Instead of the XY/XX chromosomes that most mammals have, the platypus has a much more complicated sex chromosomes: five pairs instead of one. The male platypus is XYXYXYXYXY. That's the biggest number of sex chromosomes of any vertebrate. Man, platypus is weird. And so are the others.
- Christian Science Monitor: Pepsi bottles—no more plastic
PepsiCo is testing out a plant-based plastic bottle, with the intention of converting all of their bottles from the now-standard polyethylene terephthalate. Coca-Cola says they're doing the same thing. What I'd like to know is whether this material will biodegrade, or if it can be composted. I hope that, at least, it can be recycled, although I'm dubious of municipalities' ability to add a new class of recycling to their systems.
- New York Times: Mormon Politicians Feel Tea Party Heat at Home in Utah
"'On a good day, he’s a socialist,' said Darcy Van Orden, a co-founder of Utah Rising, a clearinghouse group, referring to Mr. Huntsman. 'On a bad day, he’s a communist.'" That's a leader of Utah's radical conservative movement describing Jon Huntsman, the state's former Republican governor.
- Science Daily: Eastern cougar is extinct, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concludes
Well, that sucks. They figure it's been extinct since the 1930s. This isn't to say that cougars don't still exist in the eastern U.S., just that the rare specimens are not, in fact, of the eastern cougar species.
- Data Center Knowledge: Congressman Defeats IBM’s Watson in Jeopardy
If a congressman is going to defeat Watson, it's Rep. Rush Holt. He's an honest-to-God rocket scientist and, in fact, one-time Jeopardy champ.
- UX Movement: Why Hover Menus Do Users More Harm Than Good
This is a compelling argument for eschewing hover-based multi-level website menus with click-based menus. I use a hover-based menu on Richmond Sunlight, and I now suspect that's a mistake.