Shatner’s live, extemporaneous post-touchdown monologue on mortality was better than Kirk’s death scene

After returning to Earth in Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin private spacecraft, Shatner is delivering an extemporaneous monologue about viewing Mother Earth and reflecting on death. “I hope I never recover from this,” he says, of the emotions he experienced. Much better than Kirk’s death scene in Star Trek: Generations. Someone (I was listening, not watching… I think it was Bezos) says “Beautiful,” and Shatner thinks he’s commenting about the view…

Why your brain’s so bad at letting go of negative comments

Negative comments engage avoidance motivation. When you’re motivated to avoid something bad, then an important strategy is to be vigilant for more bad things in the environment to make sure that you’re aware of problems as soon as they happen. This may have been an adaptive strategy when there were people or animals out there trying to hunt you in some evolutionary environment. However, it’s a less effective strategy in…

How a Supermoon Helped Free the Giant Container Ship From the Suez Canal

Powerful lead to this well-written news story. (Great use of embedded hyperlinks, too.) To get the giant container ship blocking the Suez Canal unstuck, engineers needed the stars to align. Actually, the sun, Earth and moon. After several days trying to dislodge the Ever Given cargo ship, which had veered off course and embedded itself in the side of the canal, the salvage team pinned their hopes on this week’s full…

Part of Wright brothers’ 1st airplane on NASA’s Mars chopper

“Wilbur and Orville Wright would be pleased to know that a little piece of their 1903 Wright Flyer I, the machine that launched the Space Age by barely one quarter of a mile, is going to soar into history again on Mars!” Amanda Wright Lane and Stephen Wright said in a statement provided by the park. Orville Wright was on board for the world’s first powered, controlled flight on Dec.…

Sperm whales in 19th century shared ship attack information

From whaling and sealing stations to missionary bases, western culture was imported to an ocean that had remained largely untouched. As Herman Melville, himself a whaler in the Pacific in 1841, would write in Moby-Dick (1851): “The moot point is, whether Leviathan can long endure so wide a chase, and so remorseless a havoc.” Sperm whales are highly socialised animals, able to communicate over great distances. They associate in clans defined by the…

I just realized I’ve been misspelling and mispronouncing “detritus” all my life.

I’ve been a college English faculty member for over 20 years and I just realized I’ve been spelling and pronouncing “detritus” wrong all my life. A short while ago I realized I had typed “detrius” — and that’s how I heard the word in my head — “DEE tree us.” But the word has an extra T and it’s actually pronounced “duh TRY tus.” I don’t have much cause to…

Details on the disappearance of the Utah monolith

Mr. Bernards, 34, of Edwards, Colo., was visiting the monolith on Friday night when, he said, four men arrived as if out of nowhere to dismantle the sculpture. Mr. Bernards had driven six hours for the chance to ogle the sculpture and to take dramatic photographs of it. Using upscale Lume Cube lights attached to a drone, he produced a series of glowy, moonlit pictures in which the monolith glistens…

Scientists thought only male birds sang – until women joined the research

For more than 150 years, scientists have considered bird song to be an exclusively male trait, but female scientists have changed that. Americans often idealize scientists as unbiased, objective observers. But scientists are affected by conscious and unconscious biases, just as people in other fields are. Studies of birds’ vocal behavior clearly show how research approaches can be affected by the people who do the work. —theconversation.com

This Woman Inspired One of the First Hit Video Games by Mapping the World’s Longest Cave

The Medium headline calls Colossal Cave Adventure “one of the first the video games,” but it’s a stretch to use “video” to describe the modality of a command line text parser game. The former Patricia Crowther was very helpful to me when I interviewed her by telephone for my DHQ article. I could have written quite a lot more about her as a technologist, rather than mostly as a caver,…

Adorable Dolphin encounter makes Texas sloth video go viral

My social media feed just featured adorable pictures of dolphins engaging with a sloth. Instead of blogging the Business Insider page or the Bored Panda or the Reddit pages or local TV news programs that repurposed content from the Texas State Aquarium, I wanted to find the original. The dolphin pictures are still frames from a short sloth-centric video the aquarium released on Facebook on a month ago. In response…

Snowfall at the White House (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour, Jan 7) Tweeted by WH on Jan 12

My social media feed was full of people mocking the White House yesterday for publishing a photo titled “First snow of the year!” on a day when Washington had clear skies and freakishly warm weather. What was the Trump administration trying to pull? Why would they publish such a blatant lie? It wasn’t a lie. The photo was real photo of Washington’s first snowfall of the winter, but the picture…