Just like it says, Popcorn Shorts is about the kind of things we think are really interesting, but don’t really need a large article to explain them. From the sublime to the ridiculous, check in here for crunchy bits of info you’ll love to munch. By the way, much (but not all) of our delicious Popcorn comes from articles we’ve posted on our Facebook page. If you’re on Facebook, please stop by and “Like” us and we’ll keep a fairly-constant-but-not-frequent-enough-to-be-annoying stream of these coming to your virtual door!
Solar power is booming, but it faces a consistent problem… how to keep the energy generated on sunny days for use when the sun isn’t shining? Tesla is working on a storage battery for home use but coming up with a city-scale battery is problematic. Problematic, that is, until Oregon entered the picture with Pumped Storage. In a pumped storage system, solar power is used at peak time to pump water into an elevated tank (or lake) for storage. Then, when power production drops and prices rise, the water is released to run turbines that put the power back onto the grid at significantly higher prices. Buy low, sell high, and solar takes another giant step!
If you check out our Book Spotlight column this month you’ll see an odd little story about how medieval monks protected their books with curses. It’s typical of the interesting fare we’ve been finding at Atlas Obscura, a website that conglomerates the odd, interesting, and offbeat into one easily surfable place. Just today some of the stories are “How gramophones helped fight crime in 1940’s Britain” and “A brief history of the cheese curl”. This link will take you to their interactive map of 10,000 places that have appeared in the Atlas so you can plan your next trip onto the road less traveled. This amazing site will gobble up your time, but it’s well worth the visit!
The election has left many questions, but one thought has been fairly prominent… how do we work to bridge the divides rending our country? If you only know Carl Sagan from his groundbreaking Cosmos series, then you’re cheating yourself. Carl is much more, and has written extensively on science, philosophy, environmentalism, government and more. As we move forward from the election, his thoughts on how we can bridge gaps of conviction and compassion in dealing with those we disagree with are particularly timely, insightful, and hopefully useful to both sides of the gap.
What’s this a picture of? An X-ray of a pumpkin? A new species of jellyfish? Nope. It’s a photograph of a nuclear explosion taken .001 secs after detonation. When the Trinity tests of nuclear weapons were conducted, cameras captured the expanding fireball in 10-thousandsth-of-a-sec intervals. (If you click this link, then click the picture of the people taking pictures of the nuclear explosion and the other pictures will appear below). We tend to think of a nuclear explosion as flash/bang/dead, but if you can slow it down long enough to look, the details are absolutely hypnotic. Of course, it still ends with “dead”. Fascinating.