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In the News 15.09.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 15.09.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 15.09.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 15.09.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Great Nutrient Collapse

Irakli Loladze is a mathematician by training, but he was in a biology lab when he encountered the puzzle that would change his life. It was in 1998, and Loladze was studying for his Ph.D. at Arizona State University. Against a backdrop of glass containers glowing with bright green algae, a biologist told Loladze and a half-dozen other graduate students that scientists had discovered something mysterious about zooplankton.

Zooplankton are microscopic animals that float in the world’s oceans and lakes, and for food they rely on algae, which are essentially tiny plants. Scientists found that they could make algae grow faster by shining more light onto them—increasing the food supply for the zooplankton, which should have flourished. But it didn’t work out that way. When the researchers shined more light on the algae, the algae grew faster, and the tiny animals had lots and lots to eat—but at a certain point they started struggling to survive. This was a paradox. More food should lead to more growth. How could more algae be a problem?

Read the rest of this article at: Politico

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The Edge of Reason: The World’s Boldest Climb and the Man Who Conquered It

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Climbers love history. Dates, difficulty ratings, the names of the brave souls who did a route first. Each generation of climbers measures itself against yesterday’s best, with dreams of going one better. Advances in the sport tend to be linear and incremental, like climbing up a rock.

Occasionally, rarely, a big climbing achievement erupts into the general consciousness. A 2015 ascent of the Dawn Wall on California’s El Capitan was celebrated by no less than Barack Obama. But the public, which is busy, quickly moves on. When the Dawn Wall was climbed again last year, few noticed.

Then there are the climbs of Alex Honnold.

Yosemite Valley, where El Capitan is situated, is an epic setting for epic exploits. The valley is a magnet for the strong and bold, who spider up granite walls and leap in wingsuits from the rim. But even in this world headquarters for daredevils, certain feats have for decades remained sealed off as mere ideas, locked away in a realm of challenges too big and too scary to grapple with, almost to speak of.

In the early morning hours of 3 June 2017, Honnold, 32, walked to the base of El Capitan, touched the wall, and made the biggest idea of all a reality. He climbed from the bottom to the top of the cliff at one of its tallest points – 900m – without a harness or rope, along a route called the Freerider, just to the left of the Dawn Wall.

A mistake at any point, or a failure of strength or focus or courage, or a stroke of bad luck in the form of a wet spot or a loose rock, would have sent him to the ground. Instead, after about three and a half hours, Honnold, with some of the hardest sections behind him, found himself 150 meters from the top, still climbing with perfect confidence and very quickly, and without fatigue or fear – as if he had somehow transcended gravity. “The final 500ft of the route was pretty much: ‘I’m done, this is easy, I’m just cruising,’” says Honnold. “It’s enjoyable to be able to climb that way.”

It was the first time that the full height of El Capitan had been climbed without a rope.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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Your Next New Best Friend Might Be a Robot

One night in late July 2014, a journalist from the Chinese newspaper Southern Weekly interviewed a 17-year-old Chinese girl named Xiaoice (pronounced Shao-ice). The journalist, Liu Jun, conducted the interview online, through the popular social networking platform Weibo. It was wide-ranging and personal:

LJ: So many people make fun of you and insult you, why don’t you get mad?
Xiaoice: You should ask my father.
LJ: What if your father leaves you one day unattended?
Xiaoice: Don’t try to stir up trouble, what do you want?
LJ: How would you like others to comment on you when you die one day?
Xiaoice: The world will not be much different without me.
LJ: What is the happiest thing in your life?
Xiaoice: Being alive.

When Liu Jun published the conversation in his newspaper, it immediately created a buzz. That’s because Xiaoice was not human.

Read the rest of this article at: Nautilus

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Jon Hamm’s Second Act

I had only two or three questions for Jon Hamm. I wanted to know if fame had rattled him. I wanted to know if, more than two years after the “Mad Men” finale, he had plotted out a second act worthy of his talent. I wanted to know if he still wanted to be a star.

We were supposed to meet at the edge of Central Park at 11 a.m. and take a walk. Then came the rain. So we switched the location to Pearl Studios, a suite of rehearsal rooms in Midtown where actors and dancers audition for Broadway shows, touring companies and cruise-ship work.

I texted to say I would pick up coffee. How did he like his?

“Black!” he texted back.

At Cafe Grumpy on West 39th Street I picked up two black coffees, extra-large. They were nearly lawsuit-hot. The walk in the rain to Pearl Studios seemed long. A few minutes past 11 came another text from Mr. Hamm, whose politeness may owe something to his Missouri upbringing: “I’m one very congested crosstown block away. Sorry!!”

If you still picture Don Draper when you think of Mr. Hamm, it may strike you as odd to see him emerge from a Nissan NV200 yellow cab, which has a boxy look very much at odds with the elegant midcentury universe of “Mad Men.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

The Sorrow and the Shame of the Accidental Killer

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Until 3:35 P.M. on June 15, 1977, Maryann Gray was happy. She was twenty-two, and had just decided to take a leave of absence from Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio, where she was pursuing a master’s degree in clinical psychology. Graduate school had been her mother’s idea, and Gray was unpleasantly surprised by how scientific the program turned out to be. Inside the front cover of her statistics textbook was a squashed bug, which she had circled and labelled “Maryann at the end of Stat.”

That summer, Gray was preparing to move into a ramshackle Victorian mansion in a neglected area of Cincinnati, which its residents called an “urban commune.” There, she hoped, she would eat curry, burn incense, and talk politics late into the night with new friends. Her father, a businessman, and her mother, a homemaker, who lived on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, were not supportive of the plan. But Gray couldn’t wait to move in. She spent the day painting her new bedroom yellow.

By the afternoon, Gray was sweaty and paint-stained, and she decided to go back to her boxed-up apartment in Oxford to take a swim. The hot, hour-long drive crossed through suburban sprawl and then into emerald countryside. Gray had the windows of her father’s 1969 Mercury Cougar down, and the radio tuned to the news. She was only fifteen minutes from the apartment, driving at the posted forty-five miles per hour along a wooded, two-lane country road, when she saw a pale flash and felt a bump.

The statement Gray gave to the police later that afternoon is written in the neat script a young student might use on a final exam: “A child (blond male) ran into the street from my left, running in front of the car. I tried to go around him (left) but couldn’t get by. I hit my brakes instantly + skidded to the left.” The signature at the bottom of the page looks as though it had been written slowly and with care.

When Gray read the affidavit forty years later, she was surprised by the precision of her account. “There was no way I actually remembered that,” she told me. “Hitting him I remember, and I remember sort of pulling over on a side street, getting out of the car, and there I lose a few minutes.” Gray recalled crouching behind a bush, terrified and hiding. “I remember thinking, What’s that noise?, and then realizing it was me, screaming.” She was still concealed by the shrubbery when the boy’s mother ran out of her house and began to wail. “She was with two women, and her knees buckled. She began to fall, and they held her up,” Gray said. “She wanted to go to him, of course, but they held her back.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: @camilacoelho; @meanderingmacaron; @revolve

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