5 Intriguing Things: Wednesday, 12/18

Snow-globe contraband, tweets in the woods, emerging disease, supercomputers visualizing the wind, and spectral images of America's national parks.
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1. The TSA says you can bring "some" snow globes on planes this year. Imagine the pile of captured holiday contraband from 2012: World's saddest Pixar movie.

"TSA now allows small snow globes in carry-on luggage when packed in a passenger's plastic 3.4 oz bag. Snow globes that appear to contain less than 3.4 ounces (approximately tennis-ball size) will be permitted if the entire snow globe, including the base, is able to fit in the same one clear, plastic, quart-sized, re-sealable bag as a passenger’s other liquids.TSA now allows small snow globes in carry-on luggage when packed in a passenger's plastic 3.4 oz bag. Snow globes that appear to contain less than 3.4 ounces (approximately tennis-ball size) will be permitted if the entire snow globe, including the base, is able to fit in the same one clear, plastic, quart-sized, re-sealable bag as a passenger’s other liquids."

+ Turkeys are also permitted: "Cakes, pies, bread, donuts, turkeys, etc., are all permitted."

 

2. In a forest, a robotic voice emanates from a loudspeaker. It is reading tweets aloud.

"To make this, I had used a Raspberry Pi (microprocessor), programmed with code to search using the twitter API for the words 'nobody listens.' There was a library that could be installed to create a text to speech voice. The microprocessor was then connected to the auxiliary of the megaphone via the Raspberry Pi to broadcast the tweets."

 

3. Just another emergent disease making landfall on a tiny Caribbean island.

 "A dozen people on the tiny Caribbean island of St Martin have been infected with the chikungunya virus. It is the first time the mosquito-borne virus is known to have spread in the Americas. Eight years ago it spread beyond Africa, where it originated, to Eurasia. Now it has crossed the planet – and could already be more widespread than health agencies realise.

Chikungunya is rarely lethal, but it is painful and can cause chronic, debilitating joint pain. On reaching Asia, it spread rapidly and made millions ill, as people had no immunity. A few experimental treatments and vaccines exist, but none has yet left the lab."

 

4. A gorgeous visualization of wind forecasts across the Earth.

"a visualization of global weather conditions

forecast by supercomputers

updated every three hours"

 

5. 10,000 "spectral images" of America's national parks

"For more than two decades the National Park Service and its contractors have conducted acoustical monitoring at park units throughout the United States. Most of this data has never before been widely accessible to the public, and the Western Soundscape Archive now makes available more than 10,000 spectral images from approximately 200,000 hours of park service sound level monitoring. 

Each spectral image, or 'spectrogram' is a 24-hour picture of the sounds of an area. The images allow rapid visual assessment of daily acoustic patterns and show the prevalence of many kinds of sound sources, such as aircraft, bird songs, insect choruses, rain, wind, river flows and the environment in general. Such sound signatures can offer clues about an area's biodiversity and ecological health, and are also a window into the increasing impacts of human-caused noise on the environment."

 

Today's 1957 American English usage tip is

abstemious, abstinentAbstemious (originally 'from wine') signifies habitual moderation in the gratification of appetite (particularly for wine & food). Abstinent (from abstinence, the refraining from gratification) may be of a single act or a general refraining from an indulgence, an abstinent enjoyment of life.

 

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Presented by

Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer calls Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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