Traveling with 505 tons of stuff ... Devil Doll ... Pluto's Comback! ... Flying taxis ... Warren G. Harding
News for Inquiring Minds
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The king of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz, took 505 tons of luggage on a nine-day trip to Indonesia, including two Mercedes limousines and a two sets of specially designed escalators, one of which he used to descend from his private Boeing 747 upon landing in Jakarta. An air freight company needed 572 workers to load the stuff on a cargo plane. The Indonesian news agency Antara reported the king is traveling with a staff of 1,500 people – including 10 ministers, 800 delegates and 25 princes – who flew ahead to Indonesia in 36 flights over three weeks.
Bride of Chuckie
German authorities are urging parents to destroy or throw away an internet-connected doll that talks “Siri-style” with children. Germans, who have some of the strongest anti-spying laws in the world, say the Cayla doll is vulnerable to hacking. At a minimum, authorities are telling parents to rip out the doll’s internal microphone.
There’s a movement afoot to have Pluto, discovered by New Mexico State University astronomy professor Clyde Tombaugh, reclassified as a planet again. The International Astronomical Union says Pluto meets what the group deems the basic definition of a planet – a body made round by its own gravity. That would rule out all the oddly shaped chunks of ice floating around in the Kuiper Belt also discovered by Tombaugh. Pluto, first sighted in 1930, was demoted from planet status in 2006. Another 108 planetoids in the solar system would also be eligible for planet status if Pluto is upvoted.
Starting in July, residents of Dubai will be able to summon a pilotless helicopter drone to whisk them over the gridlocked Middle Eastern city at 63 miles an hour. A company plans to deploy a fleet of battery-powered Chinese-made EHang 184 helicopters, each of which can carry one person weighing up to 220 pounds about 31 miles. Passengers will punch in a destination on a touch screen, and controllers on the ground will monitor the air taxi’s progress. The United Arab Emirates wants 25 percent of all passenger trips to be made by driverless vehicles by 2030. The EHang 184 costs between $159,000 and $244,000.
The Marion, Ohio, home of Warren G. Harding, who died of a heart attack while in office in 1923, boasts what is probably the most extensive collection of presidential artifacts of any presidential museum. Items include Harding’s underwear, cigar humidor and even a handheld urinal he used in his sickbed that still contains traces of presidential urine.