News for Inquiring Minds
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Death from above
Large objects from outer space that could cause mass extinctions have tended to hit the Earth about 50 million to 60 million years apart. The dinosaurs were wiped out 66 million years ago by an asteroid that struck what is now the Gulf of Mexico. “They are the extinction-level events, things like dinosaur killers, they’re 50 to 60 million years apart, essentially. You could say, of course, we’re due,” said Joseph Nuth, a NASA scientist who has recommended NASA build an interceptor spacecraft and put it on standby for such an event. The importance of a short lead time was emphasized on Jan. 9, when an asteroid roughly the size of a 10-story building just missed the Earth. Asteroid 2017 AG13 came within half the distance from Earth to the moon as it shot by at 5:47 a.m. Mountain Standard Time. The close encounter came a mere two days after scientists at the Catalina Sky Survey first spotted the space rock. They almost missed seeing it because of its dim brightness level and its speed of 10 miles per second.
A San Diego TV anchor reading a story about a little girl using an Amazon account finished by saying, “I love the little girl, saying ‘Alexa ordered me a dollhouse.’” That triggered Amazon Echo devices across San Diego viewing area to begin ordering dollhouses. Angry viewers canceled the orders and complained to the TV station.
Starbucks is ditching the evening beer and wine menu after two years. The 400 stores that offered alcohol went back to being normal locations earlier this month. Starbucks had originally planned for a quarter of its 7,049 U.S. stores to offer beer and wine at night.
Last September, Donald Trump’s hairstyle inspired the informal naming of a “Trumpapillar,” an extremely hairy orange-yellow caterpillar native to the Peruvian Amazon, according to LiveScience. The caterpillar, previously called the flannel moth or asp caterpillar, is covered with venomous yellow spines that resemble Trump’s pompadour. Not to be outdone, a Canadian researcher just this month discovered a previously unknown species of moth with a Trump-like do and officially named it Neopalpa donaldtrumpi. Ironically, that moth ranges from Mexico to California, and a wall isn’t likely to contain it.
Google has been pushing advertisements for the company’s own products into prime online real estate, potentially in conflict with other advertisers, according to an investigation by The Wall Street Journal. In 25,000 searches related to items such as “speakers,” “watches” and “phones,” products sold by Google and its sister companies occupied the top ad spot above search results more than nine out of 10 times, the study found. In 43 of the test searches, both of the top two ad spaces were occupied by Google-affiliated products, according to Fortune.com.