More cool, random and interesting things

Updated: Jun 4

We've shared cool and interesting snippets before, and we'll continue to do so as we continue our earnest quest to find the awesomeness in this world and spark curiosity in ourselves and others. As we're researching articles for The Future Learning Project, anything that doesn't fit our usual categories goes into our 'cool and interesting' file, and posts like this one are the result.


You might like to use these as a provocation for a planned discussion or lesson, or just a random piece of knowledge that people might be interested in. Let's begin!

Our first cool and interesting thing is Flag Stories, which examines all things flag-related. Examples include shapes used, colours, numbers of flag changes and colours by continents.

A new study has revealed that water is not the most hydrating beverage. Beverages with fat, protein, sodium and sugar tend to be better absorbed. Note: too much sugar doesn't help.

What's the best place to park a car? Maths tackles the question, and tests three common parking scenarios. Spoiler: the 'prudent' strategy, or parking between the first encountered gap between two cars, tends to be the most efficient. Don't bother with the 'meek' strategy.

We've seen some pretty cool things during our searches, but not many as good as an octopus changing colour while dreaming about hunting.

Staying with our animal friends, this study indicates that rats will save another rat from drowning, and may therefore be demonstrating empathy. In the study, the rats would forgo the option of a tasty snack to rescue another rat in distress, and the findings open the door to further study of empathy in animals.

Anyone who's spent any time at all near a colony of bats will know that it tends to be a noisy affair, and researchers are starting to decode and 'translate' the noises the bats make. They noticed patterns between certain types of calls and certain activities, and classified these into four areas: food, sleep, sex and space. The bats not only communicate needs, but vary the calls according to the individual they are communicating with. The researchers are hoping to apply this technique to other species - watch this space.

Here's one for those of you seeking to advocated for political change - it only takes 3.5% of people to change a society, and non-violent protests are far more effective at achieving their stated goals than violent ones are. In addition, this research indicates that once about 3.5% of a population is participating in protest action, change of some description is almost inevitable.

Irish lighthouse workers were critical to the success of D Day during World War 2, and endured incredible hardship along the way. A fascinating, little-known story for those interested in this period.

Take a look at the deep, deep sea - this is a really cool provocation, and you'll be taken to the very deepest part of our oceans.

A Chinese guy at Burning Man - an interesting recount of the different Chinese groups at the event, and why they are a microcosm of Chinese society.

Have you ever wondered what the world's 7.5 Billion people look like in one chart? Well, wonder no more. A useful resource to generate some interest and turn abstract numbers into something visual and easy to understand.

The limit of human endurance is 2.5 times the body's resting metabolic rate, or 4,000 calories a day for an average person - anything more is unsustainable in the long term. In addition, pregnant women operate at the limit of endurance throughout their pregnancy. Some more interesting insights from the research:

  • Marathon runners used 15.6 times their resting metabolic rate during a race.

  • Cyclists during the 23 days of the Tour de France used 4.9 times their resting metabolic rate.

  • A 95-day Antarctic trekker used 3.5 times the resting metabolic rate.

Those of us who have been working in education for a while will well remember tamagotchis, and the determination that many children showed in trying to take care of their pet, often with plenty of tears and drama. This article describes the 'tamagotchi effect' and the relationship formed between humans and technology, and what it means for how we interact with devices today.

Chinese Science Fiction - yes it's its own genre, and looks really cool.

This video presents one man's journey to build a toaster from scratch. This doesn't mean purchasing the materials and assembling them, it means mining the metals, making the plastic from oil and producing it completely from scratch. A great insight into process knowledge, global supply chains and technology. It's fascinating, and students really enjoy unpacking and discussing this.

Here's a 45MPH off-road skateboard - it's here for the cool factor.

This is another video that students and young people really enjoy - the Virgin Galactic spaceship undergoing testing. Pretty incredible stuff.

This article formed the basis of an interesting student investigation into the history of people and their interactions with animals. Based on the research referenced in this article, contact with humans gave dogs new eye muscles so they are better able to communicate. Researchers looked at the facial differences between wolves and modern domestic dogs, and found that not only do domestic dogs have muscles around their eyes, they appear to exist specifically to communicate with humans.

Here's an excellent graphic showing how social networks have changed over time. Lots of basis for further investigation and discussion here.

I find the flat Earth movement endlessly fascinating, and a call to action for the importance of education, learning and facts. So have you ever wondered about the psychology of flat Earthers? Wonder no more, and read this article in which attempts to demonstrate that the Earth is flat backfire in satisfying fashion.

It's a completely pointless exercise and serves no useful purpose, therefore someone just had to do it. In this case, it's mining Bitcoin on an Apollo guidance computer. Due to the design of the computer, its age, the type of code used and incompatibility of its processes with modern systems each of these challenges needed a technical solution. Super smart and interesting reading.

Why did it take so long to invent the bicycle? The basic principle of the machine is easily understood and it's now fairly simple to design and produce one, so what took us so long? This article explores various theories, eventually narrowing it down to the specifics of successful design and available materials along with various economic and cultural factors.


Thank you for joining us this week. We welcome any and all feedback and comments, and please contact me with any questions or suggestions you have.

Sean

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