This farmer secretly paid for his neighbors prescriptions

When the doctor in Alabama saw what a hornet sting had done to Eli Schlageter, his advice to Eli’s parents was unequivocal: Get an EpiPen. But they were stunned to learn that a single dose of the lifesaving drug, used to treat severe allergic reactions, cost $800 — even with insurance coverage. So the pharmacist in the small farming town of Geraldine turned to an envelope full of carefully folded hundred-dollar bills from an anonymous donor. Every month for more than a decade, a local farmer made anonymous cash donations to the pharmacy, aiming to help neighbors struggling to pay for prescription medication. They learned of his good deed only after he died at 80 in January.

Women in the age of polar exploration

Opportunities were restricted during the so-called Heroic Age, but women still dreamed of exploration… and sometimes managed to reach the polar regions. Ernest Shackleton, known for his expeditions to Antarctica, received a letter from three women eager to join his crew. “We are three strong healthy girls,” they explained. “Willing to undergo any hardships that you yourself undergo.” They even offered to trade their “feminine garb” for “masculine attire” if their clothes proved to be a hindrance. In 1806, Isobel Gunn disguised herself as a man named John Fubbister so she could join an expedition with the Hudson’s Bay Company. Her secret was only discovered when she got sick and went to her supervisor, Alexander Henry, for help.

Gravity batteries in abandoned mines could power the planet, scientists say

A study proposes that decommissioned mines could be repurposed to provide “gravity batteries”. Gravity batteries try to solve one of the central problems regarding renewable energy sources like wind and solar – storing excess energy. Wind and solar often generate more energy than a grid can immediately use, so power companies have to store what’s left over, usually in batteries. Methods like the latest experiment use that extra energy to lift heavy objects. When the energy is needed, the weight is dropped, which spins a turbine and converts the kinetic energy from gravity back into power that can be used as electricity.

The old grammar rule we all obey without even realising it

If you’re using more than one adjective before a noun, they are subject to a certain hierarchy. You know it’s proper to say “silly old fool” and wrong to say “old silly fool”, but you might never have thought about why – or if you did you probably imagined it was just some time-honoured practice you picked up by rote. But it isn’t. There’s a rule. The rule is that multiple adjectives are always ranked accordingly: opinion, size, age, shape, colour, origin, material, purpose. Unlike many laws of grammar, this one is virtually inviolable, even in informal speech. You simply can’t say My Greek Fat Big Wedding, or leather walking brown boots.

Soviet astronauts used this ingenious mechanical device for navigation

The Soviet space program used completely different controls and instruments from American spacecraft. One of the most interesting navigation instruments onboard Soyuz spacecraft was the Globus, which used a rotating globe to indicate the spacecraft’s position above the Earth. This navigation instrument was an electromechanical analog computer that used an elaborate system of gears, cams, and differentials to compute the spacecraft’s position. The globe rotated while fixed crosshairs on the plastic dome indicated the spacecraft’s position. Latitude and longitude dials next to the globe provided a numerical indication of location. A light/shadow dial at the bottom showed when the spacecraft would be illuminated by the sun or in shadow.

This numbering system invented by 13th century monks is more efficient than ours

Cistercian numbers are an ancient numeration system invented by the order of Cistercian monks in the 13th century. Its peculiarity is that it can represent very large numbers in a more compact format than both Roman and Arabic numerals. With just one character, it is in fact possible to represent all numbers from 1 to 9,999. The system is structured around base 10 and uses signs and lines in a special way. A vertical straight line acts as an axis dividing the plane into four quadrants, each one representing one of the four digits: the upper right quadrant for the units, the upper left quadrant for the tens, the lower right quadrant for the hundreds, and the lower left quadrant for the thousands.

Towering tornadoes of plasma on the surface of the sun

Note: This is a version of my personal newsletter, which I send out via Ghost, the open-source publishing platform. You can see other issues and sign up here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: