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17 Apr 00:00

Simpsons Did It: 10 Times The Simpsons Predicted the Future

South Park once argued that you can't criticize a show for copying The Simpsons because The Simpsons have already come up with so many different ideas. In fact, The Simpsons has even featured these events before they happened in real life.
15 Apr 18:45

Cheryl Is a Good Logic Puzzle Maker and a Bad Friend

cheryl's birthday logic problem

Via NY Times:

Originally, Mr. Kong said this was a problem inflicted on fifth-graders, leading to hand-wringing that Singapore children were way better at math than everyone else in the world and worries that Singapore children were being mentally abused with convoluted logic at a young age.

It turned out the problem actually came from a math olympiad test for math-savvy high school-age students.

If you're having trouble here's the answer.

And here's the post that started it all.

Submitted by: (via NY Times)

Tagged: puzzle , friends , logic , math
15 Apr 19:00

Italian Man's Quest to Fix Toilet Led to Amazing Archaeology Discoveries

by Sarah Zhang

Fifteen years ago, Luciano Faggiano of Lecce, Italy sent his sons out digging for a broken sewer line. They didn’t find the pipe, but they did find “a Messapian tomb, a Roman granary, a Franciscan chapel and even etchings from the Knights Templar,” writes Jim Yardley in a story for the New York Times.


15 Apr 12:00

That Time the US Accidentally Nuked Britain’s First Satellite

by Karl Smallwood -

When it comes to nations with a long and rich history of space travel and exploration, Britain isn’t normally a country that comes to most people’s minds. However, they were the third country in the world to operate a satellite in orbit. It’s just a shame America ended up accidentally killing it just a few months later…


14 Apr 22:44

Chrome 42 Launches With Push Notifications

by Soulskill
An anonymous reader writes: Google today launched Chrome 42 for Windows, Mac, and Linux with new developer tools. Chrome 42 offers two new APIs (Push API and Notifications API) that together allow sites to send notifications to their users even after the given page is closed. While this can be quite an intrusive feature for a browser, Google promises the users have to first grant explicit permission before they receive such a message.

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14 Apr 18:25

New Horizons' First Color Photo of Pluto Is One Awe-Inspiring Blur

by Darren Orf

So that’s Pluto and its Texas-sized moon, Charon from a distance of about 71 million miles. Not a bad shot all things considered. But the New Horizons probe, on its way closer right now, will be upping its photo-taking game in July. Then we’ll get to see some actual surface features.


13 Apr 09:01

Spain's Hologram Protest: Thousands Join Virtual March In Madrid

by samzenpus
An anonymous reader writes Thousands of people marched past a parliament building in Madrid to protest a new law that they say endangers civil liberties. But none of them were actually there. From the article: "Late last year the Spanish government passed a law that set extreme fines for protesters convening outside of government buildings. In response to the controversial Citizen Safety Law, which will take effect on July 1, Spanish activists have staged the world's first ever virtual political demonstration. After months of massive flesh-and-blood protests against the so-called 'gag law', thousands of holograms last night marched in front of the Spanish parliament in Madrid."

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13 Apr 21:23

The International Space Station (Finally) Gets an Espresso Machine

by samzenpus
coondoggie writes NASA this week will be sending its first espresso making machine into space, letting astronauts onboard the International Space Station brew coffee, tea or other hot beverages for those long space days. Making espresso in space is no small feat, as heating the water to the right temperature – 208F – and generating enough pressure to make the brew are critical in the brewing process. And then getting it into a “cup,” well that’s nearly impossible in gravity-free space. NASA, the Italian space agency ASI, aerospace firm Argotec, and coffee company Lavazza have come up with en experimental machine that will deliver the espresso into what basically amounts to a sippy pouch.

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14 Apr 00:30

Want To See a Naked Washing Machine?  

by Sean Buckley

Are your desires …unconventional? Enough so that you have a deep yearning for a periodical of tastefully photographed technology, stripped down to its barest elements? Boy, have I got the magazine for you.


13 Apr 14:00

Theories of Disappointment

by Lisa Marcus

Grant Snider of Incidental Comics takes on the inevitable occurrence in life of being disappointed. Whether it's disappointment as a result of the actions of significant others, friends or family, disappointment in the workplace or in other life circumstances, it's unavoidable. But as Snider points out, trying to avoid disappointment at all costs only makes your world smaller, with few opportunities, and thus, more disappointing. 

This is part one of "Theories of Disappointment." See part two at Incidental Comics.

08 Apr 18:12

VIDEO: The scene of the London jewel heist

Burglars have used heavy cutting equipment to break into up to 70 safety deposit boxes in a vault in London's jewellery quarter.
03 Mar 15:31

Unity 5 Ships and Brings One Click WebGL Export to Legions of Game Developers

by Mozilla

Mozilla’s goal of high quality plugin-free gaming on the Web is taking a giant leap forward today with the release of Unity 5. This new version of the world’s most popular game development tool includes a preview of their amazing WebGL exporter. Unity 5 developers are one click away from publishing their games to the Web in a whole new way, by taking advantage of WebGL and asm.js. The result is native-like performance in desktop browsers without the need for plugins.

Unity is a very popular game development tool. In fact the company says just under half of all developers report using this tool. The engine is highly suited for mobile development and as such has been used to produce a wealth of content which is particularly well suited for Web export. Small download size, low memory usage, and rendering pipeline similarities make this content straight forward to port to the Web. Unity has a long history of providing their developers the ability to ship online via a Web plugin. In recent years, browser vendors have moved to reduce their dependency on plugins for content delivery.

A new cross browser approach was needed and it has arrived

Mozilla and Unity worked together to find a way to bring content developed in Unity 5 to the Web using only standard compliant APIs and JavaScript. Unity’s new approach to Web delivery is made possible by using a combination of IL2CPP and a cross-compiler named Emscripten to port its content. IL2CPP was developed at Unity Technologies and converts all ingame scripts to C++. This approach has performance benefits when porting to multiple platforms, including the Web. Unity then uses Emscripten to convert the resulting C++ to asm.js, a subset of JavaScript that can be optimized to run at near native speeds in the browser. asm.js was pioneered by Mozilla. The code then executes in the browser as any other Web content. It accesses hardware via standard compliant APIs such as WebGL, IndexedDB, and Web Audio. The results of this collaboration have now reached the point where it’s time to get them into the hands of developers.

“Unity has always been a strong supporter of Web gaming,” said Andreas Gal, CTO of Mozilla. “With the ability to do plugin-free WebGL export with Unity 5, Mozilla is excited to see Unity promoting the Web as a first-class platform for their developers. One-click export to WebGL will give Unity’s developers the ability to share their content with a new class of user.”

Dead Trigger 2Angry BotsAaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA for The Awesome!

Clicking on the images above will take you to live examples of Unity 5 exports using WebGL 1.

At GDC, Mozilla will also be providing a first look at WebGL 2. While the shipping Unity WebGL export targets WebGL 1, Unity and Mozilla have been working together to take advantage of WebGL 2, the next generation standard for 3D graphics on the Web. Unity has redeveloped their Teleporter demo to showcase the technology in action.

Mozilla and Unity will be showing off a number of titles developed in Unity and exported to the Web, including Nival’s Prime World Defenders and AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA! for Awesome by Dejobaan Games, which can be played right on their website. You can also try Dead Trigger 2 and Angry Bots available via Unity Technologies’ website.

For more information on Unity’s news please see their blog post.

For more information on Mozilla’s news at GDC see this post.

Edited March 4th to clarify that current Unity support is for WebGL 1 while WebGl 2 is an experimental technology being developed in conjunction with Mozilla.

07 Apr 14:32

Dutch man jailed for horsemeat sales

Dutch horsemeat trader Willy Selten is found guilty of falsifying documents and sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.
07 Apr 09:34

DAVE GROHL Praises SEPULTURA On 'The Late Late Show With James Corden'

FOO FIGHTERS mainman and former NIRVANA drummer Dave Grohl spoke about his love of SEPULTURA during an appearance on last night's edition of "The Late Late Show With James Corden". He said (see video below): "You know what's crazy? One of my favorite heavy metal bands of all time is from Brazil. This band called SEPULTURA. I mean, SEPULTURA, they're amazing, but one of the crazy things they did, they made this album called 'Roots'. But they incorporated crazy Brazilian instrumentation into, like, the heaviest music you've ever heard in your life. It kind of, like, changed the game. It was the heaviest thing ever." Grohl wrote the foreword to "My Bloody Roots: From Sepultura To Soulfly And Beyond", the autobiography of former SEPULTURA frontman Max Cavalera. Cavalera told Phoenix New Times: "Dave Grohl did an awesome intro. He tells a story about how he bought a $50,000 speaker for his studio sound system, and he pops in [SEPULTURA album] 'Roots' and it blew up the whole fucking thing. [Mimicking Grohl] ''Roots' blew up my whole system.' I love that story. If your album can blow up a $50,000 system, you're doing something right."
07 Apr 01:01

VIDEO: Snowden: Now you see him, now you don't

New York park rangers remove a bust of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, which had been sneaked into a Brooklyn park at night by guerrilla artists.
04 Apr 00:30

The First Schizophrenia Medication Was Developed As An Antihistamine

by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Thorazine, or chlorpromazine, was the first antipsychotic. It freed many people with severe schizophrenia from mental asylums, but that's not why it was developed. It was first tested because it's an antihistamine. Yes, like the allergy medications.


06 Apr 18:31

A Woman Named Beyoncé Gets Help From All the Other Unfortunately-Named on the Internet


Beyoncé was featured on the long-running blog project Humans of New York, where she discussed the blessing (everyone remembers your name!) and curse (no one will stop singing "Single Ladies"!) of having a famous moniker. And just like that, the rest of the internet joined in to share their woes. Some of these names almost seem too good to be true. 

Hopefully now she knows that she isn't alone!

Submitted by: (via POWTV)

06 Apr 23:00

Drive-Thru Bone Pickup

04 Apr 11:00

All the Food in the Fridge Has Gone Bad


Submitted by: (via OhHiAndie)

Tagged: puns , cute , fridge , g rated , win
02 Apr 23:47

Personal cancer vaccines 'exciting'

Tailor-made cancer vaccines that target unique genetic errors in a patient's tumour have been developed in the US.
03 Apr 00:00

10 Strangest Things Found Under Beds

From the man that found a crocodile to the person who discovered a decomposed body, here are 10 incredible stories of some very unusual things people have found under beds.
02 Apr 20:00

Visual Studio 2015 Can Target Linux; Android Apps Anywhere Chrome Can Run

by timothy
jones_supa writes Phoronix has noticed that the Visual Studio 2015 product page mentions that the new IDE can target Linux out of the box. Specifically the page says "Build for iOS, Android, Windows devices, Windows Server or Linux". What this actually means is not completely certain at this point, but it certainly laces nicely with the company opening up the .NET Framework. And speaking of cross-platform software: new submitter mccrew writes Google has released a tool that lets Android apps run on any machine that can run its Chrome browser. Called Arc Welder, the tool acts as a wrapper around Android apps so they can run on Windows, OS X and Linux machines. The software expands the places that Android apps can run and might make it easier for developers to get code working on different machines.

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02 Apr 12:42

Chinese Certificate Authority CNNIC Is Dropped From Google Products

by timothy
eldavojohn writes A couple weeks ago, Google contacted the CNNIC (China's CA) to alert them of a problem regarding the delegated power of issuing fraudulent certificates for domains (in fact this came to light after fraudulent certificates were issued for Google's domains). Following this, Google decided to remove the CNNIC Root and EV CA as trusted CAs in its Chrome browser and all Google products. Today, the CNNIC responded to Google: "1. The decision that Google has made is unacceptable and unintelligible to CNNIC, and meanwhile CNNIC sincerely urge that Google would take users' rights and interests into full consideration. 2. For the users that CNNIC has already issued the certificates to, we guarantee that your lawful rights and interests will not be affected." Mozilla is waiting to formulate a plan.

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02 Apr 08:16


A few weeks ago, the announcement that the most recent lineup of German power metallers RAGE was breaking up caused a furor within the metal scene. While RAGE co-founder Peavy Wagner decided to continue the band with new members, guitarist Victor Smolski set his mind on following his passion for neo-classical, orchestral metal and continue on the path that he began with the LINGUA MORTIS ORCHESTRA CD "LMO". This marks the birth of new band called ALMANAC. "ALMANAC is the continuation of the concept which I started back in 2013 with 'LMO'," says Smolski. "The well-known faces of 'LMO' stay the same: both female singers Jeannette Marchewka and Dana Harnge, as well as the Orquestra Barcelona Filharmonia. On top of that, I am proud to announce that we also have two outstanding male singers joining us: Andy B. Franck (BRAINSTORM) and David Readman (PINK CREAM 69)! All of them offer me the possibility to add more variety and a new musical dimension to the new tracks' arrangements." Smolski will announce the bass player and drummer of ALMANAC at a later date, but the band's baptism of fire is close. "I will present the whole new band on our first live appearance on the Musikmesse Frankfurt [music fair]," says Smolski. ALMANAC will perform on April 16 at 17.30 CET on the Agora Stage. Furthermore, Smolski plans to enter the studio later this year to record the ALMANAC debut album.
02 Apr 00:00

The Suprising Fate of 9 Famous Corpses

From Rasputin's penis to Einstein's brain, take a look at some of the weirdest things that happened to famous people after they were dead.
01 Apr 22:10

The Most Popular Antidepressants Are Based On An Outdated Theory [UPDATED]

by Levi Gadye

One in ten Americans takes an anti-depressant drug like Zoloft or Prozac. These drugs have been shown to work in some patients, but their design is based on a so-called "chemical imbalance" theory of depression that is incomplete, at best.


31 Mar 18:57

The Chemistry of Whisky

by Compound Interest
Chemistry of Whisky

click to enlarge

Whisky is one of the world’s most popular spirits, and comes in many different classes and types. The character and flavour of these differing types vary widely; this, of course, comes down to their varying chemical composition. Here, we take a look at where some of these different compounds come from, and what they contribute.

Making whisky is, to an extent, a relatively simple process (albeit a long one). It starts with barley, which is soaked in water and then dried. The manner in which this drying is accomplished can affect the chemical composition of the finished whisky, and in the case of Scottish whiskies, was traditionally carried out using peat fires. The barley is then milled, then added to water. Mashing breaks down the starch in the barley into sugars, producing a sugary liquid called wort which can be used in the next stage of the process.

This is where fermentation comes in. Yeast is added to the wort, which turns the sugars into alcohol; the exact yeast used can also have an effect on the final taste. After fermentation, the alcohol percentage of the wort is between 5-10%. Up to this point, the process has differed little from that which produces beers, but here is where it deviates.

After fermentation, the liquid is referred to as the ‘wash’. It is transferred into a copper still – a piece of apparatus that functions exactly like a distillation apparatus in chemistry classrooms, albeit on a much larger scale. The alcohol desired from this process is that which comes out during the middle of the distillation process, known as the ‘heart’. The ‘foreshots’ which come out first are the compounds with the lowest boiling points, and include methanol, whilst the ‘feints’ which come out at the end of the distillation are mostly water. The ‘heart’, when removed, has an alcohol content of up to 70%.

The final, most important step of whisky manufacture is ageing. The spirit is placed in oak barrels, and stored to mature for at least 3 years before it is then bottled and sold. This ageing process is also a primary source of chemical compounds in the finished product. Additionally, the environment in which the casks are stored can also have an influence on composition.

So, now that we know a little more about how whisky is produced, it’s high time we discussed some of the compounds that give it its flavour.

Phenolic Compounds

Phenols primarily contribute bitterness and smokiness to a whisky’s flavour. They’re particularly noticeable in whisky produced from barley that was dried using peat fires, as is still the case in a number of Scottish distilleries. The burning produces the phenolic compounds in the smoke, which are then absorbed by the barley. Charring of the barrels in which the whisky is later matured can also lead to the presence of phenolic compounds in the spirit.

Phenol, cresols, xylenol and guaiacol are amongst the most important phenolic compounds in whisky, in terms of contribution to flavour. Guaiacol is also somewhat responsible for smokey flavours in coffee, and in smoked meats. Compounds called cresols are the culprits when it comes to the oft-mentioned similarity in aroma between Scotch whisky and band-aids. The particular compound responsible is meta-cresol, which has a medicinal aroma, and was also traditionally used in band-aids as an antiseptic. Eugenol is also present in many whiskies, a compound more commonly found in cloves, and partly responsible for their spicy aroma.

Whisky Lactones

A large number of compounds get into the whisky during the ageing process. Amongst these are two compounds that have actually taken on whisky’s name: the whisky lactones. These are, in fact, just isomers of each other, and chemically are named cis- and trans-3-methyl-4-octanolide. Both of these isomers originate from the oak barrels in which the whisky is aged, and both offer a coconut flavour. The cis isomer is the dominant of the two, and has a stronger, spicier flavour.


Although not shown in the graphic, acetaldehyde is a feature in many whiskies, representing a large percentage of the total aldehyde content. It originates from the fermentation process, and though some is lost in the ‘foreshots’ during the distillation process, some remains, and adds a pungent, sharp note to the taste.

Other aldehydes originate, as with the whisky lactones, from the oak barrels in which the whisky is matured. Syringaldehyde gives a spicy, smoky note, with furfural providing an almond-like, grainy flavour. More familiar is vanillin, the compound that also gives vanilla its aroma. Bourbons are particularly noted for their vanillin content; new casks are used for the ageing of each batch of bourbon, as the vanillin content of the wood is much lower after one ageing cycle. Other aldehydes from the wood include coniferaldehyde and sinapaldehyde.

Additionally, some simpler aldehydes such as hexanal can contribute a grassy note in some whiskies, whilst a malty flavour is associated with 2- and 3-methylbutanal.


A large number of esters are produced during the fermentation process, resulting from the combination of alcohols and either fatty acids, or the acetates produced during fermentation. Many light esters with fruity flavours and aromas are formed, though these are removed in the ‘foreshots’ during the distillation process. These include isoamyl acetate, an ester with a banana-like aroma. The most abundant ester in the ‘heart’ is commonly ethyl hexanoate, which has an aroma described as apple-like. There are a whole range of other esters that can be formed (check out this handy guide to their aromas), and these can be influenced by fermentation conditions.

Many whiskies undergo chill filtration to remove much of the ester concentration from the final product. The reasons for this are purely aesthetic, as their presence can contribute to the development of cloudiness in the final product.

Other Compounds

Other compounds in whiskey, outside of the aforementioned categories, can further contribute to its character. For example, two compounds commonly found in roses, beta-damascenone and phenylethyl alcohol, can also be found in some whiskies, and contribute a floral note. Diacetyl, a compound commonly associated with off-flavours in beers, is also found in whiskies, and has a buttery aroma.

The presence of some compounds is less than desirable. Sulfur-containing compounds, from the simple hydrogen sulfide to the more complex sulfur-containing aromatic compounds, are the primary cause of off-flavours in whisky. Their presence is reduced by the use of copper stills, as the copper is capable of binding the sulfur compounds, and preventing them from making their way into the final spirit.

Whilst we’ve mentioned a fair number of compounds here, really, we’ve barely scratched the surface as far as the assortment of compounds in whisky are concerned. Whilst it would be an impossibility to discuss them all, you can read a little more about some of them via the further reading links below. In the meantime, if you’re a whisky drinker, you’ll hopefully have a new-found appreciation for the chemical complexity of the spirit the next time you pour yourself a dram!



The graphic in this article is licensed under a  Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Want to share it elsewhere? See the site’s content usage guidelines.

References & Further Reading

30 Mar 22:12

See how the Dreamworks logo before its movies changed over time

by Casey Chan

Ethan Jones is back with another interesting visual breakdown of movie logos, this time focusing on DreamWorks. You know that intro sequence, where a fishing line gets dropped into the water from a boy on the moon. Here are all the variations that have popped up in DreamWorks movies since they first started using the logo in 1997.


31 Mar 04:30

A Medieval Recipe Could Kill Hospital Superbugs. No, Really. 

by Chris Mills

Staph infections are one of the most pervasive and annoying bacterial infections faced by hospitals every year. It infects half a million people in the US every year, with symptoms ranging from skin infections to heart problems — and worse, some strains (commonly known as MRSA) have evolved to resist common antibiotics.


26 Mar 18:22

Gotcha! Coffee Tryin to steal my toast!😡 Thank you all for...

Gotcha! Coffee Tryin to steal my toast!😡

Thank you all for watching and sharing aug(de)mented Reality 3!!!🍻

Hello LA👋 (at Franks Coffee Shop)