Between four and six US Air Force KC-135R Stratotankers were spotted flying from the mainland United States in the direction of Europe and the Middle East last night, but I'm sure it's nothing and there's plenty of time to read this lot before the handcart in which we ride reaches its final destination

  • Hooked - ”A raging heroin addiction fueled a former Boeing engineer’s yearlong, 30-bank robbery spree.” Been a few weeks since we had a bank robber. Anthony Hathaway's addiction started with prescription Oxycontin, and he never made more than a few thousand dollars per robbery, which must be why he did so many. Doesn't seem like much of a life really

  • The Pitfalls of Searching for Alien Life - Scientists who speculate about aliens, such as those who theorised that ‘Oumuamua might be an artificial probe, can face a hostile reaction from other researchers. ”It’s a dilemma: scientists might look like cranks for posing questions about aliens, but we’ll also never know unless someone asks.”

  • Evidence Found for a New Fundamental Particle - ”An experiment at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago has detected far more electron neutrinos than predicted — a possible harbinger of a revolutionary new elementary particle called the sterile neutrino, though many physicists remain skeptical.” If it turns out not to be something else then remember, you heard it here first

  • For Smart Animals, Octopuses Are Very Weird - ”Why did [octopuses] become intelligent in the first place? Why did this one group of mollusks, among an otherwise slow and dim-witted dynasty of snails, slugs, clams, oysters, and mussels, evolve into creatures that are famed for their big brains? These are hard questions to answer, especially because cephalopods aren’t just weirdly intelligent; they’re also very weird for intelligent animals.” Some think it’s because they lost their shells, while others argue that they no longer needed shells because they became smart

  • Big Bear Bald Eagle Nest Cam - ”A live feed from a bald eagle nest at Big Bear Lake, CA provided by the Friends of Big Bear Valley. ” They’re kipping at the moment as it’s dark, but I daresay you’ll be able to see them regurgitating rabbit entrails for their young at some point. (I left this playing in another tab and one of them just woke up and started chirruping as I was typing the eighth link below; it scared the crap out of me as I thought there was a giant bird in the room with me for a moment )

  • The Troubling Business of Bounty Hunting - ”You may not realize it, but bounty hunting is still alive and well in America in 2019. It's fueled by old laws, loose guidelines, and not-great money… writer Jeff Winkler got licensed and spent months working as a BEA [Bail Enforcement Agent]. What he found was a mess for pretty much everyone caught up in a broken system.” America could really do with setting up some proper systems for this stuff rather than relying on makeshift processes left over from the days of the Wild West

  • How the Escalator Forever Changed Our Sense of Space - ”Stairs require patience and effort. Elevators have a unique, precise, and tightly constrained mission. The invention of the escalator changed everything: suddenly, a constant flow of people could ascend into the air, or descend to the depths.” And they’re also an example of a trademark that became so generic it was cancelled, which is the kind of thing that keeps Ms. Sellotape and Mr. Hoover awake at night.

  • When pirates studied Euclid - European trade expansion from the seventeenth century onwards depended on the mathematics of navigation: ”Trigonometry and logarithms offered the best way to make these essential measurements: for these, a sailor needed to be adept at using dense numerical tables… To help the average sailor with these technical computations, maritime administrators and entrepreneurs opened schools in capital cities and port towns across Europe.” I’m currently reading Pepys’ Diary, and in 1661-2 he’s very big on taking basic maths lessons from ship’s captains of his acquaintance to inform his work as Clerk to the Navy Board.

  • The uplifting science of how dandelion seeds stay aloft - A summary of two recent papers, one by a team that studied the seeds themselves, and one that modelled them: ”A fair compromise, the [modelling] researchers found, is for the seeds to hit a sweet spot around 100 bristles per pappus. This figure matched up with what’s found on real-life dandelions… At lower numbers, the seed would have trouble staying afloat; too much higher, and things might start to get shaky.”

  • My Tea Towels - Dorothy collects tea towels. (She also only drinks loose leaf tea, so is clearly a person of excellent taste.) This is her blog about the tea towels, though she isn’t precious about them: ”This is a ridiculous tea towel; I say this as someone who has more than 1000 ridiculous tea towels.” I rather like it myself

Happy invoicing!