Health

Research: New Hope For HIV Cure

A patient has been diagnosed as being in remission from the HIV virus, according to an article released in the Nature journal.  The patient was the second who was reported to be cured in twelve years, using the same therapies as the previous patient.

While this is a hopeful leap for the treatment and eventual cure of HIV, the approach isn’t quite ready for broad use.

The treatment plan, released by scientists at Seattle’s Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, involved bone marrow transplants.  The transplants were not initially intended to cure the HIV, they were a treatment modality for treating cancer.  The side benefits?  Placing the HIV virus into remission.

Bone marrow transplant has many side-effects and is a risky procedure, so it’s questionable if the therapy will be a widely accepted treatment plan for HIV.  More likely, physicians will stick with the medications traditionally used to fight the disease.

Modified Immune Cell Replacement

Scientists are turning their focus away from treating the disease and looking at the role of modified immune cell replacement of infected cells.  These cells will be modified to be resistant to HIV.

Dr. Annemarie Wensing, a University Medical Center virologist at Utrecht, Netherlands explains that the discovery will provide hope for people; a cure is within reach.  Dr. Wensing is the co-leader of a group of European scientists that focused their studies on using stem cell transplants for the treatment of an HIV infection.

AMFAR, an American AIDS research group, has been behind the team of successful IciStem scientists, the second group of researchers to cure an HIV patient.

The first reported patient cured of HIV was revealed twelve years prior at the conference by a German physician who used bone marrow treatments as a cure for the patient’s leukemia.  The doctor was amazed to find that the patient’s HIV was cured as well.

Researchers tried to imitate the procedure, hoping for success but to no avail.  The patients either died of their cancers or after they stopped their anti-retroviral meds the virus returned.

Researchers have isolated immune cells with a mutated variety of a standard CCR5 protein.  This mutation keeps the HUV virus from infecting cells by blocking the virus from attaching to white blood cells.

This treatment was nearly fatal to the first patient who tried it, but the process has been streamlined to be safer.  The second patient fared better when he received a bone marrow transplant for his Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  The donor had the mutated CCR5 in their donated cells.

The second patient also fortified the treatment with a cycle of immunosuppressive drugs until 2017.  He then stopped taking the anti-retroviral medications and has remained free of HIV to date.

A patient has been diagnosed as being in remission from the HIV virus, according to an article released in the Nature journal.  The patient was the...

Cool Stories

Watch: Artist Creates Purr-Fect Mural

When a person loves something with all their being, they tend to show that off. This is especially true for cat lovers and they can be the worst. Cats on their clothes (no, we don’t mean the hair), cats on their jewelry, cats on their eye glasses, even on their walls!

What is great about that is it can be a form of art that will stay with you forever. Some like it painted on a canvas and framed in a delicate, ornate frame. Others like it as a mural, directly on the wall.

One such mural was painted by freelance illustrator and graphic designer Stephanie Ho. The Temasek Polytechnic graduate worked as an in-house designer with two different companies before heading out on her own path, so that she can design things like this big little project.

A cat-loving couple from Singapore commissioned a mural from Stephanie that will demonstrate just how much they love cats. Armed with Nippon Odorless All-in-One paint, Stephanie took a total of six hours to draw a meowtain of cats next to a big window in their Build-to-Order apartment.

The couple had one special requirement for the meowtain though – that it would include the Labrador from the husband’s family and the Shih Tzu that the wife used to have.

Stephanie took due diligence to record her creative process as she begins drawing the cats from the ground up. Each cat has her own personality, just like in real life! We think it’s meowvellous, and looks completely worth the S$1,000 the couple paid for it!

When a person loves something with all their being, they tend to show that off. This is especially true for cat lovers and they can be the worst...

Tech News

USB-4 – Get Thunderbolt Speeds

What if a USB cable could provide the same smooth, fast data transfer speeds as a Thunderbolt port?  If that excites you, wait until you meet the USB4, the next generation of mobile devices and PCs.

USB4 will deliver data at incredible speeds when it’s connected via USB cables on compatible devices:  up to 40 Gigabits per second.  Intel has created the Thunderbolt 3 for the USB group, and USB4 bases its technology on Intel’s advanced tech.  Thunderbolt 3 will be available to use royalty-free.

USB Implementers Forum released a press release explaining that they’re built in; this next logical step for the Universal Serial Bus tech will mean that Thunderbolt will become a more affordable tech for manufacturers to include in their devices.

5K Support

Android Central  explains that the sky is the limit; devices could include 100 watts of on-demand power, support for up to eight lanes of DisplayPort data, and 40Gbps transfer rates.   Two 4K HDR displays, at 60 HZ each, or a 5K display could be supported fully.

This will mean that two 4K HDR displays at 60 Hz or one 5K display would be fully supported.  If the tech becomes more affordable to include n devices, it will definitely bring down purchasing costs for devices supporting USB4.

As Jason Ziller, Intel’s General Manager of Client Connectivity explains, “Releasing the Thunderbolt protocol specification is a significant milestone for making today’s simplest and most versatile port available to everyone. By collaborating with the USB Promoter Group, we’re opening the doors for innovation across a wide range of devices and increasing compatibility to deliver better experiences to consumers.”

To fully benefit from the max data transfer speed, you will need to have cables that are 40Gbs-certified; these are USBC to USBC only.  The USB4 will be fully compatible to all Thunderbird 3 devices and all USB specifications.

Microsoft, HP, Intel, and Apple are among the 50 tech companies that are going to be taking part in a final review of USB4 tech. They will release the specs around mid-year. The exciting part of these companies taking part in the testing is that it is predicted that they will use these new specifications when they do become available.

The USB4 is expected to be released next year.

What if a USB cable could provide the same smooth, fast data transfer speeds as a Thunderbolt port?  If that excites you, wait until you meet the...

TooCool

Bizarre Spinning Ice Disk In Middle Of City

Along the banks of Maine’s Presumpscot River, surprised spectators snapped pictures of a spinning circle of ice. The strange phenomenon is being called the Westbrook Ice Disk.

The spinning ice disk is estimated to measure just over 90 meters in diameter, and reminds the residents of Westbrook, Maine of a floating moon.  Estimated at just past 90 meters in diameter, officials aren’t entirely sure exactly when the disk formed, but based on reports from onlookers, it seems to have formed overnight or during the wee morning hours of Monday, January 14.

The disk has been compared to everything from the moon, on the city’s social media pages, to alien calling cards.  Doug Bertlesman explained to the Portland Press, “It kind of looks like a crop circle.  It’s pretty wild to look at.”

Slow Whirlpool

This isn’t the first spinning ice disk to be seen in Maine, and the phenomenon happens more frequently than you’d think.  It happens when a block of ice is swept along a flowing river, bashing up against the banks as it is swirled in the current.  This area of the Presumpscot River has a circular current, which results in a naturally forming whirlpool.

According to drone footage, the disk was spinning very slowly in a counter clockwise direction.  The Press Herald interviewed some of the onlookers.  Rob Mitchell, Westbrook resident, claims that several ducks had settled on the spinning disk, calling it a “big duck-go-round.”

As can be imagined, social media lit up with the phenomenon.  Comments have been humorous: “The aliens have stationed a large rotating disk of ice in the middle of the Presumpscot River in Westbrook, Maine.”

Another comment draws a startling conclusion: “Circles and ice? Do we really have to spell it out for you? Mother Nature is a hockey fan.”

The residents of Westbrook, Maine had good reason to predict the end of the world; the phenomenon came in the same week that the moon turned blood red in a “super blood wolf moon” alongside a lunar eclipse.

Along the banks of Maine’s Presumpscot River, surprised spectators snapped pictures of a spinning circle of ice. The strange phenomenon is being called the Westbrook...

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Cool Stories

Get Smart With St. Patty’s Day Facts

With March being Irish Heritage month, it’s time to put your knowledge to the test.  How many of these St. Patrick’s Day facts did you already know?

St. Patrick’s Day was founded as a religious holiday:  The holiday honored St. Patrick, a fifth-century saint who brought Christianity to the Emerald Isle.

There have been parades for a long time:  On March 17, 1762, New York City threw the first recorded St. Patrick’s Day parade.  The parade was for Irish soldiers who had served in the English military.

Presidents enjoy a parade: President Harry S. Truman attended the St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1948.

March is Irish-American Heritage Month: Congress began recognizing March as American-Irish Heritage month in 1991.  The month highlights the contributions and achievements of the Irish in America.

Lots Of Irish-Americans

Large percentages of Irish Americans:  In 2014, Massachusetts claimed an Irish-American residency of 21.5%.  Following closely behind Massachusetts is New Hampshire, claiming 20.9%.

The total number of reported residents of Irish ancestry in the US is 10.4%, just over 33.1 million.  In America, this is the second highest percentage of ancestry, topped only by German Americans.

More educated:  Those claiming Irish heritage have a high rate of college and high school completion.  In fact, 93.7% of Irish Americans have high school diplomas and 35.6% of those over 25 have a bachelor’s degree.

Overall in America, only 86.9% have high school diplomas, while only 30.1% hold a bachelor’s degree.

Higher paying jobs:  Irish American households report median incomes of over $62k while the average overall salary in America is just under $54k, according to a 2014 study.

Homeowners:  Irish Americans are more likely to own their homes, with just over 68% homeowners compared to the national average of 63.1% of Americans claiming home ownership.

Find an Irish classic at a restaurant near you:  A survey taken in 2014 revealed that on St. Patrick’s Day, 235,701 restaurants offered the classic corned beef and cabbage, while just over 41,580 bars served up drinks for St. Patrick’s Day.

Many places across the United States honor the Irish: Oklahoma, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, and Missouri all have towns named after the shamrock and there are 16 towns named after the capital of Ireland, Dublin. Illinois, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and South Carolina all boast towns named Clover, and Minnesota also features the city of Cloverleaf.

Stocking up for St. Patrick’s Day:  In 2014, a survey revealed that 2.2 billion pounds of cabbage and 40.3 billion pounds of beef were provided farmers across the United States.

Make Your Own Irish Stew

If you want to enjoy an easy recipe for corned beef and cabbage this St. Patrick’s Day, it doesn’t mean hours over a hot stove.  Here is the best way to make this Irish classic using your crock pot:

  • Fill the slow cooker with water
  • Add the corned beef and seasonings (pickling spices)
  • Cook meat all day
  • Cut up cabbage and cook over the stove for ten to fifteen minutes

With March being Irish Heritage month, it’s time to put your knowledge to the test.  How many of these St. Patrick’s Day facts did you already know?

St...

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Health

Sharks Could Be The Secret Of Winning Cancer

Scientists mapping great white shark DNA have stumbled across something unexpected and exciting; a mutation that can be the key for fighting cancers and age-related diseases.

Scientists working at Nova Southeastern University in Florida in the Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Research Center have, for the first time, mapped out the DNA of these magnificent apex predators.

Along the way, the discovered some abnormalities in their genetic code that appears to help sharks fight illnesses, like cancers. Unstable genes in humans can cause illness, but sharks have a hard-wearing genetic structure that has contributed to their evolutionary success.

Nature’s Way To Stabilize Genes

Co-leader of the study, Dr. Mahmood Shivji, states, “Genome instability is a very important issue in many serious human diseases. Now we find that nature has developed clever strategies to maintain the stability of genomes in these large-bodied, long-lived sharks.”

While scientists admit that there is still much to be learned about these marvels of evolution, such as clarification on exactly how the research can be used to fight illness and cancer and help with the treatments of wounds in humans.

In addition, researchers say, the information they have uncovered can help conserve threatened species of sharks.

Overfishing has contributed widely to the decline of several species of shark, and the hope is that decoding the genome of the white shark will help scientists find a way to reverse the endangered members of the shark family.

Genetic conservationist from NSU, Steven O’Brien, is excited for the possibilities, explaining, “The genome data will be a great asset for understanding white shark population dynamics to better conserve this amazing species that has captured the imagination of so many.”

Scientists mapping great white shark DNA have stumbled across something unexpected and exciting; a mutation that can be the key for fighting cancers and age-related...

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Science

Israel Joins Space Club

On Thursday, February 21, Space X launched its 70th completed mission, making company history. At 8:45 EST, Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station successfully sent the Nusantara Satu Mission into the atmosphere, hauling several payloads.

SpaceX is a private space exploration corporation with several spacecraft to its name, including the Nusantara Satu satellite, the Air Force Research Laboratory S5 spacecraft, and the Beresheet lunar spacecraft.

The Indonesian Nusantara Satu satellite has been launched to provide internet access to its citizens.  Israel’s Beresheet is set to make Israel the fourth country to have ever landed on the moon.

Beresheet will take almost two months to reach the moon and will be the first spacecraft from Israel as well as the first privately-owned spacecraft to ever reach the moon.  It will take photos and video for scientific research, explains SpaceX, the owner of the spacecraft.

SpaceX released high-resolution pictures of the launch immediately after it happened.  The test launch had occurred on Monday for Thursday’s planned launch, and a back-up plan of a Friday launch was scheduled in case of complications.

Reusable Rocket

SpaceX is well known for using reusable rockets; in fact, this payload was launched on a Falcon 9 rocket while the first stage rocket had been used to launch Iridium 7 in July of 2018 and SAOCOM 1A in October of 2018. SpaceX successfully recovered first stage booster again after the launch on Thursday night.  The mission makes the 70th one for SpaceX, and the 20th successful launch reusing a booster.

Nusantara Satu was successfully launched to a geosynchronous transfer orbit and was expected to work soon after. SpaceX, still riding high from its successes, is scheduled for another launch in March in its partnership with NASA.  The unmanned test launch will demonstrate the possibility of sending astronauts into space in the future.

 

On Thursday, February 21, Space X launched its 70th completed mission, making company history. At 8:45 EST, Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station successfully...

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Tech News

Microsoft Brings An End To Fake News?

Social media feeds are positively choked with fake news sources from all sides, leaving readers and viewers distrustful and confused.  Now, a new app from the Microsoft Edge browser called NewsGuard claims to weed out the false news sources.

The app will use color coding, with “red” indicating a high probability of being a false news source and “green” being a safe site. The app will come pre-installed in its browser.

Fake news as a recognized term has only been around for a few years, but the concept of fake news predates the term by centuries. It has been known by the term “yellow journalism,” and has always involved spreading propaganda and self-serving information to the masses.  In fact, yellow news has been credited with getting the US involved with the Spanish-American War.

The NewsGuard App

NewsGuard, according to Microsoft, isn’t intended to be a way to censor news or infringe on free speech.  The intention is to give readers the information they need to properly understand the reliability of what they are reading and help them decide if they should share the news source on social media, per Microsoft’s corporate vice president of security and trust, Tom Burt.

The app itself isn’t new, but it was something that had to be manually downloaded and installed by its users.  It allows flexibility for its users to set up their own filters while maintaining its warning color system.  The app currently only works for US and large international news sources and sites.

Wall Street Journalist and publisher Gordon Crovitz is now a CEO of NewsGuard.  He explains, “We’re delighted to be able to reach millions of people through Microsoft Edge for mobile, giving news consumers more information about the sources of news they see online based on basic journalistic criteria of credibility and transparency.”

NewsGuard uses experienced journalists to vet companies and their news articles.  They work with The Information founder, Jessica Lessin, General Michael Hayden, former CIA director, and other highly seasoned professionals.  The news sources are broken down and labeled according to their content, credibility, ownership, and sources of financing.

A few examples of how various cites would be labeled include:

RT: This Russian news site is a well-known source of Russian propaganda.  NewsGuard will label this as “proceed with caution.”
The Daily Mail:  This is a British news source, and NewsGuard warns its readers that it has had to pay damages for false reporting on several high-profile stories.
The New York Times:  This is an American news source that is well known for having influence on public debate and will be labeled this way by NewsGuard.

This tool is one of the first of its kind, but with the bombardment of fake news all over social media, it’s likely that NewsGuard will be the prototype for many more.

Social media feeds are positively choked with fake news sources from all sides, leaving readers and viewers distrustful and confused.  Now, a new app from the Microsoft Edge browser called NewsGuard claims to weed out the false news sources.

The app will...

Animals

Watch: Swan Icebreaker Plows The Way For Ducks

A heartwarming video has emerged of a swan using its body to break the ice and swim through a frozen lake. A group of ducks is seen following swan’s lead, as he struggles to break the ice by paddling through the frozen lake, making a swimming path!

These ducks receive some unexpected help from a generous swan as it helps break up the ice for them to swim. Teamwork makes the dream work! Footage shows a group of ducks following swan’s lead as he breaks the ice in front of him, while paddling through a frozen lake. Amazing!

The filmmaker noticed a brave swan paddling through a slight break in the ice of a frozen lake, struggling to make a path for ducks to swim. He watched as the swan and ducks moved mesmerizingly through the unfrozen water! Incredible!

Follow Me!

This ice-cool swan was captured on camera smashing his way through a frozen lake. The graceful bird moves so tenaciously through the cold water and breaks the ice like he is a cutting knife trying to slice a piece of cake!

This is a short video of a tenacious swan doing his best to break the ice in front of him and lead a group of ducks through an icy lake. Apparently, ducks used this swan to be their personal icebreaker and he didn’t mind lending a helping hand! He is their hero, and he is our hero too!

A heartwarming video has emerged of a swan using its body to break the ice and swim through a frozen lake. A group of ducks is seen following swan’s lead, as he struggles to break the ice by paddling through the frozen lake, making a swimming path!

These...

Science

Space: Ultima Thule Is Flat!

Recent discoveries had given a surprising new perspective to 2014 MU69, which has been the most distant object ever explored by NASA. Ultima Thule, in the Kuiper Belt, seems to be a lot less round than originally thought.

According to footage captured by a January 1 New Horizons flyby, Ultima Thule is more of a deflated beach ball than an air-filled one.  The photo above shows Ultima Thule with a crescent shape in an image shared ten minutes after the capsule crossed paths with the entity.

Ultima Thule is a tiny world that is over 4 billion miles from planet earth. Southwest Research Institute’s Principal investigator Alan Stern confirmed, “Nothing quite like this has ever been captured in imagery.”

A Change In Point Of View

The pictures shared a surprising piece of scientific evidence: Ultima Thule’s segments aren’t round, as expected. NASA describes the largest of the lobes as pancake shaped and the smallest lobe carries more of a dented walnut shape.

Prior to this clear image, everything science understood about Ultima Thule was based on a very limited mount of photos transmitted during a flyby, but nothing as informative as this one.  Stern has admitted that they have had to rethink what they understood about Ultima Thule and compare it to a pancake rather than a basketball.

While the bottom image in this picture most closely represents NASA’s current understanding of Ultima Thule’s shape, there is still a fair amount of uncertainty because the images transmitted didn’t include areas of the entity that were hidden from view and not lit by the sun.  Scientists speculate that Ultima Thule could be shaped more like the dotted blue line depictions, flatter than expected or not as flat as the pictures indicate.

Stern explains, “The new images are creating scientific puzzles about how such an object could even be formed. We’ve never seen something like this orbiting the Sun.”

The images taken by New Horizons on departure revealed the object from a different angle than scientists had previously studied.  Fast flybys aren’t entirely an accurate way of understanding the actual shape of Ultima Thule, but the latest images have given scientists a greater, more accurate view that opens new possibilities regarding the formation of planets in the solar system.

Originally, scientists had theorized that Ultima Thule was single entity with two separate lobes.  Now, they understand that it is actually two separate stars who are so close together that they are touching, perhaps even merging, called a “contact binary.”

Ultima measures approximately 12 miles across, while Thule measures around nine miles across.  It is theorized that the two celestial bodies merged during the solar system’s formation at a speed and force only as comparable as two vehicles in a fender bender.

Recent discoveries had given a surprising new perspective to 2014 MU69, which has been the most distant object ever explored by NASA. Ultima Thule, in the Kuiper Belt, seems to be a lot less round than originally thought.

According to footage captured by a...

Cool Stories

You’ll Love This 101-Year-Old Mom Playing In The Snow

When you think of sledding, snowmen and snowball fights, you most likely picture kids in mittens and knit caps.  What you may not be expecting is that one of the kids playing in the snow is anything but; she is 101 years young and full of appreciation, spunk, and a wicked snow ball throwing arm.

Armand Foisy took his 101-year-old mother for a day trip in Lillooet, British Columbia.  When Armand was going to turn around and avoid the snow, his mother begged him to take her straight to the heart of the snowfall.  Armand may have been curious, but he couldn’t have predicted Albini’s next move.

When he pulled over for a view of the peaceful snowfall, Albini had something else in mind altogether.  She left the warm, snug car and bounded outside to frolic in the fluffy snow.  Luckily for all of us, Armand had his camera ready and captured this adorable footage of his 101-year-old mother playing in the snow like a jubilant child.

Armand uploaded his footage to Facebook with the caption “Here’s proof that if you find pure joy in the simple things you can live 100 years.”

Let Your Inner Child Come Out

The holiday season brings out the youth in all of us, no matter how old we are.  Albini proves that aging gracefully means staying in touch with your inner child and carrying a spirit of youth with you throughout your life.  She is living proof that people can find joy, no matter what their age.

While kids are the ones we usually see building snow forts and having snowball battles while the adults shiver in cold misery,  Albini reminds us that we can still enjoy winter no matter our age and revel in its beauty like the kids we all should still be at heart.

We are so lucky that Armand had his camera and was able to capture this inspiring footage of Albini as she frolicked happily through the cold, wet snow like any kid, perfecting her skills making snowballs.

We may consider ourselves to be cool and hip adults, but one thing’s for sure; until you’ve played in the snow while being just over a century in age, you’ll never be quite as cool as the joyful, sweet and fun-loving Albini.

When you think of sledding, snowmen and snowball fights, you most likely picture kids in mittens and knit caps.  What you may not be expecting is that one of the kids playing in the snow is anything but; she is 101 years young and full of appreciation...

Earth

Second Impact Crater Found Buried Under Ice In Greenland

In November of 2018, scientists revealed that they had discovered a 19-mile wide impact crater below the ice in Northwest Greenland, called the Hiawatha impact crater.  The crater was the first of its kind, found under one of the earth’s continental ice sheets.

Scientists have now uncovered another impact crater underneath a mile of ice about one hundred miles from the Hiawatha crater, according to a study led by NASA glaciologist Joseph MacGregor that was recently released in Geophysical Research Letters.

 Joseph revealed in the study that it has become very rare to find any previously undiscovered impact craters on Earth, much less to find one buried so deeply under the ice.

This particular crater has a diameter of twenty two miles, making it even larger than its neighbor, the Hiawatha.  It’s not certain that this is, in fact, an impact crater but researchers feel confident enough in the site’s shape and geophysical makeup to categorize it as one.

If this crater was made by a falling meteorite, it will be the second of its kind to be found under ice sheets in Greenland or Antarctica.   It will be the 22nd largest impact crater currently known on Earth.

Astro-Geology

Both craters were discovered with the help of MacGregor, who stated that he was excited that new discoveries were still possible after having surveyed the earth at length from space, air and land. Prior to discovering Hiawatha, it had historically been believed that any impact craters in Greenland would have been destroyed by the moving and eroding forces of ice.

When the team discovered Hiawatha, they decided it was possible that more craters may exist under the ice. The scientific team studied the topography of the terrain under the sheets of ice in Greenland and compared them with the ice surfaces in data gathered by satellite.

One hundred and fourteen miles to the southeast of Hiawatha, they discovered a circular pattern and suspected it may have been an impact crater.  MacGregor asked himself if his research and findings could support the idea; having already discovered one crater below the ice was amazing enough, but to find two was unheard of.

Initially, MacGregor considered the idea that the circular area was a collapsed volcano, but he realized that all volcanic activity in Greenland was hundreds of miles from the site.  He was also unable to see any evidence of positive magnetic anomaly that typically accompanies volcanic sites.

In November of 2018, scientists revealed that they had discovered a 19-mile wide impact crater below the ice in Northwest Greenland, called the Hiawatha impact crater.  The crater was the first of its kind, found under one of the earth’s continental ice...

Cool Stories

Parade Costumes: Rio’s Dress Code For Carnival

The Rio carnivals are the largest spectacles of their kind anywhere in the world.  It’s a nationwide gathering of dancing, partying, parades, and positively jaw-dropping costumes.

While the costumes may seem just another part of the festivities, each with its own meaning and no connection to the next, they are actually a very important part of the parades and have to follow very strict guidelines.

The Sambodromo is the hub of the Rio De Janeiro parades, with flashy floats and costumes as well as partygoers packed like sardines in a can.  Shrove Tuesday is the ultimate peak of the event, when the top 14 samba schools give their presentations for the judges, each school hoping to be crowned the best in the carnival.

This crucial performance is the showcase of the costumes.  Each costume plays to the chosen theme of its school.  Once the school has chosen its theme, it needs to fashion the costumes to match.  The costumes are generally handmade, with sequins, feathers, and other details carefully chosen and attached by hand to each costume.

These complicated costumes will be equipped with gaudy accessories and an elaborate headdress.  While the rules forbid outright nudity in the competition, many of the revelers are scantily clad, wearing carefully placed, tiny bejeweled bikinis.

The parade splits the school’s performances into wings.  Each wing plays a specific role and wears a specific costume.  The musicians and dancers that surround the moving float are called the Ground Wing.  The Ground Wing welcomes tourists to purchase costumes and join the parade with them, thrusting them fully into the experience.

The next wing is called the Float Wing, which is the float and the performers dancing on it.  The samba schools take the Float Wing seriously as this is the portion of their performances that are judged.  The performers will have dedicated many hours to rehearsing, and these costumes can cost anywhere from $9,000 to $10,000 USD.

Street Parties


Surrounding the parades are street parties.  Lots and lots of parades.  These street parties are all about fun costumes, with no costume requirements.  The street partygoers can dress however they want, although pirates, Indian, sailors, police, and cowgirl costumes are the most popular.

Street parties are generally hot because of the Rio De Janeiro temperatures and the huge crowds.  Some partygoers may opt to not wear costumes, but at the least they will be sporting bright accessories, vibrant colors, and face paint.

The Rio carnivals are the largest spectacles of their kind anywhere in the world.  It’s a nationwide gathering of dancing, partying, parades, and positively jaw-dropping costumes.

While the costumes may seem just another part of the festivities, each with...

Tech News

New Record: Most Autonomous Cars In A Row

In November of 2018, China’s Changan Automobile manufacturing company set a Guinness World Record for the longest parade of autonomous cars.  The car line featured 55 of the self-driving vehicles, traveling two miles at 30 km/h (or 18.6 mph) with a distance of two car lengths between them. The parade lasted nine minutes and seven seconds.  The record was set on a test track in Chongqing.

Yang Guo, an engineer for the autonomous car lineup at Changan Automobile, explained that while each car had a “driver,” they were not permitted to have any contact with the cars’ autopilot systems.  In fact, the parade was originally intended to feature 56 cars before one driver became disqualified by engaging with the car as it drove.

Better Lane Detection

Engineers were able to make alterations to the vehicle sensors to allow them to have better detection for lanes and increased sensitivity to the positions of the cars in front of them.  By reducing the vehicles’ event and object detection and the automatic response to these factors, the vehicles were able to be programmed to drive much closer together than they would under normal driving conditions.

The test track allowed the dynamic driving tasks to be lowered from five percent to one percent because a controlled driving area, such as the test track, has far fewer variables than are found under normal driving conditions.

Changan Automobiles is hoping that by setting the record, they are showing the world China’s commitment to inventing new technologies.  Changan’s Executive Vice President, Tan Benhong, explains,

“The artificial intelligence and new energy of automobiles is a very important trend in the future development of automobiles. As the world’s first brand to break this record, we will make more efforts in the field of intelligence.”

In November of 2018, China’s Changan Automobile manufacturing company set a Guinness World Record for the longest parade of autonomous cars.  The car line featured 55 of the self-driving vehicles, traveling two miles at 30 km/h (or 18.6 mph) with a...

Animals

Watch: Scuba Divers Amazed By Smart Fish

Our oceans are full of mystery and magnificent creatures. They continually amaze us with their intelligence and understanding.

We have long thought of ourselves as being the only species with the capacity for complex thought, but if we truly pay attention to the animals around us, we can see that they are smarter than we give them credit for.

These scuba divers have descended to 70 feet below the waves and perched on a ledge near Darwin’s Arch, one of the most famous dive sites in the Galapagos Islands.

They have come to see hammerhead sharks and whale sharks that cruise past these islands on the ocean currents. They will watch as if they are in front of the world’s biggest IMAX screen.

Fishy Behaviour

As the divers sat and watched, a Mexican hogfish decided to hang around with them too. It swam around and looked at them curiously. It even swam under one of the divers when hammerhead sharks were close.

It seemed to fully understand that humans were nothing to be frightened of. But then it did something very surprising. One of the divers noticed that the fish was staring at a small rock and then staring at her.

The fish moved back and forth to her and then to the rock in front of her hands. The fish was acting so oddly that the diver beside her began to film the fish instead of looking for whale sharks and hammerheads.

It first appeared that the fish liked the diver. Eventually realizing that the fish was returning to the same rock repeatedly, she wondered if something under the rock was making the fish excited.

As she reached out to lift the rock, the fish darted in front of it and stared intently. To her surprise, as she lifted the rock, she found a baby octopus underneath.

This was a thrilling sight for the divers and it was obvious that the fish had seen or smelled the creature hiding beneath the rock. It was also possible that the octopus had been eating something that smelled interesting to the Mexican hogfish.

The octopus was far too big for the hogfish to eat, so it merely watched as the divers filmed it out in the open.

Fish become used to divers very quickly and they often understand that humans will not try to harm them, but to try to communicate with a diver and signal to a diver that something is under a rock would require more complex thought and understanding than we once believed they were capable of.

If the fish was truly hoping that the diver would lift the rock, that’s even more surprising. Yet, we see this sort of behavior constantly between groupers and scuba divers who spear hunt for lionfish.

The groupers will actually locate the lionfish and stare into the hiding spots until the diver responds. The more we pay attention to the animals around us, the more we see that we have a lot to learn about them.

Our oceans are full of mystery and magnificent creatures. They continually amaze us with their intelligence and understanding.
We have long thought of ourselves as being the only species with the capacity for complex thought, but if we truly pay attention to...