So Who Gets the Keys to Neverland?

Considering how much attention the media pays to celebrities when they're alive, it seems inevitable that the death of Michael Jackson will set a new precedent in wrangling over a legendary entertainer's spoils.

In an age when pop stars come and go like mattress sales, Jackson was the immutable King of Pop and his photo hit the front page of newspapers across the world this morning as fans expressed their sadness at losing their icon. Even The New York Times looked a bit like a tabloid.

The frenzy around Princess Diana's death most closely parallels the magnitude of Jackson's farewell. The musician's past, however, was a bit more checkered than the Princess' and there is concern that in the desire to be part of a community or grieving, such as the one that followed Diana, we may obscure the less-than-shining facts of Jackson's life.

(For those looking for the real Jackson, British journalist Martin Bashir's 2003 documentary gave an intimate portrait of the entertainer's life, warts and all.)

Despite the public throwing itself into the kind of collective response that typifies our viral age, it seems certain that, once the tears have dried, the notoriously fractious Jackson family will set down to the business of dividing the king's estate.

While it is speculated that Jackson died deep in the red, potential revenue from his songs still signals a sizeable fortune. As for who will own the rights to the star's future earnings, one Spanish music critic replied, "one hundred thousand American lawyers are sharpening their teeth."

How to make a black hole

Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.

  • There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
  • CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
  • Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
  • Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.

Project 100,000: The Vietnam War's cruel and deadly experiment

Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?

Flickr user Tommy Truong79
Politics & Current Affairs
  • During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
  • The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
  • Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
Keep reading Show less

China’s artificial sun reaches fusion temperature: 100 million degrees

In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.

Credit: EAST Team
Surprising Science
  • The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
  • Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
  • Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
Keep reading Show less