The glowworm caves of Waitomo

Many years ago, I visited the glowworm caves in Waitomo, New Zealand, a wondrous place where these tiny creatures festoon the roofs of the caves and give out tiny points of light that make them look like the night sky. It is remarkably beautiful. A young Canadian couple moved to New Zealand and have gone to extraordinary lengths to take time-lapse photographs of it.
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Religious implications of finding life on other planets

There have been an increasing number of discoveries of planets orbiting other stars that are in the habitable or ‘Goldilocks’ zone, not too close or too far from the star and thus having the kinds of temperature and size that might be able to support life. The possibility of intelligent life existing on other planets is tantalizing no doubt and opinion is split as to whether it exists or not. I for one think that it does. From our own existence, we know that the probability of intelligent life emerging is non-zero. Given the huge number of stars and planets out there in the universe, it seems possible, if not likely, that it could have emerged elsewhere too. But at the same time this same vastness of space makes it highly unlikely that we will ever find out about other life so it will likely remain a theoretical speculation.
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Unnecessary vitamins

America is prone to all manner of food fads. New diets come and go with eye-popping rapidity and this or that food becomes the new magic food that everyone latches on to, before it is replaced by something else. Kale is now the latest miracle food to be dethroned. The problem is that people go overboard with the big new fad and overdo it, rather than taking everything in moderation
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Africa becomes polio free?

Maryn McKenna shares the excellent news that midnight August 11 marked one full year with no cases of polio reported in the whole of Africa. It takes three consecutive years of absence for a region to be designated as polio-free but this step is significant nonetheless, given the opposition by Muslim imams in a few countries that nullified the World Health Organization’s goals of making the entire globe polio-free by the year 2000,
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Using balloons to provide internet access everywhere

As regular readers know, I am originally from Sri Lanka and so my attention was caught by this report on NPR about a novel way of dealing with the problem of providing internet access to people in remote and hard to reach areas. The island is roughly the size of West Virginia and also mountainous and its long-running civil war that ended only in 2009 left about a third of the country devastated and with limited infrastructure. Although the main cities are highly developed, currently only about 16% of the population is connected to the internet.
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The history and futility of car alarms

For pretty much all of us, our first reaction when he hear a car alarm go off is to think “Oh, hell, I hope someone shuts it off soon”. Almost no one thinks about calling the police to tell them that a car is being stolen. I had thought that these were a new invention, within the last two decades or so, but Zachary Crockett writes that they were first developed as far back as 1913.
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The continuing struggle over vaccinations

The efforts to fight polio vaccination in some Muslim-majority countries has been a scandal, fueled by a mixture of wrong-headed beliefs by some Muslim clerics about the effect of vaccines and by fears that it is part of some kind of plot by the CIA and other western spy agencies. The latter charge gained credibility because of the shameful use by the US of a fake vaccination scheme to try and find Osama bin Laden but even then there is absolutely no excuse for harassing or murdering workers administering vaccines or preventing children from receiving one of the greatest medical breakthroughs that has eradicated a deadly disease from almost the entire world.
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Smoking and Morton Downey, Jr.

Before Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, the conservative media outrage machine was led by abrasive talk show host Morton Downey, Jr., whose programs were a combination of Limbaugh politics and Jerry Springer format, where he would have on political guests who would be goaded to attack each other and create shouting matches, with Downey attacking the liberals and liberal views in the harshest terms. The studio audience would be raucous and conservative audiences loved it.
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