Santa Muerte

This is just one of many eye-catching pieces of art from Ravi Zupa, who says he is inspired by German Renaissance printmakers, Flemish primitives, abstract expressionists, Japanese woodblock artists, and Mughal painters. His work frequently incorporates religious iconography from Europe, Asia, and Pre-Columbian Latin America with revolutionary propaganda from around the world. (via my friend Michael Murray’s wonderful online magazine, Galaxy Brain).

This Minecraft player tried to duplicate the known universe

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Christopher Slayton spent two months exploring black holes, identifying the colors of Saturn’s rings, and looking at his home planet from outer space. And Slayton, who is 18, didn’t even have to leave his desk to do so. He set out to build the entire observable universe, block by block, in Minecraft, a video game where users can build and explore worlds. By the end, he felt as if he had traveled to every corner of the universe. “Everyone freaks out about the power and expansiveness of the universe, which I never really got that much,” he said. But after working for a month and 15 days to build it and additional two weeks to create a YouTube video unveiling it, “I realized even more how beautiful it is.”

The owner of this iPhone was either in a severe car crash or just on a roller coaster

On a sunny September Sunday, Sara White and her family headed to Kings Island amusement park outside Cincinnati. The 39-year-old dentist zipped her two-day-old iPhone 14 Pro securely in her fanny pack, buckled into the Mystic Timbers roller coaster and enjoyed getting hoisted 109 feet in the air and whipped around at over 50 mph. Afterward, she looked down at her phone. The lock screen was lined with missed calls and voice mails from an emergency dispatcher asking if she was OK. During the ride, Apple’s new car-crash detection was triggered, and it automatically dialed 911. The call to the Warren County Communications Center featured an automated voice message from Ms. White’s iPhone: “The owner of this iPhone was in a severe car crash and is not responding to their phone.”

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Scientists find truth behind many ancient flood stories

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It wasn’t long after Henry David Inglis arrived on the island of Jersey that he heard the old story. Locals told the 19th-century Scottish travel writer how, in a bygone age, their island had been much more substantial, and that folks used to walk to the French coast. Inglis scoffed as he looked out across 22 kms of sea between Jersey and the French coast, and went on to write that this was “an assertion too ridiculous to merit examination.” About 150 years earlier, another writer had been similarly unmoved; no one could have trod from Jersey to Normandy, he wrote, “unlesse it were before the Flood,” referring to the Old Testament. Yet there had been a flood. A big one. Between roughly 15,000 and 6,000 years ago, massive flooding caused by melting glaciers raised sea levels around Europe, and that flooding is what turned Jersey into an island.

Hurricane Ian destroyed their homes, then algorithms sent them money

When Hurricane Ian churned over Florida in late September, it left a trail of destruction from high winds and flooding. But a week after the storm passed, some people in three of the worst-hit counties saw an unexpected beacon of hope. Nearly 3,500 residents of Collier, Charlotte, and Lee Counties received a push notification on their smartphones offering $700 cash assistance, no questions asked. A Google algorithm deployed in partnership with nonprofit GiveDirectly had estimated from satellite images that those people lived in badly damaged neighborhoods and needed some help.

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The man who stole the Mona Lisa and took it back to Italy

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Saturday was the anniversary of the birth of the Italian painter who made perhaps the biggest art repatriation blunder in history. In 1911, Vincenzo Peruggia stole da Vinci’s masterpiece from Paris and later brought it to Florence. But the theft’s success as a repatriation effort was very short-lived. Less than three years after it was stolen from the Louvre, the Mona Lisa returned to Paris in January 1914. Though he was misguided as a historian and an umpire of provenance — the painting had been clearly and cleanly purchased by the King of France, the country to which it was ultimately returned — Peruggia’s caper is worth recalling at a time when repatriation remains a murky battleground.

The scandal that rocked a Cleveland fishing tournament

There’s nibble-around-the-edges, cut-the-corners cheating, like going five miles an hour over the speed limit or faking sick to get out of work. This is a story about the other kind: whole-hog, all-in cheating where plausible deniability doesn’t exist. It begins in Cleveland’s Gordon Park, on the shores of Lake Erie, where the Lake Erie Walleye Trail was wrapping up its championship event on Saturday. Fischer weighed the fish of angler after angler, picking up their fish and setting them on a scale. Late in the proceedings, the anglers of boat No. 12, Chase Cominsky and Jake Runyan, brought their five-fish catch up for weighing. They needed to beat 16.89 total pounds to claim Team of the Year honors and $30,000 in various prizes. Their catch’s weight: 33.91 pounds. The silence that greeted Fischer’s announcement was the first sign that something was very much amiss.

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Would you swim with a robot dolphin?

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In San Jose, California, kindergarteners are sitting at the edge of an outdoor pool when a sleek two-meter-long mass breaches in front of them, water dripping off its smooth gray skin. It stops and enthusiastically nods, splashing the children as their jaws drop in awe. A thin, barely perceptible cord running from its navel to a control panel nearby is the only obvious sign that this is no dolphin—it’s a robot. Delle, a prototype animatronic dolphin currently undergoing testing in San Jose, became a media sensation in 2020 because of its hyperrealistic features. Created by Edge Innovations—the Hollywood special effects company behind the killer whale in Free Willy, the snake in Anaconda, and the dolphin in Flipper—Delle was designed to revolutionize traditional captive animal demonstrations.

One of long COVID’s worst symptoms is also its most misunderstood

On March 25, 2020, Hannah Davis was texting with two friends when she realized that she couldn’t understand one of their messages. In hindsight, that was the first sign that she had COVID-19. It was also her first experience with the phenomenon known as “brain fog,” and the moment when her old life contracted into her current one. She once worked in artificial intelligence and analyzed complex systems without hesitation, but now “runs into a mental wall” when faced with tasks as simple as filling out forms. Her memory, once vivid, feels frayed and fleeting. Former mundanities—buying food, making meals, cleaning up—can be agonizingly difficult. Her inner world—what she calls “the extras of thinking, like daydreaming, making plans, imagining”—is gone. The fog “is so encompassing,” she told me, “it affects every area of my life.”

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He just found out he has months to live. Here are his thoughts

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Jack Thomas writes: “I’ve been a journalist for more than 60 years. So after doctors delivered the news, I sat down to do what came naturally, if painfully: Write this story.” As a teenager, Thomas says he often wondered how his life would change if he knew that he would die soon. “How does a person live with the knowledge that the end is coming? How would I tell family and friends? Would I be depressed? Is there an afterlife? How do you get ready for death, anyhow? I was raised Episcopalian, though I didn’t turn out to be a very good one. Unlike Roman Catholics, Jews, and atheists, we Episcopalians are very good at fence-sitting. We embrace all viewpoints, and as a result, we are as confused as the Unitarians.”

Meet the meteorite hunters who rush in when space rocks crash to Earth

It’s around 8 a.m. on April 27, 2022. A woman outside of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, is relaxing in her hot tub, lulled into a quiet calm as her horses neigh in the distance. Suddenly, a blinding red-yellow light shoots across the sky. In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a man stuck in traffic sees the same light ignite the heavens—“like a welder’s torch,” he’d later write in an eyewitness account. Moments later, a series of sonic booms thunder across southwestern Mississippi so loudly that NASA would equate the event to the detonation of three tons of TNT. In Tucson, Arizona, Ashley Humphries starts making travel plans with her friend Mark Lyon. In Eureka Springs, Arkansas, Steve Arnold contemplates hopping in his pickup truck. In Connecticut, Roberto Vargas looks into flights. If there really are meteorites on the ground, hundreds of thousands of dollars could be on the line. But these hunters will need to act fast if they want a piece of it—literally.

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Alone at the edge of the world

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Susie Goodall wanted to circumnavigate the globe in her sailboat without stopping. She didn’t bargain for what everyone else wanted. In the heaving seas of the Southern Ocean, a small, red-hulled sailboat tossed and rolled, at the mercy of the tail end of a tempest. The boat’s mast was sheared away, its yellow sails sunk deep in the sea. Amid the wreckage of the cabin, Susie Goodall sloshed through water seeping in from the deck, which had cracked when a great wave somersaulted the boat end over end. She was freezing, having been lashed by ocean, rain, and wind. Her hands were raw and bloody. Except for the boat, her companion and home for the 15,000 miles she’d sailed over the past five months, Goodall was alone. The 29-year-old British woman had spent three years readying for this voyage. It demanded more from her than she could have imagined. She loved the planning of it, rigging her boat for a journey that might mean not stepping on land for nearly a year. But she was unprepared for the attention it drew—for the fact that everyone wanted a piece of her story.

Baldwin Lee’s extraordinary pictures from the American South

A new book—the first-ever collection of Baldwin Lee’s work—and a solo exhibition in New York make the case that he is one of the great overlooked luminaries of American picture-making. Selections from his archive of nearly ten thousand pictures, taken in poor Black communities in the American South between 1983 and 1989, have been exhibited sporadically. “I showed enough to get tenure and raises,” he said recently from his home near the University of Tennessee, where he has been teaching for four decades. Lee was never meant to be a photographer. Born and raised in New York, he was the eldest son of a reluctant Chinatown “noodle king,” who had emigrated from Hong Kong, fought in the U.S. Army on D Day, and had his aspirations to become an architect dashed when he inherited his uncle’s thriving business supplying noodles to Chinese restaurants up and down the East Coast.

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