- Mario Modesto
In Western Colorado, scrape marks etched in 100-million-year-old sandstone have attracted the attention of paleontologists as possible indications of dinosaur foreplay. The scrapes are five or six feet long and appear in irregular patterns. In a paper published in January, paleontologists from the University of Colorado suggested that the imprints left behind by these dinosaurs were reminiscent of the areas where modern birds, like puffins or ostriches, flaunt their feathers and strut their stuff.
This dinosaur dance is believed to be a ceremonial ritual to attract mates. "We know these dinosaurs were very birdlike in so many aspects, and a sort of ritualistic mating behavior could explain these unusual traces," said another paleontologist from the University of Edinburgh. The exact species of dinosaur is unknown, but it is believed to be an Arcocanthosaurus—a giant, ridged-back species found in western North America.
CBGB—the world famous club on the Lower East Side where many punk musicians landed early gigs—has been recreated as a restaurant in Newark Liberty International airport. The original CBGB opened in 1973 with the intention of hosting country, bluegrass, and blues music—hence the name. Ramones, Patti Smith, and Television were iconic figures that emerged from this punk and new-wave scene. The club closed in 2006, and shortly after, in 2007, club owner Hilly Kristal died. Harold Moore, a New York City chef, obtained the name from a holding company that had rights to the trademark. The restaurant, CBGB LAB (Lounge and Bar), serves everything from diner food to prime rib. Moore plans to feature his own World Famous Chili, in honor of Hilly Kristal's original chili recipe. The restaurant also features an iPad ordering system at each table.
Sources: Rolling Stone, Grub Street, Bowery Boogie
After the Paris attacks in November, Wall Street investor Louis Navellier became a major shareholder in two of the nation's largest gun companies, Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger & Company. According to Navellier, "Mr. Obama is the best gun salesman on the planet," noting that stricter gun laws have created an increase in gun sales. President Obama took office in 2009, and since then, shares of these two major gun companies have increased over 900 percent. According to federal data, after the San Bernardino shooting, more guns were sold in December than any other month in almost two decades. Smith & Wesson also recently announced that sales for their fiscal year would be over $650 million—an increase of more than 57 percent since 2012.
Source: New York Times
The Periodic Table just got a little bigger. Researchers in the United States and Russia discovered three elements, and a fourth element was discovered by Japanese researchers. The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry officially added these elements in December. While these names are temporary, ununtrium, ununpentium, ununseptium, and ununoctium are the new "superheavy" additions to the family. Not found in nature, superheavy elements need special laboratory conditions to reveal their highly unstable selves. Scientists artificially created these elements by colliding nuclei together, allowing them to exist momentarily before disappearing. Researchers suggest these four new elements could be used as treatments against diseases like cancer or HIV.
Sources: Slate, Rapid City Journal
Florida Atlantic University professor James F. Tracy has called into question recent mass shootings through blog posts, Facebook, and radio interviews. Tracy claims that the Obama administration designed the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting as a hoax to gain support for gun control. Tracy wrote on the Sandy Hook Hoax Facebook page about the Pozners, whose six-year-old son Noah was killed: "The Pozners, alas, are as phony as the drill itself, and profiting handsomely from the fake death of their son." The family demanded he take down the photo of their son from his blog, Memory Hole. He sent a letter in return demanding they show proof of their son's existence and that they were his parents. The university ultimately dismissed Tracy for his "insubordination and failure to follow university policy," noting his inability to report outside jobs on important college documents.
Source: New York Times
On Christmas Eve in Western Germany, a 29-year-old man planted a small homemade bomb inside a condom machine. The plan was to steal all the money and condoms. His attempt backfired as the bomb detonated while his car door was still open—a flying shard of metal hit the back of his head, knocking him unconscious. His friends quickly transported him to the hospital, but he was dead on arrival. When questioned by authorities, one friend said the man had fallen down the stairs. The other friend confessed, shortly after, the truth about the condom machine. Local residents found bits of the machine scattered around the street. Police say the two survivors did not steal any money or condoms.
Source: Local (Germany)
The solution to climate change might not need to involve complex technology. In a report issued last February, Oxford University researchers stated that the answer could be as simple as planting trees and nourishing the soil. The report concluded that afforestation—planting trees in new places—and biochar—burying a layer of charcoal to improve the soil—are two viable options to combat the shifting weather patterns. Planting trees would be an easy, low-cost option to help clean the atmosphere. Trees have been used as a way to manage the environment for centuries. Native Americans used forest fires to clear the way for new plant growth, and small British communities used a specific technique—coppicing—to keep forests alive with younger trees. This "geoengineering" used by early humans could still be one of the most valuable tools to heal the planet. The report also stated that these "negative emissions technologies" are not the final answer—they should be used in a worst-case scenario for climate change, along with the reduction of emissions.
Fewer than two dozen countries continue to use the death penalty. Still, the number of deaths from this form of punishment has increased in recent years. "Terrorism offenses and drug-related offenses seem to be the driving arguments behind this increase, although there is no evidence of its deterring effects," said Ivan Simonovic, the United Nations assistant secretary general for human rights. According to Amnesty International, 2,466 people were sentenced to death in 2014—a 28 percent increase from 2013. 28 people were executed in the United States last year. Iran and Saudi Arabia are among the leading executioners that use capital punishment. In 2014, Iran executed at least 289 people. Human Rights Watch reported that Saudi Arabia sentenced 158 prisoners to death in 2014. China is the world leader in executions; the United Nations stated the China killed 6,687 people from 1999 to 2003. Recent rates are unavailable since their death record is a state secret.
Source: New York Times