Random fact roundup, March 19th—26th, 2018!
What do hot dogs, the Vatican, and the Large Hadron Collider have in common? They're all in our random fact roundup where we bring you some favorite facts about three subjects.
— Hamburgers originated in and get their name from Hamburg, Germany. Nobody is quite sure when the first one was cooked, but a recipe for something similar to a modern hamburger appeared in that part of the world towards the end of the 1800s, with the first supposed burger in America in 1885. The humble hamburger gained in popularity and was nationwide by 1905, with several regional varieties.
— During World War I, the American government attempted to rename the hamburger as the "liberty sandwich" due to anti-German sentiment. The name didn't stick, but "hot dog" stuck around. Before, they were called Frankfurters.
— Hot dogs in America can be directly traced back to the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, where two recent immigrants from Vienna, Emil Reichel and Sam Ladany, sold them. It was a hit. They formed a company called Vienna Beef which still operates today.
— The Chicago hot dog (slice of tomato, poppy seed bun, white onion, sweet pickle relish, a slice of kosher dill pickle, celery salt, and sport peppers) was originally called the Depression Sandwich and can be attributed to a restaurant called Fluky's around the time of the stock market crash of 1929.
— The heat generated by smashing up the particles at hyper-speeds can sometimes get up to 100,000 times hotter than our sun. In theory, this is close to the heat of the universe a few moments after the Big Bang occurred.
— In 2009, the CERN Hadron Collider had to shut down after a bird dropped a "bit of baguette" (don't forget much of the machine is in France) onto one of the power stations, causing a short-circuit.
— Before it was finished, many thought that operations at the CERN Large Hadron Collider would cause the destruction of Earth itself, due to the potential to create microscopic black holes.
— Technically, the CERN Hadron Collider could be considered the world's largest refrigerator. All the magnets used have to be cooled to -193.2ºC.
— The Vatican consumes more wine per capita than any other country, with 74 liters drank per citizen per year, according to several British newspapers. There are about 1,000 people who live in the Vatican year round. The wine intake isn't due to communions, however, as most people might think. Most of the people who live and work in the Vatican tend to be older men who eat in large groups... and those guys consume double the amount that the rest of Europe drinks. Communion does factor in, but at a far smaller percentage.
— Vatican City was created in 1929 to ensure it operated within its own jurisdiction. It is within the Holy See, which is an independent sovereign nation, separate from Italy, but within Rome. Sort of like a Turducken.
— The Vatican has its own astronomical research wing. It was started in 1774 and located mostly within the Holy See. The Vatican owns, funds, and operates a massive telescope called the VATT (Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope) in Mt Graham, Arizona. It's a pretty significant telescope, too: it's responsible for finding MACHOs (Massive Compact Halo Objects) in the Andromeda Galaxy, and even evidence that galaxies change shape over time.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has cancelled an upcoming trip to an economic conference in Saudi Arabia amid the controversy involving missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
- Saudi Arabia's economic conference has been dubbed "Davos in the Desert".
- Mnuchin joins a growing list of officials and industry executives who've dropped out of the event.
- It's turning into a PR nightmare for the nation, particularly for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
A new report warns about the increasing likelihood of international conflicts over water.
- A study finds that serious conflicts over water are going to arise around the globe.
- The 5 hotspots identified by the paper include areas of the Nile, Ganges-Brahmaputra, Indus, Tigris-Euphrates, and Colorado rivers.
- It's still possible to change course if we are prepared to address the effects of climate change.
Follow your nose all the way home.
- It has to do with two parts of the brain, both of which are thicker in those with better smell and spacial recognition.
- Your nose can detect about 1 trillion smells.
- While your nose isn't a full GPS, it can help you pick out a general direction.
Are we sure this isn't alien technology?
- A Larry Page-backed company has announced that its flying car will go on sale in 2019.
- It's called the BlackFly.
- Not quite the escape from traffic you had in mind, but it's a jaw-dropping start.
He was recruited by Jim Henson himself in 1969.
- His last performance will be this coming Thursday, Oct. 19
- A feature movie about him was made in 2014
- Other actors will take over. Well, at least, they'll try ...
There will never be enough time. Here's how to use it more wisely.
- One-third of us are suffering from chronic stress in the workplace. Other studies suggest that half of us bring our work stress home, creating stress in our personal lives.
- Being busy has become a cultural obsession. But it's not the golden badge of honor we think it is. Dan Pontefract points out that there's a big difference between being busy and being productive.
- The best productivity hack? Schedule a break. That means eating lunch away from your desk. Saying hello to people around you. Keep a graph in your mind that has 'action' on the x-axis and 'reflection' on the y-axis. Where do you sit on that graph?
Ever wanted to describe precisely how crummy you feel after a bad haircut?
- English is a phenomenal language, but there are circumstances where words seem to fail us.
- Often, other languages have already found a solution to expressing the complicated ideas that can't be succinctly conveyed in English.
- If you've ever wanted to describe the anguish of a bad haircut, the pleasure of walking in the woods, or the satisfaction of finding your life's purpose, read on.
Don't get me wrong. The English language has some very excellent words. There's petrichor, the pleasant smell of the first rain after warm and dry weather. Paraprosdokian—which describes sentences that end surprisingly, forcing the reader to reinterpret the first half—is both oddly specific and fantastic to say out loud. I'm even a fan of new inventions, like tweetstorm, even if I'm not a fan of the experience.
But English-speaking culture—like any culture—has a limited perspective on the world. Just like English, Japanese also has some five-star words that English could stand to borrow. The Japanese have an entirely different perspective on the world than many English-speaking cultures—as proof, it's tough to imagine that the politely reserved Japanese have a word for defenestrate, or the act of throwing somebody out of a window. Here's the top 7 Japanese words that we could use in English.
(Flickr user Raul Pacheco-Vega)
Literally translating to "life value," Ikigai is best understood as the reason somebody gets up in the morning—somebody's reason for living. It's a combination of what you are good at, what you get paid to do, what you love to do, and what the world needs.
We often find our ikigai during flow states, which occur when a given task is just challenging and absorbing enough that we forget time has passed, that "in the zone" sensation. But it's more nuanced than something that is simply absorbing or a passion; it's a fulfilling kind of work that benefits oneself and others.
Karoshi, or death from overwork, provides a nice contrast to the concept of ikigai. Japan's work culture is so over the top that dying from working too hard is not uncommon. This word covers a range of ailments from heart failure to suicide, so long as the root of their cause is in working too hard.
As another hardworking nation, the U.S. could stand to better appreciate the dangers of overwork. Americans put in an average 47 hours a week, which is demonstrably bad for our health.
(Flickr user jungle_group)
This word translates to "forest-bathing," which sums up the activity fairly well. It's getting outdoors to de-stress, relax, and promote well-being. While the concept is familiar, we clearly don't place enough importance on getting outdoors to honor it with its own term.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans spend about 87% of their time indoors, which is clearly too much. Meanwhile, being in nature is associated with a slew of benefits, like improving memory, reducing stress and anxiety, and even lowering inflammation. Scotland has the right idea—doctors in Shetland can now prescribe nature to their patients.
4. Shikata ga nai
Used interchangeably with shouganai, this term roughly means "it cannot be helped." You can think of it as the Japanese equivalent of c'est la vie´or amor fati. It's the idea that one should accept things outside of one's control with dignity and grace and not implode from the pressure of having no control over a terrible situation.
This concept is a bit controversial. During the U.S. internment of Japanese-Americans after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, many Japanese-Americans resigned themselves to their mistreatment, characterizing the situation as shikata ga nai.
On the other hand, when a tsunami devastated Japan in 2011, many outside observers commented upon the stoic way the Japanese carried on with their daily lives, an example of the positive side of shikata ga nai.
While it's a little less high-minded than the previous words on this list, it's certainly one that I and others could use. A combination of tsunde-oku (letting things pile up) and dukosho (reading books), tsundoku is the practice of buying a book you swear you're going to read, obviously not doing that, finding a new book you swear you're going to read, and then letting these abandoned books pile up in your house until it's a certifiable fire hazard.
Garden State (2004)
You're in a terrible, anti-social mood and don't want to see anybody at all today. Suddenly, your doorbell rings; you lie as still as possible in your bed (surrounded by the hordes of unread books you purchased), praying the unwanted visitor leaves. This is the practice of irusu, or pretending not to be home when somebody rings your doorbell. It's a very common experience, although maybe the modern-day equivalent is responding "Sorry, I just got this" hours after you actually saw a text.
Not everybody practices tsundoku, and I'm sure some extroverts are entirely unfamiliar with practicing irusu, but everybody can identify with getting a bad haircut. Age-otori is the feeling one gets after leaving a barbershop looking worse than you did going in. It's an ingenious word for the unique blend of regret, suffering, and shame you feel after you foolishly trusted your elderly barber when he said "Yeah, I can do a hard part."
While Japanese has some phenomenal words, there are some that the English language probably doesn't have need of. For example, a nito-onna is a woman so obsessed with her job that she doesn't have time to iron her blouses and so resorts to wearing knitted tops constantly. It's a wonderfully specific word, but its specificity probably doesn't translate to English-speaking contexts.
There's also the hikikomori, a mostly Japanese phenomenon involving modern-day hermits that don't leave their bedrooms for years and years. People like this exist in English-speaking contexts, but we generally characterize these as people suffering from anxiety, as loners, or hermits. In addition, part of what makes a hikikomori is the high pressure and highly ritualized nature of Japanese society, a feature that is mostly absent in English-speaking contexts.
So, write to our good friends Merriam and Webster. Let's see if we can pack a little more utility into the English language.
NASA research finds a new direction in searching for signs of life in the Universe.
- NASA-funded research says retinal, not chlorophyll, gave the early Earth its color
- The two pigments co-evolved but retinal came first
- We should be looking for retinal-based life throughout the Universe
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