Would anyone like a terrible, SLIGHTLY MURDERATED CAT who pissed all over my D&D books in front of God and everybody yesterday?
Jkjk you cannot have him; he is awful, and he is mine, and if he sets PAW near my RPG shelf again he will make, I think we can agree, a very handsome pair of slippers.
What Is Something You Learned Recently?
(Obligatory reminder to subscribe to my once-monthly newsletter here, which rounds up everything I wrote in the preceding month, grants access to a curated members-only Spotify playlist, and includes a piece of exclusive bonus collectible content I will NEVER repost anywhere else, ever!)
AS IS MY CUSTOM and also a symptom of one of my emotio-mental disorders, I was unable to choose just the one, AND SO I PRESENT TO YOU: A SAMPLER:
- Due to their size and power, polar bears are calorie-furnaces, which is why they’re primarily ambush predators who feast on fatty seals; if a polar bear chased a goose for more than twelve seconds, it would burn more calories than it would get from eating the goose.
(Courtesy of Jon Mooallem’s Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America)
- While the United States, Libya, and Myanmar/Burma (I don’t know which name is correct for which reasons and don’t want to accidentally like, legitimize a genocide through nomenclature or something, gimme a break here) are the only countries in the world that still officially use Imperial (or Standard) Measures instead of the Metric System—some Americans going so far as to say that the switch would be blasphemous—what most of us don’t realize is that Metric still won in the end, because Standard units are officially calibrated and designated relative to Metric units; that is, a gallon is officially, legally, scientifically defined as 3.78541 liters.
(Courtesy of 99% Invisible, Episode 280: Half Measures)
- Bees are electric! A-buzz-buzz-buzz. And flowers will actually start to emit a compatible charge and reach out to them when they sense bees nearby! Life is amazing!
(Courtesy of Let’s Learn Everything!, Episode 1: Time Illusions, Electric Bees, And Fakespeares)
- The only reason phone numbers are formatted the way they are, and the only reason the phone book is arranged alphabetically, is because the first, biggest telephone exchange in the country was run entirely by—I am not making this up—newsies, whose energy, dexterity, and mastery of mnemonics made them well-suited to the job…until a measles epidemic completely devastated their ranks and they had to be replaced on the fly with the grown human women we now associate with switchboards, who instantly realized that oral tradition wasn’t a sustainable model for a growing body of this kind of information, and created the system we have today.
(Courtesy of Omnibus, Episode 523: The Phone Book (Entry 931.RV2015))
- While of course “music” is a huge and diverse topic, music theory is largely math and has to do with the relationships between tones and scales, and THOSE can be defined and categorized in a way that’s actually very beautiful! One such way is the note called Universal Standard ‘A’, the note by which all others are calibrated, which can be found at exactly 440Hz and which you may have seen used by orchestras, symphonies, or choirs before a performance to realign their internal tone-sensors with each other, the conductor, and the music itself. And you can recreate Universal Standard ‘A’ yourself, any friggin’ time you like!
So if you’ve ever clipped a baseball or playing card to your bike and let it hit the spokes of the tire to make the coolest sound in the world, you know that the faster you go—meaning the faster, and more, spokes hit the card—the sound it makes gets higher; this is, quite literally, the meaning of ‘frequency’, or ‘hertz’ as is the term of art in the context of sound and the electromagnetic spectrum. Because Universal Standard ‘A’ is exactly 440Hz, you can reproduce it by (if you’re this kind of nerd) placing 440 evenly-spaced spikes or sticks or another version of ‘spokes’ on the outside of a wheel and turning it at such speed that it makes exactly one revolution per second, therefore causing the card to strike the spokes exactly 440 times in one second, or a frequency of 440, producing a sound at 440 Hz, specifically called A440Hz in this context. (You can also do 44 spokes and make it turn ten times per second, etc.) This device is called a Hooke’s Wheel. I felt the need to include that.
(Courtesy of Ryan North’s How To Invent Everything: A Survival Guide For The Stranded Time Traveler)
I am now out of neat things I learned, at least that come to mind. Now: I go eat a nice sandwich and watch Star Trek: Discovery.