As the European Space Agency (ESA) prepares to put a robotic lander on a comet for the first time ever, we Earth-bound folks are trying to get a sense of just how big that comet, known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, really is.
The ESA has helpfully created this graphic to give us a sense of its scale. But that still doesn't seem real enough to some. So a user named "quark1972" has tweeted a composite photo showing how the comet would tower over Los Angeles. It's probably not to scale, but it sure makes real the size of the comet — which is about 2.2 miles by 2.5 miles — and gives you a sense of what devastating effect a comet collision might have on Earth.
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If you are single in the US, you are now in the majority
Just over 50 percent of all Americans are single now. And that' a huge change from 1950, when only 22 percent were single. A lot of cultural trends have pushed that number up, from divorce to unmarried couples living together to greater acceptance that living alone is a reasonable option. But what has that done to civic life?
PRI's The Takeaway spoke to Eric Klinenberg, a sociology professor at New York University and the author of the book, Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone. His research shows that single adults are more likely to volunteer for civic organizations than those who are married. “They’re also more likely to spend time with friends and with neighbors. And, of course, they’re a big reason that there’s so much activity and vitality in the public areas of cities today — they’re not people who are self-involved, sitting on the couch just buying things on eBay."
How does the son of a terrorist decide to choose peace?
Zak Ebrahim was seven when his father brought him to a shooting range for target practice with a group of Muslim men. The FBI was watching the group that day, and the adult men would eventually be convicted of packing a van with 1500 pounds of explosives and setting it off in a sub-level parking garage of the World Trade Center North Tower. It killed six and wounded a thousand people.
Ebrahim's father, El Sayyid Nosair, is now serving a life plus 15 years term in a federal prison in Illinois. Ebrahim changed his name and broke ties with his father to create a life free of that association. Last week, he said he decided to "out" himself and speak publicly about his life in a TED talk to support victims of terrorism. He spoke of his childhood, built on hatred of others, and how his experiences of being bullied as a kid and of finding kindness in unexpected places started to change that hatred. He said meeting people who were reviled in his household, from Jews to gays, helped to break open the world of black and white beliefs that he had been taught.
Think you know the Snow White story? Think again
Translators have long wrought havoc on the original fairy tales collected by the Brothers Grimm. In Snow White, for example, the 1823 English edition relates how Snow White's stepmother tells the huntsman to take the girl into the woods and "lose her." In the original German, it's a bit different. “I want you to cut out her lungs and her liver, and bring them back to me so that I might boil them in salt — and eat them,” the stepmother commands.
PRI's The World in Words podcast talked with author Adam Gidwitz, who aims to bring back the original tales for an audience of children. Gidwitz found that when he read the original stories aloud, kids could handle the graphic sections — if he threw in some humor and prepared them for the violent parts. So he's authored several collections in English. Those collections have, in turn, been translated back into German and are also getting pretty good reviews from Germans.
Would you like a gerbil with that pizza?
Apparently, it's a cut-throat market in the pizza delivery business in Australia. So a Pizza Hut franchise in Mount Waverley, Melbourne, decided to go beyond the typical discounts and free bottle of soda offers to drive its sales. It offered a cute pet to anyone who bought 10 large pizzas.
The store put up a picture of a hamster and partnered with a local pet store. That's when complaints started streaming across social media, according to the website News.com.au. Many were outraged that animals were being treated as toys or prizes.
Before long, an animal rights group got involved and the promotional sign was literally papered over. Pizza Hut Australia jumped in to deny it had authorized any such deal and to handle the PR nightmare. Some customers vowed to never buy a pizza there again. But when we checked the story on News.com.au, Google helpfully served us up an ad offering Pizza Hut coupons ... just in case we were hungry once again.
What we are seeing on social
Weather around the world
You may not have noticed anything different about this past August, but it was officially the hottest August ever — or at least since we started taking regular temperature measurements more than 130 years ago. NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies released the findings on Monday, which showed August was ever so slightly hotter worldwide — one hundredth of a degree Celsius — than the runner-up, August 2011. Accuweather also reports that this past summer (June-August) was the second hottest summer ever for the northern hemisphere, beaten just slightly by 2010. Of course, scientists always remind us that any one year's temperature doesn't really matter, it's the trend that matters. But that trend seems to be going up.