Brainiac

Covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more.

Brainiac

Innovation of the Week: ‘The mucus house’

This could be a way to deal with all the plastic in the ocean.

Brainiac

A Boston story in 50 words

Tensions running hot in 1972.

Brainiac

Big Data: 28.5 gigaparsecs

Are we alone out here?

Brainiac

Euphemism: ‘Weather extremes’

This is a classic example of what Stephen Pinker calls the “euphemism treadmill.”

Uncommon Knowledge

Distractions, Robin Hood, and Goodwill

Unusual insights from the social sciences in this week’s Uncommon Knowledge.

Brainiac

Big Data: 64 million tons

There are big costs to feeding America’s pets.

Brainiac

Innovation of the Week: Eclipse sunglasses

Using these faux gazing goggles could cause serious eye damage.

Uncommon Knowledge

Nuclear-trigger happy

From bright horizons to the dark web and more in this week’s Uncommon Knowledge.

Brainiac

On Second Thought: He said, she said

Women make up about 35 percent of all physicians in the United States, but only 19 percent of surgeons.

Brainiac

Innovation of the Week: Bluetooth-enabled salt shakers

For all your Bluetooth-connected salt-shaking needs.

Brainiac

Uncommon Knowledge: Compromised refs, blaming the president for local taxes, and more

From presidents to referees: Surprising insights from the social sciences.

Brainiac

Euphemism: com·mu·ni·ty cat (n.)

Could this be a new children’s superhero whose kryptonite is catnip?

Brainiac

How to fit 20,000 characters on a typewriter with only 72 keys

Chinese, with fewer keys.

Brainiac

On Second Thought: A diagnosis mix-up

A journal heralded the study as “a tour de force.” But the excitement was short-lived.

Brainiac

Big Data: 0.134 mm

The Indian monsoon season has slowly been getting wetter.

Brainiac

Innovation of the Week: Enhanced instant coffee

Bestherbs, based in Grand Prairie, Texas, offered something appealing: help in a cup of coffee.

Brainiac

Euphemism: ‘Travel designer’

Travel agencies struggling in the online world have gone upscale to survive.

Brainiac

How the Vandals got the handles

Primitive brutes? Not so much.

Brainiac

Big Data: 7.2 million empty rooms

It’s a classic mismatch of supply and demand.

Brainiac

On Second Thought: An anti-German plot?

Is a jealous cabal trying to torpedo the work of German researchers?

Brainiac

Innovation of the Week: Snortable chocolate

How far would you go for your chocolate fix?

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Big Data: 717,527

Investigating the roots of “activity inequality.”

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Innovation of the Week: Embedded transit passes

Fumbling in your bag for your pass can be annoying. There’s gotta be a better way.

Brainiac

Big Data: 5 percent

US companies are starting to cover the costs of human egg freezing.

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Euphemism: ‘digital advice’

The robo-adviser has come to sound not only inhuman but anti-human.

Brainiac

Innovation of the Week: Better ransomware

WannaCry was PrettyFlawed. The biggest problem: it included a kill switch.

Brainiac

Big Data: Space junk at 17,5000 mph

There are about 17,000 pieces of space junk that the US military is worried enough about to track.

Brainiac

On Second Thought: Don’t mess with CrossFit

The workout company won a series of recent victories stemming from a controversial 2013 paper.

Uncommon Knowledge

What happens to birth control if the Affordable Care Act is repealed?

From family values to municipal fines and more, in this week’s Uncommon Knowledge.

Brainiac

Innovation of the Week: Fried chicken marketing in space

“Can you actually launch KFC’s world-famous Zinger chicken sandwich into space?”

Brainiac

Euphemism: sexual risk avoidance

The term may act as a cloaking device for increased funding to abstinence-only education.

Brainiac

Big Data: 1 millimeter

Dressmakers may have superior 3-D vision.

Brainiac

Big Data: A millennium of Venice

These records span more than 1,000 years.

Brainiac

Innovation of the Week: Robo-counselor for couples

“Robots don’t judge,” said one test subject.

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On Second Thought: self-copying

Alberto Carpinteri is notorious for his dubious theories.

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Innovation of the week: A pigeon as a drug mule

Scoring party drugs in Kuwait can be a challenge.

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Big Data: 22 million people get the flu

A new discovery could pave the way for more efficient medicines.

Brainiac

Euphemism: ‘community member’

A change in terminology takes “innocent until proven guilty” to a whole new level.

Brainiac | David Deschamps and Bennett Singer

Who’s gay? Depends on who’s asking

Despite the LGBT community’s improved visibility, it’s still not clear how many Americans are gay.

Brainiac

Innovation of the week: Last rites in space

It’s a “shooting star” outer space memorial.

Brainiac

On Second Thought: Academic standards go to the dogs

This isn’t the first time a dog has achieved such prestige.

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Innovation of the week: RoboCop in Dubai

This RoboCop patrolled an upscale mall in its first outing.

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Euphemism: ‘Spinoff’ becomes ‘successor show’

When a TV or movie franchise succeeds, it may never end.

Brainiac

Big Data: 10 climbs to the top

This one is a record.

Brainiac

Zombie ideas are dangerous

This bogus claim has been thoroughly discredited but keeps rearing its head.

Brainiac

Same news, three ways: Yes, I said it

Online revelations can come back to haunt you.

Brainiac

Innovation of the Week: RompHim

Untucked polo shirts and Axe body spray are getting old.

Brainiac

Big Data: 1 millimeter of mercury

Could this reduce the instances of heart attacks?

Brainiac

Innovation of the week: A monument to veterans — and Satan

The Satanic Temple sensed an opening.

Brainiac

Big Data: 492 natural sites

Bad news for wildlife in protected areas.