One of the great mysteries of modern cosmology is how our universe can be so thermally uniform—the vast cosmos is filled with the lingering heat of the Big Bang. Over time, it has cooled to a few degrees above absolute zero, but it can still be seen in the faint glow of microwave radiation, known as the cosmic microwave background. In any direction we look, the temperature of this cosmic background is basically the same, varying by only tiny amounts. But according to the standard “cold dark matter” model of cosmology, there wasn’t enough time for hotter and cooler regions of the early universe to even out. Even today we would expect parts of the cosmic background to be much warmer than others, but that isn’t what we observe. One solution to this cosmological problem is known as early inflation. If the observable universe was extremely tiny in its earliest […]

The Egg Thief For decades Jeffrey Lendrum helicoptered up and rappelled down to aeries on cliff faces from Patagonia to Quebec, snatching unhatched raptors and selling them, investigators believe, to wealthy Middle Eastern falconers. This week in London, one of the most bizarre criminals in modern history goes on trial for the fourth time. Here is his story. Just before noon on May 3, 2010, John Struczynski, a janitor at Birmingham Airport in the British Midlands, observed something peculiar. A balding, middle-aged passenger had entered the shower room in the Emirates Airlines first-class departure lounge and emerged after what seemed like a long time. But when Struczynski stepped inside the facility to check it, he saw that the shower and floor were bone-dry. Then he noticed, at the bottom of a diaper bin, a cardboard carton containing a single egg, dyed blood red. Mystified, and suspecting that something illegal was […]

Corporate metrics want to extract productivity from everything — even your dreams Image: Evidence of Time Travel by John Karborn. Courtesy the artist. The worthiest human efforts are those intellectual pursuits that specifically seek the uninterrupted delimiting of infinity into convenient, easily digestible portions. Yevgeny Zamyatin’s Critics may worry about algorithmic surveillance, but my university students often complain to me that their computational companions — Spotify, Netflix, Google Maps, Amazon, FitBit, or Apple Watch — don’t know them as well as they should. My students are frustrated, they tell me, when they get a Spotify or Netflix recommendation they don’t like or a seemingly inaccurate number of steps from their fitness trackers. Despite all the negative attention tech companies have received recently, this attitude may still be more pervasive than skepticism. Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, it is often taken for granted that computational products should be able to measure us […]

“Boundaries are a part of self-care. They are healthy, normal, and necessary.” ~Doreen Virtue I still have the journal entry that sparked my journey into boundary-setting. It says, in striking black pen, “I wish I could speak my truth. If I can learn to speak my truth before I die, I will die a happy woman.” Dramatic? Maybe. But I was tired of being a pushover, a people-pleaser. I’d written it the day after I’d been the recipient of unwanted advances at a bar. For thirty minutes, a stranger had engaged me in aggressive conversation, peppered in flirtation, and slipped his bony hand around my waist. I’d tolerated his behavior with a fake smile before escaping to the bathroom. As often used to happen, I couldn’t speak up for myself. I’d waited in silence, hoping the man would mind-read my discomfort and give me space. The next morning, I took […]

Photo “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” — Max Planck, German quantum theorist and Nobel Prize winner There are two primary mental shifts that occur in the lives of all highly successful people. Many make the first, but very few make the second. Both of these shifts require a great deal of mental stretching from conventional and societal ways of thinking. In many ways, these shifts require you to unlearn the negative and sabotaging programming from your youth, public education, and even adulthood. The foundation of the first shift is the sublime power of choice and individual responsibility. Once a you make this shift, you are empowered to pull yourself from poverty of time, finances, and relationships. In other words, the first shift allows you to create a happy and prosperous life, where, for the most part, you control how and on what […]

Does constructive criticism hurt your feelings? Then that’s a big part of the problem. As we say goodbye to 2018, it’s time to survey our year’s accomplishments. If you are like many of us, you started the year with an unshakable commitment to your new year’s resolutions and ways to crush them. But looking back at the past year, you’re probably asking yourself what went wrong. You had all the energy and commitment and believed the year couldn’t possibly end without you hitting all your goals. Instead, you find yourself struggling to identify even one goal you were certain you’d achieve. If this describes you, you are not alone. In fact, 80 percent of new year’s resolutions fail. If you want to do better next year, identify why you failed in the past. Once you know what needs fixing, you’ll be more likely to accomplish your future goals. Here are […]

As a surprise to no one, rap’s loudmouth rapper Tekashi 69 is probably going to jail for a very long time. I wonder if rapping about doing illegal things isn’t a good idea.  Draco got that kick-back when I blow that, they all do trackThey don’t shoot back, one shot, close range, red dot Mr. 6ix9ine, his recently fired manager and 2 other former associates are in a bit of trouble after getting busted by the feds on racketeering charges which almost certainly means the rapper’s going to prison. Nothing fishy about firing the dude who helped you do illegal stuff right before you get arrested! The rapper was arrested on Sunday night which means he didn’t get to see that amazing Monday Night Football game and faces federal charges including racketeering allegations from the rapper’s involvement with the Nine Trey Bloods, as well as a previously unreported armed robbery. […]

The president has long sold himself as a self-made billionaire, but a Times investigation found that he received at least $413 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real estate empire, much of it through tax dodges in the 1990s. President Trump participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the fortune he received from his parents, an investigation by The New York Times has found. Mr. Trump won the presidency proclaiming himself a self-made billionaire, and he has long insisted that his father, the legendary New York City builder Fred C. Trump, provided almost no financial help. But The Times’s investigation, based on a vast trove of confidential tax returns and financial records, reveals that Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to […]

The Internet Revenue Service (IRS) is looking to get its hands on a product that will help its agents investigate tax dodgers who’ve set up shop on social media, according to a request posted to the federal government’s procurement website, FedBizOpps. The post indicates that the IRS, whose under-equipped enforcement agents ferret out financial crime related to the tax system, is looking for a new way to investigate potential cheats based on social media use. (One example highlighted by the agency is “online stores.”) The IRS currently has no “formal tool,” it says, to comb through social media feeds. It also says that its agents are currently largely prohibited from viewing or accessing “publicly available information on social media sites.” Quartz, which first spotted the request, noted the agency has long been suspected of mining social media data. “Businesses and individuals increasingly use social media to advertise, promote, and sell […]

2019 is rapidly approaching, and there’s a lot to look forward to in the coming year. Both Microsoft and Sony are expected to begin revealing the next versions of the Xbox and PlayStation consoles. Nintendo says the next major main series “Pokémon” game is arriving this year on the Nintendo Switch. Will this finally be the year that Apple, Google, and/or Amazon start competing with Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft? In 2019, the next versions of the Xbox and PlayStation are likely to be revealed — and one or both might even arrive in the next 12 months. And that’s just the beginning! Next year, the first-ever Pokémon game for a home Nintendo console is scheduled to arrive, and Microsoft’s Netflix-like streaming service for gaming — Project xCloud — is likely to light up. How about a new game based on Harry Potter made by the infamous studio that created “Pokémon […]

Cracked pays people to make smart memes. Visit the Photoplasty and Pictofacts Workshop to get in on it. It’s only natural to try to connect the dots in the zeitgeist, even if it’s just so we can get some sleep at night. Everyone just wants the world to make sense. Unfortunately, that means people are constantly coming up with progressively more absurd conspiracy theories. And sharing the hell out of them. As a public service, we’ve assembled the most impressive theories making the rounds right now. Whether you decide to laugh derisively or get on board is completely up to you. 13 Source: Atlanta Black Star 12 Source: Slate 11 Source: Mirror Online 10 Source: Snopes 9 Source: Reddit 8 Source: Vice Cool Gadgets & Holiday Gifts at CooliCool 7 Sources: Refinery29, The Cut 6 Source: People 5 Source: Independent 4 Source: Latest UFO Sightings 3 Source: Distractify 2 Cool […]

Camera rental marketplace KitSplit has acquired the collection The Free Music Archive — a free-to-use collection of music that’s shared and curated by artists — was supposed to close last month, following a funding shortage. Instead, the Archive will live on: it’s been bought by the camera and gear rental marketplace KitSplit. “Many of us at KitSplit have admired and used FMA over the years,” writes Kristina Budelis, a co-founder of KitSplit in an emailed statement. “FMA has helped tens of thousands of creatives make their projects. Together with FMA, we’ll be able to serve creators + our community even more powerfully.” And there are more overlaps between KitSplit and the FMA than just the fact that making successful productions requires both audio and video; one employee of KitSplit had previously worked at the Archive. Winter Essentials On Sale! Shop RefrigiWear Now! The bulk of the negotiations were handled by […]

Feathers were common among dinosaurs, but scientists aren’t certain if the fur-like coverings of pterosaurs—a group of flying reptiles—were of the same sort seen on dinos and birds or something completely different. The discovery of two exquisite fossils in China now suggests pterosaurs were very much covered in feathers, potentially pushing back the origin of this critically important evolutionary feature by 70 million years. Pterosaurs lived between 230 million and 66 million years ago, and they were the first vertebrates to achieve true flapping flight. These ancient creatures lived alongside dinosaurs, and though they’re frequently represented in the media and in film, scientists actually know very little about them. Fossil evidence suggests they were covered in pycnofibres—a fuzzy, fur-like coating—but paleontologists are divided on whether or not these coatings were similar to the feathered skin coverings seen on dinosaurs and birds, or if pterosaur pycnofibres represented something different entirely. New […]

Wednesday’s sentencing of onetime Trump fixer Michael Cohen to 36 months of prison continues a frenetic pace of revelations around the Russia probe. Nearly every single day since Thanksgiving has brought fresh developments in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russia’s attack on the 2016 election. Even as the president continues to rail about the “Witch Hunt” on Twitter, Mueller’s strategy looks like anything but. Nearly every defendant he’s targeted has pleaded guilty, meaning he’s moving against people with overwhelming evidence. Those targets have mostly, in turn, cooperated—naming more alleged crimes and suspects. Similarly, in the one instance he has been forced to go to trial, Mueller prevailed handily, winning convictions against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in every category of charges he brought. Mueller has also assiduously handed off certain crimes to other prosecutors, be it identity theft stemming from Russia’s Internet Research Agency, foreign lobbying questions, and […]

Truly, 2018 has been a year filled with news that made us look blankly ahead and utter ‘wat’ into the void, frozen in confusion, every day. But there were a few stories that were cream of the crop when it came to their sheer weirdness. And that’s especially true within the world of science and health. Take a look back at some of the strangest science-related stories of this year, featuring everything from alleged meme-sparked poisonings to ludicrous medical quacks to unsettling parasitic infestations. Oh, so many parasites. Please enjoy/cringe. Tide Pods Kicking off 2018, troll-y memes about the deliciousness of Tide Pods began sprouting up across social media, and some adults actually began to worry about a widespread epidemic of laundry detergent poisonings. Some blamed millennials, seeming to forget that millennials are mostly in their 30s right about now. The American Association of Poison Control Centers even went so […]