Often in the national conversation on immigration—which has lately devolved into more a of a fist-fight—you hear some version of an argument that today’s “illegal aliens” should all be deported, because “my great-grandparents” came here “legally,” assimilated into the “melting pot,” learned English, and “built this country,” while Mexicans are sneaking over the border, retreating into ethnic enclaves, imposing Spanish on the rest of us, and, apparently, not “building this country.” Vernacular pundits make such pronouncements every day on Internet comment threads throughout the land—often invoking Ellis Island, although for almost half of that facility’s history, the government used it not to welcome but to detain and deport Europeans, but nevermind.
They were perfectly lovely, the beets Surendra Pradhan and Helvi Heinonen-Tanski grew: round and hefty, a rich burgundy, their flavor sweet and faintly earthy like the dirt from which they came. Unless someone told you, you’d never know the beets were grown with human urine.
Identical twins don’t share everything. The mix of viruses in a person’s gut, a new study says, is unique to each of us, even if we share nearly all our DNA with another person. That is, at least according to our poop.
Ta-Nehisi Coates’ conclusion concerning Tea Party reaction to the NAACP calling them out for their racist rhetoric:
When engaging your adversaries, that approach has its place. But it’s worth saying that there are other approaches and other places. Among them—respectfully administering the occasional reminder as to the precise nature of the motherfuckers you are dealing with. It strikes me that this is a most appropriate role for the nation’s oldest civil rights organization.
Among the things that make me happy that have nothing to do with fezes, bowties, and marine life, we can add solar aviation. (From the NY Times, via 80 Beats.)
Slender as a stick insect, a solar-powered experimental airplane with a huge wingspan completed its first test flight of more than 24 hours on Thursday, powered overnight by energy collected from the sun during a day aloft over Switzerland.
“[The pilot’s] only complaints involve little things like a slightly sore back as well as a 10-hour period during which it was minus 20 degrees Celsius in the cockpit.”
That made his drinking water system freeze, the post said and, worst of all, caused his iPod batteries to die.
But one of our greatest and most unsung advantages is our ability to efficiently convert the food we eat into all the energy we need to sustain our daily activities. Take walking, for example: contemporary robots like Honda’s Asimo can use up to 30 times more energy than we do to walk. Given that in former times we spent much of our waking life walking around in search of food, we would have needed to find a whole lot more food to eat were it not for this efficiency.
Perhaps it’s a fitting tribute. The Japanese–designers of some of the world’s most ingenious robots–can now watch a traditional art form get a robotic makeover. As described in a paper published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, MIT and Harvard researchers have made self-folding origami that can mold itself into a boat or an airplane.
I for one welcome our self-folding paper robot overlords.