Monthly Archives: September 2015

Internet Findings of the Week for September 25, 2015

This week I was confused about rhino hunting, in awe of a clever medical invention,  and overly entertained by lip-syncing celebrities.

Podcast of the Week

The Rhino Hunter

A Black Rhino. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

The hunting of exotic wild animals is a very polarizing topic. When Cecil the lion was killed a few months ago, there was an outcry. Last year a hunting expert won an auction to kill an endangered black rhino in Namibia, news which also faced public criticism. In this podcast, the RadioLab team interviews hunter Corey Knowlton about winning the auction for $350,000, and follows him on his recent rhino hunting trip to Namibia. Knowlton says he would never kill an endangered animal if he didn’t think there was a good reason for it. He says the hunt is justified because the auction money goes directly towards conservation in Namibia, and only very aggressive, old male rhinos who have killed other, younger rhinos are allowed to be hunted. Knowlton believes he is actually saving the rhinos as a species, by hunting one.

Science of the Week

Brooklyn Startup Uses Algae to Heal Wounds

Algae. Photo by Josef Reischig via Wikimedia commons

This Brooklyn-based lab has invented a way to stop bleeding that could completely change the way doctors deal with wounds. Vetigel is a gel made mainly of algae, which forms a mesh that clots blood and can stop bleeding in around 10 seconds, including arterial bleeding. So far it is only approved for use on internal bleeding in animals, but the inventor hopes it can be used for humans within two years.

Video of the Week

Lip Sync Battle With Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen De Generes chooses some hilarious songs to sing in her lip sync battle with Jimmy Fallon. Fallon often outdoes his guests in these battles, but this battle was extremely evenly matched. Fallon first does a very true and passionate rendition of “Mr Brightside” by The Killers, and DeGeneres performs a bizarrely sweet enaction of Diana Ross’s Do You Know Where You’re Going To”. Then the competition seriously heats up and Fallon busts out current hipster dancefloor anthem “Watch Me (Whip/NaeNae)” by Silento, complete with true-to-viral-video dance moves. DeGeneres then blows everyone away with her fantastic gangster performance of Rihanna’s “B***h Better Have My Money”. Watch this right now.

Internet Findings of the Week for September 18, 2015

This week I was moved by the plight of refugees, I was shocked by revelations that Volkswagen may no longer be a trusted car manufacturer, and I learnt about the history of autism research.

Video of the week

Help Is Coming

This is a moving and compelling video about the struggles of the 19.5 million refugees around the world. It shows the real terror that those people are leaving behind, and really helps you understand why these people are absolutely desperate. The video starts with a very apt poem read by actor Benedict Cumberbatch which ends with the chilling line “no one puts children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land”. Then you see clips of children talking about their lives as refugees, and see real footage of the war in Syria and other countries. The soundtrack to the video is a song called “Help Is Coming”; a hopeful message to both reassure those in need, and encourage others to provide that help.

Article of the Week

EPA Says Volkswagen Software Circumvented Car Emissions Testing

A 2011 VW Jetta. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

I was shocked to read the news that Volkswagen apparently installed software in their diesel cars to cheat emissions testing from 2009 to 2015. An independent clean-air testing group recently did some in-depth testing of two diesel VW cars, and found the nitrous oxide emissions were five to 35 times the standard allowed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. VW has been claiming for years that these diesel cars are “powerful, clean and efficient”, but now it seems like this could be a lie. My first car was a Volkswagen Golf, and my sister has a diesel Golf. I thought VW was a company with high moral standards which I could trust.

Podcast of the Week

The History and Myths of the Autism Spectrum

I had no idea that important autism research was stalled by the Nazis at the start of the second world war. This podcast starts in 1938 when an Austrian pediatric doctor named Hans Asperger was starting to realize the size of the autism spectrum and how people with autism often had unusual and interesting talents and abilities that should be valued in society. But his research was cut short when the Nazis targeted his clinic in Vienna, because the Nazis wanted to do horrifying testing on children with disabilities. Asperger’s vital research was lost for many years, at a time when autistic children around the world were often being shunned. The podcast then follows the progression of research in other countries, until Asperger’s research resurfaced in the 80s and helped form today’s understanding of autism.

Internet Findings of the Week for September 11, 2015

This week I was intrigued by the CIA interacting with filmmakers, learning more about elements, hearing how ebola survivors are coping, and seeing a poignant reminder of 9/11.

Article of the Week

How the CIA Helped Produce ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Film

When I saw the film “Zero Dark Thirty” about the killing of Osama bin Laden at the cinema in early 2013, I found it immensely interesting and enlightening about how US forces operate in the Middle East. However I also questioned how much of it was true, and how much was artistic licence. Some of it seemed unlikely, and the torture scenes were very difficult to watch. It also came across as unusually detailed for a film about covert operations (although this could be hindsight). Before I saw the movie I had also read a Vanity Fair article about the killing of Bin Laden, which was told from the president’s perspective, rather than the agents on the ground. I was intrigued to find out that the CIA was actually involved in giving the filmmakers access to restricted information they needed for the movie, plus helping with the script. According to Vice News, one of the reasons the CIA helped the filmmakers, may have been so the film would portray torture as useful and effective.

Podcast of the Week

Elements

Picture by Armtuk via Wikimedia Commons

I enjoyed science at high school, and learning about the periodic table. But I never found it THIS enthralling or personalized. This podcast tells three very different stories about human interactions with elements. First, we hear about a woman who struggled with strange episodes where she wasn’t herself, and found a simple elemental salt could completely cure her. Second we hear about how elements are formed inside stars and during supernovas, told in a very dramatic way. Third we hear about how the dropping of atomic bombs has surprisingly helped scientists work out the age of individual cells in human bodies. But for a more comical take on the elements and how they interact, watch this hilarious video.

Video of the Week

Erison and the Ebola Survivors

We haven’t been hearing much about the ebola outbreak in recent months, but in Sierra Leone people are still suffering the consequences. There are are orphaned children and people who have lost their whole families. And though many people had ebola and made a full recovery, those people are now being shunned by society, as others are scared they could catch it from them. But it is heartwarming to hear in this NY TImes documentary that many of these ebola survivors are coming together to show everyone that they are normal and should be treated as such.

Photos of the Week

Rainbow Begins at World Trade Center Day Before 9/11

Living in New York, the lasting effects of September 11, 2001 are obviously more real and saddening than anywhere else. I’ve visited the memorial a number of times, and it is always very moving and intense being there and thinking of the death and destruction that happened there. So a beautiful natural phenomenon like a rainbow is just a lovely and perfect way to remember all the beautiful souls who perished that day, and to believe that the forces of nature are also paying tribute. Photos taken by Ben Sturner.