Architectural Matzoh Balls

The Washington Post’s Bonnie S. Benwick explores the art and architecture of matzoh balls and describes the celebrations at a traditional Passover dinner table.

"Each year at Passover, after someone's child asks the Four Questions that begin with ‘Why is this night different from all other nights?,’ one more pops in my head: Why are tonight's matzoh balls better than mine? This is a momentary lapse I am not proud of. Retelling the Jews' exodus from slavery in ancient Egypt is the first order of business at the Seder! Food rituals rate a close second, though. Sinus-clearing fresh horseradish, a carrot pudding, the prettiest green vegetables from the farmers market, a brisket that smacks of sweetness and some form of flourless chocolate dessert are always on the table we share with family members and friends. Some guests pass on the first offering -- gefilte fish -- but everyone accepts the warm bowls of matzoh ball soup. Is it because special Passover flour is used to make Passover matzoh, which is ground into Passover matzoh meal, combined with a short list of ingredients and cooked in gently boiling water? (The flour is rabbinically supervised in every step of its processing, starting with the wheat's harvest; the flour and water for matzohs cannot be mixed for longer than 18 minutes, commemorating the haste with which Jews made their flat breads as they fled the Pharoah's reach.) Or is it because we eat the rounded dumplings just once a year at this, my favorite holiday?"

How to make a black hole

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

Videos
  • 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.
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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.
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