How To Survive The Cascadia Tsunami

Via io9: ‘Schulz, the author of the New Yorker piece, feels safe enough to continue spending her summers in the Northwest, the area that will be affected by the earthquake. In her follow up bit about survival advice, she strongly suggests that readers avoid spending even one night in the tsunami inundation zone.

“Of the almost thirteen thousand people expected to die in the Cascadia event, one thousand will perish in the earthquake,” Schulz writes. “The others will be killed by the tsunami—and they amount to nearly one in five people who are in the zone when the water arrives. That’s a grim enough figure that it changed my own beach-going behavior in the Northwest. Go to the coast by day, for sure. But if you’re staying overnight, book a vacation rental, hotel room, or campsite outside the inundation zone.”…’

R.I.P. George Coe

Actor and Director of a Bergman Parody, Dies at 86 (New York Times obituary): ‘George Coe, a film, stage and television actor who earned an Oscar nomination for his single picture as a director — the 1968 short feature De Düva: The Dove, a mock-Swedish-inflected sendup of Ingmar Bergman that has endured as a cult favorite — died on July 18 in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 86.’

I recall seeing De Düva at the late lamented Orson Welles Cinema in Cambridge in the early ’70’s. After twenty minutes or so, a member of the audience suddenly stood up in the front row, threw his arms heavenward, and shouted out to the audience, “My God! I’m so stoned I can understand Swedish!”

A De Düva lexicon, via The New York Times:

‘Mooska: Cow

Zooner-or-lätsker: Eventually

Skå she vinska, you godda set her freesk: If she wins, you must set her free.

Me yoost haf dis schmatte waschen: I just had this clothing washed.

H20ska: Water

Phalliken zymbol: Cigar…’

ISIS Transforming Into Functioning State That Uses Terror as Tool

ViaThe New York Times: ‘While no one is predicting that the Islamic State will become the steward of an accountable, functioning state anytime soon, the group is putting in place the kinds of measures associated with governing: issuing identification cards for residents, promulgating fishing guidelines to preserve stocks, requiring that cars carry tool kits for emergencies. That transition may demand that the West rethink its military-first approach to combating the group.

“I think that there is no question that the way to look at it is as a revolutionary state-building organization,” said Stephen M. Walt, a professor of international affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. He is one of a small but growing group of experts who are challenging the conventional wisdom about the Islamic State: that its evil ensures its eventual destruction….’

Why Does Asking Siri to Charge Your Phone Call the Cops?

Via Gizmodo: ‘Utter the words—and we don’t suggest you do—“charge my phone 100 percent” to Siri, and your iPhone will try and call the emergency services, after a five-second grace period in which you can cancel it. But why?

It might be a bug. Or, as The Verge suggests, it could be a feature that allows you to secretly call the police if you’re in trouble. It seems unlikely, but stranger things have happened (like a woman getting in touch with Pizza Hut to save her from a knife attack). So far Apple is yet to confirm why it’s a thing. Any ideas?…’

This Beetle’s Caffeine Addiction Is Threatening Your Own

Via io9: ‘For its size, the coffee berry borer makes your caffeine consumption look almost laughably manageable, downing an amount that relative to its body mass would be like a person taking 500 shots of espresso in one day—and its habit is becoming a real threat to coffee supplies….’

The LHC Has Discovered a New Sub-Atomic Particle Called a Pentaquark

English: Murray Gell-Mann lecturing in 2007
Murray Gell-Mann lecturing in 2007

Via io9: ‘After restarting to run at higher power than ever, the Large Hadron Collider has made its first proper discovery. Today, a team of scientists announced that they’ve found a new class of sub-atomic particles known as pentaquarks.

Quarks are a series of charged sub-atomic particles that come together to form larger particles—such as protons and neutrons, which are each made of three of the things (a class of particle referred to as baryons). First proposed in 1964 by American physicist Murray Gell-Mann, their existence changed the way people thought about particle physicists.

But quarks can come together to form other entities, too. For a long time, people have speculated that another class of quark ensemble, called the pentaquark, could in theory exist. The pentaquark is, perhaps unsurprisingly, supposed to be made up of five smaller entities—four quarks and an anti-quark. Now, for the first time, researchers working on the LHCb experiment at the Collider have found evidence for their existence….’

Hawks hate the Iran nuclear deal and can’t be honest about why

English: Coat of arms of the Islamic Republic ...
Via Vox: ‘Iran hawks displeased with the nuclear deal struck between Iran, Russia, China, the United States, and the European Union have an awful lot of complaints. But if you look closely at what they are saying, you’ll notice something funny. They don’t actually have any arguments about what Obama has done wrong or how a different administration would park the situation in a better place. What they have instead are a lot of talking points, MacGuffins, red herrings, and distractions that aim to divert attention from the core issue — hawks’ desire to avoid diplomacy and have a war….’

The real reason the Iran deal is so controversial

Via Vox: ‘The political battle over the Iran deal is going to be the biggest foreign policy fight of Obama’s presidency. Congress has the power to destroy the deal, and Republicans will do their damnedest to try to use it, however unlikely it is that they’ll succeed.

But this is more than just a policy dispute, and that’s why the fighting is taking place in more than just Congress. Cable news is spinning itself into a froth over whether the Iran deal is a horrifying catastrophe or a golden day in global progress. Odds are good that you’ve already gotten sucked into, or at least worked to avoid, an argument on Facebook over this.

People have strong feelings about this deal — very strong feelings. Maybe that’s partly because they are just that emotionally invested in the details of arms control agreements, or in the triangulations of American Middle East policy. Or maybe there’s something more going on here….’

Alien Hunting Could Go High-Definition With Giant Space Telescope

English: The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) begi...

Via National Geographic: ‘A new study makes the case for building a supersize space telescope that would create images five times sharper than Hubble’s….’

The U.S. Military Once Tested Biological Warfare On The Whole Of San Francisco

Via IFLScience: ‘In the wake of World War II, the United Sates military was suddenly worried about and keen to test out the threats posed by biological warfare. They started experiments looking into how bacteria and their harmful toxins might spread, only using harmless stand-in microbes. They tested these on military bases, infecting soldiers and their families who lived with them, but eventually they stepped things up a notch. Disclosed in 1977, it turns out that the U.S. military carried out 239 secret open-air tests on its own citizens….’

Officer suspended after refusing to kill baby bears

Via Boing Boing: ‘A mama bear with two cubs made a habit of sneaking into a mobile home in British Columbia, Canada and raiding the freezer. On one of these visits, conservation officer Bryan Casavant was ordered to kill all three bears. But after putting down the mama bear, he didn’t have the heart to kill the babies.

For his good deed, Casavant is now suspended from his job and under investigation. Fortunately, he’s got a lot of public support for his heroic act….’

What It’s Like to Be Profoundly Face-Blind

 Via 3quarksdaily: ‘Prosopagnosia is a neuropsychological condition that impairs the sufferer’s ability to recognize faces. It’s also known as face-blindness, and those who are afflicted lack a skill that comes naturally to most humans, forcing them to find ways to work around this deficit….’

The First Time Ever (I Saw Your Face)
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

US Coastlines Will Change Dramatically When Earth Warms by 2°C

Via Gizmodo: ‘At a UNESCO climate conference last week, scientists declared (once again) that climate change is already happening. The evidence is our wacky weather—even Paris, where the conference was held, was broiling in a historic heatwave. But the biggest red flag is the rise in peak global mean temperatures: Which means rising sea levels will almost certainly be a reality, too.

As a lead up to the bigger UN climate conference this fall, scientists are now modeling two different warming scenarios to help humans plot a roadmap for how to avoid these futures. Status quo—or even going back to “preindustrial levels”—is no longer an option, even if we ceased all carbon-emitting activity right now. One scenario is if the planet will warm by 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, which would be very bad. The other is if the planet will warm by 4 degrees Celsius, which would be very, very bad.

In this month’s Science, a study looked at these warming trends and made some estimates for how these temperature increases would help to accelerate the melting of polar ice sheets. Two or three degrees Celsius would see a rise in sea levels of at least six meters. That’s about 20 feet.

So say we manage to only raise temperatures by 2 degrees Celsius—the best-case scenario. A map made by Climate Central allows you to visit any city to see exactly how much coastlines will change. While there are plenty of usual suspects in this list—Miami would be totally underwater, of course, and we got previews of how rising ocean levels would affect New York City and New Orleans during Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina—there are also some areas that will see a surprising loss of land….’

Of course, I went right to my home city, Boston. The results were quite scary… and that’s only 2 degrees.

What Americans will sound like in 2050

Via The Week: ‘You might think that TV and movies and the general mobility of the population would mean accents are getting more and more similar across the country. This turns out not to be the case. Kids don’t learn their accents from TV; they learn them from the people around them. And different regions are in some ways becoming more different from each other….’

Scientists Predict A Talking Elephant, Szilamandee (who might just save mankind)

Via Neuroskeptic:

‘This is without a doubt the strangest thing I’ve ever read in the pages of a scientific journal. It far outshines the previous record-holder. Otto Rössler is himself a remarkable researcher. A few years ago he was part of an effort that unsuccesfully sued CERN in an attempt to prevent the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) from switching on. Rössler expressed concern that the high-energy physics of the LHC might create a black hole, and thus destroy the world….’

Pope returns to cocaine

Via Mind Hacks: ‘According to a report from BBC News the Pope ‘plans to chew coca leaves’ during his visit to Bolivia. Although portrayed as a radical encounter, this is really a return to cocaine use after a long period of abstinence in the papal office….’

There May Be Nowhere Near the Number of Galaxies We Thought There Were

Via io9: ‘Since the Hubble launched, we’ve been seeing stunning image of the crowded universe. Most of the images come accompanied by assurances that what we see in the images is just the start. Astronomers have been excitedly guessing at the amount of faint, distant galaxies that they can’t see. Lurkers surely outnumbered visible galaxies.

New simulations done on Blue Waters, a supercomputer at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications indicate that that isn’t the case. Researchers at Michigan State University simulated the formation of the early universe. The number of bright, luminous galaxies that the simulations predicted just about synced up with the data we can see from the Hubble. But the simulations indicated that number of faint galaxies, which the Hubble can’t see, wasn’t anywhere near what previous predictions had estimated. Conservative estimates reduce the number of faint galaxies ten times, but it’s just possible that the universe has only one hundredth the faint lurker galaxies we previously thought it did….’