Diversions Archive

Start the day with a cold shower. No, really.

SmartBrief on Leadership | Jul 29, 2016

Tackling the hardest tasks in the morning -- and making morning tasks harder, such as taking a cold shower instead of a warm one -- may make confronting the challenges of life easier. "Once you've got that under your belt, everything the day throws at you will seem easy by comparison," writes Katherine Martinko.

What do we know about the happiness of pets?

SmartBrief on Leadership | Jul 28, 2016

Jessica Pierce, a bioethicist, has published "Run, Spot, Run," a book on the complex ethics of pet ownership. Domesticated animals need exercise and rich social interaction just as much as anyone else, Melissa Dahl writes.

How ball lightning works

SmartBrief on Leadership | Jul 27, 2016

Ball lightning, nature's oddest form of lightning, has long been a mystery because of its seemingly many origins and the difficulty of predicting and observing the phenomenon. A scientist now says that bubbles of microwaves are the likely source, though more research is needed.

Tidying up can be a chore

SmartBrief on Leadership | Jul 26, 2016

Marie Kondo's "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" involves a lot of rules, as Stephanie Vozza discovered. "Tedious is an understatement, and according to Kondo's rules, you can't do the process while watching television or even listening to music," Vozza writes.

Don't sweat it? Maybe we should

SmartBrief on Leadership | Jul 25, 2016

People don't like to sweat even though the process has numerous known health benefits. "The regenerative potential of sweat glands has been one of our body's best-kept secrets," says University of Michigan researcher Laure Rittie.

Science is still learning why bicycles work

SmartBrief on Leadership | Jul 22, 2016

Jim Papadopoulos has spent several decades studying bicycles in an effort to improve their design and help us understand the science of riding a bicycle. "The study of bicycles is interesting from a purely intellectual point of view," says engineer Mont Hubbard, "but it also has practical implications because of their ability to get people around."

When is the best time to eat a peach?

SmartBrief on Leadership | Jul 21, 2016

Would you eat a peach before July 4? A Facebook post from a food writer warning against it has peach lovers up in arms. Some argue that peak peach season depends on geography, and some simply want a peach when they want a peach.

Dance troupe takes the art form higher, literally

SmartBrief on Leadership | Jul 20, 2016

California-based dance company BANDALOOP climbs up buildings, billboards, bridges and cliffs and performs an acrobatic dance routine while suspended from ropes in an effort to "celebrate the human spirit," said founder Amelia Rudolph.

Venture seeks to make Earth a "lighthouse" for aliens

SmartBrief on Leadership | Jul 19, 2016

A crowdfunding campaign called Voices of Humanity wants to use lasers and small satellites to broadcast data, including human DNA, into space to turn Earth into a "lighthouse" for alien life. Astrophysics and cosmology professor Philip Lubin and a graduate student are seeking $30,000 for the first phase.

"Seinfeld" is still being talked and written about

SmartBrief on Leadership | Jul 18, 2016

"Seinfeld" is such a ubiquitous part of American culture that it's easy to forget the show struggled to find success and had a radical conceit, says the author of "Seinfeldia," Jennifer Keishin Armstrong. "One of the extraordinary things about this show is the fact that all of America embraced a show about four terrible people," she says.

Why you should never pay a ransomware attacker

SmartBrief on Leadership | Jul 15, 2016

If companies and individuals continue to pay hackers who lock down their computers with ransomware, they will continue to be attacked, writes Carl Herberger. Instead of paying, Herberger writes that those who "take steps to be aware of attacks and raise the proper defenses and fail-safes are less likely to be targets."

An argument against obsessing over "the future"

SmartBrief on Leadership | Jul 14, 2016

Innovation is almost exclusively focused on the future, but our track record suggests we do a poor job creating technologies without unleashing negative side effects, Hal Niedzviecki argues in a new book.

We should worry about a resource battle in space, astrophysicist says

SmartBrief on Leadership | Jul 13, 2016

Countries and corporations could conceivably become de facto owners of celestial bodies because of a loophole in the Outer Space Treaty from 1967, Harvard University astrophysicist Martin Elvis says. Parties could get around the treaty by setting up research stations in resource-rich locations, Elvis says.

Many astronauts' eyesight affected by strange syndrome in space

SmartBrief on Leadership | Jul 12, 2016

A strange syndrome has affected the eyesight of a majority of astronauts on long-term space flights, and researchers are looking for ways to study it without having to use invasive procedures in space. Visual impairment intracranial pressure syndrome not only changes vision, but changes the shape of the eye itself, scientists say.

A guide to that Pokemon game you may have heard about

SmartBrief on Leadership | Jul 11, 2016

Pokemon Go is a recently released augmented reality game based on the video game and anime franchise that has players visit real-life landmarks to collect virtual creatures called Pokemon. The game has raised safety concerns, especially after a private home was mistakenly designated as a checkpoint by the game.

This business owner hasn't stopped working since 1934

SmartBrief on Leadership | Jul 08, 2016

For 93-year-old Alf Catalano, who started working in 1934 and still runs an earth-moving equipment business on his own, the concept of work-life balance boils down to this: "I want to keep working until the day that I die."

Juno set to explore Jupiter

SmartBrief on Leadership | Jul 07, 2016

After five years' travel, the Juno spacecraft is in orbit around Jupiter and over the next 20 months will fly closer to the planet than any other vessel has. The $1.1 billion mission hopes to yield scientifically valuable images from below the cloud tops, providing insight about how Jupiter formed and why its Great Red Spot has diminished in the past few years.

Remembering the end of disco

SmartBrief on Leadership | Jul 06, 2016

A radio station promotion at a Chicago White Sox doubleheader in 1979 went awry -- or terribly right, depending on the perspective. This oral history tells the story of how the resulting mayhem and destruction made history while costing the White Sox a forfeit loss.

611-year-old British law requires communities to have stocks

SmartBrief on Leadership | Jul 05, 2016

It's still legal in the UK to punish an individual publicly by using the stocks. Technically, a 1405 law requires towns to display them, and a local lawmaker wants to bring them back into use, albeit to raise money for charity.

What do dogs think when we point?

SmartBrief on Leadership | Jul 01, 2016

How and why dogs respond to humans' gestures is an intensely debated field of study, though researchers agree that dogs are better than most animals at distinguishing human gestures and intent, canine behavioral researcher Julie Hecht writes.

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