Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Curioser and curioser

Among the terrific -- and the terrible -- aspects of the web are the many odd articles that one somehow happens upon. Setting aside the disinformation among them, and the ulcer-inducing pieces, and the hoary repetitions, we're left with ... fascinating time sinks. Herewith, several such:

In the beginning?
How did life on Earth begin? There's lots of speculation, and precious little by way of answers. (I'm talking about biology here, not theology.) One theory is that life didn't begin on Earth, but arrived from elsewhere. That's the Panspermia ("all seeds") explanation. What if primitive life drifted to Earth from another star system(s) and, once here, then evolved?  

And almost as speculatively, what if humans could hibernate? What if, to conquer the vastness of the void between stars, humans could be put into -- and revived from -- some kind of suspended animation?

In seeming -- but certainly, incomplete -- support of both these "what ifs," consider: "Siberian Worms Frozen In Permafrost For Up To 42,000 Years Defrosted Back To Life." The ability of any terrestrial life to survive millennia frozen makes both Panspermia and human hibernation seem slightly less impossible.

We'll move, eclectically, to a $5B question -- how did Google get itself fined for that much? Or, rather, six questions. "Six questions you were afraid to ask about Google’s EU antitrust case."

If the (metaphorical) shapes of the opening topics failed to befuddle you, consider this breaking news: "Geometry Has a New Shape. Meet the 'Scutoid.'"
This shape -- new to math, not to nature -- is the form that a group of cells in the body takes in order to pack tightly and efficiently into the tricky curves of organs ....
But you know what's most amazing (and discouraging) to an author? This article: "Leisure reading in the U.S. is at an all-time low."
The share of Americans who read for pleasure on a given day has fallen by more than 30 percent since 2004, according to the latest American Time Use Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In 2004, roughly 28 percent of Americans age 15 and older read for pleasure on a given day. Last year, the figure was about 19 percent.
How can a person not read for pleasure? It's a mystery to me. Beyond curious.

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